Discerning Good from Evil

Jesus prayed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us from evil.” Evil is around us every day. When you learn to discern good and evil, your life will get a lot easier.

Ultimately our warfare is against spiritual forces of evil difficult to imagine. Paul writes about encounters with these powers as an “evil day”. (Ephesians 6:12-13) But the evil that we encounter on a day-to-day basis isn’t “Star Wars with a heavy breathing Darth Vader”, but through our friends, co-workers, even our spouse, and our own thought life.

What?! Jesus said to the soon-to-be Apostle Peter: “Get behind me Satan.” I’m not implying that you should take your friend in for deliverance. I am saying that we accommodate evil by action and inaction, by thoughts and words, and this evil can have devastating impact.

This daily temptation toward evil comes at us from all directions – relationships, within ourselves, and from life itself.

Jesus said to Peter: “Peter, my dear friend, Satan has demanded to come and sift you like wheat and test your faith. But I have prayed for you, Peter, that you would stay faithful to me no matter what comes.” (Luke 22:31-32 TPT).

Whenever I read this passage, I’m glad that Jesus is sitting next to the Father right now praying for me. As Paul writes in Romans 8:34: “Christ Jesus, who died and was raised to life, is at the right hand of the Father and is interceding for us.”

Jesus gave us the Spirit and is at the right hand of the Father praying for us!

How do we avoid this persistent evil that attaches itself to our thoughts and attitudes, and too often, manifests in our actions, and in the actions of our friends?

First, don’t fear. Jesus is praying for you and the Spirit is in you. You will be victorious in the evil day. Sifting is only allowed in God’s children for our ungodly associations of thoughts and friends to be revealed. A blown-up relationship can be God protecting you from a future disaster.

Second, look for fruit. Jesus mentions “evil” seven times in the Sermon on the Mount. He wanted us to be able to discern good from evil. He culminates His teaching with the statement: “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit.” The word “bad” is the same word used for “evil” elsewhere. I believe the discipline of waiting is so important. You really don’t know if a thought, a business deal, a person, or a decision is good or evil until the good or bad fruit manifests. Learn to wait.

Third, overcome evil with good. Jesus taught: “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the cheek turn to them the other cheek.” (Matthew 6:39) Paul writes: “Do not be overcome with evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:12) Both Jesus and Paul are not advocating silence to injustice but a loving approach that brings repentance.

Some pastoral observations about evil. A spouse who says that they don’t love the other spouse anymore has often already started an affair/Someone who says that they will pay you tomorrow – won’t/You don’t have to have anything except Jesus/Sin is pleasure for the moment and consequences for a lifetime/You will not get your money problems under control until you learn to tithe/It isn’t someone else’s fault/Outbursts of anger are always unresolved relational conflict/A constant focus on your problems will make them bigger not smaller/Anything that isn’t founded upon Jesus has the seeds within of its own destruction.

Jesus, pray for me today! Thank you for victory in the Spirit.

As Paul writes in Romans 8: “Our sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that we will receive/God works all things to the good those who walk in His calling/If God is for us, who can be against us/In all things we overwhelmingly conquer!


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