What It Looks Like to Trade Evil for Good

To my shame, I have been tempted to remain in a dishonest, shameful job just to make another paycheck. God corrected and instructed me through Thomas Watson’s excellent book, The Godly Man’s Picture, where he writes:

The godly are of a brave, heroic spirit. . . They will not enrich their purses by enslaving their consciences. (p. 200)

But there have been times that I have not known how to distinguish the evil of the world that surrounds me. How do we become brave when we don’t know what we’re fighting? So the King of Wisdom uses passages like Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who say the evil is good and the good is evil,
Who get darkness for light and light for darkness,
Who set bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Isaiah here uses three phrases to say one thing, further reinforcing and applying the same truth each time.

  1. Evil for Good“: This makes us think of ethics, morals, and values. Simple matters of good vs. evil come up first. Some things are so plainly good and evil that only the insanely demonic cannot recognize them. But this judgment of “woe!” is not only for these things…
  2. Darkness for Light“: The nature of trading darkness for light tells us that many of these evils will be perpetuated in the shadows. It is incumbent upon us, then, to be able to discern the light from the darkness, even in the shadows. God demands our discernment, for the wicked will take evil, hide it in the darkness, then shine a flashlight on part of it to make it look “good.”
  3. Bitter for Sweet“: Not only may evil be hidden in the darkness and called “light,” and the good taken out of the light to be called “evil,” but good and evil may be wrongly seasoned. At this third level, after pure essential righteousness/unrighteousness and then how each is perceived (the level of perception), we now arrive at how issues are brought to bear on the spiritual “taste” or immediate senses.

    The wicked will not only take evil and lighten a piece of it (“Women’s rights!” rather than “Child murder!”) but will also try to make this evil taste sweet rather than bitter (“Isn’t it a good thing that we stand up for women? You should, too.”).

Taken together, these three images show that there is no end to the brazen and nuanced wickedness of men. Will we never cease to lie to Nth degree about God’s righteousness? Will we ever continue to murder justice and exalt its murder?

But thanks be to God, who has won the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ, who knew the good from the evil as soon as He came of age (Isaiah 7:14-17), died for such wicked sinners, rose from death, and will return to right it all at the end.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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