Discern Good and Evil (1)

  • In the garden of Eden stood the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It wasn’t the tree of the knowledge of right and wrong. Right and wrong will always change, but good and evil will not.

    Here’s a couple examples. I don’t like broccoli, but my wife does. So, it’s right for her but wrong for me. When I played golf, I did it right-handed, but my friend at that time golfed left-handed. Left-handed was right for him but wrong for me. Also, what was right for me when I was in my twenties and thirties is now wrong for me in my sixties. For instance. I do not dive off 30 foot cliffs nor do I jump hurdles as in track and field. See what I mean?

    Let me just say that God is more concerned with your wrong believing than He is your poor behavior. I provided many examples in my teaching entitled “How Do You See Me Now”, but here they are again.

    David was a murderer and an adulterer, but scripture says David was a man after God’s own heart. The first human name mentioned in the new testament in Matt 1:1 is David’s name. Now I know Jesus’ name is there, but I mean man born of woman in the natural sense, not the supernatural. Not only is his name the first mentioned, but the scripture connects Jesus to David by calling Him the son of David. Yet there were 28 generations between David and Jesus’ birth.

    The last name you find in the new testament in the book of Revelation 22:16 is David. Jesus even calls himself the root and the offspring of David. David had poor behavior, but he had right believing.

    Abraham was a polytheist. He had many gods. Yet there came a moment when scripture says he believed God. Poor behavior, but right believing.

    Saul of Tarsus who was later named Paul the Apostle. Killing Jews. A Pharisee of Pharisees. Then he has a grace encounter on the road to Damascus and writes half the New Testament. Identifies and teaches the dispensation of grace with great power and determination. Poor behavior, but right believing.

    Pharisees and prostitutes. Both these groups had poor behavior and wrong believing. Jesus put the Pharisees on one side of the room and the prostitutes on the other. Then he points to the prostitutes and tells the Pharisees that the prostitutes are closer to heaven than they are. Why? Because they both had poor behavior, but the Pharisees could not let go of their religious/legalistic beliefs. The prostitutes had no religious, legalistic, law abiding beliefs. They moved into right believing.

    Woman at well. Five husbands and living with a sixth. She went into town and preached a four word sermon “Come See A Man”, and many of the township believed. Poor behavior, but right believing.

    Then there is the woman caught in the very act of adultery. Poor behavior, but right believing. Jesus gives her the gift of “no condemnation” and then the power to live her life free from sexual bondage.

    Here’s others that you can study. Woman with the issue of blood. Peter. Levi/Matthew, and Zaccheus.

    What’s the point. God is more interested in your wrong believing than He is your poor behavior.

    People have this mistaken notion that Christianity is about ethics. Living up to some set of standards put there by men and organizations. We are not changed by the promises we make to God. We are changed by the promises He made to us. Remember, God is not just a promise maker, He is a Promise Keeper.

    It isn’t what we want that gets us in trouble, it’s that we rely on our own strength to get us there. When we try to perform or live up to some set of standards, we get so caught up in a system of reward and punishment that we miss the simple relationship he wants with us.

    But, how do we know how God feels about us if we don’t live up to his standards? We don’t get His love by living up to His standards, your standards, or others standards. We find His love in the broken places of our lives. We let him love us there. It’s called relationship.

    But how can that be? Don’t we have to walk away from sin. Walking toward Him is walking away from sin. Did you forget about these scriptures.

    Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”.

    So wait a minute. That verse doesn’t have any disclaimers or conditions attached to it. It doesn’t say Christ died for us because we lived up to some set of standards, whether they be from God, from the “church”, from traditions of men, or from ourselves. It just says that “while we were STILL sinners”. What is so hard about getting this truth.

    Then there’s this one. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ”.

    Those are just a couple scriptures. There are many more that prove the point, but that’s for you to search out and find.

    So I said all of the above to say this and bring in the continued deeper truths of God’s word. We get it backwards. We try to focus on right and wrong, but we don’t have the ability to discern right or wrong. We have the power to discern good and evil.

    Hebrews 5:11-14. Here it is in the English Standard Version.

    11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.

    What is the writer talking about when he says “About this we have much to say”? Well, you need to study verses 1-10. They talk about the Perfect High Priest and all that He accomplished for us. The problem is spelled out perfectly in this verse 11. People have become spiritually dead. They have ears that do not hear and eyes that do not see, because they are still locked in bondage to performance based on what others have told them is right and wrong.

    Did you ever stop to think that just maybe what others are saying is right, may not be what God sees as right? Also, what others say is wrong just maybe God does not see as wrong at all? Think about that based on what we’ve studied and shared so far. Remember my previous example about broccoli and golf? Would God take a side on which is right and wrong in those two examples? Of course not. It’s not right or wrong…it’s choice and you have that freedom.

    12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

    I’m certain you’ve met people who declare they are believers and have been saved a long time. Yet they need someone to continually teach them the basics over and over. Much of the problem is with identity. They have not yet discovered who they are in Christ. They won’t let go of their false humility that would lead them to believe they have to be good enough for God to love them and use them. That’s exactly where the enemy likes to keep them, because from that place it’s not possible to grasp the deeper truths of who you are in Christ and who He is in you.

    13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

    They’re unskilled in the word of righteousness. Translation: You are still sin conscious, works oriented, and in bondage to legalism.

    14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

    Here the writer of Hebrews is saying that by reason of use, by constant practice, our powers are trained and our senses exercised to discern good and evil. Discern what? Good and evil. We are to be discerning good and evil, but religion has taught us to try and figure out right from wrong. What’s right or wrong takes last place to discerning good and evil.

    We will continue with this study in part 2. Until then Grace and Peace.