In addition to more high-end video games, I will sometimes play casual games on my smartphone or tablet. In one of them (a Match-3 game), sometimes I’ll select the wrong icon, or accidentally hit the screen while transporting the device to another room. The game doesn’t get irritated or snippy with me. It just displays the words, “Not a Match”, on the screen. There’s no argument about whether I made an illegal move, or debating over whether or not it should be allowed. Instead, there’s only a simple, matter-of-fact message: “Not a Match”. (And, it will patiently tell me this repeatedly, if I try to make invalid moves in the future.)
Have a look at this verse from the book of Isaiah:
What sorrow for those who say
that evil is good and good is evil,
that dark is light and light is dark,
that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
Isaiah 5:20 NLT
Software experts might insist that I could hack my game so that it lets me make illegal moves. In many environments, the system can be gamed, or unscrupulous players can just cheat. However, life is not like that. No matter what we may say is good or evil, God built those principles (as an extension of His own nature) into our universe, and they cannot be changed.
We might say that something is good, but if God has already established otherwise, no amount of insistence or railing on our part will change it. We can call something what it is not, and we can change the definition of words, but for something to be a universal truth (rather than just an opinion), it must ultimately be determined by an authority, or be resolved back to an unchangeable source. God is both of those things.
Conversely, note the other point made here: If we say that something good (as defined by God) is actually evil, that is condemned in the same line as the opposite action. When we put obstacles in the way for others to do good, we are just as bad as those who treat evil behavior as good. We might call good as “evil” through mocking or disparaging comments, when someone tells us about being led to do great things that are bigger than anyone could achieve without God’s help. We can constrain others’ behavior with extra rules and limitations that come only from human opinion. Or, in the most extreme cases, we could lobby to outlaw perfectly legitimate commands of God, like teaching the truth or helping others in need.
Ultimately, though, when we do this, we are pretty much only lying to ourselves. Sycophants – who want to avoid the truth along with us – may nod and follow along, but in each of our hearts, I think that we know the basics of how to tell right from wrong. We might be able to talk ourselves into a delusion, and maybe even occasionally forget that we made up lies in order to avoid the discomfort of facing the truth. It might feel good to think that we are superior to others by making up our own rules. However, good and bad remain fundamentally unchanged by our opinions. Unless we created the world in which the rules apply, they are not ours to define.
The good news is that God – as usual – has provided a better way:
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:5-7 NASB
May we find peace and harmony in our lives when we align our view of “good” to God’s view. As we step into the light, it may be a little embarrassing as our dark deeds are exposed; the good news, though, is that God is kind and patient to help us to wash them away, and start over with a clean slate. I pray that we all will experience the freedom that comes from living in the light, and not just keep trying [unsuccessfully] to hack the system.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.