Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
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HOPE IN A WORLD OF EVIL
“We know that we are from God,
and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
1 John 5:19
I don't think we should need the Bible to tell us that we live in an evil world. Can you explain Germany's Third Reich without reference to evil, both in those who planned it and those who did not oppose it? What other explanation can you give for Joseph Stalin putting millions of his own people to death? How many millions died in China's Cultural Revolution or the Killing Fields of Cambodia? How else do you explain mass shootings in schools and churches across America?
Although I suspect some of you reading this would deny it, every human heart is infected with evil. But God has given us hope, even in the face of evil.
Hope In The Law of God
Few people in these days would think of hope coming from the law of God. But it is a great source of hope for those who see it from the right perspective. The law was not given to save us from our sin. The law shows us God's standard of right and wrong. Those who see the law as a means of getting right with God will not find any hope in it. But when we come to the law of God with transformed hearts that hunger to do what pleases God, we find joy in God's laws. The law teaches us what righteousness is.
The Ten Commandments even show us the sin beneath our sins. Let me show you one facet of this. The first commandment is, “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before me.” Deuteronomy 6:5 applies this.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and all your might.”
The final commandment is, “You shall not covet . . .” In Colossians 3:5 Paul identifies covetousness as idolatry. These two commands frame the 10 Commandments. Whichever command we break shows that we love other things more than we love God. Strengthening my devotion to God goes a long way toward freeing me from the grip of sin.
There is hope in the judgment of God. Relationships depend on righteousness. We could not have them without honesty, decency, and love. Without these things society disintegrates. The law teaches that God will yet judge evil that ruins our world. In the end God will make all wickedness and injustice right. Yale professor, Miroslav Volf grew up in Croatia. In his book, Exclusion And Embrace, he wrote that not retaliating against those who wrong us depends on our understanding that God will eventually judge evil.
“My thesis is that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance . . . Imagine speaking to people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned, and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit…Should we not retaliate? Why not? I say–the only means of prohibiting violence by us is to insist that violence is only legitimate when it comes from God. . . If God were NOT angry at injustice and deception and did NOT make a final end of violence, that God would not be worthy of our worship.”
Hope In The Power of Prayer
We can pray for God to deliver us from the evil lurking in our hearts. I can pray for God to work in the lives of people around me. Our prayers are to be entwined with needs that God shows us in the lives of others.
We can pray for God's forgiveness where it is not being practiced. God hears our prayers to comfort the broken-hearted. Our hearts need to break with the needs of people in a world of evil. I have often been amazed by what God does when I and others pray.
Hope In The Promises of God
Even in evil times we can cling to the promises of God. The powerful affect of God's promises take hold of our lives as we hear and come to know them. Throughout the New Testament we are encouraged by the words, “We know.” Hope blossoms in our hearts as the Holy Spirit helps us understand what God has done for us. 1 John 5:20 continues from the verse I quoted at the beginning of this blog. It said we are from God even though the world is in the grip of the evil one.
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
If you are struggling with despair because of wickedness around you, you will only break free by focusing on the promises and blessings of God until you begin to worship and praise Him with all your heart.
Hope In Fellowship With God
Evil is always personal. It is crucial to see the words from the Lord's Prayer correctly translated,
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
1 John 5:20 is also personal. God Himself has come to give us understanding to know Him. Hope in a world of evil only comes through personal fellowship with God in Jesus Christ.