The Line Between Good and Evil
by Rob Shiflet
Bible Reading: Romans 7:21-25
It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Romans 7:21
LOOK AT THIS LIST:
Attila the Hun
Jack the Ripper
Compare the above list with these names:
Joan of Arc
Francis of Assisi
Most people would label the first list of names as “bad” people and the second list of names as “good” people. Ah, but there’s a problem with those categories. The line between good and evil doesn’t separate us (people like you, me, and Mother Teresa) from them (people like Hitler, Stalin, and your seventh grade P.E. teacher); as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a famous author, once wrote:
If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.*
Like Paul in today’s Bible reading, as much as we want to be “good people,” all of us do wrong. Sometimes we do good. Sometimes we do evil. It’s not that we want to be rotten people, but the evil that lived in Hitler’s heart lives in our heart, too. Pretty crummy, huh? Paul would agree. He said, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).
In other words, we don’t have to give in to our sinful natures. We don’t have to keep sinning. God sent his Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins; he sent his Spirit to live in us and deliver us from the power of sin, day by day, decision by decision. He can overcome the evil in our hearts and help us to do good.
REFLECT: Have you accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as punishment for your sins? Do you trust his Spirit to deliver you from the power of sin, day by day, derision by derision? If not, why not do it today, right now?
PRAY: “Loving and righteous God, I need you. I admit that I’m a sinner and that evil lives in my heart. Please forgive me for the wrong things I’ve done. Thank you for forgiving my sins through Christ’s death on the cross. Please take charge of my life through your Holy Spirit, who lives in me. Help me to trust him to deliver me from the power of sin, day by day, decision by decision. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
*Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (New York: Harper and Row, 1973).