Continued from FAQ Page…..
Since the Fall of Man, we come into this world with a fallen sin nature that is inherently bent towards sin and evil. It is not merely indifferent towards God and the things of God, it is actually hostile (Rom. 7: 8) towards God and things of God.
While many of us may have a much higher opinion of ourselves than we are entitled to claim Rom. 12:3), God’s evaluation of fallen Man is quite different. From divine viewpoint, the spiritual condition of each and every one of us is that, “…the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is NOTHING sound in it (Isa. 1: 5, 6 NASB).
Even the “good” that human beings produce is often done with the motivation of preserving or gaining something for ourselves, be it for or from God, people, or things. This is evidenced by the fact that as soon as we feel that there is nothing more to be gained or lost, how quickly we lose interest in God, people, or the things that we thought were going to be the means through which we had something to gain.
As we will see in this study, evil did not originate on Earth, nor did originate with Adam and Eve. Evil overtly manifests itself in many diverse forms, but ALWAYS begins with a thought that is contrary to the will of God.
There is an appointed time coming when there will be no more evil in the environment of the new heaven and the new Earth to come Rev. 21, but in the meantime God allows evil to exist in order to accomplish divine objectives, avoiding the alternative necessity of having to “throw the babe out with the wash-water.”
Evil is ANY thought, action, inaction, or alleged substitute that runs contrary to what God has decreed to be. The ONE and only tangible source of determining good from evil is the written Word of God, as all else amounts to what Man has chosen to add to or delete from it. Adding to or deleting from the Word of God is what opens the door to evil, both inside and outside of the Christian Community.
In the secular world it is not by keeping up with the latest version of counterfeiting that people who handle currency are trained to avoid deception, but by developing the ability to discern the real thing. In the spiritual realm, it is by learning the TRUE Gospel and ACCURATE post (after) salvation doctrine that an advancing disciple learns to discern what is from God and what is evil.
Learning what the TRUE Gospel consists of is what provides an advancing disciple (student and applier of the Word) with the spiritual discernment enabling him to spot a false Gospel when he hears it. The ongoing need to address false Gospels WITHIN the Christian Community has been an ongoing and continuous issue since the earliest years of the Church Age (Gal. 3: 1).
Learning accurate post salvation doctrine is what enables the advancing disciple to spot a false doctrine or practice when he hears or see it. The need to address false doctrines WITHIN the Christian Community has also been a continuous issue since the earliest years of the Church Age (Gal. 3: 3.).
NOT having the benefit of the knowledge of the TRUE Gospel and/or of true post salvation doctrine is what disables a believer from being able to tell the difference between the TRUTHS of Scripture and the LIES of the devil. The unsaved soul is hostile towards the TRUE Gospel. The unedified soul structure is not “teachable” and is naturally receptive to the devil’s lies.
“Religion” is evil in that it is the result of disobedience to Deut. 4: 2/2 Pet 3:18. No one can engage in disobedience and spiritually prosper. “Religion” consists of based on all that Man, in an act of disobedience (Duet 4:2/2 Pet. 3: 18) by adding to and/or taken from (in word or practice) what is actually being communicated in the Word of God.
When an advancing disciple is asked if he/she is a “religious” person, the proper (1 Pet. 3: 15) response should be, “I certainly hope not!” This may open the door giving the advancing disciple an opportunity to explain the distinct difference between what is Man-made (Mark 7; 8) and demonically endorsed (1Tim. 4:1) “religion”, and what is of God.
It is religion and not sin that poses the greatest impediment to the mission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) that was given to the Church. The devil accomplishes this by making sin the primary focus of attention. Of course sin needs to be addressed, but when God’s people are not then told what the TRUE post salvation spiritual life is all about, no forward progress is likely to be made.
For the most part, in our heart of hearts, we know when we are sinning. In the secular realm, not being able to discern right from wrong is one of the conditions for being declared insane. In the spiritual realm, we may choose to rationalize and/or to self-justify away what the Bible defines as sin and/or evil, but we still know (or should know – Matt. 7: 24-27/John 8: 31/ 2 Pet. 3: 18) that it is sin and/or evil, and therefore have “no leg to stand on” in the Court of Heaven (Romans 2: 19, 20).
Other forms of “evil” not so easily recognized or corrected. The hardest form of evil to address is the evil (false teachings and related practices) that have been adopted into the Christian Community that are the result of things being added to or deleted from the Word of God.
The seeds and roots of all evil WITHIN the Christian Community can ALL be traced back to some point in Church History where something was either added to or taken from what an accurate interpretation of Scripture had or has to say on the same subject.
Once something has been accepted into the Christian Community, it is going to be an uphill battle to correct. For one thing, it would require the “religious” authority that authored or endorsed it to concede the error(s) of its way. The more something is repeated and becomes the tradition of any group, more resistance there will be to making any changes.
Here again, we see God’s choice of allowing both good and evil to exist WITHIN the Christian Community, as the total eradication of all EVIL with the Christian Community would result in throwing the babe out with the wash water. The end result will be that there are many who consider themselves to a part of the Christian Community who are headed for Hell, having never been born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18), and there are many who are born again who will receive little or NO reward at the 1 Cor. 3: 12-15, having never identified or executed the TRUE post salvation spiritual life. In both cases, such “Christians” chose to listen to the evil WITHIN the Christian Community.
The true “Church” (here on Earth) consists of every human soul who has been born again. Within the true Church are those who choose to enter into and remain is post (after) salvation discipleship, and those who do not. Every born again believer will live in Heaven, but only those through whom God produces divine good will receive the additional rewards and privileges associated with discipleship. One does not serve God to be rewarded, but God has made it clear that He intends to reward in Heaven those who choose to live for Him (and not themselves) here on Earth.
The devil is “wise” enough not to make himself known as the author of “religion”, as no sane person would listen to him. The devil almost always prefers to speak intermediators or through the mouths of whom he has already deceived. When the devil can make it appear that what he promotes is coming from God (2 Cor. 11: 14) or another “god” (Psalms 96) of the recipients’ choosing, the doors are wide open to receive much of what the devil has to offer.
Satan is well aware of the part that family and cultural tradition can play, and God chose to specifically address this issue in Luke 14: 26. Discipleship is a 24-7 commitment in which one is to serve as Christ’s ambassador 2 Cor. 5: 20 no matter where he/she is or what other activity he/she is engaged in at the time. This will NOT make one popular in the day and age in which we are living.
Nearly every “Christian” is well familiar with the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, but how many of these same “Christians” are familiar with the more than 300 commandments of the New Testament that pertain to the Church Age dispensation in which we live and are accountable?
300 rules, addressing how one is to think and how one is to conduct himself, are a lot of do’s and do not’s to comply with in any given day, yet, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in ONE point, he has become guilty of all (James 2:10 NASB).” One not only needs to learn the rules, but how to address (1John 1: 9) our inevitable failures if one is going to have any degree of success in the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4: 6 NASB).”
ALL sin is a form of evil, as it violates a principle of the Word of God. It is through discipleship that one learns to identify many acts of omission or commission that human viewpoint does not consider sin at all, or rationalize away as being “no big deal.”
James 2: 10 teach that the one who breaks even one of the Laws of God is in the same stinking, sinking boat with the others who have broken them all! When the glory of God is on the line, every act of sin and/or of evil is a big deal in the eyes of God.
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, (so) that you may keep (preserve the integrity and execute) the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you (Duet 4: 2 NASB/parenthesis mine).”
The Church was commanded and commissioned to preach the TRUE Gospel to unbelievers and to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again. To the extent that ANY sector of the Church at large adds to or takes from the Word of God, it compromises its ability to fulfill the work for which it was established.
The demonic influence of “religion” WITHIN the Christian Community at large is made clear in the terminology “bewitched” and “doctrines of demons” found in such passages as Gal. 3: 1 and 1 Timothy 4: 1. Once such “traditions of man” are accepted and then practiced long enough, they are elevated to equality with the Word of God in the souls of those who have been deceived. This is why religion is the greater impediment to accomplishing the mission of the Church.
At least we know when we are sinning, whereas we can unwittingly engage in evil if we have been deceived into thinking that this is what God desires.
Evil has its greatest impact whenever a person, group, society, or nation gets to the point that it perceives evil as good, and good as evil (Isa. 5: 20). Most would agree that this is a fair description of the world in which most of us are now living.
The presence of evil has been an issue WITHIN the Christian Community from the very beginning, and will not reach its prophesied (1 Timothy 4: 1) climax until what the Bible refers to as the “later days”, a period of time just before the end (Matt. 24: 14) of the Church Age takes place.
The times in which we now live are not the first time that the majority of God’s people have lost sight or have chosen to reject what the plan of God called for during their time and place in the ever-unfolding plan of God.
The times in which we live is not the first time that the world at large reached this level of evil (Gen. 6: 5) and/or violence (Gen.6:11), as depicted in the headlines of the daily media.
Even though God’s articulated plan for the Church Age calls for the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers and for the making of disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again Matthew 28: 19, 20), it’s becoming more and more of a hard find within the Christian Community of our day. The Christian Community at large is over-flowing in “religion,” but is drying up in spirituality.
The majority (Matt. 7: 13) of each generation of Man (on a global scale) continues to REJECT the Gospel, and the majority of those who are Christians in our day and age fail to identify, engage in, or remain in the TRUE post salvation spiritual life.
The devil welcomes anything or anyone who can contribute to living conditions and environment of his (Luke 4: 6) world. Establishing a productive kingdom that is void of God and/or the things of God has been on the devil’s “things to do” list (Isa. 13: 14) before Man ever came on the scene.
It’s when the spiritual issues are addressed that he counter-attacks.
There is nothing wrong with providing people with logistical necessities (James 2: 15, 16/Matt. 25: 35-40), but we can be distracted from the primary work that we have been assigned to do (Matt. 28: 19, 20) if we fail to remain focused on spiritual needs of those we want to help. “For what does it profit a man to gain (or to be given) the whole world and forfeit his soul (Mark 8: 36 NASB)?”
There is everything wrong with entertaining “religious” activity, when defining religious activity as everything that Man has either added to or taken from the Word of God (Deut. 4: 2). In His timing, God will expose such things (Prov. 30: 6), whereas the devil will not easily surrender any ground that he has already taken WITHIN the Christian Community.
In the name of “religion” there have been many “evil” products and practice that have been incorporated into the Christian Community. They can be found in Roman Catholic, Protestant, and non-denominational sectors of the Christian Community at large.
In fact, no sector or individual believer has ever been totally free from demonic influence of evil that have been promoted in the name of religion. If one does not find the need to make adjustments in the doctrines that he/she (should have) has stored in his/her edified soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27), then he either has become the first person since Christ walked the face of the Earth to know all there was to know about the spiritual realm, or he/she has is not grow-i-n-g in God’s grace and knowledge
Only the arrogant and ignorant believe that they or their chosen denomination or spiritual group has all the answers, all the time.
Some of these products and practices of evil are more easily discerned than others. Some have NO Biblical basis at all and on that basis alone should be rejected.
The more dangerous forms of “religious” evil are the one that are promoted as having the endorsement of Scripture, but upon closer review will reveal that they represent a distorted interpretation and/or application of Scripture. They are more dangerous because they often give the overt appearance and impression that they or the function they perform have come from God.
If all the products and practices of “religion” were to be purged from the Christian Community of our day, the “Church” would be barely recognizable by many who claim to be Christians. Just imagine the reaction of some congregations if they walked into “Church” to find that such things as the altar, the confessionals, the graven images, and the “officiating” priests in clerical attire had been removed!
Many who identify themselves as Christians often pray to be delivered from evil (Matt. 6: 13), while they are unwittingly support and engage in the evil that has infiltrated the Christian Community at large.
I am convinced that if the Rapture should take place in the middle of worship services, there will be many, perhaps even the majority (Matt. 7: 13) left behind in some of the pews and behind some of the pulpits here on Earth.
I am convinced that many of those left behind would return to their homes in the midst of global panic and confusion, only to find that some family members who did not “go to Church” have departed, being members of the true Church who “gathered together (Heb. 10: 25)” on a regular basis and worshiped God as He desired to be worshiped (John 4: 23), making use of remote modern day means of communication.
Note that I am not at all speaking against gathering together in for corporate worship. There are local Churches where the TRUE Gospel is taught and post salvation doctrine for the development of TRUE discipleship is being promoted. If you are fortunate enough to have a local assembly in your geographical area that functions as the “Church” was designed to be consider yourself blessed.
Until one is born again, he/she can go through or be put through all the motions he/she wants, but a spiritually dead person can do no more in the spiritual realm than a physically dead person can do in the natural realm.
The true worship of God is a POST (after) salvation activity. Accordingly, where, when, and how one chooses to worship God has got nothing to do with obtaining or retaining salvation. The only pre-salvation thing that “attending” (or being dragged) to Church can accomplish, is that p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g the TRUE Gospel is proclaimed, it is ONE among many places that God the Holy Spirit can present the TRUE Gospel to an unsaved soul, giving the soul the opportunity to believe it and be saved.
Where, when or how a born again soul chooses to worship God will neither improve nor will it diminish the integrity of his salvation, but where, when, and how he/she chooses to worship God will contribute to his spiritual growth and to the development of his discipleship providing that his choice involves a church that worships God as He desires to be worshiped.
The POST salvation form of worship that God desires during the Church Age primarily consists of bringing the Lord’s Supper into “remembrance(1 Cor. 11; 24, 25)”, (not reproducing it), via the Communion ritual on a regular basis, and the ongoing development of discipleship of the congregation through the accurate teaching (Matt. 28: 20) of the Word of God.
All Christian churches practice some form of celebrating the Lord’s Supper (Communion), but this part of worship is by no means free from the influence of religion. Much of the pageantry and apparatus associated with this ritual throughout the various denominations of the Christian Community consists of the products and practices of religion.
The type of Bible teaching for the development of discipleship greatly differs from one denomination to another, and within the same denomination, as well.
This part of the type of worship that God desires is dependent on the individual pastor-teacher’s complying with the Biblical qualifications for the position and his focus on the internal half of the Great Commission dealing with discipleship.
One’s choice of where and/or how one chooses to “worship” God is a private matter between the individual soul and God. The important thing to remember is that the TRUE worship of God is as POST (after) salvation activity. NO post salvation activity can either improve or diminish the integrity of one’s salvation, but where, when, and how one worships will impact the individual believer’s “fruit” that one produces in the course of his/her post salvation spiritual life.
The devil knows what kind of worship the Lord desires, as these are the areas that the devil attacks and has had the most success.
The true Gospel and accurate post (after) salvation doctrine came under attack from the very beginning of the Church Age (Gal. 3: 1). For the first few centuries, long before holy buildings, physical altars, officiating priests, and many other products and practices of “religion” infiltrated the Church, the TRUE Church understood its mission and did a good job of keeping “religion” outside of the Church. But as time went on, the mission of the Church began to take a back seat and the internal and external role of the Church was redefined.
While some view its involvement in international politics and social engineering as being what accelerated the expansion of the Christian Community here on Earth, it was in truth some of its darkest and evil periods of its history.
The devil, being the master of deception that he is, used many Old Testament products and practices (holy buildings/structures, physical altars, officiating priests, with the support of government) to infiltrate the “Church” with “religion” and give it a new “mission” and purpose, all of which runs contrary to the Church that New Testament Scripture ordained.
Once the forces of religion were able to establish such things, all the false practices and extra-curricular and extra-Biblical activities that came along with such things were a relatively easy task.
Also contrary to the theocracy that had been authorized in the Old Testament dispensation, the Church that God designed was to co-exist, but was not to collaborate, with secular government. Each one had and has its own divine function (Matt. 28: 19, 20/ Romans 13).
The true reformers, past and present, did not and do not desire to start a “new” Church, but only to purge the Church of their day from the products and practices of religion, and to focus on the Great Commission that it had been given.
The Lord Jesus Christ was eventually rejected by many of His initial followers for not doing all that the people of His day expected and anticipated regarding the political, social, and racial issues of the time. He did not allow such things to distract Him from the primary work that He was sent to fulfill, and neither should His Church.
The Church of our day would do well to remind itself of the principle of (Mark 8: 36) when determining how much of its time and resources should be spent on secondary issues in light of the Great Commission that was given to the Church. At times, discipleship and stewardship is not merely a matter of choosing between good and evil, but choosing between what is good and what is best. . “For what does it profit a man to gain (or to be given) the whole world and forfeit his soul (Mark 8: 36 NASB)?”
We have now addressed the origin of evil and its present and ongoing impact of the human environment. We have noted that the immediate eradication of “all” evil at the present time would require the extermination of every human being on the planet. We are told that there is a coming time when there will be no more evil in the world to come.
What then, IS the divine purpose for God allowing evil and evil creatures to remain in the present time?
As in the case of angelic realm that existed before the creation of the human race, the human soul is created with God-given free will to make choices. Note that although we are free to choose, we are not free from having to make choices.
There is NO neutrality in the spiritual realm.
Once presented with the truth, every soul either is a believer or an unbeliever of the information with which he has been presented. One of the reasons that believers are not interested in pursuing discipleship is that they do not want to face the challenge that being presented with the truth will place on them.
The ultimate choice that angels had to make differs from the choices that the human souls have to make. Prior to the rebellion led by the devil, ALL of the angels resided in Heaven and were fully aware of the existence of God and who God was/is. For them, they had to choose to remain loyal to God or join the devil in his evil pursuit (Isa. 13: 14).
God revealed Himself and His plan to the human race in stages over the course of the various dispensations of human history. Humans have been presented with choices, depending on what dispensation (period of time) that God (not their parents) (John 3: 6 placed them in. God could have placed our souls in any body in any period of history, past or future, when what would become our earthly body came for at birth. The body and circumstances of our birth reveals much about what the divine purpose was that God had in mind.
Human souls are accountable to God to the extent that He has revealed Himself to each soul that He creates. Here in the dispensation of the Church, God’s full plan of salvation and full plan for the post salvation spiritual life have been revealed to us in the TRUE Gospel and accurate post salvation doctrine documented is the Word of God. Needless to say, the devil has many evil alternatives for us to consider.
Each and every day we make choices that govern what we think, do, and say. These choices either bring glory or dishonor towards God and things of God.
The FIRST time that any of us alive today brought glory to God was (if) when we chose to believe in a presentation of the TRUE Gospel Message. From that day on, we continue to glorify God each time we choose to apply the principles of post salvation doctrine to the details of our personal and daily lives, no matter what we are otherwise doing at the time. We also glorify God by identifying our individual role in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Everything else is secondary.
At the same time, choices made by Church Age believers can also bring dishonor to God and/or the things of God whenever we choose not to learn and then apply the post salvation principles of doctrine to the details of our daily lives. We dishonor God and the things of God when we remain silent when we are presented with an opportunity to proclaim or defend the TRUE Gospel Message, or choose not to identify and execute our individual part in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
The devil has an evil plan to see that God is denied such glory.
God created Man for His own glory, but God does not desire to be glorified or worshipped by “robots”, but from the heart of beings that truly desire and choose to do so.
In order for there to be a “choice”, there comes a time when each soul has to be presented with opposing options. This begins when the soul chooses to believe in the Eccl. 3: 11 knowledge of eternity (God and things of God) that God places in every soul that He creates. Most human souls choose to believe in there being a “god” and an afterlife of some sort when this life is over.
There are those who choose to reject the inherent knowledge of eternity that God as placed in their souls. Choosing to disbelieve in this God-given knowledge is the basis of genuine atheism.
Here in the Church Age, when the soul is presented with the TRUE Gospel (or the opportunity to hear it), the soul chooses listen or not to listen and to believe or disbelieve it. It is then that each and every soul, but the choices it makes, is either born again or remains in the same spiritually dead status in which he/she came into this world. Until one is born again, he/she may choose from many “religious” alternatives, but can do NOTHING in the spiritual realm (John 15: 5). For those who are born again, they face the DAILY choice of engaging or NOT engaging in the TRUE post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
The religious plans of the devil (Psalms 96), including the “religious” programs that the devil promotes WITHIN the Christian Community, start at birth or shortly thereafter.
The obvious diabolical strategy is to supply the means to satisfy the need to respond to the inherent Eccl. 3: 11knowledge in order to secure both temporal and eternal blessings. By involving the parents, often under compulsion, it would make the later breach with family (Luke 14: 26) more difficult in cases where false gospels and false post salvation products and practices have been accepted.
Evil, consisting of EVERY thought or action that rises up in opposition to what God has established. One of the reasons that God allows such evil to exist is in to provide the human souls with the choice of believing in what He says, or in what the products, practices, of evil has to say.
Evil, including the form of evil that we refer to as “religion,” comes from the devil but is most effective when it is made to appear to have come from God.
Finally, there is the need to distinguish evil from adversity. Adversity can be evil, it is not necessarily so. God can and does send adversity (Job) with a divine purpose in mind, but God NEVER sends or promotes evil (false information/practices). The devil, to the extent that God allows, can send both. We can generate our own adversity independent of God and/or the devil. Much of human viewpoint is evil (Proverbs 14: 12/Isa. 1: 5, 6).
There is the, “…mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2: 16) (what God thinks). ANYTHING that runs contrary to the “mind of Christ” is evil.
Some forms of evil within the Christian Community, do not a-p-p-e-a-r to be adversarial at all. In fact, such forms of evil appeal to the fallen nature in Man Prov. 14: 12), as they appear to provide Man with an opportunity to do something for himself to obtain or retain salvation.
The ONLY part that Man plays in his own salvation and/or edification is to make the right choice as to what he believes. The ONLY part that Man can play in the salvation and/or edification of others is to be used of God to communicate the TRUTH concerning such things to others that God has prepared to receive the information.
In conclusion, God does not immediately remove all forms of evil and/or evil creatures, but permits it in order to achieve a divine objective. There is a new world and new heavens coming in which there will be no evil, and in which we will no longer have to pray to be delivered from it.
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