Evil exists in the world. Who can deny that? We see it in the news every day. Often its inexplicable, and we are shocked when we see the ugliness of it.
The reason we are shocked is because evil goes against the grain of the image in which we are made, the image and likeness of God who is goodness itself. Because God created us in His image and likeness, He is within each of us here on Earth and we are meant to return to Him in Heaven.
Still he loved us enough to give us Free Will. We are free to love Him back, or not. When we do not love Him, when we ‘mess up,’ when we sin; we have chosen to do so by our Free Will. And the reverse is also true—when we recognize our faults and ‘clean up our act,’ that decision also comes from our Free Will.
But evil–Satan–doesn’t desire to give us a choice. “Cleaning up our act” is not something Satan wants us to do. He twists what is evil into an apparent good, making it seem sensible for us to choose wrongly. He is a liar and a charade.
Maybe you’re saying, I don’t believe in Satan. Well, then you’re just who he’s after. Don’t be manipulated.
Satan is real. That beautiful fallen angel once loved by God is real. And he is among us. Look at the state of our world, the demise of our culture, our disintegrating values. Look at the lying, stealing, killing, raping, selfishness, all around us.
Based on the teaching and example of Jesus (Mt 4:1-11; 12:22-30; Mk 1:34; Lk 10:18; 22:31; Jn 8:44), the Catholic Church has always held that the devil is real, not a mythical personification of evil.
Pope John Paul II, in his general audience of August 13, 1986, expounded at length on the fall of the angels and, in speaking on the origin of Satan, said:
When, by an act of his own free will, he rejected the truth that he knew about God, Satan became the cosmic “liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). For this reason, he lives in radical and irreversible denial of God and seeks to impose on creation–on the other beings created in the image of God and in particular on people–his own tragic “lie about the good” that is God.
Satan does all he can to get us to deny God and His commandments to us. And of course, it works.
Some of us deny God in what might be considered small ways. Others of us go whole hog. But any small chiseling away of the goodness God set within us is a danger–to ourselves, to others, and to our world.
God has a plan, a plan of goodness, and He’s showed us what it is. Satan has a plan for evil, enough evil to destroy us, and he disguises it as good because he understands our human nature. He understands that we choose what we perceive as good. So he makes evil appear as good.
How can we fight this? First, we have to be able recognize evil as evil, no matter how it is disguised. We do this by reading God’s word, by listening to truth from the mouths of those we know we can trust, and by being open to God’s grace.
And then we have to consciously make the decision–indeed thousands of little decisions throughout our lives– to reach for the goodness of God, to turn from evil and, quite honestly, run for our very lives away from it.