“From the Light” ( John 3: 19-21, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“This, then, is the judgment” writes John, the beloved one. The judgment is that those who do evil avoid the Light because they hate the Light while those who do good seek out the Light because their deeds are done by God Himself. The Light exposes evil and those who do evil things hide from exposure.

And those who do good discover that those good things can not originate from themselves; instead the good emerges from the Light Himself.

19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

“God Is Everywhere” ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


Satan before the Lord
Satan before the Lord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I should climb up to heaven, thou art there; if I sink down to the world beneath, thou art present still. ( Psalms 138:8, KNOX )

A puzzle here in David’s words and in the oral rendition of the story of Job – God is everywhere! We imagine God is incapable of being in the presence of evil, but that is obviously not so. Yes, He turns from His Son at the Cross when all the sins of the world attach themselves to Jesus; but God is found even if we climb to the heavens or descend to the realms of death and hell. That the Lord comes into the presence of the Enemy, Satan is evident in the beginning moments of the story of Job.

One day, when the heavenly powers stood waiting upon the Lord’s presence, and among them, man’s Enemy, the Lord asked him, where he had been? Roaming about the earth, said he, to and fro about the earth.Why then, the Lord said, thou hast seen a servant of mine called Job. Here is a true man, an honest man, none like him on earth; ever he fears his God, and keeps far from wrong-doing. Job fears his God, the Enemy answered, and loses nothing by it. 10 Sheltered his life by thy protection, sheltered his home, his property; thy blessing on all he undertakes; worldly goods that still go on increasing; he loses nothing. 11 One little touch of thy hand, assailing all that wealth of his! Then see how he will turn and blaspheme thee. 12 Be it so, the Lord answered; with all his possessions do what thou wilt, so thou leave himself unharmed. And with that, the Enemy left the Lord’s presence, and withdrew. ( Job 1: 6-12, KNOX )

God’s ability and willingness to be in the presence of the Enemy is nearly as difficult to understand and accept as His ability and willingness to suffer and die. God is engaged with death and evil. To think He is not is to misunderstand Him. God does not create death and evil; but He allows both. In so many ways, He uses both. Why?

Some would say, “To manifest His Power.”

“Against Darkness” ( Ephesians 6:12-13 DRA ) by Carley Evans


Our battle is not against other people. “Our wrestling” is rather “against the rulers of this darkness” and “against the spirits of wickedness.” We battle “principalities and power” that exist “in high places.”

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

And our position in this battle is defensive.

Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.

We are called to take up “the armour of God.” With this armor – the Word – we “resist in the evil day.” Our position in this battle is “to stand in all things perfect.”

And where is our perfection? In Christ. As we stand in Christ and in the Word of God, we overcome.

“For This Thing” ( Isaiah 7: 14, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew's L...
Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this thing the Lord himself shall give a sign to you. Lo! a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son; and his name shall be called Immanuel. [Lo! a maid(en) shall conceive, and bare a son; and thou shalt call his name Immanuel.]”

What is ‘this thing’ Isaiah mentions? ‘This thing’ is whatever wearies, not only men, but God.

“And Isaiah said, And so, hear ye, the house of David; is it not enough for you to make men weary? must ye also make my God weary as well?” (Isaiah 7: 13)

What wearies man and God? Evil. And apparently the evil existing within His chosen people – no, not the nation of Israel alone, but any one person whom He selects as His own.

Isaiah says that the child called “God With Us” will “eat butter and honey, that He know how to reprove evil, and choose good.” (Isaiah 7: 15)

Choosing good is what we can’t seem to get right. For this thing, God comes into the world as an infant, to take up our burdens and walk as we walk, to die in our stead so we might live.

“In Mildness” ( James 1:20-22, WYC ) by Carley Evans


My anger at injustice, at the evil [in myself and in others] isn’t going to result in the righteousness that God demands. Turning away from injustice and evil is, however, a necessary consequence of receiving [in humility] the Word of God, which is joined to me.

Listening to the Word is not enough, says James. We must be “doers of the Word” and so not deceive ourselves. What is “doing” the Word?

Look to Jesus for the answer. Doing the Word has nothing to do with hate. Doing the Word has more to do with sorrow. Jesus rarely shows even His anger for evil; rather He shows sorrow over evil. He shows His longing to gather His children to Himself as a mother hen seeks to gather her chicks to herself. Jesus loves His enemies; He does good to those who hate Him. He prays for those who seek to destroy Him and His Kingdom. And, this love isn’t self-righteous or haughty. Rather, Jesus is genuinely humble.

In mildness, receive the Word of God which may save your soul.

20 for the wrath of man worketh not the rightwiseness of God.

21 For which thing cast ye away all uncleanness, and plenty of malice, and in mildness receive ye the word that is planted[and in mildness receive ye the word inset, or joined], that may save your souls.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

“Love Light” ( Psalm 97:10, WYC ) by Carley Evans


A powerful light shines in the dark.

In this particular political climate, a lot of people are spouting hatred of evil.

“10 Ye that love the Lord, hate evil (Ye who love the Lord, hate evil); the Lord keepeth (safe) the souls of his saints; he shall deliver them from the hand of the sinner.”

Christians do indeed abhor the murder of unborn children, the euthanasia of innocent elderly, the almost slave labor wages of the poorest of the poor — the migrant worker, the destruction of our atmosphere by pollutants, though illegal, that continue to be pumped out of smokestacks or drained into rivers and oceans, the murders and suicides, the illicit and licit drug abuse. We can go on, can’t we? God calls us to “hate evil,” but more than that He calls us to love Him, to seek the light.

“11 Light is risen to the rightful man; and gladness to rightful men of heart. (Light hath risen for the righteous; and gladness for those with upright hearts.”

In this politically and socially disruptive time, the words we use to express our hatred of evil need to be couched, I believe, in love. Jesus confronts, but the only persons He truly insults are those who supposedly belong to His household — the religious leaders of His day. And, yes, He angers at those using His temple for gain. But He treats the sinners He meets as friends, not enemies. Yet, through John, Jesus warns:

“19And this is the doom, for light came into the world, and men loved more darknesses than light; for their works were evil.

20 For each man that doeth evil, hateth the light; and he cometh not to the light [and cometh not to the light], that his works be not reproved.

And Jesus encourages:

21 But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his works be showed, that they be done in God.” (John 3: 19-21)

“By The Abundance Of God’s Love” ( Psalm 5: 7, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


David sings, “For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot dwell with You.” (Psalm 5:4) Then, sings, “But I enter Your house by the abundance of Your faithful love; I bow down toward Your holy temple in reverential awe of You.” The psalmist glorifies God.

David does not sing of how righteous he is or of how much he deserves the favor of God; instead, he sings: “Lord, lead me in Your righteousness… Make Your way straight before me.” (Psalm 5:8) He asks, “Let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them shout for joy forever. May You shelter them, and may those who love Your Name boast about You;” i.e. not about themselves! (Psalm 5:11)

What brings David and us into the house of God? David claims that “by the abundance of Your faithful love” we enter God’s dwelling. No evil may reside there. What takes away our evil? Jesus answers this question.

“Watch Your Step” ( Proverbs 14: 22, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Do not those who intend evil go astray?”

The thought that anyone would deliberately intend evil is difficult to fathom; and this despite my acceptance of humankind’s fallen nature. God warns that “no man can establish himself by wickedness.” (Proverbs 12:3) Apparently some people believe their evil schemes will work to make their lives better. Instead, “an evil man is brought down by his wickedness.” (Proverbs 14:32) “The wicked [man] is destroyed by [his] own words.” (Proverbs 12:6) Therefore,”those who plot evil delude themselves;” (Proverbs 12:20) for the truth is “the renegade reaps the fruit of his conduct.” (Proverbs 14:14) “The stronghold of the wicked crumbles like clay.” (Proverbs 12:12) In the end, “the wicked man is trapped by his own falsehoods.” (Proverbs 12:13)

 

“To turn from evil is the highway of the upright; watch your step and save your life.” (Proverbs 16:17)

“Acceptable To God” ( Psalm 19: 14, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

 

Jesus speaks, “Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12: 34-37) “What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man.” (Matthew 15: 18-19)

 

James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body… Though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boast great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell… No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way.” (James 3: 2, 5-10)

 

Our hearts are evil; from this evil we speak and do evil things. Our hearts are not acceptable to God. Our tongues are uncontrollable because our hearts are evil. From within come evil things. Paul tells us, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do good, evil is with me.” (Romans 7: 18-21)

He says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7: 24-25)

 

“This is the message of faith we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised [Jesus] from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame,’ for there is no distinction… For ‘everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved’.” (Romans 10: 8-13)

 

Here is the truth: We are saved by faith through the grace of God.

“Greater Grace Is Given” (James 4: 1 – 3, HCSB) by Carley Evans


“You ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.” James tells us — we want and yet do not get what we want. We don’t get what we want because we fail to ask for what we want. Or, as aforementioned, we ask for what we want but what we want is only for ourselves — to meet our cravings which are “evil.”

We fight with others because we fight with ourselves. We murder others because they have what we want but can not get. They have it; why can’t we have it? If they deserve it, surely we do, too!

James encourages us, saying: Instead of submitting to our sin, we are to “submit to God.” (James 4: 7) We are to “draw near to God” so that He draws near to us. We are to “resist the Devil” so that “he flees from [us].” (James 4: 8, 7)

James reminds that: “The Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously. But He gives greater grace.” (James 4: 5 – 6)

The grace of God, the Holy Spirit helps us to “cleanse [our] hands, and purify [our] hearts” despite the fact that we are both “sinners” and “double-minded people!” (James 4: 8) We are indeed double-minded, keeping one foot in the world while keeping the other in the heavenly places. We give, yet we covet. With our mouths, we both curse others and praise God. (James 3: 9)

So we must do our best to follow the “royal law” — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2: 8) With the power of God Himself, we submit to this “law” — this grace which God provides to us, so that we are able to love one another as we love ourselves.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” asks James. “He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness.” (James 3: 13)