I love reading the Old Testament, but there are aspects of it that trouble me. The Psalms often contain the desire for evil people groups to be destroyed and for the righteous ones that are being oppressed to be vindicated. But who are the evil and who are the righteous?One reason I love reading the Bible is that it is unvarnished. There is no attempt to make things easy and there is no attempt to keep things neat. For example, the “heroes” of the Bible include guys like this:
- Abraham who lied about his wife and said that she was his sister. She might have to sleep with another man but he wouldn’t have to be killed first this way.
- Judah who availed himself of the services of someone he thought was a harlot.
- David who not only committed adultery but conspired in the death of the husband of his mistress.
- Jonah who did not want to preach to the Ninevites because he wanted God to just destroy them.
- Peter who denied Christ repeatedly.
The “righteous” Psalmist prays “O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you, ” Psalm 143:1,2.
Not confusing enough? Read how the Apostle Paul was tormented by the duality of his nature in Romans 7:22,23. In this context, the battle against evil becomes an internal conflict. Do we choose our deep spiritual being or feed our sinful nature? Even after coming to faith, Paul declares in Romans 8 that we must continually choose to allow God’s Spirit to work in and through us if we have any hope of being the better self God made us to be. Our base inclinations must be crucified. Our “God-image” must live by Christ’s resurrection power. In this sense, we modern believers, all too clearly flawed, continue to desire and prayer for the complete annihilation of evil – even it is the evil within ourselves.