Bringing Good out of Evil

“Out of the eater came forth food,

And out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:14)

             Samson’s riddle quoted above is remarkable and tells us that God can bring that which is good out of something which is death bringing: a lion. In its most demonstrable way this is shown in the death of Christ. The wickedness of man brought into relief the love of God. Christ was given up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, but it was by the hand of lawless men that He was crucified and slain. (Acts 2:23).

             The garden of Eden showed the beneficence of God, but it could not show such things as his mercy and grace. However what we now have is a complete display of his moral features. He can now be known in a full way (Colossians 1:19).

             However God’s character is demonstrated all through Scripture by his attitude to evil. If the evil had not existed we would never have known his hatred of it (Psalm 11:5/6; Amos 5:15). For us: “The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13).

             God showed his abhorrence of evil in his judgement of the old world (2 Peter 2:5). There is therefore no excuse for treating evil lightly. Again, it was Pharoah’s intransigence that enabled God to show his power (Romans 9:17). Man’s evil also enabled God to show his long-suffering (Romans 2:4).

             God is also able to show his mercy to those who need it. If no one needed mercy it could not be demonstrated (Romans 11:32). He is also able to show his grace to those who do not deserve it. If we all had everything there would be no need of grace - God’s gift (Ephesians 2:8).

             If conditions were perfect there would be no need of kindness (Ephesians 4:32; Titus 3:4). If no one was poor there would be no need of liberality (1 Corinthians 16:3; Galatians 2:10). Not only God, but we ourselves need to show these traits. There are a multiplicity of needs in this world and today this has spawned a multiplicity of charities.

             If we had everything just when we wanted it there would be no need for patience. If nothing was trying there would be no need for endurance. If everything was visible there would be no need forfaith and if everything was present there would be no need of hope. These things are necessary because of our present condition. They will not be needed in a coming day.

             All the foregoing things and others, not only bring out the character of the God with whom we have to do, but are also to come out in their measure in Christians here on earth. They are to come out in our dealings with other Christians and also where possible with our fellow men (Galatians 6:10).

             These features and others are what we speak of as moral features. They are not physical things, though they may be demonstrated by the use of physical things as when a knife is used by a surgeon to save a life in contrast to its use by a thug to take one.

             The word moral does not appear in the Scriptures going by the AV and Mr. Darby’s translation. Paul taught faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:7) rather than faith and morals. Faith would suggest the objective side: what we are to believe in, whereas truth would cover what we call the moral side. Neither Paul, nor any other New Testament writer, speak of morals or truths, but of truth which is the divine standard. The judgment of God is according to truth (Romans 2:2). In at least on one occasion Scripture uses the word spiritually where we would have used the word morally, that is, when speaking of the condition of the city which was called spiritually Sodom and Egypt (Revelation 11:8).

             This is all somewhat like the writing on this paper. If the writing were white nothing would be seen, because the background is white. Conversely if the background were dark as well as the writing nothing would be seen. It is the contrast between the writing and the background that enables the writing to be read and hopefully understood.

             In 2 Timothy 2:22 we are told to follow righteousness, faith, love and peace. We know what righteousness is when we consider its opposite lawlessness (unrighteousness). Again we understand faith, which between persons is really fidelity, when thinking of its opposite - persons who cannot be trusted. Love stands in contrast to hate and peace to disturbance, or as it often is - war.

             Christians experience peace and joy when they know their sins are forgiven, but if they have never felt the burden of them they cannot experience what accompanies the purging of the conscience.

             The Psalms are full of the evils that are in the world and the persons who perpetrate them. But the Psalms end in praise (Psalm 150).

             Man does not like the fact that God hates evil. Man does not like the light. He often occupies himself with evil (Romans 1:32).(Think of the popularity of murder stories) What does Christ say ? “Men have loved darkness rather than light; for their works were evil (John 3:19; consider also Amos 3:2). However, men do not like evil when it affects them personally in an adverse way. They may well go to the ruler for help (Proverbs 29:26).

             However, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

December 2008