Ever wonder why wrong seems so right, or why good seems so difficult? Ever wonder why we do wrong so often and so easily? Me too.
A welcoming smile
a keen mind
an attractive shape
her gaze proclaims
May I not ignore
the seductive power
hidden well behind
the veil of beauty
But why does beauty shine
while evil hides?
Although our culture seems to have dismissed the idea of evil (perhaps excepting ISIS and child molesters), God clearly affirms the reality of both evil and good. Just one example is “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). That’s much easier to say than to put into practice, because evil appears beautiful and desirable and pleasurable. The Bible even talks about how some choose “to enjoy the pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Anyone who thinks sin can’t be fun has never tried it! Or, lies.
So how do we identify what to hate and what to cling to? First, we have to work, to analyze, to think. “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Everything means everything that might possibly have a moral component. How we drive. Our tone of voice. A refusal to forgive those who wound us deeply. How we use our time.
Second, we look beyond the immediate to the downstream consequences. I kind of cheated in quoting an earlier verse about the pleasure of sin, so here’s the rest of the story, “to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” That kind of changes the calculation, doesn’t it? Those good times flee.
Short term, we can enjoy sin and its pleasure. But that reality leads us to a deeper question—what makes evil evil and good good? Very simply, good builds the godly life, evil diminishes it. So as we test everything, we can use this standard.
Now, here’s the qualifier. Our emotions and our history and our traditions and our culture and our friends and our family cannot be the prime definers. As humans we err, so we need a more consistent ruler. Yeah, you guessed it. We follow the wisdom of the one who created us and life. Sometimes God’s word gives us specific instructions, which makes it easier. But when nothing specifically applies, then we find relevant principles and apply them. On what basis? What will best bring us closer to God, closer to a godly life?
Don’t we all desire that most of all? I hope so.
Kick Starting the Application
For you, what sins best show their beauty and hide their evil? How can you best spot the hidden evil? In practice, what standards do you typically employ to determine if an act is right or wrong? Is the deepest desire of your heart to consistently grow closer to God?