No Place for Evil
The concept of place holds an important place itself in the created order of things, especially in the kingdom of God. Just how important can be seen in Jesus’ reply to the request of James and John to have a place on each side of his throne: “To sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared” (Mk. 10:40 NIV). Even the Son of God cannot alter certain things about certain places, such is the nature of those places.
Another place of like importance is that place which Scripture calls the kingdom of God. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place'” (Jn. 18:36 NIV).
In saying these words, our Lord reveals a deep truth about this kingdom of God, that it is from another place. Now, at first, many people might think that he is referring to heaven, which certainly fits the description of another place in the extreme, being completely separated from this world in dimension and many other characteristics. And while such reference would be accurate, there is another aspect that should also be considered. For Jesus once said this of the kingdom of God:
“”The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17:20,21 NIV).
This verse has been much abused by New-agers and other religions of mysticism, as they twist the scriptures to suit their own purposes (2 Ptr. 3:16). The reason the kingdom of God is within us is because that is where our spirit resides, and God’s kingdom, though it has physical aspects, is first of all a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom of the spirit, for God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24). Therefore, the place where the Spirit of God builds God’s kingdom is the place where our own God-given spirit resides, within our physical body:
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19,20 NIV).
We are to treat our bodies with respect because they are the housing or temple of God, who is Spirit; it is the place where God dwells within us; therefore, it is important how we treat the body. We should take care of it. By honoring the body in this way, we honor God. One way we honor it is by not giving any place for harm to the body, such as through poor diet choices or taking unnecessary risks such as in thrill seeking. We are to give evil no place in the body.
The same is true for the soul. Traditionally, the soul is said to have the functions of mind, will, and emotions. We are to honor God in the soul as well, since this is also part of who we are as human beings created in the image of God. Our place in life is to honor God and give him glory in the place he has chosen to dwell, in the body that houses the spirit and the soul.
As an example of how we do this, consider Paul’s statement that he takes “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5 RSV). There is no place even for a single thought that is outside of the nature of God and his holiness. Jesus said that we will be judged for every idle word that we speak (Mt. 12:36). There are no small areas or places that are outside the judgment of God; even our minds are to find no place for evil or vain thoughts, our mouths no place for wrong words. Not only does this enable us to escape being condemned when judged by God, it provides protection for us from the evil foe as well.
When Jesus saw the evil enemy approaching him in the Garden of Gethsemane, he stood unafraid. He said, “The prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me” (Jn. 14:30 NIV). The evil one had no hold on Jesus because there was nothing out of place within him; he could find no cause for accusation against Jesus.
The same holds true for us. We are to let the Holy Spirit sanctify us so that when the enemy seeks to attack us and accuse before God, he can find no just cause for such harmful actions. We are to be like Jesus, with no place given for anything outside of God’s will within us. “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4:17 RSV).
In this world, we are to be like Jesus, to have no place for evil in us. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us (Eph. 5:18). When we are filled, there is no room left for anything else. We are either filled with the Spirit or else open to giving a place for evil to come in and occupy the empty places we give it in our mind and heart. “Do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:27 NIV).
Evil is to have no place in the temple of God. When Hezekiah was king, he commanded the priests to cleanse the temple and so they did. “The priests cleaned up the inner room of the Temple, and brought out into the court all the filth and decay they found there” (2 Chr. 29:16 TLB).
We are to do the same. God has graciously given us time here in our life on earth to cleanse the temple where he has chosen to live, within us. We either follow his command to cleanse this temple through the merits of his Son and the working of the Holy Spirit within us–or face the consequences. If we do not allow him to cleanse us through allowing Christ the supreme place in our heart, then we will find in the last judgment that there is no place for us in the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” *Rev. 22:14,15 NIV).
Two places are mentioned in this passage: Inside the New Jerusalem’s city gates and outside those gates.
“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. . . . Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. . . . But what does the scripture say? ‘Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman'” (Gal. 4:22-30 NIV).
Those who allow evil a place within themselves will find no place for them in the New Jerusalem or the kingdom of God. For at the end of all things, there is no gray area; one is either for the Lord or not for the Lord, and which it is determines the place where one will spend all eternity.
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left” (Mt. 35:31-33 RSV).
“So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth” (Mt. 13:49,50 RSV).
So there is a place for evil after all. I pray that all who read this will never come any closer to that place for evil than reading of that place here.