GOOD AND BAD TOGETHER?

We found this interesting vehicle on display when we visited the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.  See the post PUSHMI-PULLYU – INDECISION IS HARMFUL! that was posted April 26, 2016 for more information about our visit to the Museum and this interesting vehicle.

Lane Motor Museum double car
Firemen’s vehicle, Cogolin, France.

At first glance, I thought it was interesting that it seemed to have front headlights on the back end as well as at the front.  Upon a more focused look at the vehicle, I realized that it was two front halves put together.

Lane Motor Museum double car inside
Close up view of the two front ends of the Firemen’s vehicle, Cogolin, France.

Fairly odd looking, I have to say.  Obviously, this would be impossible to drive if both “front ends” were engaged at the same time.  Yet, on a spiritual basis, this is what we do all the time in connection with the irreconcilable contrast between “good and evil”.

We affirmatively state that God is good.  Indeed, we know that goodness is one of God’s attributes. 

“And [God] said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” 

Exodus 33:19 ESV

For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!.”

Zechariah 9:17 ESV

The Apostle Paul even notes that goodness is part of the fruit of the Spirit which we are to grow in our own hearts and minds as we allow Him to transform us into the likeness of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”

Galatians 5:22 ESV

The reality for us, however, is that goodness is not what we see on a daily basis in either ourselves or our world.  Rather than goodness, we see evil, selfishness, pride, injustice, violence, hatred, and hurt.  In short, we see sin, disobedience to God’s Word, in both our own life and in the life of our community and the world.

It is the height of arrogance to think that mankind is good.  A review of the daily headlines shows that this is not the case.   That same arrogance produces the thought that we are good at any time … even our best “good deeds” are described in Scripture as “filthy rags”.   Isaiah 64:6 [KJV].

Dr. R. C. Sproul says:

Sin is cosmic treason.  Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign.  It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself.  Have you ever considered the deeper implications of the slightest sin, of the most minute peccadillo?  What are we saying to our Creator when we disobey Him at the slightest point? We are saying no to the righteousness of God.  We are saying “God, Your law is not good.  My judgment is better than Yours.  Your authority does not apply to me.  I am above and beyond Your jurisdiction.  I have the right to do what I want to do, not what You command me to do.” 

The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority.  It is a revolutionary act, a rebellious act in which we are setting ourselves in opposition to the One to whom we owe everything.  It is an insult to His holiness.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 115-116 (Emphasis is mine)

So, we know that we are not good and that sin and evil abounds in and around us.  But we then argue that if God is good, it would appear that God is not watching, He doesn’t care, or He is incapable of helping us in a world that is so full of evil.  While some feel this way, I suggest that the opposite is true.  Turning to Dr. Sproul’s comments again, he says:

… He [God] is so slow to anger that when His anger does erupt, we are shocked and offended by it.  We forget rather quickly that God’s patience is designed to lead us to repentance, to give us time to be redeemed.  Instead of taking advantage of this patience by coming humbly to Him for forgiveness, we use this grace as an opportunity to become more bold in our sin.  We delude ourselves into thinking that either God doesn’t care about it, or that He is powerless to punish us.  … The supreme folly is that we think we will get away with our revolt.

R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, © 1998, p. 117 (Emphasis is mine)

When it appears that God is not working in our world, the reality is that He is waiting.  He is exercising His patience.  He is allowing evil to continue because there are those who have not yet recognized the Spirit’s conviction of sin and who have not yet received the gift of salvation through faith in Christ alone. 

Can evil/sin exist with good/holiness?  The answer to this inquiry is an emphatic “no!”   Sinful mankind cannot appear before the Holy God who is the essence of goodness.  But through Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and washed in the righteousness of His Son. 

christ-of-the-ozarks-missouri-1968-3
Christ of the Ozarks, Missouri, USA (circa 1965)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6 ESV

If God were to wipe out all evil, those who have not yet received Jesus Christ as their Savior would be lost forever.  Thus, God waits patiently until all His children have come to Him.  .  Paul says in Romans:

“Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4 ESV

For a time, it may appear that people are successful in their revolt against God and His Anointed One.  For a time, it may appear that evil has won the battle and that God is helpless to give aid or comfort to His people. 

Beloved, this is a delusion, a fiction of the highest magnitude.

When God slams down His gavel in judgment of all mankind, there will be no time then for people to confess their sin and to receive the gift of salvation.  The time of God’s mercy will be over.  His patient waiting will be completed.  At that point it will be the time of judgment. 

“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.

1 John 3:7-8 ESV

Don’t be double minded.  Goodness and evil/righteousness and sin/light and dark cannot coexist.   Look to Jesus Christ, confess your sin, receive His righteousness and live then in goodness and light, through His power alone.

Father, cleanse my heart from its sin and double-mindedness.  Enable me, through Your Spirit, to live my life in dedication to You and to Your will.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, my God and my Redeemer.

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, GOODNESS part two

 

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 18

 GOODNESS – A FUNDAMENTAL CHARACTERISTIC OF GOD

PART TWO

 God’s goodness is expressed in the very first reference to God in Scripture.  In Genesis 1 we read of the creation done by God simply at the power of His words. 

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  An God saw that the light was good.

 

Genesis 1:3-4.   This continued through creation and then, in verses 26-27, 31 we read: 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.  And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’   So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

 

Have you ever worked hard to create something and then looked at it and saw the imperfections, the mistakes, the “oops” that no one else would see, and then say to yourself, “it’s nice” or “it’s fairly good” or “not bad for a first attempt”. 

 

That’s not what happened in Genesis 1 – God created the world and all there is in it and when the Triune God was done on the sixth day, He looked at his completed creation and said not only that each of the component parts were good, He declared that “it was VERY GOOD” and it included mankind, created in His image, for fellowship and relationship with Him.  God is Good and we were created in His image. 

 

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!  In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.

Psalm 31:19-20

 

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

2 Chronicles 16:9

 

  • God’s goodness is shown in His long-suffering, forbearance and slowness to anger that continues toward persons who have persisted in sinning.

 

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness

Exodus 34:6

 

Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 

Psalm 78:38

 

Theologian J. I. Packer says that the supreme expression of God’s goodness is His amazing grace and inexpressible love that is evidenced by His saving sinners, who deserve only condemnation, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

  • God’s goodness includes His glorious kindness and generosity that touches all His creatures.

 

In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer calls Psalm 107 the classical exposition of God’s goodness.  The psalmist begins with the call to give thanks for God’s goodness. 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.  Vs. 1-2

 

The psalmist then identifies four problems from which God has given aid to Israel. 

  1. God redeems those who are helpless from their enemies;
  2. God delivers from “darkness and the shadow of death” – Hallelujah –notably reference in the text is even made that this was brought about because of the people’s rebellion against God and yet he delivered anyway;
  3. God provided healing for diseases that He had brought upon the people to discipline the “fools” who disregarded him; and
  4. God protected those who traveled by sea when storms arose that would have sunk their ship but He intervened and stilled the storm.

 

Looking at the psalm, each of these situations and rescues concludes with the same refrain: 

“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” 

 

Psalm 107 is not the only place where we are told to sing God’s praises for His goodness in creation and the history of His people. 

 

In Psalm 136 we find verses that sing of God’s goodness with each verse ending with the refrain “for His steadfast love endures forever.”   Verse 1 begins the psalm with “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” and the last verse commands that we “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

 

So we know God is Good … and we know that we are not good apart from Jesus.  So, what are we to do?

 

Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: 

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

 

We are to do works that are good so that we give glory to God.  We reflect His glory and tell of His goodness when we magnify His great name before others.  That is our purpose in goodness before men. 

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

So, what good works do we do?  How do we let our light shine before men?  How do we give glory to God?

 

There are multitudes of ways that we can perform good works through the Holy Spirit provided through Jesus Christ to us.  Here, however, we will be looking at 1) generosity and 2) appreciation of excellence and beauty. 

 

  • Regarding Generosity —

 

Our doing good freely should be done liberally and bountifully.  We are not to be skimpy givers, but we are to be open-hearted and open-handed.  See 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11.   In verse 6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that if they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly; and conversely, if they sow bountifully, they will reap bountifully. 

 

We will have a desire for the good will of others.   This is an imitation of the love and grace of God and of the love of Christ which desires the good of men.  See Luke 2:14.

 

We show our willingness to do good to other simply by doing it!  Where there is power to act, the act will always follow the will.  Scripture speaks of doing good as the evidence of love.    I John 3: 18-19.  

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.  Hereby we know that we are of the truth.” 

 

We will seek opportunity to do good to the soul and body of others.  Our benevolence should be universal, constant, free, habitual and according to our opportunities and ability, as we follow the commands of God.  To freely do good to others is to do to them as we would have them do to us, that is the enactment of “the Golden Rule.”  To freely do good to others encourages us to remember how kind God and Christ have been to us and how much we have received from them, every moment of every day. 2 Corinthians 8:9.

 

  • Regarding appreciation of what is good, true and beautiful:

 

Dr. R. C. Sproul says “One thing that comes with the fruit of goodness is a new appreciation for what is good, true and beautiful.”

 

We have already spoken of God’s beautiful creation. In Exodus 28:2 God tells the people how to make Aaron’s garments:

 

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty”.

 

Note that Aaron’s garments were to reflect God’s glory and beauty!  We know the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem were pinnacles of beauty and the directions for their building did not come from designers or architects but directly from God. 

 

Another example of the appreciation of beauty as coming from the Goodness of our Creator God is the work of the composer Johan Sebastian Bach. 

 

Bach composed his music as an apologetic for the existence of God.  Pointing to the order of creation and the beauty therein, Bach wanted his music to point to the existence of God when, during the period known as the Enlightenment, people were arguing that man was the be all and end all and there was no need for God anymore.  Although born in 1685 and living only until 1750, Bach’s witness for God is far from silent in our own day!

 

 Bach himself said:

 

“Music’s only purpose should be the glory of God and the recreation of the human spirit.” 

 

Music was given to glorify God in heaven and to edify men and women on earth.  It wasn’t to make lots of money or to feed the musician’s ego or to be famous.  Music was about blessing the Lord and blessing others.

Listen to “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” as composed by J. S. Bach and as performed by the Brentwood Jazz Quartet.

 

 

But Bach’s music goes far beyond merely reflecting God’s orderly creation – it contains the message of the Gospel when used by the Holy Spirit. 

C. S. Lewis opined that the world does not need more Christian literature – it needs more Christians writing good literature or more Christians composing good works of music or of art. When we produce art that is good; art that reflects a biblical world view, its richness will endure through the ages.

 

Does your experience with the Fruit of the Spirit of Goodness give you a new appreciation for the good, true and beautiful?

 

God is Good

 

  • His goodness underlies his love, his redemptive acts and his securing of our eternal blessings.
  • His goodness is evidenced in creation, and in truth and all things beautiful.
  • May we give our best to the Lord and may we do good for Him, whether it be in acts of benevolence for others or in writing or composing … whatever we do, may it be to the Glory of God for He alone is Good and his Goodness extends to all generations.

 

Take some time this week to listen to some beautiful music or look at some beautiful scenery and let your Spirit soar as you glorify your God in meditation.  Do some good act of benevolence for someone anonymously and let the Spirit work His will in both the recipient and you, the giver. Daily, praise the Lord, for He is Good.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, KINDNESS, part two

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 16

 KINDNESS – A CONSTANT STATE OF READINESS TO HELP

PART TWO

So how do we show kindness to others – to whom should we be kind – what is kindness, after all?  What does the scripture tell us about these questions?

The greatest kindness we can do for another person is to witness to them of the Great King Jesus and lead them as the Holy Spirit directs toward their salvation and spiritual growth.  Most often, we do this by setting a good example as this is frequently the most effective witness of all, especially if, at the appropriate time, it is accompanied by our words telling of the gospel of the Lord Jesus as the Source of our life in Him.

For our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we help each other in faith and obedience and encourage each other when in trial or temptations.  We can bring spiritual joy and strength to each other as we seek to live for Christ before meeting Him in heaven.

What does Scripture say?

We as Christians are to be kind, not only in a spiritual context but also physically, to both individuals and the world, whether or not they claim Christ as their Savior.

We are told to help others in their difficulties and calamities.  See Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: 35-36.

Kindness for the Christian can be summed up as being kind in three specific ways:

  • By giving to them of those things that they need and we possess.

“Give and it shall be given unto you.”

Luke 6:38

  • By doing for them and making an effort to help them to improve their situation.

“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”

I Thessalonians 2: 9

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do;”

Hebrews 6: 10

  • By suffering for them and assisting them in bearing their burdens and in doing everything that we can to lighten those burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers”

1 John 3: 16

Now that we know that we are to be kind to others, who are the “others”? Or, another way to put it is, “to whom should we be kind?”

Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us to be kind to our neighbors, and it expands the definition of neighbor to anyone we meet along life’s way.  Luke 10:29 and following.

That parable, however begs the question: what kind of people are our neighbors so that we can be kind to them?

We are to be kind both to the good and to the bad.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … we are to imitate God.  We should be kind not just those who we consider good in our own eyes.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Matthew 5: 45

In this regard, Jonathan Edwards has said:

“Some are proud, some immoral, some covetous, some profane, some unjust or severe, and some despisers of God.  But any or all of these bad qualities should not hinder our beneficence [kindness], nor prevent our doing them good as we have opportunity.  On this very account, we should the rather be diligent to benefit them, that we may win them to Christ; and especially should we be diligent to benefit them in spiritual things.”

It also goes without need for elaboration that we should be kind to our friends. But this duty of kindness also extends to our enemies!

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5: 44

And, we should be kind to the thankful as well as to the unthankful.   Again, this follows the example of Jesus.  Luke 6: 35 says He “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil;” It is also consistent with the command that we should be merciful as He is merciful.  Luke 6:36.

How does this apply to my daily life?

We do not deserve God’s kindness and yet He is kind every moment of every day –as He showers us with His blessing and love in Christ Jesus, as He provides for our salvation and eternal life with Him, as He has given His grace and mercy in forgiveness of our sins, even the ones that we keep on doing and which He knows we will continue to do, yet in His infinite love, mercy and kindness He continues to forgive when we come to Him.

Please remember that the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ … and one of Jesus’ attributes was kindness that was extended to those he encountered throughout his life, even to his executioners, including you and me.  He died on the cross because of our sins, and we put him there as surely as any Roman spear or nail.  Such kindness freely given to us should result in an outpouring of love and kindness by us to others, not in our human power as just one more thing we have to do but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Kindness – it is such a common term, so flippantly used, and yet such a profound witness when it comes from a heart prompted by the Holy Spirit.  It is not a last minute thought or a flippant act of little consequence as the world describes; it is a life style of placing others first, of putting yourself in subservience to others so that their needs are met; it is going the extra mile and then some, because Jesus went all the way from heaven, to earth and then to the cross for you, and for me.  Such kindness cannot be repaid by any action on our part, but we can illustrate it to others as best we can, with prayerful praise and as a thankful witness for Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.