I came across two verses in the Old Testament which refer to God sending evil spirits upon people. The first is
“God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech that the crime done to the 70 sons of Jerubbaal [Gideon] might be settled and their blood be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who aided him in the killing of his own brothers.”
And the second is 1 Samuel 16:14
“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him.”
Some translations actually say “evil spirit” instead of “distressing spirit.” Does that mean God will send evil spirits into our lives? No, not necessarily. But He might allow evil spirits to get to us if we are constantly sinning. Both Abimelech and Saul had it coming. They were severely disobedient to God and His laws. They didn’t run from evil. They didn’t fear God.
My MacArthur Study Bible notes that God allowed these evil spirits to torment Abimelech and Saul because of their considerable sin. It says, “There are several NT occasions where God turned people over to demons or Satan for judgement (see Acts 5:1-3; 1 Cor 5:1-7; 1 Tim 1:18-20).”
Yikes. This is pretty heavy motivation to keep on the straight and narrow and to listen to my conscience. There’s demons out there and I don’t want them getting through my hedge of protection.
I can see evidence of this in my own family. Faith is abundant on my father’s side of the family but not so much on my mother’s side.
I’ve noticed, while reading the Old Testament, that God had a way of genetically selecting faithful men for the tribe of Israel. He started by choosing Noah and his family, the only people He deemed worthy to save in a world full of wicked people. God weeded out the bad seeds with a flood, and let the good ones propagate. Then He chose Noah’s son Shem, over his brothers, to be the head of the Semitic people.
Shem Ham and Japheth by James Tissot 1904.
Later on, God chose Shem’s descendant Abraham to be the father of Israel (through Isaac, but not through his half-brother Ishmael). Isaac’s son Jacob fathers the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel, but Jacob’s twin brother Esau (truly the eldest) gets sidelined because he didn’t value his birthright. He therefore didn’t get to contribute to the gene pool of Israel the way his fraternal twin did. Interesting, huh?
So if we apply genetics to theology (which is probably a bad idea–but that isn’t going to stop me from doing it), maybe genes are the way that God predestines us to be Christians. Maybe He knew that some of us would be more likely to turn to Him than others because of heritage and He explained that to the apostles through the concept of predestination. Or maybe I’m off my nut.