Sunday, 18 July 2021 05:45

Article of faith: The root of all evil - Femi Aribisala

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Femi Aribisala Femi Aribisala

Is it good to go to school; get a good job; build your own house and have lots of money? Not according to Jesus. These things are highly valued by men. But Jesus teaches that: “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15).

Therefore, it is not surprising that Jesus had none of these accomplishments as a man. He did not go to school. He was a lowly carpenter. He did not build His own house. He was not a rich man.

In Jesus’ doctrine, the cares of this life are the preoccupations of Satan and men. This makes them offensive to God. Jesus told Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23). 

This means the things of men are the things of Satan. Jesus asked the chief priests of the Jews: “The baptism of John - where was it from? From heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21:25). If it is from heaven, then it cannot be from men.

God is good

Jesus says: “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17). This means only the things about the kingdom of God can be good. Everything about this world is evil. Those things that preoccupy us; going to school, getting good jobs, building houses, and making money, all pertain to this world and, as such, are evil and not of God.

God’s kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36). Indeed, everything earthly is a human alternative to the will of God in heaven. Continued devotion to the things of this world militates against our desire to be with the Father in heaven and is therefore evil.

Jesus says to His disciples: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

This indicates He sees men as evil. To be good, men, who Jesus also categorises as “the sons of this world,” have to become “the sons of light;” another word for sons of God. Sons of men must receive from Jesus the power to become sons of God. (John 1:12-13).

This requires all our affinities to men and to this world to be relinquished in favour of God and the kingdom of heaven. These include allegiances to the fatherland, to family and relatives, and race, sex, and creed.

Jesus is categorical: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). He says furthermore: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33).

Relative and absolute evil

Men are consumed by the love of life, leading us to regard anything that threatens our life as evil. This makes us define evil erroneously in relative terms. If the enemy kills us, he is evil; but if we kill him, we are good.

However, God sees evil in absolute terms.

Jesus regards as evil anything that undermines God’s will. This makes man’s life the greatest evil of all. The love of life, expressed in our determination to enhance, promote, and safeguard our temporal condition, commands our allegiance even above the first and greatest commandment to love God with all our heart.

Therefore, Jesus regards man’s love of life as the root of all evil and the basis of every sin. Indeed, we steal, cheat, fight, kill and commit adultery to save our lives. We only overcome sin by hating our lives.   

Re-definition of evil

Jesus reveals that the love of life makes men enemies of God. He tells us that God has made the hatred of life in this world the primary prerequisite for the attainment of eternal life. Jesus says: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25).

Thereby, Jesus redefines evil. Since men esteem their lives more than anything else, Jesus defines everything that diminishes our life in this world as good. He requires us to take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions and in distresses. For when we are weak, then we are strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Poverty becomes a blessing. Jesus says: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20). He also categorises adversities as a blessing: “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21).

He says: “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).

Correspondingly, Jesus tells us not to bother to resist evil anymore: “I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39). He insists we must love our enemies: “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44).

Moreover, Jesus says we should not fear death: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.” (Luke 12:4). Death becomes something good because it leads to our reunification with the Father in heaven: “If you loved me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father.’” (John 14:28). But life is evil because it keeps us away from God.

Evil misnomer

The problem with the love of life is that men are unaware that it is sinful. If we love life, we will automatically love sin. The love of life militates against the love of God. It blinds men to the truth about good and evil.

Indeed, we define our righteousness by the extent to which we love and promote life; the very thing God hates. To understand good and evil from God’s perspective, we must first break free from the bondage of the love of life.

The love of life prompts us to eat from the God-forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Everything we make and do has evil and good in it simultaneously. Every good medicine for healing sicknesses has bad side effects. The plane that carries us from Cape to Cairo sometimes falls from the sky and crashes.

We make so-called “evil things” like the atom bomb and the machine gun; and “good things” like the airplane and the aspirin. But both our “good” and “bad” products are evil in God’s sight because they are of the world and not of God.

Accordingly, John counsels: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:15-16).

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