Over Coming Evil

February 28, 2016 § Leave a comment

Recently I was reading in True Christian Religion about omnipotence. We have from the Lord’s omnipotence the ability to resist and overcome our hereditary inclinations to evil, and those evils we have made our own by our doing.

Think about that. If Divine Omnipotence is helping us to overcome our evils, how can we fail? Isn’t this a comforting thought!

It is common in our Western culture to believe that we are born into certain inclinations and therefore we cannot do or be otherwise than what we are. But the Lord tells us differently. We are born into the inclination towards every kind of evil. We are not held accountable for these inclinations. We are only accountable for those inclinations we make our own by acting them out, by doing them. The more often we do them, the stronger they become, and the less desire we have to get rid of them.

Still the Lord preserves our freedom to look to Him and seek His help to overcome our evils, or we can look towards ourselves and avoid His help.

If we look to ourselves and seek to overcome our evils from our own abilities, we will fail. We may suppress our evils so that outwardly we appear to be good and moral to others; but inwardly we will be ravaging wolves. We may not even be conscious of our true evil nature, since all evil sees itself as being good.

If, on the other hand,

  • we look to the Lord,
  • learn His truths by reading His Word,
  • examine our desires and actions,
  • shun evils as sins against the Lord,
  • and do good;

then the Divine omnipotence will resist and overcome our evil desires.

Even though the Lord’s omnipotence is working in us to overcome our evils, this does not mean that our struggle with evil is easy or quick. The love of self, the love of the world, various lusts and addictions are a lifelong battle. The Lord removes them “little by little,” since a sudden removal will leave us empty without anything we love or identify with.

We should be comforted to know that if we keep getting up from our failures, if we keep persevering in looking to the Lord, He will not fail to reform and regenerate us.

TCR 68. (vii) MAN HAS FROM DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE POWER AGAINST EVIL AND FALSITY, AND FROM DIVINE OMNISCIENCE WISDOM ABOUT GOOD AND TRUTH, AND FROM DIVINE OMNIPRESENCE IS IN GOD, TO THE EXTENT THAT HE LIVES IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DIVINE ORDER.

The reason man has from Divine Omnipotence power against evils and falsities to the extent that he lives in accordance with the Divine order is that no one, except God alone, can resist evils and the falsities they produce. For all evils and their falsities come from hell, and there they hold together as a unit, exactly as all kinds of good and so truths do in heaven. As I said before, in the sight of God the whole of heaven is like one man, and in the opposite case hell is like one monstrous giant. Thus acting against one evil and its falsity is like taking on that monstrous giant or all hell. No one can do this except God, because He is omnipotent.

[2] It is plain from this that unless a person approaches almighty God, he can do no more against evil and so falsity than a fish against the ocean, a flea against a whale, or a speck of dust against an avalanche – much less than a locust against an elephant, or a fly against a camel. Moreover, a person has so much less power against evil and so falsity because he was born into evil, and evil cannot act against itself. The consequence of this is that unless a person lives in accordance with order, that is, unless he acknowledges God, His omnipotence and the protection this gives him against hell, and unless he on his part also fights with the evil in himself, for both of these are part of order, he must inevitably be plunged into and drowned in hell, and there buffeted by evils, one after the other, like a rowing-boat by squalls at sea.

TCR 69. The reason why the wisdom about good and truth a person has from Divine omniscience is in proportion to the extent to which he lives according to the Divine order, is that all love of good and all wisdom about truth, in other words, all the good of love and all the truth of wisdom, come from God. This is borne out by the confession of all the churches in Christendom. It follows from this that a person cannot have inwardly any truth of wisdom except from God, since God has omniscience, that is, infinite wisdom. The human mind is, like the heaven of the angels, divided into three degrees; so it can be raised to a higher degree and one higher still, or be depressed to a lower degree and one lower still. To the extent, however, that it is raised to higher degrees, it enters into wisdom, because it enters to that extent into the light of heaven, and this could not be brought about except by God. To the extent it is raised into that light, a person is truly human; but to the extent that it sinks to the lower degrees, it comes into the deceptive light of hell, and the person is to that extent not human, but an animal. This is why man stands erect on his feet, with his face upturned to heaven, able to raise it to the zenith; and why an animal stands on its feet parallel to the ground, and fully faces that, so that it can only with difficulty lift its gaze to heaven.

[2] A person who lifts up his mind towards God, and acknowledges that all the truth of wisdom comes from Him, and at the same time lives in accordance with order, resembles someone standing on a lofty tower watching a densely populated city below him and seeing what goes on in its streets. But a person who convinces himself that all the truth of wisdom comes from his own natural enlightenment, that is, from himself, resembles someone living in a cellar under that tower, watching the same city through narrow holes; he can see no more than the wall of one house in the city, and study how the bricks in it hold together. Again, a person who draws wisdom from God is like a bird flying high, spying out everything in the gardens, woods and villages round about, and flying towards things that can be of service. But a person who derives what belongs to wisdom from himself, without believing that this still comes from God, is like a hornet flying close to the ground, and, when it sees a dunghill, flying up to it and taking pleasure in its stench.

[3] Every person, as long as he lives in the world, treads a path mid-way between heaven and hell; and he is in equilibrium, that is, he has free will to look up to God or down to hell. If he looks up to God, he acknowledges that all wisdom comes from God, and his spirit is really present among the angels in heaven. The person who looks down, as everyone does whose evil puts him under the power of falsities, is in his spirit really among the devils in hell.

TCR 70. The reason why a person is by Divine omnipresence in God to the extent that he lives in accordance with order, is that God is omnipresent and where He is present in His Divine Order, He is so to speak in Himself, since, as shown before, He is order. Now since man has been created to be a form for the Divine Order, God is present in him, but fully only to the extent that he lives in accordance with the Divine order. If he does not live in accordance with the Divine order, God is still present in him, but in his highest regions, giving him the ability to understand truth and will good, that is, giving him the faculty of understanding and the inclination to love. But in so far as he lives contrary to order, so far does he close up the lower regions of his mind or spirit, and thus prevent God from coming down and filling the lower regions with His presence. So God is present in him, but he is not in God. It is the general rule in heaven that God is present in every person, evil as well as good, but a person is not in God unless he lives in accordance with order. For the Lord says that He wills that a person should be in Him and He in the person (John 15:4).

[2] The reason why a person is in God if he lives in accordance with order is that God is omnipresent in the universe, and in every part of it, in the inmost of each, since these are in order. But in parts which are contrary to order, which are only those outside the inmost, God is omnipresent by a continual struggle with them as He strives continually to bring them into order. For this reason in so far as a person allows himself to be brought into order, so far is God omnipresent in his whole being, and consequently so far is God in him and he in God. The absence of God from man is no more possible than the absence of the sun, by way of its heat and light, from the earth. But objects on earth are only affected by its influence to the extent that they receive the heat and light radiated by the sun, which happens in spring and summer.

[3] This comparison can be applied to the omnipresence of God. A person is so far in spiritual heat and at the same time spiritual light, that is, in possession of the good of love and the truths of wisdom, as he is subject to order. But spiritual heat and light differ from natural heat and light. In wintertime natural heat is lost by the earth and things on it, and natural light is lost at nighttime, because the earth by its rotation and orbit around the sun causes the seasons and times of day. This does not happen with spiritual heat and light, for God is present supplying both by means of His sun, and this does not change as the natural sun appears to do. It is the person himself who turns away as the earth turns away from the sun, and when he turns away from the truths of wisdom, he can be compared to the earth turning away from the sun during the night; when he turns away from the kinds of good of love he is like the earth turning away from the sun during the winter. Such is the correspondence between the effects and services performed by the sun of the spiritual world and those performed by the sun of the natural world.

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