Twenty years ago I bought the book DELIVER US FROM EVIL by Ravi Zacharias, which warned that our culture was disintegrating and unless we restored the soul, we would see unimaginable evil. He wrote the following…
“The ideas that shape our culture were great and worthy. The principal goal was to reconcile liberty with law. But in the last century our culture has undergone incredible changes and challenged the ideas that once shaped and guided us. The result has been the collapse of law, the eradication of the spirit, and the unleashing of evil. The response of the Christian calling for a return to morality is a scream in the dark, because morality has no self-sustaining light. It is a vacuous term left at the mercy of our passions.
Only in the defense and authority of the Word can morality be anchored, evil understood and the soul restored.”
Sadly, those words are prophetic as we daily see the unraveling of our culture and the promulgation of unprecedented evil rising around us. We look to understand why people feel it necessary to engage in so many evil acts and we’re left empty when those reasons, when understood, still fail to explain the evil we see and where it originates. The one thing we all share in common is that evil is clearly understood no matter where you live on this planet, no matter what you believe religiously, and no matter what your culture has taught you. When a terrorist kills a child, rapes a woman, beheads someone who has a deferent worldview…we call it evil.
Evil is defined as “profoundly immoral, depraved, malevolent, wickedness”. When you call something evil you’re appealing to some kind of standard in order to differentiate between what’s good and what’s evil. (It’s like saying that a line is crooked. You have to know what a straight line is in order to know that line is crooked). When you appeal to a standard, you’re appealing to some moral law, which everyone recognizes as acceptable behavior. If you have a moral law then you have to have a moral lawgiver who has set that standard you’re appealing to. What you’ve done when you call something “evil” is to appeal to God who tells us what’s moral and what isn’t! Remember, evil is defined as something profoundly immoral which is an appeal outside of ourselves. (If everyone gets to decide for them selves good and evil then we’re merely discussing each other’s opinion) Unfortunately, our culture says there is no God, which means there is no moral law. Without a knowledge of God, a culture will slowly slide into immorality and give rise to all sorts of evil. What Ravi saw 20 years ago is what we see occurring more and more each and every day.
You see, “evil is not just where blood has been spilled, but evil is in the self-absorbed human heart” (Ravi). Those who are performing such heinous acts are rebelling against the moral code written on their heart but no longer visible in their life. Their acts, while directed against one another, are attacks on the Creator of all things because everyone is born in the “image of God”. To attack the image is to rebell against God and His moral code. Evil is profoundly immoral as defined by Webster.
Evil can be seen in every one of us. The degree of evil will vary but all of us suffer moral failure at some level. We all feel the affects of evil at some level and the more heinous the act the more repulsed we feel. Those who can do evil and laugh or smile have lost the natural built in repulsion to it and have embraced evil at their core. God has given mankind “emotions to conform to reality” unless they have abandoned Him completely. Evil is not merely an idea or an act of its own but is personal and those who do it are responsible for it. People may attribute evil to all sorts of reasoning but ultimately they are responsible for the acts because it is personal.
Our culture continues to decline because it fails to correctly identify evil and where it comes from. Many suffer under the delusion, that if we pass more laws, restrict more behavior, provide more government over sight, evil will be restrained and controlled. The only way to truly deal with evil is to know the giver of that moral code we all appeal to at times when evil comes our way. He alone understands the heart of mankind and He alone came to die so that we would have victory over death and evil.
“In the beginning there was God”. He alone has given us a moral code to follow, which shows us the mystery of evil. He wrote that moral code in our hearts and conscience. He also wrote it down for every generation so when their hearts grew cold and their conscience became seared they could once again discover His truths preserved in His written word. Man can either read God’s laws as found in Deuteronomy or go the way of the cultural autonomy…self law. Our culture has chosen to forsake God and His ways and is shocked to see the moral decay. The result will soon be… “And in those days everyone did what was right in their own eyes” Judges 17:6. Return to God’s truth that evil may once again be restrained and the cultural decay reversed.