Even in a Pluralistic Society Evil Exists and Is Never Good
An old friend asked if I thought he was evil. A provocative question. I answered, “Do you do evil things? Do you encourage evil things? Do you endorse evil things?”
This is a political column about good and evil. It is a sad commentary in itself that there are those who think the subject of good and evil is unfit for political discourse. We can blame that on the fact that some political players have redefined good and evil in their own image, you might say. For example, if something is not politically correct, it often is deemed to be evil.
The Bible speaks a lot about evil. It refers to those who commit evil acts as evil-doers. As every Christian is aware, we all are sinners because each of us falls short of God’s standard of perfection.
What is a sinner? One who commits sins is a sinner. We all sin. There is no denying it.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” the Apostle John wrote.
Sin and evil are synonymous. You can’t commit one without committing the other. Moreover, as Jesus’ brother James wrote, to commit the smallest sin is to qualify as a sinner: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Or, as the colloquialism puts it, “In for an inch, in for a mile.” There is no halfway. There is no neutrality.
The Apostle Luke concurred by quoting Jesus Himself: “…he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”
How do we know when we sin and become evil-doers? Whenever we put ourselves or anything else above God; whenever we exhibit devotion to anything that conflicts with what God would have us do.
As Jesus explained, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” As an example, Jesus provided this: “You cannot serve God and wealth.”
But as the Bible makes crystal clear, men fashion a multitude of idols to worship above God, not just wealth. Men can be creative in devising faux “good things” to exalt. As John Calvin commented, men are veritable idol factories, constantly churning out false gods to devote themselves to. Politics is fertile ground for manufacturing false gods.
Given this understanding, we fallen sinners can properly understand ourselves to be evil-doers. It is, in the most fundamental way, a curse over all mankind.
The good news is that repentance and faith in Jesus Christ is the remedy to this curse. Again, the Apostle John: “…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Just being aware of our sinfulness doesn’t help much. Actually, it doesn’t help at all other than potentially to serve as motivation for us to repent.
But what of those who are aware of their sinfulness yet refuse to repent? And what of those who deny their sinfulness?
One of mankind’s creative end-runs to avoid confession and repentance is to imagine that he is the measure of good and evil, rather than God. Indeed, every sinner does this when he serves his own desires rather than God’s. It’s the oldest self-deception.
The apostle also spoke to this: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar…” “Him,” of course, being God.
Commonly we see this when men hoist up false idols to devote themselves to, pretending them to be good things, rather than the sin they actually represent. God has explained how He feels about that:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”
We see a lot of that today, don’t we? Particularly in political matters.
For example, abortion, the purposeful killing of an innocent baby, is made all the more horrific because it is done with the mother’s consent, as if the sin of murder is something good. A lot of rationalization is done to justify this heinous act, at least in the mind of the mother and those who urge her on. But as biology tells us, abortion stops a heartbeat. It doesn’t merely remove “a blob of cells.” It kills a living person.
As one contemporary Christian apologist explained, when killing something, it’s prudent to ask what it is that’s being killed. A mosquito is one thing. A defenseless child is quite another.
Science tells us that heartbeats are detected in babies in the womb at six weeks after conception, up to 160 beats per minute. Most abortions are performed after that, according to the government. But even prior to that, the child has developed multiple characteristics of personhood, including “five weeks after conception, your baby’s brain and face are growing,” says the Mayo Clinic. In fact, the heart beats but too softly to be noticed 22 days after conception.
There may not be a more obvious sin that meets God’s admonition of, “Woe to those who call evil good.”
This is but one example of a political issue that has been twisted to justify sin in the mind of the sinner. Whenever man does this, whether it is by encouraging lawlessness or praising depravity, he commits similar sins. Whenever he does this and excuses it as a good thing, he doubles down on his sin.
In our pluralistic culture it has become so widely accepted to tolerate such behavior that we are now told that to disagree with this perverse thinking is in fact to be wrong. Even judgmental, perish the thought. Not only have blatant sins been advanced as if they are good things to do, people who object are ridiculed, even persecuted and in some cases prosecuted for opposing the inverted morality that pretends what is evil is instead good.
There are many intelligent, thoughtful and well-intentioned people who have bought into the world’s idolatry that lifts up evil as good, and condemns good as if it were evil. They can be creative in rationalizing what they do. Often, they will seek a high moral ground by saying who are they to judge the behavior of another. Other times, they pretend that depravity is in the eye of the sinner; that everything is relative and what may not be good for one person may be good for another.
Most ludicrously, they sometimes argue that it is wrong to “impose” any morality on others by passing laws. This is the most laughable attempt to justify doing evil because every law is someone’s concept of what is good or what is bad. That is the definition of morality.
What these people really object to is a particular morality, God’s morality, and do so by invoking a false morality in its place.
The political realm is where today’s morality play is played out. But just as it’s always been, it’s a battle between God’s standard of what is good and evil versus fallen unrepentant men’s standard that they would establish in its place.
What to do?
For starters, be wary of those who claim to do good when what they do harms another, whether it’s by forcibly taking someone’s money to redistribute to others they consider more deserving of it, or by legislating sinful acts, as if by passing a law they can make evil good.
It’s the extremely rare institutionalized sin that openly announces it intends to make evil into something good. Rather, it’s always couched as if the sin to be established as the norm already is something good, despite its clear conflict with God’s law.
As mentioned earlier, the solution is that willful sinners can be forgiven. All it takes is to repent of their sin, which means recognizing it as the evil act it is then abstaining from it, and having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
This is the encouraging good news of the Gospel. As for how encouraging it is for overcoming the fallen condition of our pluralistic, morally relativistic society, the good news is tempered by Jesus’ own admonition:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
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