Facing the Pit of Evil
In this article from the Winter 2019 edition of Today's Christian Doctor, David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics) shares when we follow our human nature, we are tempted by a desire to bunker down and protect ourselves from evil. The Bible tells us to flee this temptation, but just as importantly, we should also fight evil.
by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
I never imagined I would be standing at the “Gates of Hell,” but I did so a few weeks ago at Caesarea Philippi.
Matthew 16 records that Jesus, toward the end of His earthly ministry, took His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi in Northeast Israel to examine them with a crucial question. He asked, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then blessed Peter and told him, “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, ESV).
While leading a wonderful CMDA tour to Israel and Jor-dan recently, I stood in the same place where Jesus stood when He made that proclamation. Christ made His statement in front of a huge cliff with a large grotto that had a giant spring gushing from its floor. It came from a deep hole in the limestone bedrock. The water then tumbled down to the valley as a stream to flow into the Sea of Galilee.
People believed that hole was a bottomless pit. Thus it was the gate through which demons traveled from hell into this world and back. The grotto was also a temple to Pan, the god of fertility and sexuality, so you can imagine the kind of “worship” rituals that took place even while Christ was there. The Greeks built a town there that was once called Panias in Pan’s honor. Today you can see the ruins of the temples and altars where these activities took place.
Christ took His disciples to this pit—one of the vilest places in their country—to make sure they knew who He was and that His power was sufficient to defeat evil. Things were not going to be easy for the disciples after He ascended to heaven, so He wanted them to remember that His church, yet to come, could conquer evil through His power. Gates are defensive structures, but they are also the weakest point of attack. So in this place—this Gate of Hell—Christ told His disciples that they would have His power, His wisdom and His boldness to take on evil, and he promised that it would not prevail against them.
When we follow our human nature, we are tempted by a desire to bunker down and protect ourselves from evil. The Bible tells us to flee this temptation, but just as importantly, we should also fight evil.
This issue of Today’s Christian Doctor deals with some of the evils in our world today: sexual harassment in healthcare, drug use and human trafficking. It also focuses in on healthcare professional burnout, which is happening in epidemic proportions and causing many to leave the ministry God called them to in healthcare.
As you dig into these topics, as you work to battle some of these evils, remember that God’s grace is sufficient. The disciples faced the evil of the Roman Empire with its brutality and licentiousness. They were hunted by religious authorities who tried to eliminate them. Within a few decades, the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and the Jewish people would flee around the world. The Jews would be without their own country for almost 2,000 years. Most of the disciples would be martyred for their faith.
And yet God’s power, manifested through His church, ensured the gospel reached you and me. His power has defeated evil in the past, and it is available to help us conquer evil now. Remind yourself, He walks with you as you speak and live the truth in love. You don’t face evil alone, and you do so “...not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6, ESV).
God uses individuals, but He does His best work through the ecclesia, the body of His faithful believers, His church here on earth. CMDA, as part of His church, is here to stand with you, educate you, equip you and motivate you for the battles ahead.