February 24, 2015

God knows what to do with evil

Leviticus 15–16
John 9:1–12
Song of Solomon 7:5–9

Some of the sin in my life is secret. That is, no one knows about it except God. If I can excuse myself past the truth that God is grieved over my sin, it is easy to make the excuse that because no one knows about it, then no one is affected. I can have a bad attitude, a nasty thought, or so on, and it will mess up my day, but not harm another person. This is not true . . .

I’m reading in Leviticus about the problem of a bodily discharge. Obviously it is going to affect the person who has it and anything that it comes in contact with, but after the other readings this week about OT laws, it seems that these regulations go beyond what they seem to describe. A discharge is a private matter, but could God be using it to illustrate those sins that I think are not going to bother anyone else?

In this passage, the discharge is unclean, but so is the bed he lies on, and anything he sits on. Anyone who touches his bed is also unclean, as is anyone that sits in the same place, or that touches him. If he spits on anyone, they become unclean. So is his saddle, and so is anyone who touches the saddle or anything else he touches, or anyone else he touches. All the earthenware vessels that he touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water. (Leviticus 15:1–12)

This shoots down the idea that sin is a private matter. It is not.

The Jews understood. They carried that idea of sin affecting those around us into the time of Jesus, so when He saw a man blind from birth, His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They thought that the sin of the parents was passed on to their children. While sometimes it is (those who cannot control their temper unlikely will not teach their children how to do it), the Bible says each person bears their own sin.

In any case, Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

We are quick to blame the misfortunes of others on something they did to deserve it. Like Job’s comforters, we cannot conceive of a world where bad stuff happens to good people, but it does. Misfortune is not always the consequence of sin or stupidity. Evil just happens, but our biggest problem might be that we don’t do well at defining good and evil. At least we cannot define it the way God does. When Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, that was obviously (to us) a bad thing, but as Joseph said, “God used it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) When Jesus died on the cross, this seemed the worst evil imaginable, that humans should slay the Son of God, but God used it to redeem sinners. How can we make any distinction between evil that is the consequence for sin and evil that is part of God’s plan for good?

As for the blind man, Jesus told them He would display the works of God in this man. Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:1–7)

When I see God at work bringing good out of what seems bad, my heart is filled with delight. And when God sees me rejoicing in Him, Solomon suggests that He is saying back to me: “How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights!” (Song of Solomon 7:6)

I don’t blame God for evil, but I am so glad that He knows what to do with it.

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