Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Does Evil Come From?

THE SACRED SCRIPTURES explain that the tragedy which overtook the human race had its actual beginnings in the world of the angels, perhaps even before the appearance of the physical universe. One of the highest angels which God created, named Lucifer, or the Daystar, became puffed up with pride, so that he thought he was the brightest, mightiest and most beautiful of all the angels, that he had no further need of his Creator and was not obliged to serve Him. Lucifer's goal was to make himself a kind of god, an object of veneration for other angels. To this end he raised a rebellion in heaven and won over to his side a certain segment of the angelic world. Thus Lucifer, who was later called Satan, or the devil (meaning a slanderer), was the initiator of the very worst of sins, pride and self-satisfaction, which serve as the basis for all other sins and vices. Lucifer planned to found a kingdom of "free" and "independent" spirits, separated from God. But this kingdom, founded on the principles of sin, was a clear failure, and came to be known as hell or the abyss. Instead of a promised paradise, it became a place of impenetrable darkness and unending misery. It became so terrible that the fallen angels themselves, the demons or devils, fear it, and wish to escape from it, as from a prison (Luke 8:31).

The devil was not content with having caused a tragedy in the world of pure spirits, with having founded his own kingdom. Because he hated God and all that God had created, he decided to bring evil to the crown of God's creation, the first man. For this purpose he assumed the form of a serpent and tempted Adam and Eve to break God's commandment by eating of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). He was a skilful seducer; he convinced them that, if they ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, they would become all-knowing and mighty, like God. He deceived them with the same idea with which he had once deceived himself: the possibility of becoming godlike easily and all at once, without the Creator, even in opposition to the Creator. And so, man was ruined by the same sins which had already ruined Lucifer: pride and self-love.

In this way, the tragedy of sin was passed down from the world of angels to our physical world, and as a result our earthly life was filled with contradictions, sorrows and corruption. In consequence of the Fall, the first human beings lost their relationship with God; they were deprived of their life in paradise and became mortal. Worst of all, the contagion of sin, like a liquid flowing from a contaminated fountain, was passed on to their descendants, so that all people would henceforth be born with a damaged nature. The descendants of Adam and Eve, being predisposed to sin, took the line of least resistance and began to commit all sorts of evil acts, hurting, cheating and even killing one another. This sinful way of life caused man's consciousness to become more and more darkened, so that in time he lost a true conception of his Maker and started to worship his own handiwork, in the form of various idols, both literal and figurative (such as greed, worldly goods, luxury, earthly fame and all kinds of fleshly pleasures).

The more mankind wallowed in wickedness, the stronger the devil became, and soon that originator of evil came to exercise a cruel mastery over man. Thus, as time went on, our beautiful world, created by God, and represented by His highest creatures, men made in His own image, sank into a state of evil, ruled by enmity, lies, injustice, suffering and death. What was even worse, mankind in its wretchedness proved to be completely helpless, unable to cast off the shackles of sin and turn back to God. The infernal serpent wished to make this once-beautiful, God-created world into a copy of hell, by skilfully manipulating human weaknesses and passions.

The only one who could rescue mankind from this desperate state of affairs was the Creator, our loving heavenly Father. When people were fully convinced of their own helplessness, and when they were spiritually mature enough to receive a Saviour, He sent into the world His Son, Who, while always remaining one God with the Father, by the descent of the Holy Spirit took flesh of the very purest and fairest of the daughters of man, the Ever-Virgin Mary. He became a Man, like us in everything but sin.

The purpose of His coming among us was to liberate man from the tyranny of Satan and from the oppression of sin, and to put him on the path to spiritual renewal, which would lead back to God and eternal blessedness.

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