Good & evil. We all know the difference, we are born into this world with an inherent knowledge of what is right & wrong.
People often say are inherently good, but is that true? we know that movies, documentaries, & other programs warm our hearts are those that highlight the goodness of folk. There are not many stories or movies where evil triumphs over good that are extremely popular.
We all grew up watching the good guys go through tough challenges. The odds were stacked against them, they faced defeat, usually right up to to end, but suddenly our heroes broke through to victory or justice.
In recent years we see on the T.V a trend for reality shows featuring makeovers. the show starts with a struggling family's home. We sit glued to our T.V set admiring the excitement & generosity in their outreach to the poor & needy. We anticipate the shock of those who benefited in that climatic moment when they see their refurbished home for the first time. Then there was that show that helped those struggling to
lose weight, & there are many more.
There is someone I know who on the outside seems to be doing good works, helping those in need, but one day as I was praying for him, God showed me that he was doing it all for his own glory, not for the good of others or more importantly not to show God's Goodness. I hear comments such as he's such a good man, people accept this evaluation at face value, even if they don't know him. We have to be careful of what we accept because some assessments are not always accurate.
could we ever fall into the delusional state of calling what's right wrong, or what's wrong right? everybody knows the difference, & we certainly could never fall into the deceived state of calling good evil or evil good or could we?
Many centuries ago, a wealthy rich young leader met Jesus on the road, he was honest & morally pure man. He had never committed adultery, murdered, lied, stolen, or cheated anyone. He had always respected his parents, was model citizen, & was liked by many. He honoured Jesus by calling Him the Good Teacher.
This leader was speaking to another leader; one good man appealing to another good man. He sought common ground with the notable Teacher, I point out here whom he'd never met before. Maybe he though if I flatter Him by appealing to His goodness, I'll convince Him to give me a good response to my inquiry. BUT before Jesus acknowledged his question He said "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One that is God. Mk 10:18.
True goodness is the prerogative of God, yet the man had called Jesus Good Teacher. If Jesus was only a teacher then he did not deserve to be called good. On the other hand if He was indeed good, then He was God. Whether or not this is a veiled claim to deity, Jesus directs the man's attention to God, the ultimate standard of goodness. Our standard of goodness is completely different to God's.
To make analogy between the man I mentioned earlier who appears to do good & the tree of the knowledge of good & evil that Eve was drawn to. It was the good side. Gen 3:6
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Notice the words Good, Pleasant, & Desirable, To God there is a good that is not of Him. Suspect urgings that come from carnal appetites, visual enticements that invite acquisition. & things that tug at personal ambition 1Jn 2:16. Man fell by choice. The tempter is the father of lies (Jn 8:44) deceiving & seducing us to sin. The lie questions God's Word, giving our opinion absolute authority. Our opinions are easy prey to satan's deception. The desire to become wise seems quiet reasonable to the woman. Unfortunately, her definition of wise was human-self rule as taught in Prov 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. The fear of the lord means the secret of obtaining genuine wisdom, it is not the terror of a tyrant, but the kind of awe of respect which will lead to obedience to Him who is wisest of all. But fools despise wisdom, stark & immediate contrast is one of the strongest ways the writer makes his point.
Prov 14:12 says There is a way that seems right to a man, But it's is the way of death. The last part of this verse says "But it's end is the way of death." Many Christians don't pay attention to these words because they think I'm saved, heading towards heaven, & will not see death. In their minds they think this only applies to non believers. Look at the words " the way of death."
Scripture speaks frequently of the way of life & the way of death. God declares to His own (not to those who don't belong to Him), "Thus says the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life & the way of death" Jer 21:8 Way here means the wisdom we live by. You'll see this often throughout Scripture. Jesus said Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Mk 7:13;14
Suspect things that are popular or favoured by world minded majority. Jesus motivates His disciples to live righteously by emphasising that such living comes from the heart with love & trust, more than through observance of an external code of ethics, consequently New Testament wisdom reveals the differences between correct behaviour based only on the law, & righteous actions that proceed from the heart of a new life reborn in Christ.
God placed the tree of life in the centre of the Garden of Eden. It represents God's way of life, His wisdom. The other central tree in the garden was called the tree of knowledge of good & evil. this tree represents the way of death; it stood for man's wisdom apart from God. Partaking of it's fruit didn't just impact Adam & Eve in the afterlife; but affected them immediately. Before their foolish act they had been unrestrained, productive, healthy, & successful at what ever they set their hearts to do. But once they partook of the forbidden fruit life became hard. They were plagued with sickness, lack, stressful toil, & difficulties the had never known before. They entered into the way of death. God is a Redeemer. He'd already planned to recover what had been lost. He made a covenant in order to restore the way of life. His wisdom would once again produce happiness, pleasant living, peace, abundance, & other great benefits.
Prov 3:13-18 Instructs us to embrace wisdom & to follow after understanding. Know that patience, discernment, favour, prosperity, safety, & other benefits will result. Going back to prov 14:12 we looked at the last part of the verse but the beginning: There is a way that seems right to a Man. This can easily be applied to anyone, that is both Christian & non-believer. There is a way that seems right-it seems good, wise, beneficial, strategic, profitable & so on. Yet the warning is clear: What seems good may actually be detrimental, harmful, & non-productive-the way of death. Heb 5:11-12 &14 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
This passage teaches that it is only through a sustained daily effort to apply God's Word to our life that we will come mature. The disciple is an apprentice to Jesus. Learning to live how He lived. God disciplines His children, correcting & training them to live in His kingdom.
Correction, if received with the right attitude of heart, produces the right fruit of righteousness. The Father's object is to bring His children to maturity, & what is truly good & what is truly evil. In other words, what is truly good is not always clear to our natural thinking.
We must hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying to us, Jesus constantly taught "He who has ears let him hear!" Matt11:15 Ears to hear notes the essential need for a teachable hearing heart to be present if the seed of the kingdom truth is to be received & become fruitful. Solomon prayed, "Give me an understanding heart so that I can...know the difference between right & wrong" 1 Kings 3.9
Be confident that God honours those who depend on His wisdom to carry out the work He has assigned for them. Scripture maintains a consistent testimony that those who hearts are fully devoted to God are blessed by Him. Partial devotion to God is lukewarmness so inevitably results in spiritual mediocrity & sporadic communion with the Lord. As you come to communion be sure that you are right with the Lord in every way.
Acknowledgements: John Bevere