My most favorite epic stories (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Gladiator, Independence Day, Doctor Who… I could go on forever) all include that most basic storytelling element: good versus evil. There’s a hero (good) and antagonist (evil) who stand in opposition to each other, each fighting to get his (or her) own way as we read or watch with baited breath waiting to see who will win.
God, being the original and ultimate author, writes a story with this same central theme. There is both good and evil present here (as watching any news show will tell you). And they stand in opposition to each other, each fighting to get his way.
Now, you probably already know this, but God is good. We seem to have a hard time believing this (myself included), but it doesn’t change the facts. Throughout the Bible, God is celebrated as being good because what He does gives us evidence of it. David says it quite often:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NLT)
“Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”
Psalm 34:8 (NLT)
“You are good and do only good…”
Psalm 119:68 (NLT)
God is faithful and His love endures forever; therefore, God is good. God provides protection to those who seek it; therefore, God is good. God does only good; therefore, God is good. God cares for His children; therefore, God is good. God rescues His people from physical slavery (in Egypt) and spiritual slavery (more on that in another post); therefore, God is good.
Satan, on the other hand, is evil. Again, I’m pretty sure you already knew that. If you read my post about him, you probably got that picture pretty clearly from his bent toward destruction. The Bible describes him as a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8) and the father of lies (John 8:44). Nothing he does is good.
So how does this battle of good versus evil play out in God’s story?
God creates the world and man and declares it all good (Genesis 1). Satan swoops in and leads Adam and Eve to eat the fruit. Now man knows the difference between good and evil and we have a choice between the two. Satan keeps working and Cain kills Abel. In a matter of generations, evil has become so great that God decides to wipe out what He created and start over (Genesis 6:5-7). But Satan keeps on fighting, leading us farther and farther along the path of evil that he seems to be winning. It gets to the point where only God can truly be described as good (Luke 18:19). Paul spends the first few chapters of Romans describing just how far from God we really are:
“Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”
Romans 1:29-31 (NLT)
It certainly looks like Satan is winning.
But he’s not the only one fighting for his way.
See God has already stepped in delivered the fatal blow. When Jesus died on the cross, He provided the opportunity for us to trade our evil for His good (Romans 3:23-24). We talked last time about God creating new hearts for us. These are good hearts. They are hearts that allow us to do the good works we were meant to do (Ephesians 2:10) and produce good fruit (Colossians 1:10) because the Holy Spirit is working in them. Every time we do, we wage war against Satan and evil: “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” (Romans 12:13, NLT)
You know how you cheer each time the hero chooses to do the right thing? Yeah, we’ve got people cheering us on, too. It’s all the people who have gone ahead of us, who have already run the race. They’re cheering for good to conquer evil, because all the best stories end that way. SPOILER ALERT: Good totally kicks evil’s butt in this story. Satan’s going to get thrown in a pit of fire and be tormented forever.
So while we strive for little victories in the war against evil, let’s find strength in the fact that God’s already got the major victory in the bag.
What are some of your most recent victories over evil?