By Travis Biller
Pastor, Immanuel Baptist Church, Elizabethton
Focal Passage: Proverbs 29:1-3, 12-20
It is an unfortunate reality that evil exists in the world. It is an even more unfortunate reality that much of the evil found in the world is found in the human heart. When we are confronted with the gospel, we are confronted with our own sin. It is often the case, however, that while we recognize we are sinners, we fail to call our sin evil.
However, when Jesus was speaking to the crowds He said such things as, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” and, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 7:11; 16:4). Jesus referred to His generation as evil and wicked! I suspect not too many pastors refer to their congregations that way!
Further, when Jesus began preaching, He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Repentance has to do with recognizing sin, and not just any sin – it is a call to recognize our sin. Jesus revealed that the gospel is for sinners. To be saved one must repent of their sin. We can rephrase that by saying, “One must turn from their evil.”
Once that is accomplished, a believer discovers an unsettling truth: sin is still in their heart. In other words, they still have evil within them.
Recognizing this reality, the apostle Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me…” (Roman 7:18-21).
Paul was not writing in despair. On the contrary, it is only in recognizing that reality that one turns to Jesus for righteousness. However, our turning is not a one-time event. It is a daily practice. One that we often fail to accomplish. However, our God’s love is such that He does not tolerate evil in His children.
Because of that great truth, God’s love is sometimes expressed towards His people as discipline. The Bible says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6). The reason he does this is because, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing” (Proverbs 29:1).
Our Father does not want His children “broken beyond healing.” The consequences of sin (evil) is death. In His love God came to save us. In the same way, He must break the power of sin in our life so we will not be destroyed by it.
It is better to have the power of sin broken in our life than to have sin break us beyond healing. God loves us too much to let that happen. If He breaks us through discipline, it is only to heal us and make us whole again.
Let us learn to recognize God’s love, even when it hurts.