How Do We Live In A World Filled With Evil?
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25
A forest fire or a devastating fire that destroys a neighborhood or a section of a city–terrible as that may be–can be put out. Homes and buildings can be rebuilt and life will go on. But when you are living in the shadow of a volcano that can erupt any time without notice, day or night, you never sleep with the assurance that things are really OK.
The flow of history, from the day when God drove Adam and Eve from the Garden to the present, is punctuated with deeds so horrendous that only the word evil can describe them. We recoil at the terrible suffering and death sustained by those who were victims of Holocaust. The world must not forget that six million Jews as well as eight million Gentiles died in the concentration camps of the Third Reich, yet those numbers are only a small part of the vast multitude who suffered and died in that conflict.
And though it is a dark cloud which still lingers, what happened in World War 2, including its conclusion with nuclear warheads, is but a part of the broader picture of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
The Bible says that evil is resident not only in the heart of a Hitler, or a Stalin but also is present in the hearts of all men and women. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Paul, reflecting the words of Isaiah written 700 years before, who contended, ” We all, like sheep, have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
How else explain the mother who drowns her children, the sex pervert who lures his victim into his car with candy and then violates her, the suicide bomber who hates others more than he loves his children? How else explain the hideous deeds whose lurid descriptions not only fill our newspapers daily and make us change channels when the evening news turns into the daily crime report, but cause us to ask, “Could any sane individual do such things?” And our hearts quickly absolve us of wrong, as we say, “No, that person has to be crazy!”
Confronted with the reality of his own evil nature, Paul cried out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24), and with his cry comes an answer of hope and help which is like a beacon of light on a very dark, stormy ocean. That light and help is the awesome grace of God that brings forgiveness, strength, and restoration.
Grace is God’s answer to our dilemma. Those who deny our spiritual natures excuse lust, murder, jealousy, and hatred, which drive sinful behavior. But when we recognize that our problems are essentially spiritual in nature, and know that God has a remedy, bringing forgiveness, help, and change, there is hope that life can be different.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ” says Paul, “he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Forget prison bars, psychotherapy, laws and UN resolutions. Bring on repentance as we bow the knee and cry, “God forgive me! Heal my brokenness. Replace my guilt with your grace!”
God’s grace is the only answer to the human dilemma.
Resource reading: Romans 3.