Private Enemy Number 1: Evil in Our Own Eyes

Evil in Our Own Eyes

There are many things we do know, however, about this diabolical world, things that touch on our lives and on the whole history of mankind. The Devil is at the origin of mankind’s first misfortune … It is a history that is still going on: let us recall the exorcisms at Baptism, and the frequent references in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy to the aggressive and oppressive “power of darkness.” The Devil is the number one enemy, the preeminent tempter. [Pope Paul VI].

No culture rejects altruism. No civilization exalts depravity. Within every conscientious person, values, ethics and morals exist that define right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood, for that person. The two extremes are poles apart from each other.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this resent darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [Ephesians 6:12].

Borders of Our Psyche

Our moral poles represent the boundaries of our thoughts, word and deeds. They are the uttermost points where our tongue and hands rarely, if ever, reach. We recognize them in the distant, and are reluctant to approach closely.

Nevertheless, they are clearly defined and plainly marked, consciously and subconsciously, at the edges of our reality and the borders of our psyche.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14].

When we resolve to improve ourselves and to amend our life these poles become targets.  They are what we strive to achieve and what we seek to avoid.

… if God is wiser than we His judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil. [ C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain].

Theologically, these poles have been labeled as the domain of God and the domain of Satan, terms that now provoke more ridicule and controversy than reverence or fear. Our modern, Western education prefers more advance, psychological terminology.

The devil is called the god of this world not because he made it, but because so many people serve him with their worldliness. There is no better explanation for the massive evils that are plaguing the modern world than to say that the devil is extraordinarily effective in seducing otherwise intelligent people with his deceptive snares. [ Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.].

Knowing Good and Evil

In any event, for improvement to take place in our lives, we must set up goals and aim high. God is the ideal, the pure, the transcendent. A devil also exists, who carries the banner of the bad, the evil, and who represents the negative that we must reject and combat.

NEVER pass by or palter with the clear voice of conscience, with the plain command of duty; never let it be doubtful to your own soul whether you belong to the right side or wrong, whether you are a true soldier or a false traitor. Never deliberate about what is clearly wrong, and try to persuade yourself that it is not. [Frederick Temple].

In rejecting the image of the devil as a horned, long-tailed entity, we should not discard the reality of evil forces working against us in physical, intellectual and spiritual dimensions. These are forces that reduce our humanity, weaken our spiritual immunity and render us less than what we should be, and less than what we want to be.

What matters most, I suppose, is not so much that I am trying to reduce the sin factor. It’s that I come to love the life God has created, the shalom God cherishes, and hate the sin that corrupts it, not because I am so “righteous” but because that life is so good. [John Ortberg].

If we need to personalize the demons that keep us from attaining a healthy, contented state, we should not feel embarrassed. If we prefer to classify them in psychological terms – no problem.

O men! Verily, God’s promise is true indeed: let not, then, the life of this world delude you, and let not [your own] deceptive thoughts about God delude you! Behold, Satan is a foe unto you: so treat him as a foe. He but calls on his followers to the end that they might find themselves among such as are destined for the blazing flame. [Quran 35:5-6]

Whatever terminology satisfactorily defines and describes the undesirable, unethical, reprehensible and evil, we should use it to mark that reality that needs to be shunned and opposed. Let it become your private enemy number one.

See that you love all that God loves, but see also that you hate all that He hates. [Amy Wilson-Carmichael].

Delivered from Evil

It may sound archaic, childish and even superstitious, but we need to defend ourselves against the evil we call the Devil. It is the greatest threat in our life.

You know that passage in the twenty-third Psalm. “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” Why? “…because you are with me.” See it’s the presence of God with us. Now that’s what we need to be cultivating constantly, practicing the presence of God, in a famous phrase. That means we are turning our minds toward God. We are keeping him in our thoughts. We are invoking him in our actions. We are watching his intervention in our lives. As we do that, then we know God is  with us. [Dallas Willard].

We must affirm the banner of the good, the righteous, and the sacred. It is the  Divine Reality, manifesting the all-encompassing creative power of Ultimate Truth. Let that be our ultimate reality, the directing principle in our life, our means to salvation and doorway to eternity.

THERE SHALL BE no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing. [Quran 2:256].

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