The Source of Evil Exposed!
IN THE first century, many of the Jews were awaiting the arrival of the promised Messiah. (John 6:14) When Jesus came on the scene, he brought comfort and enlightenment. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, tamed the elements, even raised the dead. (Matthew 8:26; 14:14-21; 15:30, 31; Mark 5:38-43) He also spoke the sayings of Jehovah and held out the promise of everlasting life. (John 3:34) By what he said and did, Jesus fully demonstrated that he was the Messiah, the one to liberate mankind from sin and all its evil consequences.
Logically, the Jewish religious leaders should have been the first to welcome Jesus, listen to him, and joyfully accept his direction. Yet, they did not. Instead, they hated him, persecuted him, and conspired to kill him!—Mark 14:1; 15:1-3, 10-15.
Jesus rightly condemned those reprehensible men. (Matthew 23:33-35) However, he recognized that there was someone else who must share the blame for the evil in their hearts. He said to them: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) Though Jesus acknowledged that humans are capable of wicked acts, he pointed to the very source of evil—Satan the Devil.
By saying that Satan “did not stand fast in the truth,” Jesus revealed that this spirit creature was once a faithful servant of God but deviated from that right course. Why did Satan rebel against Jehovah? Because he nurtured feelings of self-importance to the point that he coveted worship that belongs only to God. *—Matthew 4:8, 9.
Satan’s rebellion found expression in the garden of Eden when he deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. By uttering the first lie ever spoken and by slandering Jehovah, Satan made himself “the father of the lie.” Furthermore, by luring Adam and Eve into disobedience, he caused sin to rule over them, leading ultimately to their death and the death of future generations. Thus, Satan also made himself “a manslayer”—indeed, the most monstrous murderer of all time!—Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 5:12.
Satan’s evil influence even reached into the spirit realm, where he induced other angels to join him in rebellion. (2 Peter 2:4) Like Satan, these wicked spirits took an improper interest in humans. In their case, however, it was a perverted sexual interest, with disastrous, evil consequences.
Evil Fills the Earth
The Bible tells us: “When men started to grow in numbers . . . and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.” (Genesis 6:1, 2) Who were those “sons of the true God”? They were spirit creatures, not humans. (Job 1:6; 2:1) How do we know? For one thing, marriage between humans had been taking place for some 1,500 years and warranted no special mention. So by drawing attention to the sexual union of “the sons of the true God” who materialized and took “the daughters of men,” the account clearly refers to something unprecedented, abnormal.
This abnormality is confirmed by the kind of offspring that resulted from these unions. Called Nephilim, they were hybrids who grew up to be giants. They were also vicious bullies. In fact, “Nephilim” means “Fellers,” or “those who cause others to fall down.” These brutes are described as “the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.”—Genesis 6:4, footnote.
The Nephilim and their fathers took wickedness to new lows. “The earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and . . . became filled with violence,” notes Genesis 6:11. Yes, humans adopted the violent, depraved ways of the newcomers in their midst.
How did the Nephilim and their fathers exert such a powerful evil influence on humans? By appealing to mankind’s sinful inclination and desires. The result? “All flesh . . . ruined its way on the earth.” Finally, Jehovah destroyed that world in a global Deluge, sparing only righteous Noah and his family. (Genesis 6:5, 12-22) The materialized angels, however, returned to the spirit realm in disgrace. As debased demons, they continued to oppose God and his righteous family of loyal angels. It appears that from that time on, God forbade these wicked spirits to materialize. (Jude 6) Nevertheless, they have remained a potent force in human affairs.
The Evil One Is Fully Exposed!
The extent of Satan’s evil influence is revealed at 1 John 5:19, which states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” The Devil is maneuvering mankind into a tempest of increasing woes. In fact, he is more determined than ever to do harm. Why? Because he and the demons were evicted from heaven after God’s Kingdom was established in 1914. Regarding this eviction, the Bible foretold: “Woe for the earth . . . , because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:7-12) How, then, does Satan wield his influence over mankind today?
Satan does so primarily by promoting a spirit that governs the way that people think and act. Accordingly, Ephesians 2:2 calls the Devil “the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit [or, dominant attitude] that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” Instead of encouraging godly fear and goodness, this demonic “air” breeds rebellion against God and his standards. Satan and his demons thus promote and aggravate the evil perpetrated by humans.
“Safeguard Your Heart”
One manifestation of this “air” is the plague of pornography, which inflames improper sexual desires and makes aberrant behavior appear to be appealing. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) Rape, sadism, gang rape, bestiality, and the sexual abuse of children are some of the subjects that pornography features as entertaining. Even in its less noxious forms, pornography can be highly addictive and harms those who view it or read it, turning them into habitual voyeurs. * It is an evil that damages both human relations and one’s relationship with God. Pornography reflects the debased mentality of the demons who promote it—rebels whose improper sexual desires date back to the pre-Flood world of Noah’s day.
For good reason, the wise man Solomon admonished: “More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) In practical terms, safeguarding your heart from the snare of pornography may mean changing TV channels or turning off the computer should salacious images appear, and it is important to act swiftly and decisively! Think of yourself as a soldier trying to ward off a missile aimed at your heart. Satan targets your figurative heart—your seat of motivation and desire—and seeks to corrupt it.
You also need to shield your heart from the love of violence, for the Devil knows that “anyone loving violence [Jehovah] certainly hates.” (Psalm 11:5) Satan does not have to turn you into a bloodthirsty villain to make you an enemy of God; he simply needs to nurture within you a love of violence. It is no coincidence that violence, often with occult themes, saturates the popular media. The Nephilim are dead and gone, but their traits and behavior are very much alive! Does your choice of entertainment show that you resist Satan’s schemes?—2 Corinthians 2:11.
How to Resist Satan’s Evil Influence
The forces of evil can appear formidable. The Bible points out that those striving to please God “have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces,” in addition to a struggle with their own imperfect flesh. To win the struggle and to have God’s favor, we need to take advantage of the many provisions from God.—Ephesians 6:12; Romans 7:21-25.
These provisions include God’s holy spirit, the most powerful force in the universe. The apostle Paul wrote to first-century Christians: “We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God.” (1 Corinthians 2:12) Those led by God’s spirit grow to love what God loves and hate what he hates. (Amos 5:15) How can one receive holy spirit? Primarily through prayer, Bible study—the Bible itself being a product of holy spirit—and wholesome association with those who truly love God.—Luke 11:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
By taking advantage of these divine provisions, you make a start in putting on “the complete suit of armor from God,” the only sure protection against “the machinations of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11-18) Making full use of these provisions is more urgent now than ever before. How so?
Evil Has Had Its Day!
“When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever,” says the psalmist. (Psalm 92:7) Yes, as in Noah’s day, the present proliferation of evil is evidence that God’s judgment is impending, not just against wicked humans but also against Satan and his demons, who will be hurled into an abyss of inactivity as a prelude to their eventual destruction. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10) Who will execute that judgment? None other than Jesus Christ, about whom we read: “For this purpose the Son of God was made manifest, namely, to break up the works of the Devil.”—1 John 3:8.
Do you yearn for an end to evil? If so, then you can take comfort in the promises contained in the Bible. No other book exposes the very author of evil, Satan, and no other book shows how he and all his wicked works will finally be eradicated. We urge you to take in accurate knowledge of the Bible so as to protect yourself against Satan’s evil influences now and to secure the hope of living in a world free from evil.—Psalm 37:9, 10.
^ par. 5 The original name of the angel who became Satan is unknown. The terms “Satan” and “Devil” mean “Resister” and “Slanderer.” In some respects, Satan’s course parallels that of the ancient king of Tyre. (Ezekiel 28:12-19) Both started out faultless in their ways but became victims of their own haughtiness.
^ par. 17 See the series “Pornography—Harmless or Harmful?” in the July 22, 2003, issue of Awake! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Legends With a Kernel of Truth
Stories about demigods, giants, and a cataclysmic flood are found in ancient mythologies worldwide. For example, the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh mentions a flood, a ship, and survivors. Gilgamesh himself was described as a lustful, violent demigod, or part god, part man. Aztec mythology tells of an ancient world inhabited by giants and of a great deluge. Norse legend describes a race of giants and a wise man named Bergelmir who constructed a large boat and saved himself and his wife. The combined testimony of all such legends corroborates the Bible’s testimony that all humans have descended from the survivors of a deluge that destroyed an ancient wicked world.
Tablet inscribed with the Epic of Gilgamesh
The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania (neg. # 22065)
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The traits of the Nephilim are seen in people today
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Accurate knowledge fortifies us against evil influences