Last week we started our examination of why bad things happen to us in life and defined the reality of evil as a presence and a force to be reckoned with that is clearly discussed intelligently in the Bible. If you missed it you might want to brush up on the first of this series by reading “Clarity Through Pain” at SentinelforChrist.com. Suffice it to say while existence as we know and experience it is part of a much larger realm the Bible teaches that exists concurrently spiritually beyond most of our senses where the hearts of humans are being sought after in all out warfare. Now don’t get all “Oh no, another one of these guys on me!” I am extremely pragmatic, analytical and deductive by nature. But as I’ve grown older I’ve realized how little I had appreciated how evil in the real sense of the word operates and affects the world we live in. Thus began this three part series on why such terrible things happen to seemingly decent people.
The fact is this; evil opposes the goodness, the authority and the love of God. Evil cannot overcome it so it subverts it and tries to bend anything that resembles “God’s image, His character, or His influence and His purpose from its original purpose to what evil desires the most: Recognition, acknowledgement, power and ultimately worship. Now if this is the first time you’ve stepped on board with us, hang on it’s going to get deep quick! Let’s take one incident in the Life of Jesus to illustrate a deeper truth. It’s probably very familiar to you.
In Matthew chapter 16 verses 13-23 we have a clear representation of just how human’s beings are affected by spiritual forces in the realm of the Kingdom of God. It’s where Jesus and Peter have a well known exchange. Jesus is pretty much at the height of his popularity. The four thousand have just been fed and the persecution from the religious folks is heating up. He takes his disciples away from the crowds and wanting to make sure they understand who he is he asks a rhetorical question. “Who do people say I am.” It’s Peter who gets it right saying, “the Christ the son of the living God!” Jesus commends Peter and Jesus who cannot lie mind you says, “Peter, God himself revealed this to you.” (My paraphrase verse 17) Jesus goes on to reveal that this profession of faith in Him is what he will build his church on, meaning the type of faith and confession Peter just demonstrated. I don’t buy the argument Jesus was saying he would build the church around Peter. Peter writes three books in the New Testament Paul writes 13 or 14 you do the math! Ok I digress.
Not five verses later, and probably close to the same discussion Jesus reveals “the plan” of Jesus means He’ll be crucified, Peters bubble of the Christ that conquers is burst completely. He tells Jesus, “God forbid it Lord this should happen to you!” What’s Jesus response? Jesus rebukes Peter to his face saying “get behind me Satan, identifying clearly, Peters suggestion while seemingly appearing good is actually an agent or instrument of Satan. Now that gives you in a few verses a picture of how this battle takes place in the realm of the spirit and penetrates our world. God reveals truth obviously from Jesus comment to Peter and Satan somehow through Peter’s good intentions and desires gave Peter an impression of something that looked good but was not in the will of God, which he tried to feed to Jesus suggesting an alternative to the cross.
Man I’m glad Jesus didn’t buy it! That same argument was leveled at Him before in the temptation in Matthew 4. No matter how you read the temptation of Christ, and yes William Dafoe got it completely wrong! The three temptations leveled at Jesus are alternatives to the cross. The goal of the cross is the restoration of men and women to the Kingdom of God.
That is how evil works. You may have a great prayer life and time in the Word and still we are open to this type of indirect manipulation by evil. It always seeks to undermine the will and purpose of God. Take a look at the similarity of the attack on Peter, something that looked good but what was out of God’s will. Sound familiar? I’m sure ultimate knowledge and “being like God” as presented by evil to our first parents in the Garden looked good as well. Adams defiance of God’s commands was catastrophic! It usually is for us as well. I think you’re getting we’re I’m going here, but don’t bail yet, even if you have truly been victimized and you were hoping at this point I’d be telling you when it’s ok to blame. There’s more to the story.
As Christians you and I are left with the choice to parse out Gods will (which by the way the success of that effort is in proportion to your time in the word, in prayer and community with Him) and make free will decisions in this life. Even as a Christian you can make a bad decision, the non Christian I would argue has it much worse as they are assaulted regularly by precepts, beliefs and notions which are in direct opposition with Gods intention for their life. The non Christian as taught by the Bible is without the Spirit of God living in them. Simply put ,they are unprotected. As they are already outside the Kingdom of God I have some painful news to share. Evil really doesn’t have to spend a lot of time an effort destroying the non Christians relationship with God. It’s already non-existent from the perspective of being reconciled through Jesus. This is why seemingly evil people sometimes have a very problem free lifestyle. (Psalm 73). This is also one of the reasons we should be contemplatively praying for the world especially the unsaved with the belief those prayers make a difference. If you don’t believe prayer moves celestial beings to action and God responds, read Daniel chapter 9.
If you don’t know peace with God through Jesus the Bible is very clear on how to remedy the problem. Put your faith in Jesus, he’s the bridge to reconciliation to God Its why he said of Himself “I am the Way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by me…” John 14: 6.
So we’ve established a principle here not only is evil present working against us actively, it is able to affect our thinking and subsequently what we do when we entertain its suggestions. Peters our example, only one of many I might add. Evil spends a lot of time by the way keeping human beings chained and removed from Gods penetration in their lives over less glamorous circumstances than Peters rebuke. Most of us sell out for much much less; sex, money, power etc.
A few years back my family and I found ourselves on the receiving in of a criminal conspiracy by one of my prior business partners who for one reason or another made us the target of a very sophisticated fraud had to do with of assets from a company both of us were part of. At the time the company disbanded simple written and verbal agreements dealing with the financial distribution seemed adequate. But over the years as my colleagues life deteriorated and over time they became quite desperate and we’ve heard to old adage, “desperate people do desperate things.” Initially, I handled the attack poorly. I got lost in resentment and anger when being forthright and working towards peace would have probably produced a less adversarial result. The litigation went on for years, cost thousands upon thousands of dollars and robbed my family of peace for years. Even today we still are dealing with the repercussions of the event.
Because I was hurt deeply and angry I retaliated in opposition to scriptures admonition to not do so, (Romans 12: 17). I escalated the pain and suffering by trying to inflict pain through the legal system and I received a very bad return! More litigation and a personal vendetta now fueled by my ex partner to destroy our families life. A truly bad thing happened to me despite being a Christian because I, no one else made bad choices. That’s why when most of the time bad things happen to me it’s consequences for my own poor choice. It’s hard for us to admit that because when we are in the thick of it in life we rarely see very clearly in the moment. The desire to exact revenge was clearly an appeal buy a demonic ideal to strike back. Revenge is something Jesus never taught; in fact he told us if we want to be called sons of God, (daughters included by the way!) “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matt 5:43-44.
For Christians, often times we bring it on ourselves. Try thinking of a situation where you truly thought you were the victim in a situation or something bad that happened to you. Was there really nothing that you could have done prior to the event that might have averted the situation? Most of us cannot intellectuality and spiritually answer this question from a position of complete innocence.
So here’s a difficult spiritual truth to swallow. Bad things happen to good people because they entertain and embrace ideas and beliefs that are anti-Christ and they end of reaping the reward of putting their hand in the fire. Next week we’ll acknowledge and discuss what is going on when those bad things happen it’s not our fault, that’s a different circumstance and needs to be acknowledged.