The devil successfully tempts no one who is not seeking to listen to his lies. Eve had already decided that God’s word was untrue and without merit for her self-identity when the Serpent came to speak to her about the forbidden fruit. If we fool ourselves into thinking that what the wickedest person on TV has done is outside our capabilities then we misunderstand not only ourselves, but the depravity that exists in all men.
As we get deeper and deeper into those things that go bump in the night one of the foundational aspects of this that could use some more reflection is the whole doctrine of evil itself. We live in a day and age that loves to blame everything under the sun instead of the individual. It’s either nature, nurture, or environmental. The reason cannot be personal decisions or the private desire of the human heart. It must be someone else’s influence, or denial, that has led the man or woman to perform some act that is deemed to be hurtful or wrong by some measure. Yet, when we examine the Biblical record there is no sense in which anyone is ever liable (excepting of course those with documented demon possession, which is what we will take up next week), but the sinner themselves.
The free choice to transgress and rebel needs some more thought, because if we are being honest our greatest worry in this present time is not ghosts, aliens, apparitions, or Freddy Kreuger…it is other humans and what they are capable of given a chance.
The conflict between good and evil in the world, the background for the series, is always on the mind of men concerned with what is happening and why. While Christians believe and understand that the struggle is less a battle for supremacy than a mopping up action of an already vanquished foe (1 Cor. 15:55) there still remains the day-to-day reality of Satan’s attempts to defeat the undefeatable. When we read of a young man (or increasingly a young woman) shooting up a school or the like our minds are drawn to the unimaginable. How could someone think that was a rational action to take? Our commentary is often filled with terms such as insane or mentally ill and phrases including out of their mind or they lost it. A word which seems to have been lost, but was formerly popular was postal. All in their own way seeking to comprehend in some empathetic manner the motives of the killer. We could never imagine ourselves doing it so it must mean that the person who did do it has something wrong with them. Our answer of course is, yes, they did have something wrong with them. However, the truth hits too close to home. The only reason we have not done likewise is because of the mercy of God. We have not been given over to the desires of our heart (Matt. 5:22). Before we get into why we need to ask how we don’t go there.
The Scriptures tell us things including, “An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.” (Ps. 36:1) and “For you have trusted in your wickedness; You have said, ‘No one sees me’; Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; And you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me!” (Is. 47:10) and finally, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).