Who defines evil?
The book of Judges in the Old Testament contains an oft-repeated statement: “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” In fact, the story of the book of Judges is one of Israel turning away from God, God delivering them into the hands of an enemy, Israel eventually crying out to God for deliverance, and God raising up a leader–a judge–to lead Israel to victory and into a time of walking with God. This cycle runs throughout the book.
God never applied His hand of discipline to Israel for doing what was evil in the eyes of their culture. He never did so for their doing what was evil as determined by polling data. Nor did He do so for their doing what was evil per the influential pundits of the day. Israel faced discipline from the hand of the LORD for doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD.
Mankind does not have the luxury of defining what is evil, nor do countries, regions, states, cities, communities, social groups, or individuals. If God considers something to be evil, then it is evil, even if only one person out of seven billion would agree with God. In fact, even if NO person agreed with God, His definition of evil would still stand. Man may decide to call evil good, but it remains, in fact, evil, for the One who will judge everyone considers it so. We all stand before God on the basis of HIS standard, not any standard of our own. Mankind may try to vote God out; they may try to storm the castle; they may try to let the Supreme Court decide. But if God calls something evil, it is evil.
The beautiful thing, though, is that we who have a proclivity for evil (i.e., sin) are made perfectly righteous in the sight of God when we trust in the sacrifice made for our sins by Jesus on the cross–in other words, when we receive Jesus as our Savior–when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He bore our sin so that we might take on His righteousness, even though, in practice, we still sin. Wonder of wonders, if not for this salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus, we would all have no hope at all, for we are so quick to run to what God calls evil. Have you received Jesus as YOUR Savior?
There is no greater word than “grace.” It speaks of the undeserved favor of God. That’s FAVOR! UNDESERVED!
I didn’t deserve God’s favor when Christ died for my sins before I knew Him; I didn’t deserve God’s favor when He accepted me as His adopted child through faith in what Christ did for me on that cross; I don’t deserve His favor all the while since then, sinning, even while knowing better.
The thought of it sometimes pulls me into a sense of shame. Guilt wants to take over and pull me down into the depths. “How could someone speak the glories of God with his mouth and think the things you’ve thought – do the things you’ve done?” the enemy of my soul seems to whisper.
But then there is grace. Undeserved favor. Freely bestowed, as the hymn writer says, on all who believe.
“How could you love me, Lord,” my heart wonders, “when I feel I have so often sullied your name?”
And the answer comes: GRACE! From which flows peace.
Aside Posted on Updated on
I was recently surprised to learn that it had been five years since my last eye exam (My! How time flies!), so this morning I headed into the eye doctor. I was just expecting an eye chart exam to upgrade my lenses, and then I thought I’d pick out some new frames and be done with it. Even when he was putting drops into my eyes, I had no thought that my eyes would be dilated. But once I had said goodbye to the office personnel and stepped out into the sunniest day we’ve had yet this year, I knew. Dilation had occurred and was in full operational mode. And if I had doubted it then, there was no denying it once I pulled out into traffic and tried to drive to the church.
The simple act of seeing was painful as the bright sunlight poured in through my over-sized pupils. I drove with my visor down and a hand pulled up around my eyes at all times, doing anything short of closing my eyes to limit the brightness. Thankfully, I made it to a grocery store, where I purchased a pair of clip-on shades. Ahhhh. Much better.
This all got me thinking about the brightness of God. 1 Timothy 6:16 tells us that he dwells in unapproachable light. It was hard for me to grasp exactly what that meant until today. After all, I’d seen brightness plenty of times. Growing up in Florida, I knew what it was like to need to shade my eyes frequently. When you’re on the beach or a golf course or in traffic on a 96-degree, crystal clear day, it’s pretty bright, though I wouldn’t call it anything like “unapproachable.” But today’s experience felt like unapproachable light, even though it most certainly paled in comparison to the light in which God dwells. How glorious and majestic must he be! No wonder 1 Timothy 6:16 adds that no one has ever seen nor can see God in his unapproachable light.
Such a thought makes me thankful to Jesus for dying for my sins. The righteousness he has given me by faith (Romans 5:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:21) makes it such that, one day, I will worship at the throne of God and will “see his face” (Revelation 22:3-4). How awesome it will be to look upon the blazing brilliance of my heavenly Father and, rather than having to look away, be able to bow in unadulterated, unhindered worship. Have you placed your faith in Jesus to forgive you of your sins so that you, too, might have that glorious hope? If not, he invites you to do just that.