Summary: A sermon on perceiving what is good and evil, and how that perception enables us to fulfill God’s call to "be good."

July 18, 2004 Fruit of the SPIRIT is goodness.

The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. This single statement of Scripture makes some people cringe today. Why? Because when you talk about the “Spirit”, “good”, and “evil” you are using spiritual terms. When President Bush used the term “axis of evil” to describe, Iran, Iraq and North Korea, this made some Americans cringe and accuse the President of being religiously motivated instead of politically motivated. In other words, we are supposed to address the problems and challenges of this world from a worldly point of view - not with the idealism of what our religious convictions are.

Is that possible? Several years ago I was asked to give a speech for a public high school’s graduation. But I was troubled by the idea that many people were coming to that PUBLIC graduation not to hear a sermon - but to celebrate the achievement of their son or daughter. Something didn’t feel right to me about speaking about my faith and spiritual goals to a group of people who weren’t there to hear it. So I thought, I could try to give a secular speech talking about the importance of hard work - Biblical values - yet also mentioning the meaningless of this life with a final reference to the need for faith in Christ. But then again, this was a PUBLIC forum, so I didn’t feel it was really fair to some of the parents who came for that purpose. I honestly didn’t feel I could just give a secular speech. Jesus is an integral part of my life. I couldn’t separate Him from my speech. The point I’m getting at is that I don’t know how it’s possible to separate religion from life. You enter every situation with your “religion” saturating your soul and your mind. How can you separate the two?

The fruit of the Spirit is goodness. In his letters Paul continually spoke of this world as being a battle ground between good and evil. Yet there is a huge push in today’s society to take religious terms - the very concept of “good and evil” and bury it under kinder, gentler terms - not calling an actual sin a sin - but instead labeling it as an addiction, illness, choice, environmental influence, handicap and natural desires. I believe that our society doesn’t really know what “good” and “evil” really are or if they even exist. Everything is thought of as a “grey” area. We can’t do that. If there is a fruit of the Spirit called goodness, there has to be good and evil. As we study this fruit of the Spirit - goodness - let us pray that -

The Holy Spirit Gives Us the Gift of Goodness

I. By showing us what is evil

It’s kind of sad to see what people’s concept of “evil” actually is. What is actually “evil” any more? Is pornography “evil”? According to our society, it’s just a natural avenue for a man to let off his sexual tensions. Premarital sex isn’t evil. It’s boys and girls discovering their bodies and expressing themselves. Is strapping a bomb to yourself and blowing up women and children and yourself on a bus “evil”? According to many it’s not. Instead, it’s the result of many years of tyranny and hopelessness - it’s the cry of a hopeless victim. But it’s not evil. Our society has even allowed a web sight which uses computer generated naked children in sexual positions. According to some, it’s not evil. It’s the expression of free speech.

So what really is evil? Listen to what Paul graphically listed as evil in the first chapter of Romans -

Romans 1:28-32 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Notice what Paul called “evil” in this paragraph. It’s not just homosexuals and adulterers and terrorists. He also associates the following as evil -

• greed

• envy

• murder

• deceit

• gossip

• arrogance

• disobeying your parents

• being ruthless

Whether they seem right or not, or whether people know it or not, these things are evil.

Why do we need to point this out? Not to make us feel better about ourselves or try and send other people to hell. We also call ourselves “evil” because we have been arrogant, deceitful, disobedient, and gossipers as well. Instead, people need to know that there are moral absolutes - that there is good and evil - because we will all have to answer to God on Judgment Day. If we don’t call “evil” what it is, how will anybody feel the need to repent of it? If people are given a false doctrine that will deprive someone of the Gospel, eternity is at stake. Paul said in Romans 2:8-11 that “for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:”

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