Tempted to do 'good'?
The Lord commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree in the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.' Genesis 2:16-17
Despite mass evangelism, there are many people who still think that Christianity is about 'being good' and about 'doing the right thing.' Now doing good is certainly commendable. However, our 'doing good' does not define the Gospel.
It was only recently that I was suddenly struck in a new way with the verse quoted above. We tend to think of the tree from which Adam and Eve ate as the source of evil. It was because of their sin, was it not, that death and sin entered humanity? Yet take a look at the verse again. It was not 'the tree of the knowledge of evil' alone. God called it 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.' Did you ever think about that? Honestly, I really hadn't until a few days ago.
So what does that mean for us?
It's 'good' people that are most susceptible to veering away from the Gospel and relying more on their 'good' deeds and 'right living' as the reason for whatever blessings they enjoy and for the hope of eternal life. 'Bad' people that are given to evil practices could care less about the blessings of God!
It's 'good' people who fall into thinking that we have to persuade an unwilling God to mete out a meager blessing by praying and fasting more and more as if it all depends on our works instead of His faithfulness.
It's the 'good' people who have 'good ideas' about how they want to serve God that can miss Him entirely. 'Good' people make their own plans and then ask God to bless their agenda, unaware that at the Judgment, so much of their effort may well qualify as 'wood, hay and straw' instead of 'silver, gold and precious stones'.
'Good' without God is a recipe for ultimate failure.
Are you building your life from a 'good idea' or from the direction of the Lord?
The Psalmist makes the issue clear: Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it.' Psalm 127:1 I like the way the Message Bible renders this verse: If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
We read in Matthew 4 about the temptations of Jesus. In this scene, the most evil being in the universe confronts the most pure Being in the universe. Did you ever notice that the devil didn't tempt Jesus to go to a brothel, or to steal something valuable, or to slander the High Priest? No, he tempted Jesus with 'good' things.
'If you're hungry, turn this stone into bread' he suggested. 'You can, after all. You have divine power.'
There was nothing 'evil' in itself about turning a stone into bread! Jesus later multiplied five small loaves of bread to feed 5,000+ people! The 'evil' was doing something 'good' that God did not sanction.
Doing the 'right thing' is another area. ISIS, for example, believes they're doing the 'right thing' when they behead Christians - men, women and children alike.
Every person who refuses to let go of their prejudices, criticisms and disapprovals towards others think they're doing the 'right thing' to make their opinion known by humiliating or shaming the object of their judgment.
Some of the worst pain in the world is inflicted by self-righteous people judging other people, setting themselves up as 'little gods' , thinking they are doing what is 'right' and 'good' by drawing attention to what they perceive as another person's failure or weakness. Even Michael, the Archangel, dared not bring a railing accusation against Satan himself but said instead, 'The Lord rebuke you.' Jude 1:9 Perhaps he was thinking, 'I knew you, Satan, when you were anointed. Though you've fallen from that state, the Lord will deal with you, not me.'
None of us is called to police the Body of Christ but rather to walk in the new commandment Jesus gave us.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35
The knowledge of 'good' can be as great a stumbling block as your knowledge of 'evil'.
Look at the verse again. In the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die. It does NOT say, in the day that you eat of the evil, but of the knowledge of good and evil!
If we try to be 'good' apart from God, pride is the natural result and your 'good' becomes deadly. It is only through the Blood of Jesus that salvation comes. It is His work in us that empowers us to draw our sustenance from the Tree of Life - His living and ever-powerful Word.
The temptation to do 'good' instead of doing God' will is the most subtle and deceptive of all the devil's devices. Let us take to heart Paul's admonition: '...that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.' 2 Cor. 2:11 NASB
Finally, let us keep ever before us another tree: the one on which our Savior was crucified, suffered and died as the perfect Atonement for you and for me. It is from that tree that we draw all that God has for us. His Blood will never lose its power.