Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In Colorado Springs it sure is easy to know which way is west – and from that all the other directions are clear. This is because the Front Range and Pike’s Peak are directly to the west of the city. When facing the mountains, north is to the right, south is to the left and east is behind you. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were that easy to tell good from evil – or right from wrong?
How do we know what is good and what is evil? What is our basis for identifying such things? Years ago I remember reading about an art forger who commented that one of the highlights of his ‘career’ was having art critics in Europe declare his forgery the original, and the original work of art the forgery. Apparently, his forgeries were common enough that the critics got used to them.
We have this problem that the world has its own idea about what is good and evil. Sometimes it seems that the biggest evil to the world is Christians making any kind of judgment that something is evil or wrong. Isaiah addressed this problem – that we must contend with daily – when he wrote:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)
Some things are so blatantly evil that they are like a Pike’s Peak– so big you can’t miss them. But that isn’t the general way the enemy of our soul attacks us. He tries to blur the lines and induce Christians to walk in pathways that lead to temptation – that present unrighteousness in attractive packaging. We become familiar with pathways that have his ‘forgeries’ presented as the norms of ‘good’ behavior. His goal is to have us reach a point where we affirm the forgeries and reject the ‘original’. God forbid that we should call his redefined ‘acceptable’ behavior sin!
If we insist on accurately identifying evil as evil and good as good, the enemy of our souls will try to move us to becoming overtly judgmental of others. That can produce a prideful blindness that is repugnant to God. Remember the Pharisees were so concerned with sin they missed Jesus. When we speak the truth, love must characterize our responses – always.
God’s word, the Bible, is our standard. It identifies that ‘good and evil’ applies to behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, actions – every area of our lives. God wants us to walk in righteousness and it is imperative that we learn to do it – and do it in the loving fullness that it entails. This means we have to learn what His word says.
Satan has the world running rampant declaring evil good and wanting to condemn those who disagree. We are surrounded by ‘forgeries’ and His word is the standard that identifies them and enables us to choose wisely. This doesn’t happen by accident. We must recognize that walking in righteousness requires focus, intentionality and training to do it His way.