Calling Evil Good (Isaiah 5:20)

Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!


            Sometimes you read a verse that rings with relevance as you come across it. Above is just such a word from God.


            We live in an age in which all sorts of moral questions are up for grabs in our society. Who has the power over life and death? What life is to be protected and what life is to be controlled by our volition? Who is to say what is right and wrong regarding our sexuality or our marriages?


            God pronounces woe on those who would dare call evil good or good evil. Woe is an important biblical term. It is an opposite or contrast to the word blessed. To be blessed is to receive spiritual life, goodness, or even happiness from God. To have woe is to receive spiritual death, badness, or sadness from God. Woe is akin to being cursed.


            God says that those who would flip-flop the distinctions between evil and good are under his curse. The same thing is clear in Romans 1 when Paul describes how the judgment of God arrives in his giving men over to their own evil desires. To determine our own morality apart from God is to find ourselves under his judgment.


            What then shall we do? The obvious things are important for starters. We need to define marriage, sexuality, and life issues as God does. We need to not call evil behaviors and godless thinking good. Instead, we need to learn to value the things that God values.


            But that is easy for many who are in the church. Most often we find ourselves feeling a little smug about how well our value systems line up with the things that God has said are good. And for that we need to go a little deeper. What has God called good? Do we really approve all that God approves? Do we really love all that God loves? Do we believe that God’s standards and God’s grace are the best? Or are we more the kind of people who get set in our traditions and add rules to God’s law in order to make things the way we are most comfortable?


            Let us learn from God. Let us love his word. Let us believe his standards are best. Let us reject the influence of any culture, no matter how vocal, as we seek to determine what is good and what is evil. Let us hear from God, trust God, and obey God in all aspects of life. Let us never approve what God calls evil. Let us never disapprove what God has not disapproved. Instead, let us love God and become more like him as we grow in Christ.