Godliness vs. Goodness
Man's understanding of good and evil is always in contradiction to God's
This article is being written for us to look at the age old paradox of good vs. evil. For many people it is difficult to accept that good is not Godly, especially when it is present alongside the realities and expressions of evil, this is understandable. The more blatant forms of evil are easily loathed by most everyone regardless of culture or faith. The dislike of evil is not unique to those of Judeo/Christian culture, but actually resonates throughout all of humanity regardless of gender, color, or intellectual ability. Actually, in many cases, it is only as a society in general becomes more educated and academically oriented that the great dislike for the slightest displays of evil is diminished. The more that a society and/or religious group allows tolerance towards evil to persist the greater and more frequent the display of such evil and the less that good is found, yet paradoxically these activities are part of each other, a constant struggle from the same source, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Both results are from the same source, but neither are rooted in the Tree of Life.
Good is the enemy, the counterfeit, of righteousness. It is the fruit and byproduct of sin in it's best form. Evil is the fruit and by product of sin in it's worst form, yet both of them find their source in man's rebellion and disobedience. Neither is acceptable to God. In no way am I indicating that we are not to support, encourage and teach good behavior and actions but the underlying basis of the believer will be anchored solidly in God's righteousness, not man's understanding of goodness.
As I mentioned before, good is the counterfeit, the imposter, the arch rival of God's righteousness because it's outward appearance mimics his righteousness many times but in reality it is based only on sinful man's understanding of good and evil rather than our creators. Man's understanding of the various degrees of good and evil are the results of man's rejection of God's authority and taking it upon himself as evaluator and judge. It was the very thing that the serpent used to get Eve's attention when looking to deceive the woman, and therefore have mankind lust after the same authority, enter the same power struggle, that he, Lucifer, engaged in and lusted after before he was cast out of heaven.
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa 14:13-14)
Here Satan, taking the form of a serpent, tries to get man to act out his same rebellion against God when he said this to Eve.
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Gen 3:5)
From the moment that Adam shared in partaking of the forbidden fruit offered to him by Eve he could no longer view, understand, or evaluate what was righteous and pleasing unto the Lord. He was completely incapable of coming to any righteous judgement on anything for he now was enlightened to the nature of sinful man. From that point forward all of his perception of righteousness was viewed through the sinful prism of various degrees of right and wrong. In principle he had inherited the instinct of making judgements without the guiding presence of God. Man was never created to make these judgements, but rather he was created to bring glory and honor to God through a tangible human existence having fellowship with his creator through simple obedience. It has always been about a relationship through obedience. Adam forfeited his relationship with God and the blissful environment of the garden of Eden simply because he was not content with God's sovereignty and authority. It appeared that the wisdom gained from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would provide him a human, justifiable, reason for excepting God as supreme. But he was wrong.
From that day forward each and every man has had to wrestle with his sinful desire to make his own judgements rather than forfeit this desire and yield to an all righteous God who would impose his standards on him. The only right judgement we are capable of making is that he is Just, and worthy of our praise and obedience, the Author and Finisher of our faith. All other judgements, as unregenerate man, are in competition with his authority, it's that simple. It is this simple understanding, that he is Just, and Worthy of our praise and obedience, that will always lead sinful man to repentance, nothing else.
Sinful man may try many different avenues to address this short coming but in the end all regenerated believers will or have experienced a life changing experience of repentance, something Adam never availed himself to. God's personal gift of love and redemption is always and only given through the act of the repentant sinner. It is not enough to fear him or even acknowledge him, for even the demons fear him and tremble.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (Jas 2:19)
The greatest challenge that every sinner has is to give up the illusion of his own perceived godhood. For in our sinful nature we inherit the illusion that the serpent first offered Eve that we can become like the Most High and rightly determine, in our own selves, the difference between good and evil. Therefore I state it once more, good is the counterfeit, the imposter, the arch rival of God's righteousness. It was not necessary for Adam to evaluate anything, at that time in history, on the basis of good and evil since sin had not yet entered the world. Everything was just, righteous, and good in God's eyes. It wasn't as if Adam and Eve had been exposed to something evil and they desired to understand it better but rather they were exposed to the possibility that there was something God wasn't telling them. They were exposed with actually doubting His Supremacy and Authority. Once they entertained the illusion, the false hood, that God was not being truly forthright with them they then found the fruit to be appealing, for according to the serpent it would give them powers they didn't already possess. From now on God's perspective of good and evil would only be available to them by one of two means. 1) Eating of the tree of life or 2) repentance for their rebellion against the one and only creator of all that there ever was or was to be. As we see the tree was protected from that time forward, eliminating one of the choices.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Gen 3:22-24)
Now that we see that determining and recognizing both good and evil is a result of original sin we then can begin to balance the presence of good and evil things enacted everyday in the world. Many Christians view things in the world through the fallen state of man, haven't we all at some time. We see the acts of kind and generous people and we determine that a just God would not judge them the same as an evil murderer even though they are still spiritually rejecting and rebelling against God. We make exceptions for carnal Christians, or even ourselves for that matter, because of the talent one may have that amazes and blesses our flesh. We take selective pity on those based on individual circumstances rather than lovingly, yet firmly, encouraging them that the way is narrow as we read in Matthew robbing them of the reality of the cost associated with following Christ.
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mat 7:14)
We are even complicit it setting young Christians up for failure when we make exceptions for their goodness, rather than lead them to the cross where they must embrace the sufferings which come with choosing to worship Him in spirit and truth. We show our sinful carnality when we enjoy hearing the sinners travels that God has delivered him from rather than spend the hours or days necessary on our knees behind closed doors as the new child of God pours out a heart of repentance, preparing this new child of God with the armor required to ward of the attacks of the enemy as Paul writes about.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Eph 6:11-18)
Paul also writes:
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Rom 13:12)
Many Christians believe or conclude that all evil is a result of sin and the activities of Satan and that when good things happen they are by the hand of God. I even used to believe this but this was a carnal, fleshy explanation for my lack of understanding of God's righteousness. God's righteousness is only perceived and understood by those Christians who have begun to experience the fruits of righteousness in and through them. It is revealed to us as we actually bear them in our Christian experience. We are then able to see things that others may see as God's judgement or the works of the powers of darkness as God's grace in our lives, trials and tribulations that are there to strengthen us and mature us into solid soldiers and bearers of his cross. We also are not easily swayed by our lust and fleshy desires that are cloaked in goodness. We will no longer see that material wealth and other worldly signs of prosperity are a sign of God's blessings but rather as greed disguised as blessings thinking that because we are good people that we have been rewarded for our previous good actions and lifestyle.
We will no longer question the righteousness of God when material things have been removed from our lives as if it were a reflection of us falling out of grace with him but rather realize that we are in his hand, we who choose to follow, obey, and worship the King of Kings, knowing that we are called to bear our cross to the glory and praise of our Lord. When we begin to experience the righteous fruit of the spirit in our lives we begin to see through the illusions and smokescreens that are from the pit of deceit and see the glorious working hand of the Lord in our lives, more so through adversity then abundance. Yet when his hand blesses us with abundance our hearts and bodies will instinctively seek to meet the needs of others suffering within the church realizing that through these very acts of willful and joyful giving we are declaring on the rooftops of the world that he is our sustainer and provider realizing that soon we will be present with him in glorious new bodies in a glorious and wondrous new heaven and earth to be in his majestic presence for eternity, having lived and learned what the good hand of the Lord really is!
O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works. He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 104:24-35)
Praise His Precious Name!
In Brotherly Love