“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:30-33 (ESV)
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.” Revelation 2:26 (ESV)
I am writing this post with a heavy heart. By now many have heard of the news that ISIS beheaded 21 Christian men in a barbaric mass execution. When I first read the news story, I couldn’t help but cry out to God: How long will you tolerate this evil?! How many more Christians have to be martyred for their faith?! When will you put an end to all the evil and its father, Satan?
I pleaded for Jesus’ immediate return, for I am deeply grieved and weary due to the never-ending chain of news stories, which report the existence of evil in our world. And the evil is only getting worse and more pervasive in all nations around the world. ISIS in the Middle East and now threatening countries in Europe and the US. Boko Haram, a Nigerian-based Islamic terror group, killing thousands and destroying lives in Africa. And did anybody ever imagine that Russia would be at war with Ukraine, destroying thousands of lives?
The United States of America – the land of the free and the brave – is not any better, sacrificing millions of innocent babies by legalizing abortion and persecuting Christians simply for verbalizing their beliefs. On the other side of the spectrum, religious freedom contributed to the demise of many professing Christians. We are lukewarm– caring only for material possessions (I need a new car and a bigger house), how I can win the lottery, how I can retire with millions of dollars – meanwhile believing that our Christian freedom allows us to do whatever feels right to us (including reading books like Fifty Shades of Grey and polluting our hearts by watching movies/shows/programs (Walking Dead, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, etc) which glorify death and sexual immorality.
“And because lawlessness (evil) will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:12-14
My love for God went cold and my faith was shaken when I was the college student I wrote about in “Bad Things Happen To Good People: God Does Not Exist.” There were no news of ISIS or Boko Haram then, but the devil got me by using my own self-pity and lack of a solid foundation of faith to derail my faith in God. Lack of a solid foundation of faith also contributed to my belief that Christian faith is based on “blind faith” and that science disproves the existence of God of the Bible (which I want to write about in another post).
The more I thought of how I suffered as a child and a teenager, the more I blamed God for the evil which caused my pain and suffering. I focused on the evil, meanwhile failing to understand that God was there the entire time. He was there even when I thought He wasn’t. He was there, empathizing with my pain and keeping me safe, even when I attempted to harm myself by ingesting a bottle of Tylenol as a teenager.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10 (ESV)
You see, precious soul, the thief’s (the devil’s) only desire is “to steal and kill and destroy” God’s creation – people who were created in God’s image. He wanted to destroy my soul even when I was a child, and he used another sinful human being in an attempt to accomplish that purpose.
I vividly remember the night, as young adult, when I came face to face with the enemy’s presence. This was a night, after I denounced my Creator and said, “I don’t want to have anything to do with you, God!”
That night I had a dream, where I saw the entire world as if from a space shuttle. Above the world, I saw a giant cross moving and turning around the world. I heard a loud voice, resembling a thunder, saying: “You have forsaken the precious sacrifice paid for your sins and many people in the world are rejecting my love and my plan for redemption of the entire world.” As I woke up, I felt an overwhelming fear gripping my heart and the unmistaken presence of evil in my bedroom. I immediately put the covers over my head, afraid of seeing the devil himself. Deep down I knew he was there, laughing and gloating over his victory.
The evil presence was so overwhelming, that it paralyzed me from head to toes and I couldn’t even talk. I only managed to scream in my head, “Jesus, save me! Forgive me for rejecting you!” Immediately after this, I felt the demonic presence diminishing. I was now shaking uncontrollably and the indescribable fear was still gripping my heart. Paralysis was gone and, as soon as I felt a returning sense of safety, I ran to my parents’ bedroom. The only thing I wanted to do was to wake them up and ask them to pray for me.
My dear friend, there is no middle ground. As I stated previously, you are guided either by God or the devil. While there are many people who deny the existence of God, the existence of Satan (or both), their denial does not make the existence of God and Satan any less real.
The profound truth is that the pervasiveness of evil proves that there is a God. As David Limbaugh writes in Jesus On Trial, “Atheists and other critics often argue that an all-powerful, all-loving God would not permit evil, pain, and suffering of the type we witness daily, and therefore God does not exist. But as Alister McGrath comments, this is a self-defeating argument because, by invoking a moral argument to disprove God, they are essentially proving Him…
We all recognize human suffering as an undeniable, objective fact, but to attach morality to it requires an external reference outside ourselves. That reference can only come from God. Ravi Zacharias agrees, arguing that the reality of evil does not disprove God’s existence because evil only exists if an absolute moral law exists – and if an absolute moral law exists, then God exists.”
We question God and accuse Him of being far away when He doesn’t stop all the evil, and at the same time, we fail to realize that we are putting God in a box, which we can understand and define on our own terms. God is fully holy and there is not an iota of evil in Him. God did not create evil. Evil entered into our world when we listened to Satan’s lies. God created free will and freedom to make a choice. As Dr. Geisler explains, God makes evil possible but free creatures make it actual.
What I’ve learned is that God turns evil into good. Memories of my past life bring me to my knees in awe of God’s love for me and Jesus’ sacrifice. He turned a resentful heart of rock into a heart full of joy and praise for what He accomplished at the Cross…
While ISIS appears to be prevailing in the Middle East, the Bible tells us that Jesus conquered death on the cross and will ultimately crush the enemy. The faithful Christian men who were executed by ISIS are seeing God face to face at this moment. They now know more about God than I can ever know here on earth. And what’s even more encouraging is that there is a modern-day revival in the Muslim countries triggered by the rise of ISIS.
I believe the devil knows his end is near and that is exactly why we see increasing evil.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:8-10 (ESV)