How Can I Know Good from Evil?
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ~Satan
Adam and Eve wanted to be self-righteous, literally. Their desire was to have the ability to point out the difference in good and evil, sin and not sin. Their disobedience was “no longer believing God about who they already were”–just like some of today’s Christians. But for us, who we already are.
Although the force of sin didn’t enter our realm until they first chose this (see Romans 5:12), determining what sin is–exactly–was Satan’s original temptation. He said they “will be” like God, but only if they knew good and evil according to him, according to the devil. He lied about God then lied about them. Just look at these distortions of truth:
“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
The fact was, they were already like God. They were perfect. To this day, the enemy lies to Christians about their spiritual perfection just the same as he lied to Adam and Eve before they were sinful. He wants us to think we need to do more to stay perfect, or that knowledge will make us “more” perfect. After biting on that bait, he flips the script and convinces us no matter what we do we’ll never be perfect. Wrong.
Here’s the truth about you, Christian: your spirit is perfectly cleansed forever by grace through faith in one Sacrifice–Jesus’ (see Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 10:10,14).
The first humans were created impeccable because that’s how God creates things. This couple didn’t need to become lord of their own ring by looking to themselves–led by Satan–to determine good and evil. But the devil falsely advertised, and they pulled out their checkbook to purchase.
Their spirit–which was born from God completely sinless–as well as God’s Spirit with them guiding them, was all they needed for life and godliness. Knowing right from wrong according to the serpent was fool’s gold. Same with us Christians. We don’t need his religious advice, or non-religious. We only require counseling from the Holy Spirit within (see 2 Corinthians 3:8, John 14:26).
Even the words in the Bible can be influenced by Satan if the Spirit isn’t escorting us as we read (see John 5:39-40, Luke 4:9-11).
Adam and Eve no longer believed God, they wanted to be able to determine the difference in good and evil apart from God. This is why He asked them a rhetorical question, “Who told you that you were naked?” (See Genesis 3:11, my emphasis added). God already knew it was Satan and He wanted to point this out. They weren’t naked and didn’t need any fig leaves. They were flawless in every way! But the enemy put the lie in their heads, “Something is bad wrong with you. Hurry, cover up or hide from God.”
Sadly, they believed him. Sadly, this continues today for many children of God. We are so focused on judging others according to our own definition of good and evil. We say things like:
“Just be like me. Never miss church. Sit close to the front. Never question pastor. If someone has been to seminary they know much more than you, so obey them or else. Volunteer all the time because this stores up your treasures in heaven. You want to get paid BIG TIME on Judgment Day, don’t you? Give until it hurts. Get up early to read your Bible and follow my lead because I’m a godly person. My sins aren’t as bad as others; I’ll tell you if yours are. Just do what I do and you’ll be on the right track to pleasing God. My level is what you need to get on. I know the difference in good and evil. After all, I’ve been doing this a while now, so pay attention. If you need something, let me know and I’ll pray for you. God hears me because of my dedication and obedience.”
Friend, those are fig leaves. Each sentence above is just the same as Adam and Eve’s covering, none of which would’ve made them acceptable to God. They were infected with sin. Unfortunately, God can have nothing to do with sin and no amount of camouflage could take their sin away nor manage it. The Fall had happened.
“So Matt, why didn’t God just deal with Adam and Eve’s sin Himself. I mean, He’s God. He can do anything. Why not take it away as soon as it happened?”
This is a great question, one I battled with myself for quite some time. His Spirit has taught me that God couldn’t step in and remove their sin because He had given dominion of this physical realm to man (see Genesis 1:26-28). Man brought sin in, so man would have to deal with sin. God can’t lie, so He was unable to go back on His word of giving all authority of this planet to us. Therefore, to solve this problem for us, He became man to set us free from the sin we caused. That’s how much He loves us. He belittled Himself by becoming lower than even the angels. Born as a human, He played by His own rules so that we could have eternal life! (See Hebrews 2:9, Colossians 1:15).
Banishing sin once and for all time–for every human who would believe–Christ took on sin in His own human body; a body which did not deserve death because it never sinned. He became sin as a man so that we could become sinless as God’s children (see Genesis 3:15, John 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:19,21, Galatians 4:4, Romans 5:6-12, 6:23).
In essence, when God said, “Who told you that you were naked?” He was saying, “Who told you something was wrong with you to begin with? I created you just like me.”
His Spirit bears this same witness to every born-again believer on planet earth: “Nothing is wrong with you, child.”
To make matters worse, Adam and Eve thought their actions of hiding and blaming would cover their nakedness, which was another fabrication from hell. No amount of actions, religious or not, can cover our sinfulness before we believe in Christ. So after we believe, no amount can uncover us. We’ve been supernaturally reborn just the same as Adam and Eve were before they first sinned–that is, before they no longer believed God about their perfection.
The first sin wasn’t eating a piece of fruit, it was believing they’d have discernment over their identity–apart from God. Many of today’s churches do the same thing. Refusing to focus on and teach the truth of who we are, instead, behavior discernment for identity is their fixation. As a result, countless well-behaved non-saved people follow suit.
Jesus didn’t come to clothe our nakedness with stuff to do or stuff to stop. Again, those are fig leaves advertised by religion and those who find their worth in conduct and sentiment. Jesus came to give you a new life, His life (see Colossians 3:4, John 3:16, 14:6). He came to give you His very own righteousness by way of being spiritually killed off, and spiritually reborn! Once reborn, you can’t be unborn! Spiritual birth into God’s family is final! (See John 1:12, 3:6-7, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Colossians 1:22, 3:3, 1 John 4:17, Romans 6:6-7,18, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 1:5).
From that free righteousness, by way of birth, we live! We aren’t putting religious stuff on to be righteous, we are righteous!
An identity-confused person might yell at me, “Yeah, hate the sin, love the sinner!”
No. Don’t even hate the sin. Hating sin is a distraction from focusing on our righteousness. It also takes our thoughts off of the righteousness available for spiritually dead people, unbelievers. Hating the sin of others is what the Pharisees did, the nemeses of our Savior. Christ Himself isn’t even focused on hating our unnatural actions and attitudes as saints (see John 3:17); and further, Christians are not sinners. We were sinners.
“Wrong, Matt! Even Paul called himself the chief of sinners!”
Friend, Paul was speaking in past tense when he said this. Go read the entire passage and you’ll discover he was using his old life as a sinner (because he lived by the Mosaic Law and persecuted Christians) as his best example of God’s mercy (see 1 Timothy 1:12-16). Paul never called Christians “sinners” in any of his letters. His goal was to constantly remind them of their past cleansing, their rebirth, and new life as adopted children of God–never calling them sinners, constantly calling them saints (see Romans 1:7, Ephesians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:10).
We are holy people who sometimes don’t act holy. Just the same as an eagle “could” be seen pecking on the ground with chickens, such an act would never make that eagle a yardbird. It was born regal. It will always be regal. Same with you, Christian. Sinful acts or thoughts won’t cause you to become sinful, they just won’t make any sense or feel right permanently. Do you want proof you’re saved? Try sinning. Denial will only last so long, soon enough, you know you weren’t made for that. Why is this? Because from the moment you first believed, you were remade sinless. Living a holy life is the most natural thing you could possibly do! (See Romans 6:6-7, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:22, Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 1:15:16).
So today, my friends, know this: Don’t be distracted with the original temptation of man–knowing good from evil. Instead, be led by God’s Spirit. He will never lead you into evil, so don’t worry. Satan will try to do this, as will self-centered people; unrenewed thoughts and the power of sin will too. But the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ came to educate you on the truth of who you really are after you believe He’s forgiven you. You are good! You are holy! You are blameless and complete!
A prayer for you: Dad, today I want to thank you for replacing untruths with truths, in my mind. For so long, you and I both know I was obsessed with NOT doing evil things. As a result, evil things were rampant. You didn’t want that. You wanted me to just live my life, and when I made a mistake, recognize it and move forward. Through this freedom, you’ve taken me from having a heavily-burdened sin-consciousness, to a mindset of free-flowing righteousness! IT FEELS SO GOOD AND I’M GRATEFUL! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many are focused on the knowledge of good and evil, and you want to set them free. Yes, there is a such thing as good and evil, but you’re taking care of that. Remove this burden from their thinking and teach them that’s not their job. Help them to start focusing on identity instead of behavior, because authentic righteous behavior can only be produced through understanding our true right-standing identity. As they do, like me, they’ll feel as if a huge weight has been lifted! This is your Spirit setting them free in their minds! As believers in Christ, their spirit is already free, but KNOWING THIS is what makes the difference in enjoying our lives! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!