Judging Good and Evil
One of Satan’s original lies, and one that still snares Christians today, is the concept that we are supposed to be "as God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). Once Adam and Eve "swallowed" that one, their progeny inherited the lie that we humans are supposed to discern "good" from "bad," choose the "good", and do it. Many of us have learned from painful experience that we don’t have the power to do the "good" we know to do (Romans 7:29), much less the ability to objectively determine "good" from "bad" in our external circumstances or our own internal thoughts and feelings.
That whole approach ALWAYS ends up in failure because, as Romans 7 points out, the moment I try to do "good," I open the way for Satan (the "sin principle" of Romans 7:20) to manifest his evil by me.
What, then, is the alternative? We call it "living from who I am" or living from my spirit-union with Jesus Christ. That means as I recognize that I am not self-operated, I counter Satan’s lie of being "as God, knowing good from evil," and live from another-totally different-perspective. I do not have to live trying to discern "good" from "bad" -in fact, to attempt to do so is to believe a lie. And whatever I choose to believe takes me over and so colors and distorts my seeing that I temporarily become Satan’s puppet for his evil purposes. Recognizing the fundamental truth that I am not a god unto myself-a "just me" that is responsible for choosing and doing "good" -sets me free to learn another kind of living. I live not as a god-imitator, but as God Himself manifested in finite human form.
HOW TO VIEW CIRCUMSTANCES
It is very hard, however, to clear out the old idea that some circumstances are "good" or "bad." Circumstances are neither good nor bad in themselves. They are neutral. Whether I call them "temptations" or "opportunities," they are ultimately brought by God (who even gives Satan permission to tempt us). How I choose to see them and myself as I act determines whether Christ in my form is moving into the circumstance, or whether Satan can temporarily act out through my members. Usually, I just trust that the decisions I make throughout the day are Christ’s decisions. Since I have "the mind of Christ" and am "complete in Him," "whole and complete, lacking nothing" etc., I use all the resources available at the moment to decide how to act.
But sometimes I am faced with a situation that stirs me up or I can’t quite get comfortable about-either something that feels "big" or a tiny "niggle." Something looks or feels "bad." That situation throws me into the negative of seeing "evil" and wanting to do "good." How do I interpret this situation? Is it a "good" opportunity or a "bad" one? How I choose to interpret the situation is the only thing I have any control over and is crucial to living out as Christ-Gail in the moment. If I judge the situation as good or evil, however, I am falling into the same Satan delusion that Adam and Eve did when they ate of the tree of "knowledge of good and evil." I see Satan as equal with God, and myself as some victim of a power struggle.
This "negative" seeing, if I remain there, is a lie. And if I act from that perspective, Satan has tricked me into seeing from his perspective and will ultimately be able to do his nasty, cruel activities-I will end up punishing myself or saying or doing something cruel to someone else. Once again, the circumstance is really neither good nor evil in itself. It is my response (what I choose to believe and act from) that will determine the outcome: "good" -which is Christ action by me-or "evil"-which is Satan acting out through my deceived perspective and the actions I take.
However, the pull to see some circumstance as "evil" (or even as inherently "good") is also my opportunity to live by faith, rather than swallow the old lie that I have to judge between good and evil or counter evil with good. Instead, I recognize and act on spirit-truth, rather than outer appearances or my temporary emotional reactions. The truth is that God really is in control of things. There is only one God and no matter how bad or chaotic a circumstance may APPEAR, He is in it for good. And if I’m involved, He will work part of that good by me because I am His presence in it at that moment.
In the face of appearances and feelings to the contrary, I simply remember that God is in control of things and that He will give me the next right thing to do about it. Then I act on the ordinary daily level of action. Is the next right thing to make a phone call? Then I call. Is the next right thing to go on to something else? Then I move on. Do I feel confused about what to do? Then I trust God will let me know and I go on to whatever small thing I need to do in my day.
AND HOW TO VIEW THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS
Another realm in which we are tempted to judge good and evil rather than living as Christ-spirits is when dealing with our thoughts and feelings. How can I say I am Jesus Christ in human form when not so nice thoughts and feelings are part of my daily experience? That is a great dilemma. The answer lies in the difference between soul and spirit. Page Prewitt’s pamphlet "What to do When Life Resembles Alphabet Soup" lays the foundation of this important distinction. I have come to see that I am not my thoughts and feelings. They are experienced on a soul/body level. My inner spirit reality-the reality of what and who I really am-is spirit. My spirit is joined to Christ’s Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). As Galatians 2:20 so clearly puts it, my life is actually Christ living and expressing Himself through my humanity.
But the soul is also the tempting ground for the spirit choices I make. In the circumstances of daily living, I experience a variety of thoughts and feelings. Since I have been taught to judge some thoughts and emotions as "good" and some as "evil," I am already set up to be tempted by Satan to believe I AM good when I have "good" thoughts (like thinking kindly about someone) or that I AM evil when I feel anger, jealousy, sexual feelings, or whatever thoughts and feelings I have been mistakenly taught are evil. But the most "evil" thought is not evil! Thoughts and feelings are NEUTRAL. The most intense feelings do not define what kind of person I am-I don’t turn evil because certain thoughts occur to me or I have strong feelings that seem bad. If, however, I believe Satan’s lie that I am a "just me" running my own life, rather than a spirit indwelt and operated by God’s Spirit, then I believe I AM my feelings. I mistakenly take the evidence for who I am from soul feelings, rather than spirit fact. This lie gi
ves Satan temporary access to my members (soul and body) to act out his evil. If I believe that because I feel hate feelings, I truly AM hating someone, I have been deceived to believe I am independent from God’s Spirit of other-love. In this deception, I have allowed Satan temporary access to my members (soul and body) to act out his sinful nature.
THE ANSWER IS VESSELHOOD
What sets me free from having to define myself by judging my outer circumstances or my inner thoughts and feelings is the truth that I-the human vessel-am neither good nor evil. As Jesus said, the only good is God. The only evil is Satan (who is still under God’s authority). The only power a human vessel has is to choose. The first essential choice is to change owner-operators-that is, to recognize the presence of sin in my life and choose to believe that my sin was totally removed by Christ’s death and resurrection. When someone becomes a believer in Christ, his or her human spirit becomes joined to Christ’s Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19). What most Christians don’t know, however, is that they were never independently-run individuals. We were Satan-operated before becoming Christians (Eph. 2:1-4, John 8:44) and are Christ in-human-expression when we choose to believe in Him (Gal. 2:20).
Fixed in my spirit-union to Jesus Christ, I am a human vessel who cannot control what thoughts and feelings arise in my human soul. But I can operate my faculty of choice located in my human spirit. When thoughts and feelings disturb me, I can recognize this temptation to see myself as some "evil" or "good" person as an opportunity to re-affirm that I am neither! I am Jesus Christ living out through my spirit, soul, and body-one spirit with him (1 Cor. 6:17). So I feel jealous of someone? I remind myself that Christ is not jealous of them and go on with my daily life. The feelings may remain for a while but I act from spirit-truth. I used to believe that if I felt a certain way, I needed to act from that feeling. But that’s Satan’s trick to get his hooks into me and to hurt others through me. So I feel jealous? So what! I am not a jealous type of person (or a sloppy type, or a confused type, or a perfectionist type, or an easygoing type, etc.). I am neither good nor bad. My pre-conceptions about myself are to
tally Satan’s lies.
I have spent much of the last two years looking at the lies I have believed about myself-from childhood-and replacing them with the truth. I was never a "good" type of person-nor am I now! The only good is God. As I live from the truth that He is operating me, I express His good in action. I am not an evil person-even when having thoughts and feelings that would be sin if acted upon. This truth that I am not an independently run person is good news! I was not a hopeless sinner, I was a misused vessel. I never was the originator of the evil deeds I did in the past, Satan was. I no longer need to define myself as "good" or "evil." Because of the union of my spirit with Christ’s Spirit, I express His totally loving and righteous nature.
RENEWING OUR MINDS
It is essential to make a switch-over from this false concept of having to choose between good and evil to living in each circumstance as "Christ-I." I had to do that switch-over after years of living under the delusion that there was a better life "out there" than the circumstances God had me in. Because I had been believing Satan’s lies, I had lost sight of the truth that I was an operated person, and not just Gail. I had been thinking of myself as independent from an operator and had believed all Satan’s lies about having to find my own way in this world and all my feelings about being inadequate to do it.
I started replacing this deeply entrenched lie by first affirming who I really am: "I am Christ in His Gail form." However, to keep this foremost in my mind as I went through my day, I also added "Christ" to my "I" in my thoughts. For example, I remember thinking "I just can’t do this! It’s too confusing" (or hard, frustrating, etc.). Then I changed it to "Christ-I can’t do this." That didn’t make sense! Jesus Christ CAN do this. So throughout the day I would change what I was believing about myself and the circumstances (in spite of feelings) and ACT from the truth. After doing this every time I felt unable to do what was put before me, I began to understand the power in knowing who I am. "I CAN do all things through Christ."
So instead of going around trying to figure out what is good and what is evil, I simply live from who I really am-a neutral vessel expressing the nature of my operator (Christ, who is good)-and responding to all the circumstances of life with human responses and faith choices.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 9 No 3
- Judging Good and Evil
- The Self Can’t Be Improved
- A Look at a Book
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Moments with Meryl
- And Man=You and Me
- Creation and the Fall of Man
- A Call To Arms
- THE MAILBOX
- Where Are the Elijahs of God?
- Powerless Over Alcohol & Life: Steps 8 and 9
- HOPKINSVILLE, KY CONFERENCE
- JACKSON, MS CONFERENCE
- SEVENTH BRITISH SPRING CONFERENCE 1993
- From "Real Man" To "God’s Man"
- Editor’s Note
- No Independent Self Part Two