How Do We Respond to Evil?




One of the things that likely impacts how you and I respond to evil stems from how we define it. It can be easy in the current culture to call something or someone “evil” because we disagree with it or them or if it or they offend us. We need to consider our label carefully before we bandy it about as true.


Until we are clear on what evil is and its source we will fall prey to its influence and our responses will be tepid, misguided, or absent.


Evil is defined as something that is “morally wrong or bad, immoral or wicked deeds, embodying or associated with the forces of the devil.” It is not an opinion or a preference. Scripture is undoubtedly the best source of clarification of when that label is appropriate.


georgewashington1Because evil is so reprehensible it would seem we should be able to call it for what it is and confront it for what it is. Yet history shows in every nation and culture we can be slow to do that very thing if it isn’t impacting us directly. It can almost appear we have accepted the inevitable since we know that until the Lord returns and evil is judged once and for all that it will be present on the earth.


We may feel powerless in the face of it despite the power of the Holy Spirit within us if we are God’s children. Perhaps we tremble in fear. The key is whether we seek His counsel and direction at such a time.


Two recent books I have read have brought evil sharply into focus. One focuses on the brave men and women in the Underground Railroad who risked death, fines, and images (4)imprisonment to help American slaves flee to Canada for freedom before the American Civil War. The other looks at men and women who risked similar consequences for trying to protect Jews less than a hundred years later.


Today despite our “instant” access to news we can forget nearly 215 million Christians face high persecution for their faith. We don’t hear much about that on the news and sometimes not in our churches.


When I consider how I might respond to evil I am drawn to the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 as well as others who responded with courage, wisdom, and discernment. Here are quotes from just a few of those who stood against evil:


images (3)William Wilberforce faced evil head on and wrote these words:


“A private faith that does not act in the face of oppression is no faith at all.”


 Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced difficult choices without compromise when he wrote and spoke. Here is one of numerous examples:


 “We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”


 Elisabeth Elliot in the face of the grievous loss of her husband faced the evil that took il_570xN.791495045_fy5shim with love and forgiveness. Listen to her wisdom for us:


 “We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”


Solzhenitsyn left this powerful challenge to consider in The Gulag Archipelago:


“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are replanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”


 How do we respond to evil?


We start by defining it for what it is and its true source and then seek the Lord for guidance on our response to it when we are faced with it. Above all, we must take into account the words of Isaiah.


Isaiah admonishes us about the need to discern rightly what is evil and what is good in Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV):


“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!”



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A Costly Snare


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It can be so easy to feel that our feet are planted firmly in the truth of the Gospel and our minds are free from the debris of those entanglements we left behind. Our hearts at last can be more at peace. And those things can be true without recognizing a snare we can sometimes miss coming from the lies we have often told ourselves. Too often they have been a part of us for so long, we no longer recognize them as lies, so because of that we accept them and can subtly fall prey to the erosion they create.


We miss those lies because they were sown so skillfully and often not in one large obvious chunk. Instead one fragment was put in place and others added until the lie came into being in all its power to look like the truth to us. We accepted it because we tended to agree with it by that time.


If it happened all at once, we might recognize it for what it is. That is why the enemy of our souls is patient with his work.


alberteinstein1The first time we do not succeed at something, doubt begins to creep in about whether or not we have what it takes. (Yes, we have all been there.) We question our ability, our effort, our worth, and more. What we decide to do then will determine how effectively doubt works its evil.


If we are encouraged by others to try again (especially others who believe in us) or if we determine there was something we could have done differently or better, we are less likely to concede to the suggestions that come from the doubts.


If, however, we do not receive encouragement or cannot see a way to have done something differently, better, or more, the suggestions that follow the doubt will begin to take root in us. We may succumb to telling ourselves we are less capable, less able, or not as good as needed. If we accept or keep rehearsing those thoughts long enough, we will begin to believe they are true for us. As a result, we will begin to lie to ourselves.


We might also succumb to denying our own lack of doing our part and how that contributed to the failure. Then? We will have learned nothing. We will lie to ourselves that we were right and everyone or everything else was wrong and we were the victims of injustice.


In Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the author admonishes: “Above all, don’t lie to yourself.”


Joel Rosenberg in his recent novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, followed this quote with sobering reality in these words spoken between two characters in the story:

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him or around him. And he loses all respect for himself and for others – and having no respect he ceases to love.”


 Lying to oneself is akin to consuming a little poison each day. It doesn’t kill us immediately so we believe it is safe without recognizing we are caught in a snare that will take our life in one way or another.


It is sad that we can fear the truth and be more comfortable with a lie as a result of so charlesspurgeon1many influences of those who discourage us and those whom the enemy uses to believe that is what we deserve.


I appreciate so much what Maurice Maeterlinck has said:


“A truth that disheartens because it is true is of more value than the most stimulating falsehoods.”


 Sometimes it can be hard to forget one of the powerful truths penned by C.S. Lewis as well:


“There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”


 We live on the battleground between truth and lies. Truth is God’s domain and lies are that of the enemy who seeks to defeat us.


Truth brings us freedom. Lies imprison us.


Truth leads us to the foot of the cross for grace and mercy. It pushes us to discover what Jesus says about who we are and what we are. It dismantles the pressure to be something we are not or can never be and instead allows us to discover all the possibilities that are a part of God’s design of us.
















The Kremlin Conspiracy



Marcus Ryker had always been a risk-taker from his youth growing up in Colorado. He loved mountain climbing, skydiving and more, especially when accompanied by Elena. Those adventures were the very things that would shape his values and his goals. He didn’t know then they would also shape his destiny.


That path to destiny would further be shaped by his experience in the U.S. Marine Corps after 9-11 and later as an agent for the U.S. Secret Service charged with keeping the President of the United States safe.


What he could not have fathomed would be the role he would be called to play as new ominous threats kept growing in Moscow that challenged the United States and NATO bringing them to a precipice from which there might be no return.


The world was teetering on the brink of a nuclear showdown as the Russian president consolidated more and more power with dreams of being the next czar. Few in Russia knew what was happening as he moved as a skilled chessman positioning chess pieces exactly where he desired them to be to achieve his ends. When his son-in-law, Oleg, begins to see the truth behind the public propaganda he is paralyzed with fear about the plots he has been caught up in.


Joel Rosenberg’s new thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, shifts gears from the Middle East and moves to new areas of threat straight from today’s headlines. From the first page to the last, the reader will be caught up in the uncertainty and danger playing out between the United States and Russia as Rosenberg takes you behind the scenes of the life of a former Secret Service agent and allows you to glimpse the inner workings of the Kremlin.


The Kremlin Conspiracy gives the reader a chance to indulge in the gifts of a master storyteller as he unfolds the tale page by page propelling you forward until you find your own heart pounding. This is one more of Joel Rosenberg’s books you will not want to miss and when you come to the last page, you will want more.


To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.