Posted by: minnow | January 28, 2009

Who Is in Control?

Referring to my previous post: “So How Did Evil Get Here?” another major question regarding evil is: who is in control of this world? Recently, I came across this verse in I John 5:19: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” which suggests that Satan and his dominion are in control. Yet in Matthew 28:18 (the great commission) Jesus tells the disciples that ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. In John 12:31 Jesus, speaking of His coming death and resurrection, tells His disciples, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” He confirmed His position over evil in John 14:30-31 when He declared, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on Me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” And, it is confirmed again in 16:11 when Jesus says, “the prince of this world now stands condemned.” So, which is it?

Obviously, the Bible is not contradicting itself. So how can all of these verses be true? A hint is given in the John 14 passage. Jesus says “He has no hold on me, but”. This phrasing suggests a choice has been made. In fact, Jesus did choose to let himself be taken, beaten, condemned, and crucified out of obedience to His Father. The prince of darkness appeared to have won. Yet, death, Satan’s greatest weapon, could not hold Jesus. Personally, I think Christ’s obedience (“Let this cup pass…but not my will, rather yours be done”) had something to do with death‘s inability to hole Him!

Right now we face the consequences of a world exposed to, influenced by, struggling with the effects of, sin. What is sin? According to Webster it is “the breaking of a religious law, especially when done on purpose”. According to scripture sin is turning away from God. Death is one of the consequences of sin, at least, the one warned about by God. With death comes pain and suffering. But, it does not necessarily mean more sin.

Even though Adam and Eve made life more difficult by disobeying God (death became part of the mix and we were ousted from the Garden), they did not make it impossible for us to turn back to God. I realize this idea flies in the face of the Calvinism but so be it. Romans 7 may seem confusing (and has been used to support the concept of a sin nature) but in truth it is a wonderful illustration of Paul’s personal struggle with sin. Paul personifies sin in order to emphasize the point that we continually need to choose to follow Christ. Our free will, the same free will God created Adam and Eve with determines to what degree we are God’s or we are not.

I believe evil exists this side of heaven because mankind still chooses his own way more often then God’s. I truly believe that much of what we call evil is actually the compound result of our misguided, self-centered, God rejecting choices–their impact on the earth and their impact on humanity over the course of time. Eating from the Tree of Knowledge did not put a sin nature into man it made us aware of the duality of our nature. It did not give us the capacity to do evil; it exposed the capacity that was already present. Our first act of disobedience–eating the forbidden fruit–proves that we already had the ability to sin (turn away from God).  We also have the ability, however, to turn toward God.

To be sure, evil influences and impacts our world on a daily basis but ultimately God is in control.  His love, His blessings, constantly woo us and continuously provide a testimony of His existence.  And, to the degree we are willing to align ourselves with His will and reflect His character we become part of His testimony to the world.

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Responses

  1. very good Minnnow. what you are saying does make sense — I think I agree with everything.

    except that I do believe in I peter 5:8… 2 cor 11:14…. eph 5:11.. I Tim. 4:1… I believe that the devil is still ‘around’ though he is eternally condemned. I believe the devil seeks to tempt us and he knows our weaknesses — and I don’t know if you are saying or agree with that or not…. BUT I don’t think the devil can DO evil to us without us making the choice to listen to him, believe his lies, etc…. So I think that the devil can plant horrible seeds in us and wants to daily in our weak areas… BUT I do believe we were given the authority to turn away from it with help of the Holy Spirit….. but when we don’t – bad happens. like u were saying – the choose.

    but since I don’t really get the previous post about there being no eternal condemnation….”hell”…… then this one isn’t making sense either…

    oh but I had to add — that of course not everything bad/evil that happens is because of a direct consequence of what we’ve done… sometimes bad/ evil is just because in general of the nature of sin in the world…. not a specific direct result from a personal sin..

    anyway! I don’t know. did that make sense? what do you think? you don’t think the devil has ANY power here? what about the others verses I mentioned that do talk & warn about the devil?

    thanks for u! 🙂

  2. I hate the excuse–the devil made me do it. Maybe that’s what my focus really is. I believe we give the devil the only “power” he has. I also believe our bad choices have a compounding effect both on the enviroment and on humanity. It’s no secret that most of the people who are abusers were abused and that the abuse often intensifies from one generation to the next. We already had the conversation as to whether or not natural disasters are evil–I say they are not evil in and of themselves but we can have sinful responses when they happen. Anyway, I will look up the verse you mentioned and perhaps comment again. Thanks as always for your thoughts.

  3. yes excuses of any form are not good. we need to take personal responsibility like David who didn’t say to God well I sinned because ____ and this happened and this was done to me…. He just screamed out I am a sinner.

    and yes I had forgotten about our conversation with natural disasters and other things (sickness as well, right?) not necessarily being “evil” or “good”…… obviously my mind & haert never were able to really wrap around that or I would have remembered it hahaha.

    thanks minnow! 🙂

  4. p.s. can u help me with calvinism?

    calvinists believe that it is impossible for man to choose good right? they believe since the fall we are evil and can only choose evil/ choose to turn away from God…. but then God chooses people to bring His spirit into and that is what makes it possible for them to choose Him? so why do calvinists even share the gospel message at all? I guess they don’t? what’s the opposing viewpoint of calvinism and which do you believe?

  5. p.s. yet again

    I just found some information on the 2 different theologies so I think I understand the differences — so I guess my only question is do you agree fully with one side or the other on this theological debate?

  6. Randi–
    I was going to send you to the Parchment and Pen blog in general and tell you to browse his catagories to find lots of info on Calvinism and Arminianism but as fate would have it his current post gives a little summary of both. You can find it here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/01/rejecting-arminianism/
    My very brief summary–both of these theologies believe in the total depravity of man. We are born evil and are unable to chose God without His grace. They part company in how that grace is given. Calvinists say God chooses some–the “elect”–and regenerates their nature sovereignly and autonomously–then those love and trust Him because He transformed them. Aminians insist on prevevient grace–man is not saved he is just savable. In other words God’s grace restores their ability to choose, just like Adam and Eve chose. These are the two doctrine most often discussed and pitted against one another but there are others such as Pelagianism which says we are born neutral and end up sinning as a result of example not our inherent nature. I have not studied Pelagianism except for this single point but think since I do not believe in total depravity I probably line up more closely with that theology. I probably should look into it some more.

  7. how cool that it was the most recent — weird! I’m gonna go check out the blog. thanks as always minnow! 🙂

  8. woooaahhh that blog at P & P was WAY over my head. so many ‘big’ words 🙂 hehe.

    I have a hard time concentrating/learning such deep & complex thinking like that without it being in paper form. It’s hard for me to read that much on the internet…. i guess because it’s just a laptop and not a comfy chair.

    maybe i’ll print it out to study it better. thanks minnow — hubby just came home sick – gotta go take care of him.


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