Evil is real. We often don’t find out how real until we begin following Jesus. But in the Bible, the temptation toward evil is plainly described as a challenge in our world. In the Bible, evil is also personified. The evil one is known called as the devil, and named as Beelzibul, Lucifer, and Satan. Demons are a part of the scheme of evil. Christian teaching down through the years associates demons with false gods and fallen angels.
But what is evil? It’s more than sin. Sin is simply resisting God’s will or refusing to conform to God’s law. Sin is foolish or rebellious. But evil is takes it further. Evil is intentional and aimed toward destruction. The Bible describes a cosmos in which the forces of evil seek to destroy God’s work in the world, especially God’s work in people.
How do we resist? First, it’s good to know a bit about the devil’s tactics. In the very accessible book Questions of Life, pastor (and former lawyer) Nicky Gumble has a chapter on the subject. He identifies a number of the Devil’s tactics based on a study of Genesis chapter 3 in Eve’s interaction with “the serpent” (aka the Devil) in the garden.
First – he wants us to doubt God’s word “Did God really say you should not eat from any tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1b) Christians are often faced with that kind of question: “Did God really say that such and such a thing is wrong?” Destructive behaviors are often appealing.
Second – he wants us to focus on the prohibition rather than the permission. Adam and Eve had all the other trees in the garden and God had encouraged them to enjoy fruit from all. The devil got them to think about the only one they were not supposed to eat from.
Third - he denies the penalty. Eve knew that they would face death if they ate the forbidden fruit. The devil said that she wouldn’t. For that matter, he says that if we pursue the destructive course, we’ll be more like God. I’ve heard people suggest that destructive behavior such as promiscuity, lying, using drugs and alcohol, or acting out of pride or greed will lead them to be more sophisticated, mature, secure, or wise. The actual results end up being broken relationships, insecurity, addiction, and confusion. Worse, the most important relationship – the relationship with God – suffers. The devil will do his best to make us disbelieve the natural results of sin.
So what’s a Christian to do? Put on the whole armor of God. Click here to read more.