The battleground for good and evil

Good and evil are two opposites, sustained by their respective characteristics. When left separate, the two conditions are bereft of conflict. They resemble positive and negative cords that generate electricity, when dangerously in contact with each other. Similarly, when truth and falsehood are combined, it becomes impossible to put blame on either of the opposites. Destruction is possible when truth and falsehood are combined.

The term “conflict” is described by combining two opposites, which produce a calamitous effect, characterized by confusion. When the Pharisees resolved to murder Jesus, they assumed to purge evil. They were sincere in assuming that Jesus represented the devil, but without facts.

Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 

If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house” (Matthew 12:23-29 NIV).

A misrepresentation was that a demon-possessed man who was mute and blind was not supposed to be healed of his unhealthy condition. There ought to have been celebrations, from observers. However, the miraculous performance was attributed to Beelzebub, the prince of demons.

Those condemning Jesus for such an unprecedented miraculous performance included respected religious leaders in Jerusalem. I suppose most of the ordinary observers found it convenient to agree with the Pharisaic viewpoint? The conflict between good and evil can manifest when goodness also gets attacked and labelled evil.

The exhibited miraculous healing was considered scandalous. The Pharisees assumed the demon-possessed man deserved the sickly condition, proving his sinfulness. As far as they were concerned, it was impossible to deliver demon-possessed people.

Between the two counteraccusations, one was based on truth, while the other was based on falsehood. There was no harmony between Jesus and the Pharisees. They accused Jesus of being demonic, while Jesus also truthfully described their condition, as evil.

Their accusation displayed a lack of certainty, although heaping insults on Jesus, describing Him as evil. The counteraccusations inflamed the conflict. But Jesus’ statement was based on truthfulness:

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a giant fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here (Matthew 12:38-42 NIV).

These were conflicting principles, representing truth on one hand and falsehood on the other. Jesus was a blessing that they could not appreciate, in their midst. Humanity’s challenges include the inability to distinguish truth from error.

The Holy Spirit represented the truth. It is only when deliberately rejecting the truth, possibly, for egotistical reasons, that one risks condemnation. The referred Holy Spirit was represented in truth. The Pharisees opposed Jesus, without knowing His representation of the truth. They carelessly assumed that it was impossible for truth to come from Jesus.

However, although heaping insults on Jesus, the Pharisees were safe. Their protection from blaspheming God’s Holy Spirit was their ignorance. They didn’t know what they were doing. Jesus understood their condition of ignorance, although warning them of possible deliberate denial of truth, thereby blaspheming God’s Spirit.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:30-32 NIV).

Falsehood does not exist where truth exists. The mixture of dichotomies causes conflict. The Pharisees could not be comfortable in the presence of Jesus. They could not scripturally denounce Jesus’ teachings, yet they were also unwilling to accept what He taught. An ignorant person is safe, as long as accepting being ignorant.

Those advancing truthful information may accuse those advancing falsehoods. Yet those advancing falsehood also accuse people who advance truthful information. It takes an analytical person to pick up the truth. Those advancing falsehoods could be more persuasive, to convince the majority. This was confirmed by Jesus, during His Mountainside Sermon.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:13-15 NIV).

What is often most convincing to the majority constitutes what leads to destruction. Careful observation is necessary when examining supplied information. Salesmanship is unnecessary, under those circumstances.

Truthful information is not what ordinarily attracts the majority, but the minority—although also necessary for the minority to evaluate. The evaluation exercise has commonly been relegated to Scholars. However, Jesus was unambiguous about the irrelevance of Scholarly information, on matters of faith.

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,  yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:36-40 NIV).

The quarrel between truth and falsehood or between good and evil was settled at the cross. It appears as though it was Jesus who succumbed, physically. But this is what led to the triumph of goodness. At one stage, one of His disciples displayed His determination to physically defend what he considered to be right.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:21-24 NIV).

Through Simon Peter’s rebuke, Jesus showed us the principle of avoiding the inevitable spark, resulting from contacting two conflicting energies. Peter sought to do the obvious, which is the reason why the planet earth is hell. One wonders whether by taking the stance, projected by Simon Peter, the disciples would have prevailed, to serve Jesus from the crucifixion.

God’s will was for Jesus to go through the cross, dying for humanity. Therefore, Peter’s war could not be winnable. The disciples may have possibly been killed, during the scuffle, although God’s will, for Jesus’ crucifixion, would still have been fulfilled. But the elimination of the disciples would have possibly disturbed the program.

Simon Peter’s idea: “This shall never happen to you!” was an impulse driven by emotion, but without reasoning. A person can be wrong, even when being on the side of truth, which is established in God. Jesus was not an impulsive reactor. Everything had to be done according to God’s will, even when going against the physical body.

When Jesus retorted, “Get behind me, Satan!” against Peter’s remark, He knew of the danger that Simon Peter was peddling. The crucifixion appears as if those on the Falsehood side won the day. They celebrated, as they mocked and ridiculed Jesus in His painful anguish.   

However, they were unaware of God’s fulfilled plan, making Jesus the winner. The spark between good and evil was systematically avoided, for the purpose of peacefully winning the battle of ages. As the mockers thought they had won, the angelic hosts were celebrating Jesus’ victory for humanity.

The determined holy war was over, as Salvation is now attainable to humanity. Injustice continues unabated, in the entire world. But it is a question of time, before the restoration of order, as Satan was defeated at the Garden of Gethsemane. To His disciples, Jesus declared:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; also believe in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:1-4 NIV).

The assurance given to the disciples was as real as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow. It is only the unbelief, causing doubt that makes it impossible for one to be united with Christ. The Holy war was won at the cross. It is now possible to be connected with God and Christ.

The observable worldly harmonious relationships may not all be carrying God’s approval. Scriptures do not show Jesus suggesting that there would be harmony, even among brethren. Jesus, Himself was not in harmony with the Jews.

Unity is of the Spirit, as Scriptures clearly show that a hundred per cent unity cannot be achievable among brethren, existing physically. The apostle Paul documented this, helping believers to co-relate and avoid petty quarrels.

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarrelling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:1-9 NIV).

This helps Christian followers to understand that conversion engages a person in spiritual battles. The apparent harmony in Churches may signify disunity with Christ. The worst thing is when the brethren pretend to believe in Christ, without faith.

The comfort of unity often portrays being out of sync with Christ. Each believer needs truth, without relying on pastors. Some Church groupings remain under the guidance of spiritual leaders, who lead them astray. This reveals an aspect of idolatry, that deserves to be avoided by brethren, at all costs.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.

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