How is it that so many people who profess to believe in God refuse to acknowledge the reality of evil? Those people totally discount the direct and unequivocal references to evil in the Bible. God tells us that evil exists, so how can they deny it? Furthermore, horrific examples of evil abound within living memory. The German slaughter of the Jews, the Japanese slaughter of the Chinese, the Russian slaughter of their own, are just a few of the most glaring examples. More recently, the Hutus slaughtered the Tutsis, the Khmer Rouge slaughtered other Cambodians, and the Serbs slaughtered the Muslims in Bosnia. And all of this is nothing new. It has been going on forever. The Devil sits atop a mountain of bloody remains laughing down at us.
It's often said that the Devil's greatest trick is convincing us that he doesn't exist. Our attitude toward the above cited examples illustrates his talent as a magician. Think of your reaction when considering those atrocities. It was them, not us. It was there, not here. It was then, not now. It was a few madmen, not everyone. They were Nazis, Imperialists, Communists, Fascists, or other radical extremists, not nice guys like us. Or the absolute worst rationalization; the victims were weak or stupid and allowed it to happen. All of these notions are put in our heads to keep us from coming to grips with the truth that evil is real and present in our lives. The Devil wants us to believe that we are different and that it couldn't happen to us. Then, denying his existence comes easily and naturally.
It's more difficult to see evil in daily living than it is to see its cumulative effect in hindsight. As you pass through life thousands of seemingly innocuous little choices and decisions await you. What's the harm in a little white lie? Why worry about missing an appointment? Who will care if you keep the lost item you found? The more you give in to sin; jealousy, fear, greed, etc., the more separated you become from God. You are your own scorekeeper, and the more wrong choices you make the less worthy you feel. The more separated you become from God, the more likely it is that you will wind up enlisted in the Devil's legions. That is how he worms his way into our lives, by one seemingly innocuous wrong choice after another.
When I think of the horror of the Holocaust, I don't think of those top Nazis planning the "final solution." I think of the railroad switchman, getting up in the morning and kissing his wife and children before leaving for his day's work. I think of him throwing the switches and watching the strings of cattle cars roll by with their pitiful human cargo. Then I think of him going home to a warm supper and an evening with his family. It was the cumulative effect of thousands of wrong choices like his that made the Holocaust possible.
Wrong choices stem from an attitude of hubris, where one has pushed God aside and taken control of one's own life. The Good News is that it is never too late to turn your life around. The Devil's hold is strong but brittle. One moment of clarity, one act of sincere and total surrender, one fervent prayer asking God to take control is all that's needed. The Devil's hold on you will snap like a dry twig.
It is each Christian's duty to maintain a fit spiritual condition. The Devil will continue his efforts to tempt and trick you back into thinking you can take charge yourself and start making those wrong choices again. But daily prayer and acknowledgement of the Devil's existence will protect you from his wiles. If you ask God to protect you, and give a name to the Devil and his wickedness, you will be safe.