The Problem of Evil and the Source of Tragedy

evil. . . the course of this world . . .

 . . . the prince of the power of the air . . .

 . . . the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience . . .”

Friday, December 14th 2012 was a dark day, not only in America, but also in the entire world.  When a 21 year old man with mental and emotional illness entered the Sandy Hooks Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and viciously murdered twenty children, and six adults, we once again came face to face with the problem of pure, raw, evil; and of the trauma, rage, and dumbfounding that would follow.  Shock, anger, fury, and pain are words that do not quite rise the level of accuracy in describing the emotions and sentiment that followed in the hours after the ordeal.  Evil brings pain, lots of it; and with it come a bitterness that cannot be manufactured by anything else.

More than pain, the tragedy brought to society a sense of overwhelming loss, not only in the absence of these lives, but in our identity that is supposed to exist in civilized, and sanitized America. As one television commentator spoke, (paraphrase – We’ve lost a part of ourselves that we’ll never get back.)  The world is scratching their heads, shaking their fists, and raising their voices against a problem that they see with their eyes, but will not believe with their heart.

For too many people, the problem of evil is still a mystery, and it shouldn’t be.  Max Lucado, prominent author, said in an interview with CNN, “The challenge here is to avoid the extremes – those who say there are easy answers and those who say there are no answers.”  Not to be insensitive or argumentative, but while the answers may not be “easy”, they are straightforward.

There are only two sources of evil in the world; sin and satan. Apart from these two the world would have no problems, and evil would not exist. 

I have no idea what was in the mind or heart of the gunman, nor would I speculate.  What I do know is that, generally speaking, because of sin, we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world, where sickness, sorrow and suffering eat away at the human society.  The problem is that most people have an upside down view of being a human.  The prevalent, and predominant thought that permeates society is that man is basically good, and evil in a man is either a result of his upbringing, a glandular malfunction, or the consequences of societal mistakes and injustices.  The Biblical reality is that it’s just not so. It may be insulting to some to say this, but it is the truth.  The truth is that man, as man, is intrinsically sinful and wicked.  The Bible explains to us that our hearts are desperately wicked. 

In plain language the Bible gives us the universal condition of the human nature in Romans 3:10-18, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  The truth is that these are facts to accept, not commentary to debate. Though some of these things may never come out of a man, they are by nature part of his inward DNA.  Millions of people in this world never let what is in them come out, but the truth is that it is still there.  Sin is a matter of what we are, before it becomes a matter of what we do. Man left to his best behavior is still capable of unimaginable things, and if man at his best is still bad, man at his worst is even worse. God has told us what we are, and regardless of what we may think, we are what God says that we are, and that is a humanity who is fully and naturally depraved. 

The second problem that we have, is a bona fide enemy who is a personality with great power, and perversion.  He is the eternal champion of evil and wickedness.  Jesus calls him a thief that comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  It is his great desire to destroy the things of God and defame the name of God.  He is as real and evident as death itself.  Satan knows that his time is short and his reach is limited, and so he has been and will continue to do all that is within his power to throw dirt on God’s good name.  As a preacher I know once said, “he’s like a snake with his head under a shovel, thrashing and thrashing doing all the damage he can before his head comes off.” 

He is deceptive, he is dirty, and he is deadly.  What’s worse is that once Adam and Eve believed him, they handed him the reigns of this fallen world.  That’s why the Bible calls him the “prince of this world” and the “prince of the power of the air.”  He is ruling, moving, working, and weilding all that is in his wealth of wickedness to keep people from trusting the God that wants to save them from all of this.  He is evil to the end.

The good news is that the prince is beneath the King!  While the prince of this world rules, the King of Creation will overrule.  Children may be killed by Satan, but they’ll be raised by the King.  Just because Satan can work with sin to bring about death, that doesn’t mean they have to stay dead.  The historical Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead, promised to do the same for all of His people, seated Himself at the right hand of the throne of God, and awaits the moment that He will come again! 

The world can see with their eyes the clear evidence of sin and Satan, but until there hearts and minds recognize the source, they will not admit their need for a Savior.  Christ came to save us from self, sin, and Satan, and until this society recognizes that we cannot save ourselves, nothing can change.  Christ alone can save us from the evil before our eyes, in our hearts, and in our future.  Lawmakers can disarm every man they can find, and ultimately nothing has changed.  Weaponry is not the enemy, wickedness is.  In fact the entire purpose of weaponry is to stem the violence of the wicked, and defend against the oppression of the ruthless. (Regardless of what liberal minded people say.)  One of these days, “swords will be made into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks;” but that will only come after the problem of evil is dealt with.  Until then changing laws will only mask the problem;  Jesus Christ is the only Change Worth Making.

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