1 John 5:19 (NIV) We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
I awoke this morning to the screams of my own voice.
The nightmare was vivid, I was in an old house with a few family and friends and was ghost hunting. I had a meter like the ones you see in the TV ghost hunting shows and the needle was pegged.
I was excited and following the readings, going towards the source. The higher the needle went, the more eager I became to locate it’s source. At one point the needle in the meter bent, moved behind the plastic window almost like liquid, the thrill was intense.
Then I came to a cracked-open basement door, and the door creeked slowly back and forth on its hinges as if something was moving it. With the needle seemingly trying to jump out of the meter itself I approached the door; there was an odor that was unmistakingly putrid and not welcoming, but closer I continued to move.
As I drew nearer, fear began to well up, but at this point I was too close, I was all in. It was now too late to turn back, I had to see what it was.
I moved toward the door and hot air was pouring out, it enveloped me and I felt a power, a force far beyond what I could resist begin to pull me toward the floor, dropping me to my knees.
I could sense the others in the room watching what I was doing and as I began to lose consciousness and all physical control of my body was draining away all I could muster was the same words over and over….
I awoke horrified at the sound of my own voice yelling out those same words at exactly 5am, the time I normally got up.
Needless to say getting out of bed was easy this morning, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was going back to sleep after that!
But as I went downstairs to make coffee this presence followed me into my waking moments. Pouring a bowl a cereal I continued to feel something watching me, following me.
The hair on my arms was literally standing on end and the goose-bumps covered my body. Every dark corner in the kitchen, living room, hallway, seemed filled with an unwanted presence. This was truly an eerie and uncomfortable experience.
I literally began to pray out-loud, claiming the protection and power of Christ into my house, the room, over my body.
As I returned back upstairs (at a quick pace) with cereal and coffee in hand I immediately prayed as I do before every blog.
“Father God, lead me into Your word, show me what You want me to find, put in my heart and hands what You will this morning. Let what I type be what You would have me type….”
So I chose to open an NLT Study Bible that I have and it opened to Matthew 3, pg 1541 with a nearly full page study inset about the Pharisees and Sadducees.
“Really Lord” I thought to myself. Here I am, faced with what felt like a terrifying brush with evil in my sleep which followed me into reality and you want me to draw a comparison between evil and religious leaders in Jesus’ day.
So I decided to use BibleGateway.com and search the term evil in the ESV translation.
Take a wild guess how many times God warns us or talks about evil; 539 times.
We have a very real enemy, and as I believe God has led me to this morning, it is not always an obvious outright enemy.
I recently saw the movie Boy in the Striped Pajamas. A chilling story of an 8yr old German boy who befriends an 8yr old Jewish boy through the fence of a concentration camp. It’s a not a movie for the feint of heart, but I highly recommend the educational experience of this horrific time in history.
Then just last week I watched Act of Valor, another real and heart-wrenching snapshot of the real life war on terror and the heroic efforts and actions of the Navy Seals that is taking place right now today in every corner of the world. Evil is present.
These movies are chilling to say the least, and they bring the physical battle of evil into the forefront of consciousnesses. This is not just the movies, this is real life. Satan is real, and the battle for our soul is a matter of life and death.
As an adult who grew up as a product of child abuse (physical, emotional and sexual) I have struggled to resolve the difference between evil acts and evil people. “Hate the sin, not the sinner” I’ve been told my whole life.
But for many of us who are products of broken homes, there is only black-and-white thinking. I loved my parents. They provided food, shelter, clothing, education, toys… everything I needed.
As I move through recovery I came to see my own poor behaviors, bad choices, wicked ways and think to myself, I wasn’t evil… just broken.
So I applied that thinking to my parents and the people today who do bad things, selfish things; they aren’t evil, they just do the things broken people do.
But if the world knew what was going on behind the closed doors of my house, my parents would have been arrested, as they should have. And I would have been removed from their custody, they would have been brought in front of a judge and deemed “guilty as charged”.
No different than Hitler himself, who thought he was doing a good thing but in fact was under the influence of pure evil.
Or to bring this back to where God led me in Matthew, the Pharisees and Sadduccees in Jesus’ time.
They were the religious leaders, the most theologically sound and practiced people on the earth. A passionate heart for God and a complete life sacrifice in the name of God. They were respected as teachers, leaders, and men of God.
And they are the ones that crucified Christ.
When Jesus first entered Jerusalem the masses lined the streets with palm leaves and praised Him as king, The Christ. But the religious leader of the day turned their hearts against Him, and in the end, like sheep to slaughter, they followed and cheered for His crucifixion.
We ourselves cannot serve two masters. Any idol (money, pride, ego, fame, power, materialism) if placed in priority above the pursuit of Christ is in itself chasing after evil.
Anything that takes our hearts, our time, our God-given resources away from our family, our community, our neighbors is evil.
If we are doing what we know to be wrong, we are doing evil acts, and have every right to be judged and held accountable. Yes as Christian’s the Good News is we are forgiven and redeemed by Christ alone, but judgment for our sin is no different than the judgment of non-believers, if God chooses to judge our sins instead of forgive them, we will be found guilty.
In my life that is great motivation to stop sinning!
So, I may have loved my parents, but I can no longer ignore the fact that they did evil things, as have I and as we all have. Sin is evil, and we must hate sin as Jesus hates sin.
I have never been able to set boundaries in my life. I believe that is because I have never set any boundaries on myself. I have felt entitled to do anything I want, whenever I want.
“If it feels good do it”
That is not OK.
God’s highest commandment is to love one-another. When we are serving ourselves, or others are hurting us in pursuit of their own beliefs or pleasure, we have not only the right to defend and protect our values, but the duty and calling.
Much like in my dream, the devil holds counsel over this world, and the siren song of sin is always present. But if we listen to the allure of fun, fame and pleasure that the Liar uses through temptations and complacency, at some point we will draw too close to the flame and not be able to resist, and we will get burned.
Avoid evil, call out evil, run from evil; first in our own hearts, then help the ones we love to rebuke it in their own life.
Time is drawing near, Satan’s power in this world is clear and evident. The night time TV shows, the destructions of the family throughout the global court systems, the use of lust, money and power to draw our children towards evil pursuits…
There has never been a greater time in history when our Christian brothers and sisters need to take a stand in our sphere of influences and make a difference. Every person we meet today is a divine opportunity to touch a life.
Will we bring joy, peace, light and love into the life of all we encounter today or find an excuse, to be too busy or in a hurry or feel too self-important to stop for a moment and offer an ear, a kind word, a helping hand.
Evil is not always the outward act of hatred, but often times can be as subtle as the absence of love.
My prayer today is that we recognize God’s divine appointment in our lives and reach out to those around us, to leave the world a little better today out of immense gratitude for a gracious savior who died for everyone when none of us deserve it.
Love is not something earned or demanded from others, it is a gift to be given away.