Near the end of the movie “Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King,” a pivotal scene happens inside an evil tower. Frodo, on his way to Mordor to destroy the ring of power–a symbol connected to the source of evil–is imprisoned and comatose after being stung by a giant spider. It appears to be the end for Frodo. Everything is pointing to the final triumph of evil. Then, all of a sudden, the orcs start to kill each other over Frodo’s mithril shirt. This event decimates the tower guard and gives passage to Sam to save Frodo and they continue their journey. The ring of power is ultimately destroyed, and evil eradicated.
Tolkien pictures well the struggle of good and evil as part of our present human broken reality. This struggle is a universal fact we have to constantly grapple with on this side of King Jesus’ return. For obvious reasons, evil is the dark side of this reality. And, yet, this is the part of our fallen reality that is passing away, that one day will no more be present with or afflict us. As I often say, the seeds of evil are not eternal; the seeds of good are. Only ‘good,’ as an extension of God’s own nature and as a declaration on God’s part of the true nature of things in Creation (Gen 1), will remain forever.
Evil is destructive by nature
The eradication of evil at the Consummation has to do with the nature of evil itself. The nature of evil is to destroy. Jesus seems to corroborate this in referring to the devil–the essence and the personification of evil—as the “thief that comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy,” (John 10:10). Because the nature of evil is to destroy, at some point evil becomes so greedy, that, not being able to destroy and eradicate what is good, it starts to destroy and consume itself. Moreover, in doing so it ends up creating a platform for good to reaffirm itself. Could this be what is happening right now in the different spheres of society?
Evil creates and operates different agendas, moved mainly by a denial of God, i.e. a denial of who He is, what He stands for, and what He is doing and promises to do in the world. On the one hand, the Bible clearly affirms that God loves the world. [See “What Does the Bible Say About Loving the World?” ed.] But the term “world” is also used in another way, that is, the world system, an evil influence. In that sense, John the apostle uses the term to say that the evil world system with its agenda is passing away: “The world is passing away with its lusts, but he who does God’s will remains forever” (1 John 2:17). God and His Kingdom agenda are the one and only reality that will remain forever.
Evil: a counterfeit reality
Evil is an intrinsic part of our fallen reality. It is definitely present in our daily human experience. However, it is not THE ULTIMATE REALITY. Evil is, in fact, a counterfeit reality that sometimes seems insurmountable to us in the present. But evil has no ground in ULTIMATE REALITY. It will pass away. Evil is by nature a ‘non-good’, ‘non-beauty’, ‘non-truth’ counterfeit reality. As darkness is the absence of light, and lie the absence of truth, evil is the absence not only of good but of God. Evil has no intrinsic sustainable existence in itself. In fact, there is no alternative REALITY that can sustain life both now and eternally other than God and what emanates from Him. Good, light, truth are all part of the true ultimate reality that will last eternally because they flow from God Himself who is the eternal existing source of this one true and ultimate eternally existent reality.
What then seems paradoxical is actually part of a larger Kingdom reality: because the nature of evil is to destroy, at some point evil ends up turning against and consuming itself. And, in so doing, it also serves God’s purposes of advancing His Kingdom agenda. This is open to discussion and we do not have the space here to do it justice, but a major part of this truth rides on the interplay between God’s sovereignty and human freedom. Individual freedom is part of the essence of what it means to be created in God’s image. Our choices do not infringe on God’s sovereignty. However, ideas and choices and actions have consequences.
We are agents of Kingdom culture
In the face of all this, what then is our challenge and our part in the mission? It is important to say that in spite of all this, we are not waiting for evil to turn against itself to then do our part in the advancement of God’s Kingdom. We move ahead and respond in faith to God’s work, believing that we have been called by God to join Him in His battle and to do our part in His story. Our present choice is to be agents of God and His Kingdom in the different spheres where He has positioned us and to infuse the world with more Kingdom culture—truth, goodness and beauty—every day. It is ultimately by doing this that we overcome evil. And, in so doing, we also look forward and move closer to that day when the King will return and Kingdom reality will be fully and forever established as “every knee [shall] bow … and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10,11).
Thus, having in mind our biblical worldview we are to intentionally operate on the platform of redemption and not on fallen “counterfeit-reality.” The platform of redemption is the only reality that overcomes evil. As John and Paul remind us, “The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Rm 12:21).
- Nelson Monteiro