The Fear of God

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last and Living one.

— Revelation 1:17-18

If God were no longer ruler of the world, and there were another stronger than he, then would be the time to stand in dread of power. But even then the bad man would have no security against the chance of crossing some scheme of the lawless moment, and being ground up and destroyed by the Power of darkness. And then would be the time for the good, not to tremble, but to resolve with the Lord of light to endure all, to let every billow of evil dash and break upon him, nor do the smallest ill, tell the whitest lie for God—knowing that any territory so gained could belong to no kingdom of heaven, could be but a province of the kingdom of darkness. But Good only can create; and if Evil were ever so much the stronger, the duty of men would remain the same—to hold by the Living one, and defy power to its worse—like Prometheus on his rock, defying Jove, and forever dying—thus forever foiling the Evil. For Evil can destroy only itself and its own; it could destroy no enemy—could at worst but cause a succession of deaths, from each of which the defiant soul would rise to loftier defiance, to more victorious endurance—until at length it laughed Evil in the face, and the demon-god shrunk withered before it. In those then who believe that good is the one power, and that evil exists only because for a time it subserves the good, what place can there be for fear? The strong and the good are one; and if our hope coincides with that of God, if it is rooted in his will, what should we do but rejoice in the radiant glory of the First and the Last?

Evil: Its Own Worst Enemy
by Stephen Carney

“Evil can only destroy itself, and it's own.  It cannot destroy it's enemies.”

The interesting thing about the above quote is how those who practice evil fail to realize it's self-destructiveness.  It is the blindness and arrogance of evil that fails to recognize that, in the end, it has lost everything and gained nothing.  Evil always overreaches in it's efforts to destroy.  Had Hitler been just a little patient and bided his time after taking Poland, he could have calmed the world and gained greater power and strength.  He failed because he was greedy for more and believed he couldn't be stopped.  Terrorists seem to be little concerned with killing their own selves in the process of killing others.  In the end, they not only hurt themselves, but their own cause as well. 

There is no reward for evil, nor for being evil.  It serves no purpose and creates nothing.  If someone should say, “It creates destruction,” I would reply that destruction is the tearing down of things already created and therefore it is creating nothing, but thrives only on dismantling creation.  Disorder is not creation, for creation orders a universe, or a civilization, or a song, but disorder is only an attempt to undo that which has already been done. Symmetry and form that serves a purpose create beauty and order, which involves conditions for sustaining life, but evil seeks to destroy life.

If evil creates nothing, then its power is limited, for it cannot gain power.  To gain power one must organize, create, and build; evil winds up destroying it's own organization simply because it is obsessed with destruction and therefore cannot help itself.  Those who wish to control or hurt others are being controlled themselves and hurting their own selves, becoming self-destructive.  If evil took over the world and was able to destroy its enemies it would soon start killing its own, and when all of its own were destroyed it would then commit suicide, because it is addicted to destruction.  But evil cannot destroy its enemies, not because they are stronger, but because they are more beautiful, kind, loving, and creative, and through their lives God shines.  For darkness cannot comprehend the Light. 

So how does God undo this evil?  Because evil is self-destructive God permits it to go as far as it can till it undoes or exhausts itself.  Like the prodigal son whom the father allows to leave, knowing he will do things that are destructive, he knows the son can only go so far till he comes to himself again.  Paul says, in Romans One, that “God gave them over to degrading passions...knowing that they suffered the due penalty for their sins in their own bodies.”  God was saying, “if this is what you want, then have at it.  There are consequences, mind you.  You will cause yourself and others pain, but you won't believe me till you find out for yourself.”

God has set boundaries for men how far evil can go, in order that mankind might seek after God. (Acts 17)  Because evil has boundaries, it can only go so far before it begins to collapse.  So God says, as he did to Satan in the book of Job, “Behold, all he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.”  God knows how to preserve his children.  Now some may think, but people do die and devastation happens.  Indeed it does, but even death is not the end of us nor of those we love.  Death is the great boundary that snatches us from the hand of evil and protects us from its reach.   When one dies we often say, “they are now in the hands of the Lord.”  Indeed they are, a place where the powers of darkness cannot reach.   They are safe then, and home. 

God has a wisdom beyond this age and his power is as limitless as it is eternally good.  We see destruction and tragedy and believe the worst has happened.  Though it seems that way to us, more is afoot than we know.  We think children have died and are lost to us, but don't see “that they have gone to the back of the North Wind.”  God takes what the devil does and turns it back on him.  Weakness triumphs over darkness, the broken conquers the strong, and love wins over hate. 

But the greatest of battle grounds for good and evil lies not in the world, nor in politics (though it may manifest itself there quite often), rather it lies within us.  This is why there is so much talk in Scripture about the heart of man and the flesh and the Holy Spirit.  “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and rulers in dark places.”  Therefore we are to stand against “all the wiles of the devil.”  Lewis says, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.” 

The battle is on our doorstep, but take heart, Christ has won the day for us, for he says in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”  Evil has lost, it' days are numbered.  It may roar like a lion, but its roar grows weaker as the day draws near.  When Satan has gathered his forces against the camp of the saints, and all looks lost, look up, for fire is coming, Christ is coming, redemption will be upon us.  Then all that we had feared will pass away...