The year was 1957, and a movie was introduced to the American public based on a book by psychiatrists Corbett Thigpen and Hervey Cleckley. It centered on their documented case of Chris Costner Sizemore, who was known as Eve White. Their diagnosis of Sizemore was that she suffered from dissociative identity disorder. Joanne Woodward played the role of Sizemore, who was afflicted with three different personalities.
She was Eve White, a timid, self-effacing wife and mother, subject to severe and blinding headaches and occasional blackouts. She was sent to Dr. Luther, and during one of his sessions another personality, Eve Black, appeared. Eve White has no idea Eve Black exists. Eve Black is a wild, fun-loving, out-of control person. Eve Black, unlike her other personality, Eve White, knows everything about White. It is during most of the film that Dr. Luther attempts to understand and deal with the two personalities.
Under hypnosis at one session, a third personality manifests, the relatively stable Jane. After discovering the cause of her disorder, Jane gradually is able to remember everything that has happened to all three personalities. When Luther asks to speak with Eve White, they discover Eve White and Eve Black no longer exist. All three personalities have merged again into a single one.
Our Scripture today deals with the three faces of evil.
Herod Antipas: The Face of Moral Weakness
Herod’s arrogant, selfish, prideful and moral weakness included a self-indulgent spirit. He seduced his half-brother’s wife and took her as his own wife. Herod had broken the Jewish Levitical law in spirit and by the letter of the law and had “outraged the laws of decency and morality” (Barclay).
Arthur Berry was a very successful jewel thief during the Roaring '20s. He hobnobbed with the famous and rich of Boston’s elite, but did so at night when the people weren’t home. Legend says Berry’s visits were a status symbol among the ladies of Boston’s upper class. However, that was not the case with the police; they weren’t impressed. He was making one of his nightly calls when the police caught up with him and put three bullet holes in his body. Berry fell through a glass window, shattering the glass; and as he lay on the ground in horrible pain concluded, “I ain’t going to do this anymore.”
The judge gave him a prison sentence that lasted 20 years. After his release, he moved to a quiet New England town. He became a respectable citizen of the community. Eventually, word leaked out to the press that a notorious jewel thief had settled into their community. One reporter asked, “From whom did you steal the most?”
Without hesitation he replied, “That’s the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. The individual from whom I stole the most was a man named Arthur Berry. I could have done anything, been an executive on Wall Street, a successful business man, or anything I wanted to be, but I utilized my God-given talents and developed them illegitimately. I could have made it big in business, but I spent two-thirds of my adult life behind bars.”
Immoral behavior leads to defiance of God’s laws and God’s will. Berry found that out, but then so did Herod. His immoral behavior ultimately ended the life of an innocent man…a man of God named John the Baptist.
What is your immoral behavior costing you and others around you?
Herodias: The Face of Revenge
Synonyms of revenge include vengeance, retribution, retaliation or reprisal. It means a hurtful retaliation for something someone has been done to you.
Herodias willingly left her husband, Philip, and outright divorced him in order to live with Herod. She was Herod’s niece, being the daughter of Herod’s half-brother, Aristobulus, as well as being at the time of her departure, Herod’s sister-in-law, Philip’s wife. She desired the intrigue of palace politics and a man whom she could not have lawfully. Because of her sin, John the Baptist rebuked her and Herod. Herod feared and respected John for his rebuke, but Herodias hated John, and her hostility turned to revenge to eliminate him entirely! Murder was in her heart!
Someone once said the person who tries to get even by making others suffer for their sins is interfering in God’s business.
• Revenge is all-consuming.
• Revenge is all hatefulness.
• Revenge is in the business of hurting others.
• Revenge is the destructive force in life.
When Jesus was put on the cross, He could have chosen revenge, but He chose love instead. When you are hurt by others, whose example will you choose: Herodias’ or Jesus’?
Salome: The Face of Seduction
Salome’s pornographic dance before her step-father became a point of lust for Herod. She pleased his sensual desires so much that he said, “Ask me anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” He thought she would want something of a material nature—money, land or gifts—but that is not what she asked from him. Asking her revengeful mother what she should request, she heard the words, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist, now.”
Returning to Herod she made her evil request for John’s head on a platter. Morally corrupt Herod did not want to be embarrassed in front of his peers and called his henchmen to cut off John’s head and bring it in on a silver platter. Evil makes righteousness its victim.
When faced with the temptation of seductive forces, rely on the following advice:
1. Recognize temptation for what it really is and what it can do to us morally.
2. Run, do not walk, away from temptation’s seduction and turn to God.
3. Rely on the power of God through the Holy Spirit’s power to give us strength as we ask for His moral courage.
As strong as evil is, our God is stronger!