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In Romans 12:9 Paul urges the Christian to, “abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” It is impossible to love God with all of our heart without an abhorrence of evil because one’s tenacity in cleaving to the good is no greater than his abhorrence of evil. III John 11 says, “follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
In these last few weeks our world has experienced man’s inhumanity to man in proportion not seen since Hitler’s reign. We are seeing evil unleashed and in full bloom. If there were ever any questions concerning the depravity of unrepentant man the events of recent days should dispel them. The prophet Jeremiah described it well when he said, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” The evil atrocities that have taken place in the middle east are causing both the secular and religious world to take notice.
Across the ages men have wrestled with and been bewildered about the origin of evil. The Bible teaches that evil originated with one called Lucifer. The word Lucifer means “the son of the morning” and appears only once in the Bible and that is in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah. Through pride he wanted to be like the most High. In essence he wanted to be his own god. In Revelation 12:4, John speaking of the red dragon, who is probably the same person mentioned in Isaiah, “drew the third part of the stars of heaven.” The word ‘stars’ symbolizes angels that he influenced to follow him in his fall from heaven.
Later, it was through the medium of a serpent that he beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden who, in turn, persuaded Adam to disobey God’s command on the basis that they would be like God if they ate of the forbidden fruit. It is the same aspiration that is apparent in Antichrist that Paul speaks of in II Thessalonians. “That man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here we see the very essence of sin.
I recall hearing T. W. Willingham speak about the fall of Lucifer and the consequence of that fall. He spoke concerning the words of Christ who said that, “the everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This, he said, was not only the supreme punishment for sin but that it also was punishment for the supreme sin. The supreme sin that he was speaking of was not referring to acts of transgression, as they are merely the effect of a cause. But rather, they are the symptoms of a deeper disease, the cause and disease is the heart’s desire and demand to be its own god.
In the Lord’s model prayer that He taught to His disciples in Matthew 6:13, there is included in that prayer a petition to, “deliver us from evil.” Jesus, who Himself had “suffered being tempted,” understood the power of the evil one and admonished His disciples to pray for deliverance from evil. These barbaric and inhumane acts of evil we are witnessing today on a global level are simply the expression of unrestrained carnality pouring out of the depraved heart. As bad as it is presently, if it were not for the restraint of the Holy Spirit and His Church in this world we would already have hell on earth (II Thessalonians 2: 7).
We have bowed at the altar of science and modern technology until today the world is under the constant threat of massive destruction brought about by the development of these scientific discoveries. While science has discovered many magnificent material forces, it is not a teacher of morals. It can perfect machinery, but it adds no moral restraints to protect society from the misuse of the machine. Man has proven himself to be an evil genius. When man rejects the true and living God he makes a god of his own and that god is centered in self. The world is witnessing daily the destructive and evil results of this rejection. The tragedy is that much of the evil we are witnessing is being carried out under the guise of religion without moral restraints or demands. Therein lays one of the major differences between man’s religion and true christianity. When man rejects Christ as his Savior he will make a god of his own and that god will not condemn the sin and evil that he loves and all restraints are lifted.
The prayer that Jesus taught His disciples included the petition that we seek “deliverance from evil.” Only those who have summarily dealt with the evil in their own heart can effectively pray for the evil around them. The way to get God’s attention to hear our petitions concerning the evil that is all around us is to experience deliverance from the evil within our own hearts. Psalms 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Many pray with great passion and vehemence against the evil of our world that threatens them with temporal suffering and destruction but never concern themselves with the sin in the heart. The sinful heart is the incubator of all the devilish and evil acts that occur in this world. Jesus said that the most that the evil of the world can do to us is to “destroy our body” but the evil within the heart “can destroy both body and soul in hell.”
Jesus knew man’s deep need when He went to Calvary to make atonement for his sin. The apostle Paul speaks of a double efficacy that Jesus provided for us on the cross when he writes in Titus 2:14, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might, “redeem us from all iniquity” and “purify unto Himself a peculiar people…” Augustus M. Toplady captured this truth in the hymn, ‘Rock of Ages’ when he wrote: “Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make be pure.”
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The provisions of the cross were to deliver man from every vestige of sin and evil and so His cross provided for a deeper work of grace in the heart of the believer. “Christ ALSO loved the church and gave himself for it that He might sanctify and cleanse it” and thereby put the church on successful praying ground making their prayers effectual and fervent for this evil world.
This world has never needed a praying church more than it does presently. Jesus gave His disciples a model of prayer and contained in the prayer was a personal request, “deliver us from evil.” That deliverance provides not only deliverance from outward manifestation of sins but also an inward deliverance from evil. If our civilization is to be saved from the ravages of evil that is sweeping the globe let us pray fervently out of a pure heart. If there is any question as to the state of our heart’s condition let us be bold enough to pray with the Psalmist, “Search me , O God, and know, my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” God has promised to answer any sincere prayer seeking deliverance from evil that is inward and personal by His saving and sanctifying power. We then will be able to pray effectually for the evil in this world. The world at its worst needs the church at her best.