Americans like to think that people are basically good, that acts of violence are the exception, done by an extremely small minority. People like the Boston Bombers are considered evil because they intentionally hurt innocents, even to the point of murder. On May 4, 2015, the Associated Press reported that Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “for the first time in court…wiped tears from his eyes quickly and fidgeted in his chair.”
Convicted of all 30 counts related to the 2013 bombings and their aftermath, Tsarnaev evidently has tears for his own potential death penalty, but none for causing the deaths of three marathon spectators and an MIT police officer, nor for injuries and/or permanent disabilities to 264 others.
At the Salt Lake City marathon on April 25, 2015, police officers and medical personnel were on hand to give support as needed, and unfortunately, so was the Bomb Squad. It has now become necessary to anticipate that someone may try to bomb large events in this country. But are evil motives and actions relegated only to a few wicked people?
Retired pastor and author, Warren W. Wiersbe, said people live at four levels of behavior:
1 – Returning good for evil. That is what God does, and when we do it, we are being godly.
2 – Returning good for good. That is the humane thing to do, and this is the level that most people [are expected to] operate on. “You rub my back; I’ll rub yours.”
3 – Returning evil for evil. That is the animal level. If we kick a dog, it will bite us.
4 – Returning evil for good. That is what the devil does, and when people act like that, they are doing what satan likes.
Therefore, people who commit evils that are newsworthy usually are returning evil for good—the satanic level, but they are not the only bad apples in the barrel of humanity. Consider God’s view of evil. “The Lord hates six things; in fact, seven are detestable to Him: arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers” (Proverbs 5:16-19 HCSB).
Who among us has not looked with arrogance on others, told a lie, planned how to do something wrong and get away with it, and caused family conflict? So before I point out how evil others are, I need to consider my own selfish motives, sinful lusts, angry words, and prideful attitudes. The truth is we all are sinners in need of redemption.
GotQuestions.org says, “God cannot tolerate sin and has no sin within Himself….One could perhaps blame Adam and Eve for the evil in the world, as they blamed each other and the serpent; however, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23)….
“God is good in that He has a plan to redeem fallen mankind. The salvation Jesus provides attests to His goodness and love (Romans 5:8). The effect of the Fall [due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience] is universal, but so also is the offer of divine grace (John 3:16). The Bible clearly indicates the devastating effects of sin upon man and the hopelessness of man in solving his own sin problem.
“God is good in that He has sent His Son ‘to destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8). Jesus called satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), which means satan has been allowed a certain amount of authority over this earth. The blame for the evil in this world should be placed squarely upon satan. Much is written about the devil—he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). He is a fierce enemy (1 Peter 5:8). He is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44).
“By contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). He is the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us (Revelation 5:6). He is the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus is the ‘seed of the woman’ to crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is Goodness incarnate.
“God is good in that He is implementing a plan to rid the universe of evil once and for all. He is the God of justice, and He will one day make all things right (Psalm 89:14; Revelation 21:5). Sin and evil will be dealt with in perfect judgment. Because of Christ, we have the promise of Romans 16:20, ‘The God of peace will soon crush satan under your feet.’” When God consigns satan and his followers to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10-15), the need for bomb squads will finally cease.
Until then, we must endure evil in the world and wickedness in people who commit atrocious acts against fellow human beings. However, everyone can have their sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life simply by putting their trust (faith) in Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection paid the penalty for our sins.
When we come to Him for eternal life, He promises it to all who believe in Him for it (John 5:24; Revelation 21:6, 22:17). This provides the confidence and peace we need to live godly lives (even to the point of returning good for evil) in this sinful world.
It also gives believers the mission of helping others receive God’s gift of eternal life, which is what this author hopes to accomplish through these posts. Please share your comments to help me improve in this endeavor.
And by the way, my son Nathan finished in fourth place, out of the 705 marathon runners in the 2015 Salt Lake City marathon. Woo Hoo.
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 From a sermon at the 1883 Moody Pastor’s Conference.
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