Is evil merely the 'absence of good'?
Are genocides, despotic regimes and forced labour and slavery the result of merely narcissistic or psycopathic leaders who raise up similarly minded disciples or is there more to it?
Is the devil real or is it just a broad label to describe evil in the world?
Is there a personality behind the darkness that pervades planet earth?
They are questions that need to be considered from a number of perspectives before they can be answered.
To be honest with you. I'm still working them out. I think most of our demonology in the Christian Church is so rooted in medieval thinking and more recently highly reactive pentecostalism that we misenterpret the scriptures pertaining to the identity and nature of the devil. However, in the book of revelation, it is clear that the evil force that opposes God has a name, an identity and a clearly defined mission.
If the devil is the embodiment of evil, what does that evil look like: (I'm going to paraphrase here in every example).
- It twists truth, rather than appears as a blatantly dark force. For example in the Garden of Eden narrative, the serpent asks Eve "Did God really say that ..well that's a lie, you won't die if you eat from that tree"
- It tempts our desires. Satan said to Jesus in the desert "All the world has been given to me and I can give it to whoever I want. Bow down and worship me and it will be yours".
- It is not clear about it's real source "It is any surprise, when even satan appears as an angel of light..."
- It is self centred in it's focus "Satan entered into Judas Iscariot........and he handed Jesus over to them for 30 pieces of silver".
- It is angry when it doesn't get it's own way "There was war in heaven.....and the huge dragon (who is called the devil and satan) was cast down.....therefore be glad O heavens and you that dwell in them.......but woe to you O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to in fierce anger and fury because he knows he only has a short time left.
- It wrecks lives "the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy".
So satan twists truth, tempts desire, misrepresents it's source, is self centred, angry and furious and wants to destroy lives.
And that's just a tiny slice of what the bible contains on the subject of the devil.
How does that relate to the paranormal world?
Well I guess we need to understand our enemies. It is too easy at times to blame the devil when it is us who need to take personal responsibility for our own actions.
You may be tempted, you may feel like being self centred, you may feel like attacking someone else, you may be angry and hostile - but you can choose to not engage in it.
Because all too often it is when we give in to sin that the paranormal stuff get's activated. Because sin is an entry point for the supernatural forces that are demonic to attach themselves to a person, a house and a family.
You can't choose what happens to you in life - my parents divorced at five, my Dad died when I was fifteen and my old boss was a bully for fifteen years - I didn't choose that - but I can choose how I react to it..
Readers, please understand I am generalising and being over simplistic for the sake of a short blog. I am not suggesting everything supernatural is demonic in nature because first we would need to define what 'demonic' is and we are not trying to do that in this blog.
What I am implying is that evil is real and it has a 'driving force' behind it. But we get to choose whether we engage in it or not.
Good people who live good lives also have horrific supernatural encounters. But more often than not in my experience as a minister is that brokenness, anger, unforgiveness and giving into sin is an entry point for the agents of the devil.
My suggestion is straight from the scriptures "resist the devil and he will flee".
That means you will feel anger, lust, self centredness, unforgiveness, greed, malice and all those negative things. But resist them.
There is a great saying that "unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die".
We have all experienced that one haven't we. It is an extremely unpleasant experience when we hold grudges while the other person has already moved on.
In the movie "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" a character named Slugsworth appears to each of the children, offering them a mindblowing amount of cash if they will steal an everlasting gobstopper from Willie Wonka, with the implication that Slugsworth will reverse engineer the food technologies to bring out his own version.
All the kids take the bait when Willie shows them the product and asks them to promise never, ever to show anyone else.
Toward the end of the movie, Willie gives Charlie a deliberate earful and undoes the promise that Charlie thought would be his reward for being the last candidate on the tour.
But instead of giving the product to Slugsworth, Charlie puts the candy on the desk and gets up to leave.
At that point, Willie tells him he has passed the test, introduces him to Slugsworth as his agent and then tells him he has inherited the factory.
So too we must pass tests when tempted by an agent that even though it opposes God, is used by God to bring out the best in people as they resist trials and temptations.
The families that I counsel that often have dreadful supernatural manifestations around them are continually in a hornets nest of anger, poverty, addictions, lack of hope and the inability to move forward. They often pray that God will help them, but they refuse to do anything to change their lives. They do not resist the devil and he does not flee - in fact he gets a legal right to be there. And I have seen the manifestations with my own eyes, it is not mental illness that we are dealing with.
By choosing to stand firm when presented with evil in all it's forms, we create a wall that is not easy to penetrate.
And the cure to evil in the world?
"For evil to prosper, good people must do nothing"
Apathy, comfort and fear are the allies to evil. The opposite which are intent, dissatisfaction and courage are the things we need to stand for to make good prosper.
May the peace of the Lord be with you and my prayer is you will join with Jesus to be a force for good in this world.