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God's Only Law Chapter 9

Our Evil Ways

 

So, what are our evil ways? And how do we turn away from them?


Let us compare this life to a great war to better understand evil. The goal of God’s side has always been to bring the truth to all who would be saved. Lucifer was the first to rebel, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:13-14), and Lucifer began this war believing he could replace God. This is the only war that matters, and it is now being fought for our souls. God uses love, truth, and freedom as His only weapons in this war. He does not need any other weapons because He already knows how it will end. The devil uses selfishness, hatred, lies, addictions, slavery, unnecessary laws, pain, suffering, coercion, punishment, etc., as his weapons to keep us from the truth. All who have tasted the pleasures of this life know how addicting they can be, but God never tempts us, He offers us His love and eternity to enjoy it, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (Jam. 1:12-15).


The devil does not want us to compare the temporary pleasures he offers to the eternal peace and joy God is offering. So, he complicates our lives and captures our minds with music, strife, alcohol, drugs, and mind-numbing games to minimize the time we have to thoroughly investigate our choices; and keep us from recognizing our addictions. The devil wants us to think God is our enemy. Did God act like our enemy when He sent Jesus to die on that cross for us? Jesus calls to us from that cross. He wants us to choose Him and God’s weapons, love, truth, and freedom. If we are not sure whose side we have been supporting, we need only look at the weapons we have used. Do we love everyone? Have we reasoned to find the truth, or have we accepted opinions without testing them? Are we allowing others the freedom to live this life as they choose, or do we want them to do what we believe they should?


Before I picked up my cross, I thought I knew what makes a person good. I thought I was better than most, and I did not need to change. However, once I accepted God’s love, I began to see the truth about the weapons I was using, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (Jam. 1:23-24), and my conscious mind finally recognized the guilt my subconscious had been hiding. Seeing my life reflected in my spiritual mirror for the first time was a harrowing experience. The conflicts I had been living with were now fully exposed. My faith in Jesus allows the love of God to transform me and the weapons I choose to wield, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (Jam. 1:25). And my relationships have improved. I know I am not perfect, I am not the man I dream of becoming, and I know I cannot complete this process myself, so, I continually surrender to His will, knowing He will finish this work upon His return, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:52). It is a process, and I am learning to enjoy the progress.


God tells us, we are either with Him or against Him, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matt. 12:30), so we can understand we are making a decision, either consciously or unconsciously. If we allow our apathy to keep us from gathering with Him, we will be led away from God and participate in scattering instead. We are in the middle of a spiritual war with eternal consequences, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12). This war is defined by love and eternity. There is only one Being capable of granting us entry into eternity, and all we have to do is accept His love.


So, in this life, either we choose God’s side, or we will be lost in the illusions of this shadow world, and eternally separated from His love, “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (2 Thess. 1:9). If we do not choose Jesus, it will not matter which other path we end up on; alcoholism or sobriety, crime or purity, atheism or another religion, anger or humility, etcetera, for they all end in death. This world is not our home. There is too much anger, hatred, and suffering.


God does not censor evil behavior nor the sacrifices required along the path to Him; He even exposes the evil done by the Bible’s heroes. He describes both sides, so we can compare them and ultimately learn there is a difference between good and evil, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2). We can learn about the World War II concentration camps, which are still being preserved as museums rather than destroyed. Those concentration camps keep the truth of that genocide before us, so we can know the kinds of damage evil does with the weapons it chooses to use. Nazi Germany killed millions of innocent people during World War II. No one should be able to convince us it was made up. Evil wants to destroy anything that could be used to expose it. Criminals kill witnesses who could testify against them, just as ISIS destroyed evidence of anything that contradicted their message. And, we have seen similar actions here in our own country. Until we learn that we are called by God to question everything, both sides of every issue, we will be led by those with the power to control the narrative before us. This attempt to stifle free speech and destroy everything that symbolizes opposition is a demonstration of evil.


Evil is trying to convince us we can know it all, that our memories are perfect, that we have learned all we need to know from history’s mistakes, that we have never changed our minds on any issue, so we do not need to hear both sides of every issue. How are we supposed to reason with ideas when one side is being hidden or systematically destroyed? What are those who hide or destroy history afraid of? God does not tell us to ignore the evil messages. Instead, He asks us to test them against His message of love, to determine what is good, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). God wants us to abstain from anything that might appear evil, but we need to compare both sides to know which one is evil. He asks us to avoid evil because people are waiting to use our actions to convict God since we are His representatives in this world. This is what they tried to do to Jesus, “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.” (Mk. 12:13). Evil is selfish, hypocritical, and not interested in the truth, only in having its own way. And evil will do anything to silence the opposition, including violently attacking us to stifle the spreading of God’s Word. We cannot let the actions of a few thoughtless people, cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the mob, affect our eternal future.


Listen as God describes the behavior we can look for on His side of this war, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matt. 12:33), and “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Cor. 13:13), and “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3), and “By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,” (2 Cor. 6:6-7), and “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col. 3:12), and “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn. 3:18). Can it be any clearer? God knows us by our fruit, and we cannot blame someone else for the fruit we are producing.


Jesus promises us His peace; no matter what is going on around us, all we need to do is have faith, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Is God saying this step will prepare our minds for what is to come? Of course, it will, because the hope Jesus brought us will be deeply rooted in our hearts, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Pet. 2:24). This leads us to use only God’s weapons of love, truth, and freedom. This leads us to peacefully accept the sacrifices we make in this war to save souls from eternal death. What sacrifice is too great to save even one soul? The military slogan, “no man left behind,” is an echo of Jesus’s words, urging us to save as many souls as we can, “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” (Matt. 18:12). Can we imagine a marine saying, “my life is worth more, so I am going to leave that person behind?” Can we imagine anyone in love with Jesus saying that?


In war, there are victims. Jesus formed a small group of followers and directed them to spread the truth of His love to the uttermost part of the earth, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14). That small group grew to be one-third of the Roman Empire before Constantine became Emperor. How did this happen? There was no formal evangelistic effort beyond the sharing of His love. This was nothing short of a miracle, considering the enemy was feeding those early Christians to the lions, boiling them alive, crucifying them, and every one of their original leaders suffered horrible deaths. Despite all this adversity, their lives contrasted God’s love with the selfishness of evil, and it drew people to Jesus and His way. Once we see His love in action, we are drawn to it; some respond by following Him, and some of us find it too painful because we finally understand we cannot hide our sins from God, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” (Ps. 139:7). When we refuse His salvation, our sins are left unresolved, eating away at our lives, joy, peace, and happiness. This leaves us with a problem. We have to accept His forgiveness, run from Him, or strike out at Him. Is this the reason we have seen so much hatred and violence against Christians these past 2,000 years?


True Christians are no threat to anyone because they are living under God’s law of love, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom. 13:10), and “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Heb. 12:14). So, why do so many people hate Christians? Why are they willing to persecute them? Why do some want to kill those actively living God’s law of love? Is it their guilt being exposed by the fruit of the Spirit? The latest published statistics show that Christians are still being killed every day for their belief. Try searching “Christians dying for their faith” to learn more about this tragedy. God told us why people would hate us, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” (Jn. 15:18) and “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor. 10:5). God's Word casts down imaginations and brings them into captivity leading to obedience and the world hates us for it.


The spiritual war between God and Satan has victims, some of us who choose God’s side will be injured, and some will become martyrs, even in our country. The 26 wounded and the 20 killed, at Sutherland Springs Church in Texas, on November 5, 2017, and the 9 killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 16, 2015, are examples. The family members of those 9 victims killed at the Emanuel Church stood up during the trial and told Dylann Roof that they forgave him for murdering their family members. This is the best possible Christian response, and it serves to emphasize the difference between true Christians and those who hate us. It demonstrates the life God calls us to live. He wants us to be lights shining in a dark world. We turn from our evil ways when we choose to love everyone, always tell the truth, and allow others to have the same freedom to decide for themselves. Who has ever been hurt by Christians acting this way? But how do we do this?


We must refuse to allow Satan to shackle us with his addictions, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. 5:1). Unlike the person who tries cocaine to experience the high, ultimately suffering from the addiction, we choose to refuse Satan’s offer.


We must choose to use our freedom for good, not allowing maliciousness to creep into our lives, “As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1 Pet. 2:16). We must choose to live the fruits of the Spirit, which God freely offers to all, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22). We do not allow corruption or vanity to enter our lives, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,” (Eph. 4:17)


We must work to free the oppressed, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isa. 58:6-7). We do not use the gospel to burden others, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). We do not judge others, “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience?” (1 Cor. 10:29).


We are humble and live peacefully with all people, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Rom. 13:7-8). We willingly sacrifice our freedoms when they would cause our brothers to stumble, “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” (1 Cor. 8:13). This means we need to think about how our actions affect others.


Loving our neighbors means we do not force our choices onto them, and we allow them the freedom to love God or not without judging them. At first, this is a difficult position to understand. Our world keeps telling us we need to judge everything and everyone, as seen on “America’s Got Talent.” This world wants us to take a position, to be divided into groups, eventually losing our ability to have our own opinions. We no longer need to think; our group will tell us what to believe. Watching our congress vote on issues validates this description. Do all Republicans and all Democrats need to vote in blocks on every issue? Why do we even need elected officials if they will not think for themselves?


Taking a very controversial topic and discussing it from God’s point of view might help our reasoning. Most people would readily agree that God would be against abortion since He never aborts us when we live in disobedience to His way. Instead, He loves us and supports us, always offering us an eternal life of joy. God only asks us to love as He does, so we will aid in the gathering rather than causing others pain and separating them from God. Rather than pointing our self-righteous fingers, He wants us to gather in support of a pregnant woman feeling overwhelmed. He wants us to financially support them if they need it during their pregnancy. He wants us to help that mother and baby if she decides to keep the baby. He wants us to offer to find a home for the baby if the mother is unwilling to care for it. Most importantly, He wants us to show His unconditional love for them, both mother and baby. This is how we abide in His love and fight for His side in this war against evil.


And, He calls us to use only God’s weapons of love, truth, and freedom in the war we face daily, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jam. 4:1). Can we not see our lack of love for others is causing the fighting in our world? God tells us we are all created in His image, so what is there to fight about?


Just as we see the results of defying the natural laws He created, like gravity, we will ultimately see the consequences of disobeying God’s law of love, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9). Some of us will do anything to quiet our conscience, including replacing the truth of God with fables created by man, or the devil, “Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine own heart.” (Neh. 6:8), and “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15), and “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mk. 7:7), and “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,” (1 Tim. 6:3-4), and “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Pet. 5:8), but there are no satisfying answers for this life without God. No matter how hard we fight, no matter what else we cling to, no matter what other kind of god we create, life is never as good, and eternity will never be attainable without God.


In short, we choose to build our lives upon His overwhelming, never-ending, uninhibited love, rather than the selfish pleasures of this world, by daily reading and reasoning with His Word, which is why He told us about our daily bread, “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11). It will make all the difference when He returns. And, He will return, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn. 14:2-3), for He cannot lie, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Tit. 1:2).


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