22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. (Genesis 3:22–23, NKJV)
God understands the heights of goodness, and the depths of evil. Sin’s intrusion into the lives of Adam and Eve impacted their knowledge of good and evil. Indeed, before their sin, they had experienced good things from the hand of God. Before their sin, they had trusted God’s warning that evil would cause them to die. But, with their sin, they experienced evil, along with its death. Yet, God’s purpose of man and woman’s fellowship with Him would not be defeated by evil; the promised seed of woman would crush the serpent’s head. This was accomplished in Christ (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-7; 1 John 3:8). Eternal life is incompatible with evil. Therefore, they were sent out of the garden, and denied access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Could they have understood evil without experiencing it? Yes, just as surely as a child can know the danger of fire from his parents’ warning, without putting his hand into the flame. You do not have to sin to perceive the pain and sorrow it causes. Instead, trust God’s warning against sin, and His offer of eternal life. Evil brings death. Eternal life is in His Son (1 John 5:11).
You have wearied the Lord with your words; “Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17, NKJV)
As when Israel wearied Jehovah in the fifth century BC, God must surely be weary today when He hears Christians denying His just standard of evil and good. Wearing the name of Christ never gives one the right to call good, that which God calls evil. In effect, this would be like saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in Him.” For example, increasingly, Christians deny the sin of immodest clothing offends the Lord, although He has revealed standards of moral purity that forbid the display of one’s own nakedness (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:2-4; cf. Isaiah 47:2-3). One cannot “put on Christ” and still “put on” the worldly attire of indecency. Christians who refuse to respect and follow what God’s word declares to be just, cannot expect Him to delight in them, and bless their disrespectful treatment of Him. The God of justice is where He has always been, and He is “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). May we never “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1–2, NKJV)
Although evil man exerts evil power against innocent ones, Jehovah is clothed in the strength of His eternal nature, and is mightier than all. By His might, He created the world, and by His power He maintains it. His sovereign rule over the world will not be deterred by the forces of evil. As America remembers the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001, we also recall the power of good that arose from the rubble. The nation united to rebuild and to defend freedom. Christians do well to always remember that our God is clothed in strength, and is always present to defend and to sustain His righteous cause. His protective hand is with us, even when surrounded by evil. Put your trust in the Almighty, who reigns in power from all eternity. Walk by faith; victory over evil is certain in Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).
“But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:20, NKJV)
Good seed, planted in good soil, produces good fruit. This simple principle is used by Jesus to illustrate the type of heart that listens to the word of God, accepts it and bears abundant fruit. According to the parallel verse in Luke 8:15, this is the “noble and good heart” that also patiently keeps the word of God. We must be honest with ourselves when we hear the word of God. Otherwise, God’s word will not convict us (of our sins), correct us and save us. Notice that Jesus does not assume the heart is filled with total depravity and therefore incapable of hearing, receiving and keeping the word of God. The “noble and good heart” bears fruit when it hears God’s word, and so obtains divine approval and blessings. Such were the hearts of the Bereans in Acts 17:11-12. Our hearts must be good soil that receives and keeps the word of God. Let us refuse to have a hardened heart (like the wayside soil), or the rocky soil (shallow and ungrounded), or the thorny soil (choking out God’s word due to other cares and concerns). What is the condition of your heart?
A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. (Proverbs 12:2, NKJV)
The word of God points out that good intentions alone will not wash away our sins (cf. Cornelius, whose good intentions and moral life did not save him, Acts 10:1-2, 22; 11:14). It is equally apparent that without good intentions we will not obtain God’s favor. Wicked, evil motives bring God’s condemnation. God’s favor is reserved for the good-intentioned person who actually does what He says is good (Eph. 2:10). So, Cornelius was told that “whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). Let us couple our good intentions with doing the good will of God, so that we will be received by the Lord and blessed by Him in Christ (Eph. 1:3; Jas. 1:25).
20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20–21, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use Proverbs 25:21-22 to teach Christians to give place to the Lord’s vengeance against those who do them wrong. This counterintuitive counsel is a hallmark of the “wisdom from above,” and is in striking contrast to the (foolish) wisdom that is “earthly, sensual, demonic” (Jas. 3:13-18). God calls on us to rise above the thinking of the world. Such commands challenge our faith and keep us focused on eternity instead of the immediate satisfaction of personal revenge. Jesus said to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Matt. 5:44). Evil never overcomes evil. Good is more powerful than evil. Honor the power of good by doing good to those who are not good to you. By doing so, Christian show themselves to be “sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil” (Lk. 6:35).
20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21, NKJV)
Have you ever stopped to see how God defines a “good work?” It is worth your time and effort. Christians are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, the good works that please God are the ones He created us for and arranged for us to do. In today’s passage, “every good work” is identified as accomplishing “His will” (v. 21). The prayer being offered is that God would bring them (us) to spiritual completeness in every good work, by working in them (us) “what is well-pleasing in His sight.” If a work is against God’s revealed will (His word), it is not good and does not please God. We cannot possibly call something a “good work” when it violates truth. By His inspired Scriptures, God equips us for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Again, it is evident that good works conform to truth. Therefore, God’s definition of a good work is a work that agrees with His will. When a work violates the Scriptures it cannot be good.