Here are seven ways to deal with evil

Mr. Knowles, former managing editor of The Plain Truth, published by the Worldwide Church of God, makes his living as a writer. This article is part of Mr. Knowles' "Out of the Box" series of editorials.

By Brian Knowles

MONROVIA, Calif.--There can be no doubt that what happened in New York City and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 was an act of incalculable evil. It has been labeled America's second day of infamy and the 21st century's Pearl Harbor. Those who are behind it can be defined only as utterly evil, even demoniacal.

Whether this evil was generated by religious fanaticism, hatred for Israel and anyone who befriends her, or simply a sick urge to bring down the one nation that stands between civilization and global barbarism, it's still evil.

It was evil on a grand and profound scale. It was deep evil. It was the result of conspiracy, cunning premeditation and malevolent calculation. It targeted the innocent, as do all acts of terrorism.

Thousands of people who were simply beginning their day's work at the World Trade Center suddenly became nonexistent. On the way to their untimely demise, many suffered horribly. Some, in panic, leaped out of windows to their deaths. In a few hours of utter chaos, thousands of orphans, widows and widowers were created. Those who died had no idea that this would be their last day on earth.

How could any human being perpetrate such horror on innocent people? What kind of hatred drives such monsters?

Clearly it goes beyond mere politics. It's far deeper than that. It is religious and spiritual in nature. It is unquestionably demonic.

How can this or any nation cope with such devastating sneak attacks? How do you fight an enemy you can't exactly identify or locate? Of what value are nuclear weapons against a handful of Islamic fanatics who appear out of nowhere and blow themselves up along with their victims?

Seven ways to fight evil

Of course those who are behind these suicidal terrorists understand our vulnerability here. Because of their willingness to commit such outrages against the innocent, and their complete freedom from conscience, they are able to inflict damage far out of proportion to their relative strength.

By attacking strategically in the right places, even something as small as a virus can bring down a giant. Can you kill a virus with a flyswatter? Would it matter how many flyswatters you had?

International terrorism based on religious fanaticism is the major evil of our time. Nothing else approaches it for sheer malevolence. Yet one wonders whether the world has the will to address it on the appropriate level.

Evil is commonly addressed in seven major ways:

  • Join with it. If it looks like a given evil may prevail in the long run, some decide that if you can't lick 'em join 'em. This philosophy is based on the idea that it's best to be on the winning side rather than to be morally right--and dead. This option is not open to the true people of God, for Scripture says, "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong" (Exodus 23:2). It takes faith and courage to follow the right path.
  • Ignore it. Ignoring evil is like ignoring a cancer: It'll get you anyway, and sooner rather than later. Yet it is natural to slip into denial when it comes to evil, because the alternative--dealing with it--is so ugly and unpleasant. Many people wear blinders rather than face the sheer magnitude of evil in the world.
  • Flee from it. This is valid up to a point. Scripture says, "A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it" (Proverbs 22:3).

There are some evils, however, from which we cannot hide. Suddenly they are right there in our faces. Those who blithely went to work in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 had no idea they would be facing life-threatening evil that very morning. They had no chance to take refuge.

  • Appease it. Appeasement is the course traditionally taken by naive liberals such as Neville Chamberlain, who before World War II sought to appease Adolf Hitler and paid a dear price for it. Israel's doves long sought to appease Yasir Arafat and his band of thugs and terrorists. President Clinton sought to appease Red China. The world's thugs view attempts at appeasement as simple weakness. They take courage from it. They move aggressively into the vacuum it creates.
  • Vigorously oppose it (Ecclesiastes 8:11). One of the greatest truisms of life is that evil unopposed is evil encouraged. Ultimately, if the Western world is to survive, the evil that is global terrorism will have to be eradicated once and for all.

This could take generations. This kind of evil is more like a cancer than a virus. It is life threatening, and if you don't cut it out completely it will grow back. Even if you excise it, if you don't change what created it in the first place it will appear anew.

It is not enough to apprehend or kill a few terrorist leaders, even culpable ones. The world must band together to eradicate the root causes of such evil. It must resort to draconian measures, for this evil is far beyond the pale.

  • Overcome it with good (Romans 12:21). This is easier said than done, but we must at least make the attempt. How to do it in any given situation is a matter of knowledge and wisdom.

Here we must seek the leading of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Barbarians often view goodness as weakness. We're familiar with the adage that nice guys finish last. But doing good does not mean compromising with evil. Nor does it mean appeasing it or caving in before it.

Goodness has nothing to do with weakness. In fact, in the face of such overwhelming evil it takes great courage and faith to choose the good.

  • Pray it away (Matthew 6:13; Psalm 7:1; 31:14-15). Our times are in God's hands. Nothing is more important for dealing with evil than prayerful intercession.

God is utterly sovereign. His power is unlimited. His care and compassion for his true people are boundless.

The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much, wrote the apostle James. Now more than ever is a time for prayer. Judgment is coming on a wayward mankind. It begins with the "house of God"; that is, God's true people. We must clean up our acts and commit to fervent prayer. The cleaner we are, the more likely God is to hear our prayers.

Make God our partner

In confronting evil in any manner, we must make God our partner. "Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain" (Psalm 127:1).

All of our military might, all of our physical strength, courage and high-tech weaponry will be of no use unless God blesses our efforts. "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong . . ." (Ecclesiastes 9:11).

As God told Zerubbabel, the high priest: "Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit" (Zechariah 4:6).

In our modern world of moral relativism and ethical ambivalence, it is sometimes difficult to understand who the bad guys are. God is not unclear on the matter. Note what He says in His Word.

What God hates

In Scripture we read of seven things the Lord our God hates: "haughty eyes" (did you see the Palestinians and Iraqis gloating over America's tragedy?); a lying tongue (a normal tactic of terrorists); hands that shed innocent blood; a heart that devises wicked schemes; feet that are quick to rush into evil; a false witness who pours out lies; and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers" (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Do you recognize in these verses the evil that is terrorism? What then can we conclude about how God feels about it?

It is right for the people of God to hate what God hates. He obviously hates terrorism. It is something to be opposed and stamped out by any means necessary.

Finding the will

The free Western world must find within itself the will and resolve to commit to a long-term battle against the horrendous wickedness that is terrorism. The battle must be continuing and relentless. We must seek and destroy those who would destroy America and freedom generally. All of the resources necessary must be poured into this effort.

The terrorists, and those who harbor them, are guilty of what God hates.

I believe that He will therefore back us up if we prayerfully seek his guidance and direction in a war on this pervasive evil. We must be even more relentless than are the terrorists themselves if we are to deliver the earth of them. As one retired army officer said, we must "unleash upon them the dogs of war."

Decisive action

This is a battle for the survival of the United States as a nation--and for that of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. Indeed, Western civilization itself is at stake. This is no time for indecision, waffling or appeasing. It is time for decisive action.

As we have always done in the past, the free world must band together to fight to the death the latest manifestation of devilish evil on our planet.

As quoted earlier, the writer of Ecclesiastes, centuries before Islam and Christianity were born, said, "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

The longer the free world hesitates in acting against these vicious acts, the more emboldened those who committed them will be to do it again, and worse. Our resolve must be like iron. Punishment must be swift and sure.

As we read in Proverbs, "If you falter in times of adversity, how small is your strength" (Proverbs 24:10).

Real or perceived weakness is something upon which every terrorist, tyrant and bully capitalizes. We are a nation at war with terrorism, and we must not let up until that war is irreversibly won, no matter how long it takes. The minute we let up we're lost.

We cannot afford to listen to the whining voices of leftist peaceniks who would rather roll over and play dead before the advancing enemy than fight it. These voices are subversive and, in some cases, even treasonous. They give aid and comfort to our enemies while at the same time attacking our leaders.

How to pray about it

How should we as Christians pray about it?

First, we should ask that God grant us as a people the will and resolve to fight our enemy. We can legitimately ask for a complete victory over international terrorism. God supports those who actively fight evil in the world.

Second, we could ask God to reward the terrorists in kind for what they have done to innocent people.

Third, we can pray that God grant as many of them as possible the gift of genuine repentance for the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

These people dwell in deep spiritual darkness. They need the truth of God to lift them out of it. They need to "come under conviction."

They truly believe that in murdering Jews and Christians they are ridding the world of infidels and doing God a service.

Jesus warned His followers that "the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service" (John 16:2). That time is here.

". . . He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). God will reward us, but only if we seek Him diligently. As Joy Dawson often says, God is not interested in casual inquiries.

No matter the odds, no matter the tactics, this is an evil that can be defeated. To achieve victory the people of God need to be fully committed to the battle. We must vigorously oppose evil at all levels: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

As I wrote earlier in this article, and in many others, evil unopposed is evil encouraged.

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