Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘evil’

The Internet: The Good Can Be Bad!

SOURCE:  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network/Dr. Karl Benzio

The Internet: Good or Evil

Computers and the World Wide Web provide phenomenal opportunities. Connecting with long lost friends, childhood bosom buddies, old teammates, family on the other side of the country or across the ocean, people from church, and friends from mission trips is now incredibly fast, easy, and cheap. So many hearts have been warmed. So much relational, missional, and transformational good has resulted.

But like dynamite, computers and the web can be used for tremendous good … or tremendous evil.

As a psychiatrist, whether in the ER, in my outpatient office, or running a rehab program, I frequently see and hear how the internet has contributed to hurtful communication via email, chat rooms, Facebook, Classmates, texting, etc. Cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, and especially extramarital relationships resulting in infidelity have led to devastating destruction in relationships and families.

Inappropriate communication with the opposite sex via internet happens so easily because of our fast pace. You see, most people have minimal time to calmly and deeply share with spouses on a daily basis. But internet communication gives us unparalleled confidence to speak freely to others because there is no real contact with the other person. We can experiment, re-create ourselves, mislead, or avoid dealing with the hard elements of genuine relationships. These hard elements include real intimacy, accountability, integrity, responsibility, trustworthiness, honesty, conflict management, patience, and toughest of all, forgiveness.

Before you know it, you are writing things you should never write … with a false sense of privacy as you incorrectly assume that what you write will stay a secret between you and the receiver. You have probably heard the advice that you should not type anything, anywhere that you wouldn’t want published in your church bulletin … that you shouldn’t say anything to anyone of the opposite sex that you would not want your spouse to hear you say.

Unfortunately, even though internet affairs have exploded in number, other secret, old-fashioned inappropriate communication falls into the same danger zone. Real relationships are great, but they do take time and work. Taking shortcuts will not only cheat you out of the rewards of relationship, they will also lead to painful, costly, and often disastrous consequences.

Today, give some thought to your use of the internet and other perceived “secret” forms of communication you use with people, but especially the opposite sex. Some involve communication with real people, and some with fantasy people or pornographic sites. Being secretive or sly is a warning bell that these writings or actions should stop.

If you have been writing things you should not, then step back and say, “hold the press.” This isn’t just about writing. This is about the lies your heart has bought into along with a sure path to destruction for you and those around you. Wrong relationships or right ones are your decision, so choose well.

 

Oh my personal God, I ask and pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit to strengthen me. Teach me, Father, to remain faithful and true to those I love. Let not the fear of being caught be the deterrent. Rather let it be the pain and suffering my indiscretions create for You, for my partner … and for my own heart and brain chemistry. Above all, let it be the fear of separation from You, and the spiritual harm that sets me on a downward spiral of pain. I pray in the name of the one You sent to dwell in my heart, Jesus Christ;  AMEN!

The Truth
I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love 

Ephesians 3:16-17

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

Psalm 103:2,5

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The Wisdom of God in Affliction

Source:  Thomas Watson as posted by Deejay O’Flaherty

The wisdom of God is seen in making the most desperate evils turn to the good of his children.

As several poisonous ingredients, wisely tempered by the skill of the artist, make a sovereign medicine, so God makes the most deadly afflictions co-operate for the good of his children.  He purifies them, and prepares them for heaven. 2 Cor 4:17.

These hard frosts hasten the spring flowers of glory.  The wise God, by a divine chemistry, turns afflictions into cordials.  He makes his people gainers by losses, and turns their crosses into blessings.

 
–Thomas Watson–Body of divinity pages 74-75 Banner of Truth edition

[Thomas Watson – (c. 1620—1686) was an English, Puritan preacher and author.]

Evil, Suffering, Death

SOURCE:  Billy Graham

The technological revolutions of today stagger our imaginations. We try to peer into the future, and if we could actually see what the world will be like 10 or 20 years from now, I’m sure that we would be overwhelmed.

This is not the first time, however, that the human race has undergone a technological revolution.

Three thousand years ago when a young man by the name of David became king of Israel, Israel was divided and backward, and was oppressed by its neighbors. Israel was little more than a cluster of primitive tribes living in tents, and people were barely scratching a living from the land.

But 40 years later when King David died, all that had changed. In only one generation Israel had become one of the strongest, most prosperous nations in the Near East. In fact, in those few decades, Israel experienced one of the greatest periods of social and economic progress in its history.

What happened? Certainly David was a man with exceptional leadership ability, and he had the favor of God.

But there was another reason: King David introduced into Israel a new technology.

About two centuries earlier the Hittites had discovered the secret of smelting and processing iron. Slowly the skill spread, but for many decades Israel’s enemies deliberately kept the knowledge away from Israel.

But David changed all that, and he introduced the Iron Age to Israel. Now, instead of using crude tools made of sticks and stones, Israel had plows, sickles, hoes, axes and other implements made of iron. And in the course of that one generation, Israel was completely changed.

The introduction of iron, in some ways, had an impact on David’s day much as the microchip is having today.

King David reflected on what was happening. David not only was a great ruler, he also was a great poet and a philosopher and a musician.

A technological revolution had changed the lives of his people. But as David looked at life, he realized that there were several problems that technology had not solved.

In the Psalms, David speaks to a number of these problems. And these problems are still with us, for they are moral and spiritual problems, and only moral and spiritual answers can solve those problems.

I want to address three of these problems.

Human Evil
The first problem that King David knew he could not solve is the problem of human evil. Something is wrong. We can’t get along with other people, even in our own families. We find ourselves in the paralyzing grip of self-destructive habits that we can’t break. Racism, injustice and violence sweep our world, bringing a tragic harvest of heartache and death. Even the most sophisticated among us seems powerless to break the cycle.

The Bible says that the problem is within us—within our hearts and our souls (see Jer. 17:9). We are separated from God, and we need to have our souls restored—something that only God can do.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt 15:19, NIV).

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was not a religious man, but on one point he agreed with Jesus when he said, “It is in our hearts that the evil lies, and it is from our hearts that it must be plucked out.”

Albert Einstein once pessimistically declared, “It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.”

Many people have puzzled over this. People take beneficial technological advances and twist them into something corrupting. Brilliant people devise computer viruses that bring down entire information systems. But the problem is not the technology; the problem is the person using the technology.

King David himself knew the depths of evil in his own soul. He couldn’t free himself from personal sins, which included adultery and murder (see 2 Sam. 11:27). Yet King David, seeking God’s forgiveness, said, “You restore my soul” (cf. Ps. 23:3).

The Bible teaches that we do not simply have bodies and minds, we also have souls. Our souls are that part of us that yearns for meaning in life and that seeks something beyond this life. Our souls are that part of us that yearns for God. Even people who have no religious beliefs wonder at times if there is something more.

Thomas Edison said, “When you see everything that happens in the world of science and in the working of the universe, you cannot deny that there is a ‘Captain on the bridge.'”

Human Suffering
The second problem that King David realized he could not solve is the problem of human suffering. The Bible says, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

Yes, to be sure, science has done much to push back certain types of human suffering, but think of the suffering that we still face in the world today: Inner-city children trapped in cycles of despair. Children of divorce described increasingly by researchers as carrying deep and lasting wounds. Orphans and desperate children, around the world, torn apart by war.

And among those of us who are the most protected against poverty and violence, families self-destruct, friends betray us, psychological pressures bear down on us.

Why do we suffer? That is an age-old question that none of us can fully answer.

King David too suffered heartbreak. His own deceit caused the death of his infant son. His children were involved with rape, revenge and murder. His son Absalom led a revolt against him.

Yet David, again and again, in the most agonizing circumstances, could turn to God and say, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1).

Death
The third problem that King David knew he could not solve is the problem of death (see Ps. 55:4-5). Some people find it difficult even to comprehend death, and most people live as if they were never going to die. But death is inevitable.

The writer of Ecclesiastes declared, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2).

Several years ago a university student asked me what was the greatest surprise of my life, and I replied, “Its brevity.”

This, then, is humanity’s threefold dilemma: evil, suffering and death. Technology cannot solve these problems. They ultimately are spiritual problems, and they demand spiritual solutions.

And today in our world we need a moral dimension more than ever. Without it, the 21st century could become the bloodiest century in the history of the human race. It could be the last century. But it does not need to be this way.

Wernher von Braun said, “It has frequently been stated that scientific enlightenment and religious belief are incompatible. [But] technology and ethics are sisters.”

Blaise Pascal has been called one of the architects of modern civilization. He was a brilliant scientist at the frontiers of mathematics, even when he was a teenager. He is viewed by many as the founder of the probability theory and as the creator of the first digital calculator.

Pascal explored in depth our dilemmas of human evil, human suffering and death. People can achieve extraordinary heights in science, the arts and human enterprise. Yet people also are full of anger, hypocrisy and self-hatred. Pascal saw this as a remarkable mixture of genius and self-delusion.

On November 23, 1654, Pascal had a profound religious experience. He wrote these words: “May I never be separated from Him. … Total and sweet renunciation. Total submission to Jesus Christ. Eternally in joy.”(13)

Pascal came to believe that only the love and the grace of God could bring us back into harmony with God. Pascal experienced it in a way that went beyond scientific observation and reason. It was he who wrote the words that are now well-known: “The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.”

For Pascal, scientific knowledge paled beside knowledge of God. When Pascal died at age 39, he was ready to face God.

King David lived to be 70 years old; yet he too had to face death: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). This was David’s answer to the three dilemmas of human evil, human suffering and death.

It can be your answer as well as you seek the living God and allow Him to fill your life and give you hope for the future.

The Devil’s Playbook

SOURCE:  Ray Ortlund

We are not ignorant of his designs.  2 Corinthians 2:11

The Bible reveals to us the devil’s playbook. How does he aim to defeat us? To begin with, in these four ways:

One, a judgmental attitude. In this passage in 2 Corinthians, the devil designs to make a church into a harsh environment, where people are “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (verse 7). Such a church stops feeling like Jesus. It starts feeling like a scene out of Kafka. How to defeat this satanic design? Repent of self-righteous judgments, and eagerly communicate Jesus’ forgiveness, inclusion, honor.

Two, normal human instincts. In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus rebukes Peter, through whom Satan is speaking. How did Peter open up to, of all things, satanic influence? Not by consciously opening up to satanic influence. All he did was think in normal human ways (“setting your mind on the things of man”). All he did was set his heart on survival, making the way of the cross unthinkable. Another of the devil’s designs. How to defeat him? Die to selfish survival.

Three, a spirit of accusation. In Revelation 12:10 the devil is exposed as “the accuser.” Another of his designs is to pierce our hearts with accusing thoughts about our sins – or even sins we haven’t necessarily committed, but we fear we have, or others say we have. He spreads a mist of vague anxiety within ourselves and dark suspicion of others. How to defeat this defeat? Run to the cross for all our sins, and refuse to counter-accuse against our accusers. A calm explanation might help at the interpersonal level. But if the negative emotions are really intense, the only thing to do is not make the feeding-frenzy worse. Wait on God to vindicate you.

Four, lying in order to win. In John 8:44 Jesus calls Satan “the father of lies.” It is his nature to lie, to deceive, to distort and twist and confuse. He spreads his trademark behavior to others, especially in scenes of ungodly conflict. He uses half-truths, self-serving accounts, spin. How to defeat him? Admit the plain truth, all of it, however embarrassing it might be. We won’t die. We will find it to be freeing. Our safety and joy are always found in honesty before God and one another.

We have an enemy, and we know his strategies. As C. S. Lewis taught us in The Screwtape Letters, we should neither ignore him nor obsess about him. But fixing our eyes on Jesus, we can crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20) by humbly staying in, or humbly returning to, the ways of the gospel.

Make No Mistake: God Is In Control !!

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by D. A. Carson

The three-week delay (Dan. 10:12–14) unveils conflict in the heavenlies.

The prince of the Persian kingdom is apparently some angelic being connected with Persia; similarly for the prince of Greece (Dan. 10:20). Michael, “one of the chief princes” (Dan. 10:13), is “your [Israel’s] prince” (Dan. 10:21). The hierarchy of angelic beings is not governed by the relationships of their earthly counterparts.

As there is war between good and evil on earth, so is there war in heaven.

In the same way that observing earthly people and powers might lead the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control, so also this delay in the movements of angels has caused the unwary to conclude that God is not really in control in heaven either—since clearly there are many contingencies of which we are not normally aware.

But that is to draw a conclusion that Scripture rules out of order:

Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson well:  God “does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and with the peoples of the earth” (Dan. 4:35, italics added).

There is a terrible war going on, but this takes place under God’s sovereignty;  in its affirmation of God’s utter dominion the text insists, “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.… No one can hold back his hand” (Dan. 4:35).

So there is space for conflict, resolve, perseverance—and for faith and utter confidence.

2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalms 119:1–24

What does the Bible teach about Satan?

SOURCE:  Randy Alcorn/Eternal Perspective Ministries

Satan and angels are created beings; and, as such, are totally subservient to God and limited in all their powers compared with the Sovereign and Omnipotent Creator.

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him” (Co. 1:16). “For I am convinced that neither death, no life, no angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height , nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). “For the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Satan and his fallen angels (demons) are, however, powerful, crafty, intelligent, deceitful, and committed to (permanently sealed into) opposing God.

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). “In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

As created beings, Satan and angels (fallen or not) do not know God’s plan (except for that which is revealed). They do not know what God’s Decree contains, until it actually happens. “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32).

Satan and the angels cannot read minds.

Nowhere does Scripture mention this capability for any creature. Yet, it specifically asserts God’s ability to know an individual’s mind. “Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all” (Ps. 139:4); “But He knew what they were thinking” (Luke 6:8)

Satan, demons, and fallen humans all know that God is real. 

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.” (Job 1:6). “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). “Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20).

This knowledge does not affect a fallen creature at all. Satan’s entire delusion is that he is “like God.” This is the reason he fell and introduced sin into the creation. “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (Is. 14:12-15).

This is the same delusion that he presented to Adam and Eve, and they chose it too. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). This is an intoxicating delusion. Someone who is operating their life based on “illusions of grandeur” will act irrationally consistent with their mental (or spiritual) illness.

Thus, even though fallen creatures know the revealed truth, and know that God exists, it is irrelevant to them. Satan is convinced that he is free to act, smarter than God, and able to thwart God’s plan. “Then Satan answered the Lord, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?… Put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face’” (Job. 1:911). At every point Satan is focused on opposing God (cf. the temptation of Jesus in Matt. 4:1-11). Fallen humans also oppose God: “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures” (Rom. 1:22-23).

Paul’s words in Romans 1 point out the primary way that Satan has opposed God.

He sometimes poses as an angel of light and offers counterfeit religions based on subtle misinformation: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). His other counterfeit religions are outright pagan. “They served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons” (Ps. 106:36-37). “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute” (Deut. 23:17). “I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I did not want you to become sharers in demons” (1 Cor. 10:20).

His final delusion will be with the Antichrist in a worldwide religion, and the only reason this will happen is because the Lord will remove the restraint. “Who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God…..And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed….The one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess. 2:469).

Satan considers himself successful in his opposing God. 

However, what he does not appreciate is that since he is created, even he and his demons are part of God’s decree. As such, Satan cannot do anything that is not allowed by God. And, everything Satan is allowed to do brings about the eternal plan of God, to His Glory. “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.’ So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord” (Job. 1:12). “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Mark 1:27). “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).

Satan is so thoroughly deluded about his ultimate success over the Lord, that he actually attempts a physical over-throw. This same blinding delusion is reflected in the men whom he uses in the end times—”by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:7-9).

Satan is so delusional that, in his blinding hatred opposing God, he willingly fulfills God’s decree as it is plainly revealed and known by him.

The devil cannot oppose God more vigorously than the way described in the final chapter of God’s plan in Revelation. He thus willingly charges into the face of sure defeat fully confident of victory. Such is the nature of evil. “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-2).

Even after 1,000 years to contemplate the truth of the Scriptures, when he is finally released, Satan goes right back to opposing God exactly as described in Revelations. “And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations… And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:7-10).

Satan’s work is evil and suffering—exactly what the messianic promise ofGenesis 3:14-15 is said to ultimately defeat. From the beginning, God planned that his Son should deal the death blow to Satan, evil, and suffering, in order to reverse the Curse, redeem a fallen humanity, and repair a broken world.

The Character and Intention of the Devil

SOURCE:  J. C. Ryle

Editor’s Note:  As brought out in the below article by J. C. Ryle, there is a devil, and we must be wise to his wiles.  At the same time, our focus must be ultimately upon Jesus.  Although a great and formidable foe to us, the devil is a defeated foe nonetheless (Col 2:15).

There is a devil!

We have a mighty invisible enemy always near us–one who never slumbers and never sleeps–one who is about our path and about our bed, and spies out all our ways, and will never leave us until we die.

He is a murderer!

His great aim and object is, to ruin us forever and kill our souls. To destroy, to rob us of eternal life, to bring us down to the second death in hell, are the things for which he is unceasingly working.  He is ever going about, seeking whom he may devour.

He is a liar!

He is continually trying to deceive us by false representations, just as he deceived Eve at the beginning. He is always telling us that good is evil and evil good–truth is falsehood and falsehood truth–the broad way good and the narrow way bad.

Millions are led captive by his deceit, and follow him, both rich and poor, both high and low, both learned and unlearned.

Lies are his chosen weapons. By lies he slays many.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, volume 2, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1987], 125. {John 8:37-47}

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