Not Again! The Problem of Evil….in…
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. Romans 7:21-25 (NLT)
But again I said, Who made me? Did not my God, Who is not only good, but goodness itself? Whence then came I to will evil and nill good, so that I am thus justly punished? who set this in me, and ingrated into me this plant of bitterness, seeing I was wholly formed by my most sweet God?
There is no doubt that the world can appear evil at times. All we have to do is look at news, and whether local, national or international, we will hear of evil being done, sometimes even in the name of Jesus.
But the evil that is most ominous, that is the most dangerous is the evil that lies within our hearts. In the quotes above, we see Paul and Augustine reaching a level of transparency, a level of honesty, where the struggle becomes real. Both are writing from the perspective of a believer, a believer deeply in the process of conversion, exhibiting what we call a repentant spirit; they are experiencing a transformation of their nature. Repentance that allows them to face evil straight on, but not the evil external to their life.
It is, quite obviously, a pain=filled journey into the darkness of their souls, one that most of us do not want to participate in, and get anxious when someone else call us to make it. We know we need to repent, but the hold that sin on us is great, or at least the appearance of the sin’s possession of us is great.
We need to encounter that sin, a journey called penitence. For until we do, we cannot see that the darkness, the sin, doesn’t have the grip on us that we think it does. Until we hit the despair that Paul and Augustine encounter, we can’t really how desperate we are to escape sin’s hold on us. Until we admit we are unclean, we can’t truly understand the joy of repentance, of finding the hope that removes the despair, the sin, the guilt and shame.
For there, as we encounter and face our sin, as we would “own” it, and take responsibility for it, we encounter the Cross as well. We find that evil that we once tried to justify, that we once entered into proudly, be taken from us, and laid on Jesus. That which caused us to despair is lifted from us; its hold on us shattered. The damage it has done begins to heal, and we can learn to dwell in peace.
This is repentance; this is the transformation that Ezekiel describes as God taking our stone dead heart and replacing it with one that is alive, and which the Spirit breathes life through, as our lives are cleansed. It is the repentance that Paul describes as a change of our mind , a being clothed with Christ, a change of our schematics, a being conformed to the image of Christ, which we reflect into the darkness of the world.
There is hope for dealing with evil, and it is finding the faith, the courage to cry out, Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” and knowing He has, and does, and will. And in faith and confidence, embracing the peace He calls us to in repentance.
Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Posted on February 24, 2016, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Abiding in Christ, brokenness, faith, Jesus, Lent, penitence, repentance, sin, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.