- Religion and Philosophy
The Problem With Evil: How To Recognize the Presence of Malevolence
According to Demonologists, the spiritual realm contains a veritable army of demons. Some demons are highly intelligent while others are less so. However, even "weaker" demons manage to secure followers in both the physical and spiritual realms. In the human realm, gullible people are easily led astray. That's a given. But the problem with evil is that even "the elect" can be deceived. Evil is an expert at deception.
Evil is a spiritual force which is present in the physical realm. Furthermore, evil has a hierarchy. The more powerful spirits maintain dominance over weaker spirits. However, all malicious spirits have the same goal, which is to prey upon human beings and feed off of our vulnerabilities. Malicious human beings do the same. They are the spirit of evil made manifest in the world.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
How Humans Feed Evil
Oddly enough, evil would be unable to thrive in this world were it not for human beings: Humans supply the energy, through bad actions, that allows evil to remain extant. It is important to remember that evil, as a spiritual essence, is dependent upon human beings in order to remain an active force on earth. In other words, were humans to stop giving evil so much service, whether knowingly or not, the forces of darkness would have no choice but to shrivel up and die.
The Scriptures state that evil began as a result of a prideful angel, a light bearer who deemed himself more glorious than God. This angel, who has come to be known as Lucifer, the devil and Satan, was cast out of heaven along with other rebellious angels who honored Lucifer over God. And so began the downfall of man...
"Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee." Ezekiel 28:17 KJV
(God speaking to the King of Tyre, and alluding to Satan.)
The Face of Malevolence
Whether the Biblical story is a metaphorical warning against excessive pride and self-importance, or whether Satan's fall from grace is literal, I do not know. In any event, we can glean from the event that pride does indeed "come before the fall" and that raising ourselves above God will result in a fall from grace.
Nevertheless, to our detriment, we humans continue to do as we please regardless of Biblical guidelines that are meant for our well being and our spiritual protection. One of the most important points to remember is that evil is a liar and as such, will introduce itself as a beacon of virtue and light, or anything else a human being may find appealing. Consequently, naïve minds are easily deceived and are therefore are more likely to be targeted by malevolent forces.
"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
--The Screwtape Letters, Author, C.S. Lewis
The truth is that we almost never recognize the face of malevolence, at least, not when we first meet it. Evil woos through subtle, seemingly lofty ideals that hint at the power of wisdom and inner knowing. Let's face it, if somebody approached you and said they wanted to rape and kill your daughter or invade and incapacitate your mind and your will, would you welcome them into your home with open arms? You would not. Nonetheless, we invite negativity into our lives more than we know. We fail to understand that evil has the ability to put on a kindly face to deceive, but once it has you in it's grip your life begins to spiral out of control. Having given the forces of darkness permission to enter into your life, “all hell breaks loose“ and it is not easy to rid yourself of the stronghold.
"If we rely strictly on our feelings to keep us safe from danger, we risk having our lives endangered."
Mary Ellen O'Toole, Ph.D., former FBI profiler, author of "Dangerous Instincts"
Malevolent People and Evil Entities Know How to Project Feelings of Warmth and Trustworthiness
"I know you can't decide whether a person or a situation is dangerous based only on whether you feel fearful...I've interviewed countless victims who say they never saw it coming. Their feelings did not alert them to the danger that was in their midst."
"In fact, dangerous people can be masters at appearing normal... They don't seem threatening and our underlying belief is that if we are nice to them they will be nice to us... they can be exceptionally good at making eye contact and putting us at our ease."
--Mary Ellen O'Toole. Ph.D.
Take the case of Bernie Madoff who cheated investors by "creating a sanctuary of false safety." Madoff was a highly respected investor who was actually a master con artist. He could even manipulate investor's gut feelings; he knew how to work his magic. Make no mistake, that which is inherently wicked has no goodwill nor any kind intentions. Evil's only goal is to accumulate power, to remain extant and to create destruction. Evil feeds off of negative energy and the wrong choices of humans, as in the case of Madoff.
Evil Is Seductive
We must mever passively accept everything that seems appealing. Everything is not beautiful in its' own way. The point here is that evil exists whether you believes in it or not. Evil is highly secretive and highly seductive. Evil spirits can cause you to believe that you are wiser and more powerful than other people by appealing to your pride. However, these false assurance will ultimately chip away at your your common sense and your humanity. Therefore, it behooves humans to become more discerning and less naive. That being said, one need not become obsessed with evil, for to dwell on it excessively is to give it more attention and power than it deserves. However, we must be aware that evil exists and that it is always malevolent and harmful, if not outright murderous.
For example, good parents try to teach their children to beware of strangers, no matter how many ice cream treats, candies or puppies a stranger offers them. But to those little ones who have never been forewarned, the temptation to be deceived and seduced by promises of instant gratification is already a lost battle. Even children who have been warned about danger are easily deceived. The very same premise applies to adults. Most of us like to think we know better than to engage with anything malevolent. We flatter ourselves, believing we can trust our instincts, but in most cases this belief is false. Malicious people know how to unobtrusively insert themselves into our lives. For this reason, it is imperative that individuals be grounded in wisdom and spiritual discernment.
What is Spiritual Discernment?
Discernment is using our intelligence and critical thinking skills to make distinctions about what is truth and what is not. Spiritual discernment is the means by which we may appraise and detect any malicious messages, events, spirits, environments or persons that are not of God or which may harbor harmful intentions. Furthermore, the gift of discernment is obtained through the Holy Spirit. Those who practice the esoteric arts are not necessarily savvy to the fact that they must not immediately assume any encounter or "visitation" they experience is from God. By now, we know that dark entities will use any method available in their arsenal of weapons to invade our minds.
The Esoteric Arts
In the world of channeling, for example, wicked entities will make spiritual pronouncements couched in seemingly pious or lofty phrases. These words of “spirituality" usually cause the seeker to believe they have been specifically chosen and singled out by an “evolved” spiritual being. Such seekers come to feel that they must be special are more spiritual than the average person. And so, well meaning people open the door even wider for these bad spirits to influence their minds. Just because someone thinks they have gained knowledge and spiritual growth does not mean they have. In truth, such people have been duped.
Playing with the Ouija board or channeling spirits is a fool's game. These type of activities always attract low level spirits. The entities who arise from séances, for example, will pretend to be your long lost child, your favorite uncle who died five years ago, an angel of light, or even Jesus himself. But they are never anything or anyone they claim to be. Rather, they are malevolent spirits who can and do pretend to be who you want them to be----and they WILL do harm to you.
Once these deceiving spirits have your attention, they begin feeding off of your essence. Their ultimate goal is to gain greater dominance in the world by stealing bits of your energy, thus making themselves more powerful, as you become weaker.
How to Determine Whether a Spiritual Encounter is Harmful or Benevolent
- Benevolent spirits never try to force anything upon us.
- Angels/Messengers from God will point to God and away from the sender.
- Examine the fruits of any encounter upon your life, or those people who surround you.
- A message from the Divine leaves us changed for the better, even if only in a small way, while encounters with the forces of darkness have hurtful consequences, though not always immediately.
- Any being you summon at will through a medium is not from God.
--Eileen Elias Freeman, Touched By Angels
That being said, angels from God will occasionally make their presence known to individuals. Nevertheless, we cannot will them through channeling exercises. Angels come into our lives when they know an individual is in dire need, or when God tells them to do so. Angels are not parlor game entertainment. Consequently, one must be highly skeptical of any angel workshop organization that states otherwise.
We all have guardian angels and they do offer protection. The key in calling for protection is to keep one's focus on God as the Creator of angels. If you'll notice when reading about most angel encounters, they always come to earth to complete a task but once the task is completed, they leave just as suddenly as they arrived. Angels do not wish to draw attention to themselves; their goal is to help mankind by pointing to the Creator, the source from which they came.
In allowing ourselves to be susceptible, in general, we give sanction to these dark entities to have entry into our lives. Consequently, in no time, we become even more vulnerable to believing any outlandish pronouncements these dark spirits proclaim. In short order, we have fallen for their "spiritually enlightened" deception routine---hook, line and sinker! We have unknowingly given evil permission to use and abuse us. Laugh if you will, but possession by a demon into a person’s life is a reality. Full demonic possession is rare, but it happens nonetheless.
One of evil's greatest achievements is making humans believe that good and evil are relative. Some folks today believe that evil is just another side of good. Frankly, this philosophy is beyond foolish. There is nothing good about the forces of evil, nor will there ever be. Moral relativism stems, in part, from the philosophy of Sophism rooted in ancient Greece around the 5th century B.C. Sophism is a philosophy of lies. In fact, the Sophists hid their contempt for honesty and goodness under the guise of virtue.
"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."
Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
One of the most famous teachers of Sophism was Protagoras. Protagoras is credited with the philosophy of Relativism, which proposes that man is the "standard of all things" and that all men have "the right to determine standards of good and evil" and that man is "not bound by moral codes." One of Protagoras' claims is that he could "make the worse (or weaker) argument appear the better (or stronger)." Not surprisingly, the Sophists made great lawyers.
Indeed, Sophists received great sums of money for teaching their beliefs to the aristocratic class (the only group who had sufficient wealth to learn from teachers of Sophism). True to their philosophy, Sophist teachers had no compunction about catering to popular opinion rather than actual truth. Indeed, they were excessively liberal in this regard.
Biblical Doctrine on Recognizing False Teachers.
"He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting out questions and strife of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
--1 Timothy 6:4 & 5
Most intellectual elitists today maintain principles of Sophism or relativism. True to the philosophy of old, elitists in modern society continue to twist the truth or lie outright as a means of achieve their ends. You will find such people in politics, science, the world of philosophy, and in other high places. These elitists make up a small percentage of society, yet the influence they wield is extremely powerful as they have powerful connections that are needed to influence the laws and politics of our modern day.
Frankly, the population at large should be much more wary of the constructs of relativism. Moral relativism does not care about principles of goodness, godliness, or actual truth---not even remotely. Yet actual truth exists, whether or not some would have you believe otherwise. The precepts of truth have not changed. Furthermore, without truth, we cannot have spiritual discernment. Ironically, Protagorus' missive was entitled, "Truth." However, Protagorus was, admittedly, a man of lies.
Prayer: Our Best Defense
When all is said and done, we would do well to pray for wisdom, understanding, protection, and spiritual discernment, that we may be able to avoid the wiles of evil. In and of ourselves, we really do not have the ability to detect evil’s face; however we can use our minds, sound doctrine and our higher critical thinking skills to recognize the actions of evil.
And so, it behooves us to gain a greater understanding of what is good and moral so that we can more easily detect that which is the opposite of goodness. The last thing anyone needs is for evil to invade their lives. If anyone gives the forces of darkness enough leeway, it will do everything in it's power to keep true knowledge and discernment at bay. Consequently, prayer is our best defense against the antics of evil.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear; because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love."
1 John 4:18
The Good News
The good news is that when we are grounded in love and respect for the Creator, we have no real reason to be fearful. That brings to mind the story of a devout preacher who had had more than his fair share of battles with the devil, having been attacked constantly. As the story goes: One day the devil came along with the intent of tormenting this fine man of God but the old preacher was unafraid. He’d had too many dealings with the devil and his confidence in the Lord had become strong and steadfast.
So when he saw the devil approached him once again, the wise old preacher simply commented, “Oh, it’s you again?” Whereupon, the preacher walked calmly upon his way, while the devil departed in terror.
You gotta love it when the good guy triumphs.