At the very beginning, God made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to grow in the midst of the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lived (Gen. 2:9). When they ate of the fruit of that tree their eyes were opened and they knew good and evil (Gen. 3:5-7). God has always given man the choice to decide whether he will follow good or evil. God is the author of good. The truly good blessings we experience in life ultimately come from God, for “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Satan is the author of evil. The devil presents temptations that seem good—just as the serpent told Eve that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would make her and her husband as gods—but in fact they are evil (Gen. 3:4-5). Satan lies (Jn. 8:44), beguiles (2 Cor. 11:3), and tricks individuals with his wiles (Eph. 6:11). As a result, “good” and “evil” can become confusing to those unfamiliar with the truth of God’s word or who are taken captive by Satan’s schemes. The present is a convoluted time where wickedness is lauded and righteousness is spurned; however, this is not the only time in history where such wrongheaded thinking has prevailed. In Isaiah 5:20, God pronounced this regarding the wicked in Judah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
There was a period of time in our society where people were pressured to follow the principles of good and evil as set out in the Bible. Now it is becoming more popular for society to view Christians—with their moral absolutes rooted in the Bible—with suspicion, almost as if we are a threat to humanity pursuing what is good. But take courage, if society is trending this way, then the Lord’s church will find itself in an environment more closely related to the first-century world with its multiple gods, a pluralistic society that had contempt for Christianity’s exclusive claims. The church survived and flourished in a society that was antagonistic to biblical principles. The church can continue to flourish today and people can still come to see the true good instead of being deceived into following evil. How?
If Christians will truly model their lives after Jesus Christ then the church will flourish. Jesus suffered and died for those who hated and abused Him (1 Pet. 2:20-24; 3:18). Cowardly, wicked men who do not want to suffer for righteousness can hide under the guise of Christianity in a society that favors it; however, when suffering and persecution may occur for being a Christian (1 Pet. 4:6), the hypocrites find something else to follow for no earthly advantage remains for claiming to be a Christian. Notice this admonition from Romans 12:14, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” As Christians we can show the world the true good that is found in Jesus Christ, a good that springs out of love for others and returns good for evil. Paul continues with these words in Romans 12:17-21:
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
You may be the only good that someone can see in this dark world. Be the good, reflecting the light of Jesus in your own life that others may see the good and come to the truth (Mt. 5:13-16, 38-48).