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17th August 2014
We are good at measuring evil – we all have an idea of what is evil and what is more evil. We have become desensitised, though, to much that is evil; we flick through newspapers and barely notice some of the things that deeply grieve God. Often today, the only things that shock us are those that we consider to be utterly depraved.
For the Christian, every day is a battle between letting the light of God within us shine, or hiding that light under a bowl. Every day we make choices between God's ways and evil ways, and whether we will influence those around us for good or for evil. When we look at Haman, who features in the story of Esther, we see a man who made many bad choices and was hugely influential – for evil!
Haman was extremely proud and arrogant (see Esther 3:1-6 & 5:9-14). Haman's agenda was always centred around wanting more. No matter how much power, wealth, honour and status he had, he wanted more. One of the obvious things we notice about Haman is that he was totally self-absorbed: everything was all about him. I wonder how you would finish this sentence: 'Everything would be fine if only...' Our answer to that question reveals something about the priorities of our hearts.
Another thing we notice about Haman is that he fails to recognise sin and deal with it early enough. Sin is like weeds – if we don't deal with it when it's small, it grows bigger and bigger. We need to weed out the seeds of sin before they grow, because when we sin, we become more tolerant of it and addicted to it. What are your 'weeds'? Can you name your weaknesses? John Owen said: "Be killing sin or it will be killing you."
John Piper points out, though: “A Christian is not a person who experiences no bad desires. A Christian is a person who is at war with those desires by the power of the Spirit. Conflict in your soul is not all bad. Even though we long for the day when our flesh will be utterly defunct and only pure and loving desires will fill our hearts, yet there is something worse than the war within between flesh and Spirit— namely, no war within because the flesh controls the citadel and all the outposts.”
Warring with sin is good. It means the Spirit is at work within us. Haman didn't fight sin, and so his actions became more and more evil. A third thing we see about Haman is that he surrounded himself with people just like him. Esther had Mordecai to challenge her, but Haman didn't make himself accountable to anyone. Sin is like a mushroom – it will grow in the dark. Bringing it into the light breaks its power. Accountability is about submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21), being humble (1 Peter 5:5), and encouragement (1 Thess. 5:11).
The good news is that there is true freedom from sin in Jesus Christ. We won't struggle with sin forever; Jesus has dealt with it and one day we will live in the full freedom of His death on the cross and resurrection. As the hymn says: "A million sins incurred my fall, But Christ died once, and crushed them all!"
Listen to the 'Evil Influence' sermon and download the life application questions here.
Posted by Aled Cousins