Jesus told them, “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
When the leaders in Jesus’ day confronted Him and eventually plotted to murder Him, they did so because they hated Jesus and the truths and values that He not only proclaimed but also lived by and encouraged others to live by. Jesus lived for God because Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life that His followers love and joyfully serve.
Today, those known as “the obviously evil” reject Jesus and His teachings in the Bible. They do not love Jesus or want to obey Jesus’ commandments. Actually, some who claim to be good Christians hate Jesus’ followers and His teachings; therefore, they openly express their disdain for them and try to discredit them.
Jesus taught truths to the leaders of His day that they rejected. Then, Jesus told everyone the truth about their spiritual nature. What Jesus taught then is true today. Jesus revealed that their spiritual father was the devil, and they chose to do what the devil wanted them to do. The devil is a murderer, so likewise the spiritual children of the devil want to murder others in a variety of ways. Think of the leaders today who promote murder in so many ways, and how they angrily condemn those who try to save people’s lives.
Today, we can easily recognize those who act obviously evil. They lie without shame or any concern that others might catch them in their deceptions. They refuse to obey any laws that inconvenience them or deny them power over others. They refuse to enforce laws designed to protect the powerless and those who disagree with them. They unjustly and hypocritically punish some for deeds they and their friends openly and shamelessly do themselves. They unjustly imprison some. They refuse to give justice and mercy to those who disagree with them. They feel threatened by different ideas and do their best to silence their critics in every way possible, whether legal or not.
We know from Jesus that the spiritual father of the obviously evil (and those not so obvious) is the devil. The devil inspires lying and the devil influences some to believe lies or be deceived by lies. Satan inspires evil people to promote wars and hatred among nations and people as one way to murder people for the devil’s and their purposes. Today, many leaders in the world, some political and some religious, some in corporations and some in the media, some in almost every profession or job, promote wars, give easy access to death-dealing drugs, bring about or promote the death of children before and after they are born, create deadly viruses, encourage the death of those they deem unworthy to live, demand the death of those they find inconvenient or who have various handicaps or who they deem too old. If they cannot murder someone directly, they encourage the person to murder themselves. These leaders and people are easy to recognize today just by reading the newspaper and internet reports, or by watching any news broadcast (mainstream or otherwise). Many who promote deception and murder may not know that what they are saying and doing is so obviously evil to so many, especially to Jesus’ followers.
Jesus spoke to deceivers and the deceived; they could have come to know and understand and follow the truth, but many would not. The New Testament speaks to all types of people, but will they come to know and understand and follow the truth? We see lawlessness from top to bottom among and within the nations of the world today, and this open lawlessness seems so mysterious to us because until recently it was so well hidden. The fact that evil and lawlessness is so brazenly defended and promoted by some in places of authority, by those who should know and do what is right, by those who should enforce just laws, is part of what the Bible calls “the mystery of lawlessness.” However, this evil and lawlessness would be far worse if the Holy Spirit did not restrain much of it moment-by-moment. Without God intervening, those who live obviously evil would act in far more evil ways. But there is good news! The Bible also teaches that someday God will remove this lawlessness and those who live lawless from the world.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12, the Apostle Paul explained “the mystery of lawlessness” and why some are deceived by lawlessness: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.”
Today, we see Satan bringing about “every kind of wicked deception for [or upon] those who are perishing.” And we partially see God’s just judgment working upon the lives of leaders and others who make decisions and act under “a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false;” therefore they act obviously evil and promote what is evil.
Again, why are some leaders deceived and deceiving others, Paul gave the reason, “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.” When we see people promoting lawlessness without concern for what is just and merciful, and when we see them angrily promoting and defending evil and different ways to murder others of all ages, we see the evidence of God’s just judgment and God’s condemnation coming upon them.
But, also hear more Good News! The Apostle Paul also gave good news to all the followers of Jesus, to those distressed and perhaps discouraged by obvious evil all around them: “But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.”
Now listen to Paul’s prayer for you, if you follow Jesus:
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17).