You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession.
As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9
When did the world become so evil and full of darkness?
Why does it take a move of God for people to do the right thing?
In times like these when a news headline or an amateur video-recorded murder can literally bring you to tears, I am sure many of us are asking ourselves one or both of these questions. One of the biggest misconceptions or myths about the world is that it is good and humanity is innocent. Those are lies. I know we would like to think so, and I would even like it to be true, but that belief belittles Jesus' sacrifice for the world and our identity as believers.
So, what's the truth? The world is evil and humanity has been wicked since we were created. In the garden of Eden, wickedness was present in the form of a snake and two humans. We know the snake was Satan and we expect him to be evil, yes? But, you were probably surprised that I mentioned Adam and Eve. Weren't they innocent victims? Um, no. Adam and Eve were wicked because they had not yet chosen God for themselves. Until they ate the forbidden fruit, they did not have to make a conscious choice to choose God. After partaking of the fruit, their eyes were opened and they were full of shame. From that moment on, their flesh was in control and their instinct was to please, protect and provide only for themselves. We would see this selfishness also manifest in their son Cain when he murdered his brother Abel.
And at that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. ~Genesis 3:7
We are born wicked, not good. Consider how many infants slap their parents and throw tantrums at the sound of "No." We were born with a natural inclination to rebel against authority, to not fear God, and to seek self-pleasure. Parents and caretakers understand this, but along the way we forget the disciplining and teaching that was required to turn that unruly child into a respectable and disciplined adult. But, being respectable and disciplined does not mean that we are good. Being good or righteous comes only by believing in Jesus Christ and thereby receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to both be good and do good.1 Peter 2:9 says that God called us believers out of darkness, so that means we were once in darkness when we did not believe. Children of God are children of Light, and we come into the light by choice, not by birth. For this reason, we must be born again.
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God." ~John 3:3
There is no wonder why many people seem to not be able to help themselves but to do evil, vile, and inappropriate acts. Nonbelievers literally cannot help themselves because they do not have the power of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus came, died, and rose again, God established salvation as one's ability to keep the laws and commandments that He gave the Israelites through Moses. I can imagine the difficulty in having to depend on other flawed priests, prophets, and temple workers to help keep people in line with God's Word while needing help themselves. This is why the death of Jesus was so significant as the ransom for our sin, the cost of our transgressions, and our ability to overcome the wickedness of our flesh. Only by making Jesus our Lord and then receiving the Holy Spirit can we actually live in spirit and not in our flesh. (Thank you, Lord, for Your Spirit!)
Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. ~Galatians 3:2
The flesh (evil) only wants to please, protect, and provide for itself, but our spirit (good) desires to please God, protect the integrity of the gospel, and provide for others. So, do not be surprised by what you see and hear from unbelievers (beware, unbelievers attend churches too) that is clearly evil. They can't help themselves! Literally. What does evil look like? Psalm 36:1-4 says:
Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts.
They have no fear of God at all.
In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are.
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful.
They refuse to act wisely or do good.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.
Sound familiar? We probably either know people like this or we remember times when we personally did not live in the spirit and exhibited these characteristics. There is no reason we should not believe that evil and wickedness is all around us when the Bible tells us it does so plainly. Furthermore, it is Satan's ploy for people to believe that evil and wickedness do not exist, so that the world disregards a need for a Savior, for redemption, and sanctification.
For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws and it never will. ~Romans 8:7
We are in the world but not of the world. Jesus said that we are the light of world - a very dark world, but our light shines brightest in darkness. Lead/Teach unbelievers? Shine on! Serve/Employed by unbelievers? Shine on! I pray that people around you will be blinded by your light as Saul was on the road to Damascus. Sound harsh perhaps, but remember it was that Light of the Lord that led to his transformation into Paul. Oh, how deep his darkness was to think that he was light and zealously persecuting the Church. Satan has dominion of this world and we are surrounded by darkness. This world can seem scary at times and fear can creep up inside of you, but you can take heart: Jesus has already overcome the world.
"I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." ~John 8:12
This illumination of our true nature and our world should change the way we make decisions, lead, teach, and treat one another. Because the truth of the matter is that, we must interact with the world, which means we must interact with evil. We cannot control other people or their actions, but we have a choice regarding how we react. We can either choose to react in the flesh, or react in the spirit. Yes, we believers have a choice; unbelievers do not. Righteousness is not a human-derived moral standard; it is a lifestyle aligned with the Word of God. Now that we understand why people are evil, we should make a commitment to pray for and not argue with those who do evil and wicked things to us. The rejection and tensions we endure make sense. Darkness cannot co-exist with light, and there is a desire to preserve one's self, right? Therefore, we should understand that suffering and persecution must come yet God will faithfully deliver His children from it all.
"You are the light of the world -- like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. ~Matthew 5:14
I know that this world can be overwhelming at times. In the midst of racial war, cold war, election chaos, a pandemic, and an unstable economy, this world is even more dangerous, manic, and selfish. Yet, our responsibility is to be the light of the world - a light set upon a hill, and to love God and love others in everything we do and with everything we have. So, do not fear this world or what you see from it. The only power wickedness and principalities of this world have is the power you give them. Be strong and courageous.