A Quick Look at the Beatitudes 

These aren’t rules that allow you to earn your way into Heaven, but spiritual descriptions of those who have already been given the gift of Heaven through grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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The Beatitudes are a wonderful part of Scripture (the beginning of Matthew 5) that chronicle who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus gives blessings to 8 different types of people (the poor (in spirit), those who mourn, those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted. A lot of the time people take these “traits” and attribute them to theirselves in some type of flawed, work’s righteousness type of way. For instance, they will say things such as “I’m poor, so I know that God will bless me because he loves the poor,” (Not to say that God will not bless someone who’s poor, but this is no way to earn the blessing of salvation), or “I’m humble, so I know I’m going to Heaven” (as if Heaven could be earned by personal humility). I’ve written this to give a short explanation of the Beatitudes and what/who Jesus was referring to. 

“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

•Yes that is those who are poor in spirit and not just financially poor. God couldn’t care less about your social/economic status (in terms of salvation, as in he will not save you just because you are broke). What he cares about is the status of your heart. If you are rich in pride and boast of your “independence,” then you don’t need God forgiveness through Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven is not yours. (Revelation 3:17-18) 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
• This isn’t about people who are sad and are depressed, that comes with this broken world. This is about those who mourn over their own sin and the brokenness of this world and long for change through Jesus Christ. Those who seek after Jesus will be comforted and God will never fail them. Though they weep, their tears will not be in vain. (Revelation 21:4)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

• That is those who are humble and see their need for God and not prideful in their character or sense of self-sufficiency. These people recognize that they are sinful and they need to be forgiven by God through Jesus. (Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 16:18, James 4:6)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

• This is a call for those who hunger and thirst for true righteousness. This isn’t just about social reform through political means/policies, etc. this is for those who want to be renewed and who want a new life. These are for the people who want to inner change and to be truly righteous in God’s sight and to be cleared of their guilt. This is for those who want to see God’s righteousness shine on earth, as well as be a part of that process. (Revelation 21:6)

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

•These are the people who are not quick to condemn others for their sin, because they realize their own moral failings and need for Jesus. These people don’t want to condemn the world, but instead, they mirror Jesus in John 3:17 and want to help save it through the Gospel. 

(James 2:8-13, Matthew 7:1-2)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

• This is talking about those who have had their sins forgiven by God through trusting their spiritual well-being into the hands of Christ along with his life, death, burial, and resurrection, understanding that this is the only sufficient means by which their sins can be cleared (As no human being is “pure in heart” except children and those who have mental disabilities that restrict them from knowing right and wrong intuitively. Other than that all human beings are wicked and suffer from sin. Only Christ can save them and begin a new work in their hearts.) (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

• This verse is talking about those who make peace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not those who only want world peace or promote “good vibes.” This verse also discounts those who do social work and advocate for peaceful community/global relations. Without Christ, all these causes are (in the entire scheme of things) useless as the world is a fallen place and will remain to be so until Christ returns. Not to say that doing these things are good, they just won’t earn you a spot in Heaven. Only Christ can do that. Without him working with the world to make it a better place is tantamount to trying to clean up a muddy mess on the floor by trying to rearrange it. In the end, the floor is still filthy with mud. (Isaiah 52:7)

 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

• This is taking about those who will suffer for advocating for Christ and living for the glory of God in a sinful world. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭12:30‬) Truth is highly exclusive and as a Christian, all your life you will have people opposing you, your message, and your God. Sometimes this opposition will be violent and you may lose your life because of it. Jesus said that he sends us out as “sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). What this verse means is that though you face opposition in this life, you should not be afraid/consumed with fear because the Kingdom of Heaven is yours and no one, not death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities (demons), nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, or government faction, nor nonbelievers, nor any other religious group will be able to take that away from you and the love of God will forever be lavished all over your life. (Romans 8:35-39) They can kills your body but they cannot kill your soul. (Matthew 10:28)

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

•Self explanatory, nuff said. 🙂 (Romans 8:18)

‭‭(The Beatitudes are from Matthew‬ ‭5:2-12‬ ESV)

From this, it can be seen that Jesus was referring to a Believer, someone who trusts fully in him. These aren’t rules that allow you to earn your way into Heaven, but spiritual descriptions of those who have already been given the gift of Heaven  through grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). These characteristics should also encase our lives and influence the way in which we both live and love. 

God bless you dear Reader and thank you for Reading. Sincerely,

Noah 🙂

The Uniqueness of Christian Salvation 

We don’t have to struggle reaching up to God because God reached down to us.

The Uniqueness of Christian Salvation “For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame… 

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans‬ ‭10:11, 13‬)

Are you sick of living your days scared of death and the afterlife? Are you stressed out wondering what will happen when you die? What if I told you that there was a way to have eternal life? What if I told you that there was hope? There is, and it’s through Jesus Christ. Contrary to other what other religions teach, this salvation is not dependent on you and what you do. This means that you don’t have to work to obtain this salvation. This salvation is not dependent on how hard you pray, how often you go to church, or do good things. When people think about going to Heaven, they often picture a set of scales. On one scale are all of your bad deeds, and on another scale are all of your good deeds. In order to get into Heaven, you would have to have enough good deeds to outweigh your bad deeds. It doesn’t seem that bad right? I mean most people don’t commit a lot of evil, so the average person should be able to go to Heaven right? Well… that’s not what the Bible teaches. This is what God has revealed to us in Scripture: 

“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

‭‭(Revelation‬ ‭21:8‬)

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-10‬)

If you’ll look, these categories describe the whole of humanity. This includes you. Think to yourself, how many times have you lied, or stolen, or practiced sexual immorality (this includes sins such as fornication -which is having sex outside of marriage- and masturbation which is just mentally dwelling on the thought of committing sexual immorality). This is what is known as sin. Sin is something that does not align with God’s standards for morality, which is good. In other words, sin is evil. To be as honest as I can with you, evil doesn’t commit itself. This may sound harsh, but I am being as honest as I can be. Sin is committed by you and these actions come from within your heart, which means that you yourself are evil. Now this doesn’t mean that you are Hitler. With the dominance of and the eagerness to commit sin in your life, this shows that you lead a life that goes against God’s design. In other words, you live your life in rebellion to God. 

The Bible says: 

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Romans‬ ‭8:5-7‬) 

What does this mean? This means that as human beings, rebellion (living a life of sin) is our natural desire. Now how did we get here? Well the reason that we are like this is because of the Fall. This event goes back to Genesis 3, in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Evil. You know, the story of Adam and Eve, the Forbidden fruit and the snake in the Garden? God had ordered Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree, however due to temptation (the snake, who was a disguised Satan, the accuser) disobeyed God and committed the first act of sin (showing the first instance of humans not wanting to obey God, but instead wanting to walk in their own way). This sin corrupted their original good nature and then was passed onto their descendants (us). So in retrospect, human nature is prone to sin and it is completely natural. 

Though we have a sin nature, thankfully, God has given us a conscience. The word “conscience” comes from the Latin word “conscientia” meaning “with (con) knowledge (scientia).” God has given us an innate knowledge of right and wrong that keeps every human being accountable for their actions. The problem is that because of sin, a lot of time, this conscience is ignored. The Bible says this about people, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (Romans‬ ‭2:15‬) This Scripture says that people can know God’s Laws and design for morality without even knowing God. Now the question is, “Well what is God’s Law?” Well, the rudimentary answer is the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus chapter 20), which are: 

1. I am the Lord your God, thou shall not have other gods before me.

2. Thou shall not use the Lord’s name in vain.

3. Remember to keep the Sabbath day holy.

4. Honor thy Mother and Father.

5. Thou shall not kill.

6. Thou shall not commit adultery.

7. Thou shall not steal.

8. Thou shall not bear false witness of thy neighbor.

9. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

10. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

There are other Laws of course (such as the others on sexual immorality such as fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, etc.) but this is the root of God’s Law. What the Ten Commandments do is act as a mirror, to show us who we really are. Look over these Laws and ask yourself “I how many times have I broken these Laws?” What Jesus did in the New Testament was expound upon the spiritual nature of God’s Law. God even holds us accountable for contemplating/planning and thinking about how to or when we will commit these sins. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. This means that if you continue to commit these sins, you will perish when you die and go to Hell (a place of eternal rightful wrath and justice, where you will be separated from God’s goodness), because God is good and you are not and He must punish evil. This is why doing good deeds and “balancing the scale” can’t save you because God will give you justice for your evil and because He is good, He will not be bribed by good deeds. It’s not pleasant, but this is the truth. 

Now at this point you might be saying, “Well then how do you get to Heaven, if not by good works?” That is a good question. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John‬ ‭14:6) Around 2000 years ago, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to live a perfect life on our behalf, die a death that paid for our sins, and rise from the dead after three days, thereby defeating death on our behalf. He was God in the flesh, the “God incarnate.” Because Jesus did this, He made it able for humans to be saved from Hell. All you have to do is turn from your current lifestyle and trust in Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection and you will be saved. Not only will you be saved, but God will give you a new heart and new desires so that you will not want to do the same things any more. There will be temptation because no longer will you be one with darkness, but you will be fighting against the darkness, but this is normal and you will grow and mature and receive help from God and the Holy Spirit. You will never lose true faith, and you will never lose your salvation, because God saved you by His works and you didn’t save yourself by your own works. The Bible says: 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬) 

Instead you will persevere. Jesus said this: 

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John‬ ‭6:35-40‬)

This fundamentally different from other religions because in Christianity, God saves you and you can’t save yourself. We don’t have to struggle reaching up to God because God reached down to us. God takes the impossible pressure of merited salvation of man, and takes care of it Himself. There are no “Eightfold paths,” or an “pillars,” or any necessary “prayers,” that you have to perform in order to go to Heaven. This is an invitation to experience the uniqueness of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ. The opportunity is here. 

God bless you dear Reader, and thank you for your time.

Sincerely, 

Noah 

The Place of Judgment

This Scripture promotes an idea of judgment that is not geared towards condemnation, but towards salvation.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1-2‬ ‭

What is the place of judgment in the Christian life? 

In today’s postmodern world, the word “judgment” has become demonized and viewed in a negative light. People don’t want any judgment for the lifestyle that they are living and some have even gone as far as to say that God Himself doesn’t judge anyone. Many people judge judgment as bad and judge other people as judgmental for judging them (all of this “judge-ception” is ironic isn’t it?). The funny thing is that no matter where you go or what you do, it is impossible to not judge. You judge people every day of your life. You label people friend, look at people’s mannerisms, tones, and expressions to tell what mood they’re in… and maybe you can even judge people from the little things such as the way that they park. Judgment is unavoidable. Everybody does it. 
So if judgment as a whole is bad, then why not also what could be considered “good judgment?” When you tell your friend “Hey you look great today!” You’re judging them. The thing that people don’t want is not judgement, it’s offensive declarations. Offensive declarations are considered negative, because well… They offend. Though, these types of declarations are only truly offensive when someone is in the wrong. This is why God, the Bible, and Christians are disliked by many. Our message offends because it goes against everything that others know and believe about the world and themselves. The unsaved like to take Matthew 7:1-2 out of context and say that the Bible tells Christians not to judge, but that isn’t really true. Read the rest:
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew‬ ‭7:3-5‬)

     This verse is not commanding us “not to judge” it’s actually telling us “how to judge.” You can’t judge someone when you’re doing the same sins as them. Imagine a judge who stole illegal music downloads, judging someone who does the same thing as guilty. What position is he in to administer judgment? Is that really justice? This Scripture can be applied to people who like to judge each other for living unjustly, when they themselves are living unjustly. [This Scripture can also be applied to Christians who judge others for doing certain things that they don’t agree with (whether it be eating meat or listening to certain types of music), because they are letting their legalism divide the body of Christ.] This is the epitome of hypocrisy and bad judgment. 

In the eyes of God everyone is guilty of sin (and His holiness is unrivaled in all of existence) so imagine how it looks when to Him when one sinner tries to display righteousness over another. It’s the same as looking at a filthy rag and choosing one because it is less filthy than another… They’re both filthy? Both rags are in need of cleaning! In order to be able to judge in a condemning “holier than thou sense,” (not simply pointing out errors in actions) you have to be completely free of judgment and morally pure. Nobody, not even Christians justified by God’s grace through Jesus Christ are morally pure (perfect). 

St. John said “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:8‬) This of course is not promoting moral degeneracy, however, this is reasoning for merciful judgment. So you cannot condemn anyone because you yourself are not perfect. Condemnation is God’s job and He will save whom He wills and condemn whom He wills. In order to rightly judge, you must understand this (unlike the Pharisees in Jesus’ original audience). This is what it means when Jesus says, “First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” 

This Scripture promotes an idea of judgment that is not geared towards condemnation, but towards salvation. Just as Christ said that “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John‬ ‭3:17) we should do the same. In this sense, we reveal/convict, showing the need for a savior and thereby present the Gospel (a resolution for the conviction, and the message of salvation), similar to how we would use the Ten Commandments. We can (and should) also use our judgment to affirm and uplift, showing the good and godly qualities in an individual. Both of these judgments are good and when used together promote a healthy view of the human being as a intricately wonderful, but flawed creature (of course by nature due to the Fall in Genesis 3) in need of salvation from God’s condemnation. If we constantly have this idea/motive in judging (to reveal and to save) then we will truly see fruit in not just evangelism, but also in our normal relationships with each other in and outside of the church.  

So how does one get free of God’s condemnation? The truth is that no human can be free of God’s judgment on their own. It is literally impossible for anybody to clear their self of guilt before God. So how is anyone going to be free from judgment? Jesus Christ came to take our (well deserved) judgment from God upon Himself for all of our sins so that we could be set free from God’s righteous judgment. Isaiah 53:10 says “But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.” He lived a life free of judgment, was crushed for our rebellion and our sins, and then He rose again, defeating death (the result of judgment) so that all who would repent of their sins and trust in Him would be free from death, and Hell. When someone is born-again, they are then given the ability to properly judge, as they align their values with God’s. The “log” is gone from their eye, so now they can remove the “specks” from the eyes of others. So to be honest, it is a Christians duty to judge people. Not in a condemning way because we aren’t here to condemn people, because they are already condemned! Our job is to give the Gospel in love to people, not condemning for their sin, but informing them of their sin and giving them the Gospel so that they can be liberated. The Bible says: 

•“Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.”‭‭ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭2:15‬)

•“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”‭‭ (John‬ ‭7:24‬)

•“The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong.”‭‭ (Psalms‬ ‭37:30‬)

•“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭1:10‬) 

•“When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? Don’t you realize that we will judge angels? So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church? I am saying this to shame you. Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?”‭‭ (1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:1-5‬)

Judging is not always bad (as long as it is good, loving, and true), and as Christians we are called to judge righteously, not unrighteously. 

Thank you for reading dear Reader, God bless you

Sincerely,

Noah 

Split 

The love should define your feelings, but your feelings should not define the love.

Split 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

‭‭1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“I wasted my time…” I think to myself

I invested it, I nurtured it, I put faith in it… for nothing. 

It seems like there is no reason or rhyme to the rhythms of life right now, as I am unsure how to feel.

I am sad but happy, sort of dazed, a bit jaded, a bit confused, but I digress. 

She dumped me, yes, she dumped me. 

It feels like she played me like a fool, and she made me think that she actually felt for me.

No, she didn’t… Well she did, but she didn’t feel the same. 

I tried, I gave her my heart, I gave her my time, I was vulnerable with her like I was with no one else. 

All this time she never felt the same, she was only letting me think that she did. 

She thought that she was doing a good thing, but she was not. 

Instead of being in a relationship, it feels like I was playing a game. 

All the kisses, all the hugs, all the times that I showed her the beginnings of what I believe was love. 

All the service, all the affirmation, all the long walks together and dedication…

All the things that I did for her… It feels like I’ve been used. 

Sullied and duped. 

I thought that one day I could love her, and I started to. 

Instead she was wondering if she could stand to like me based on her feelings. 

Who, was I to think that I could actually be happy? 

That my heart could finally rest in someone’s hands. It seems that I was wrong, sadly. 

Over the years it’s been stretched out so far, that it’s about to pop, like a rubber band.  

How perilous it is, the search for love between woman and man. 

God I feel broken, I am like a fresh wound still bleeding and still open. 

I need you to heal me and nurture me back to health… because if I am unhealthy, how can I even fathom loving someone else? 

Clean me and restore me before I am infected,  causing me to turn bitter and ugly from the pain that I neglected. 

Help me to keep my dignity before I turn my face against those who actually do love me. 

I wish nothing on her, but for You to give her strength. 

Though I felt hurt, I care for her and I don’t want her to be hurt, because she doesn’t deserve it. 

Though, she didn’t feel the same, at least she tried to do so, and she didn’t let me go on for so long falsely believing that I could earn it. 

I care about her and I want her to know that I’m not angry, but that I’m just confused.

Is this what dating is? A time for me to find someone on which my feelings can be suffused?

I want you to help her on her way, and I pray that You will give her wisdom to help her learn from the mistakes that she’s made. 

I pray that she is not mistreated, but that instead she is spoiled by someone who appreciates her like I did, and even more so.

I don’t want her to suffer, but I do want her to grow. 

I want her to learn from this and learn how a man is supposed to treat her. Yes, I want her to know.

I want her to know that she is still a queen and deserves to be treated as such, but before she finds her king,

She needs to know that love is not a house that you stumble upon, but a tower that is built by two sets of hands, what a dream. 

It is the time, dedication, and work between woman and man. 

Lord help me to find the right one, and to never settle for anyone short of a capable builder who will endure with me.

Bless her to be patient and kind. 

Bless her to speak what’s on her mind.

Help her to treat me right and for her wisdom and maturity to be defined. 

I pray that I am the perfect man, in my own right, that I will love her and treat her right. 

That I will not be played again, and that I will wait patiently for when she arrives and that I will endure until the end. 

However, if I am to be played again, I pray that I will learn something beneficial.

I pray that this thing that I learn will help me to be a good man to my next girlfriend and that our love will be authentic and not artificial. 

These are the things that I ask, in Jesus’ name, 

Amen. 

I don’t hold anything against my ex. Though this happened, I am thankful for the time that I’ve gotten to spend with her and for what I’ve learned because of this. She never cheated on me and she didn’t hurt me extremely bad. She tried to do it in the best possible way, but of course there is no good way. I don’t think that she was ready for a relationship though. She only liked me as a friend, but she tried to force herself to like me as something more. If you are unsure if you can build with some one, don’t go into it. It’s best to wait. If you don’t want to build with someone in the way that they want to build with you, then please don’t make them think that you do. Don’t go through all the effort making it seem as if you feel for them when you don’t. You may think that you’re doing a good thing, but you’re not. Open up your mouth, and open up your heart. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with them. Communicate with your partner. Don’t think that love happens the way that it does in the movies. If it does, then that’s a weak version of love. 

Think of love as something that needs time, dedication, quality workmanship, and good craftsmanship. Something that is not built upon the shifting sands of feelings, but instead on the rock of Christ and knowledge. Though feelings have some place in love… the love should define your feelings, but your feelings should not define the love. The reason why is because love is more than just a feeling that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. That’s not love itself, it is merely a repercussion of love. 

Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it’s tiring, but that’s where faith, and hope (which naturally stem from love) come in. Make sure that you are willing to work with someone for your love and to not let one person do all the work. Also, don’t overwork yourself. Keep your partner accountable in their building. Plan out the architecture, look at strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be foolish and try to do everything based on feelings. Get to know each other and talk deeply about what you know, and from that how you feel. Don’t feel how to know, know how to feel. I pray that this helped someone out there. 

God bless you dear Reader, Sincerely, 

Noah Latner

Evil as a Means to God 

Though it becomes hard to have faith in God in the midst of suffering, God is there and (though it may be hard to see how) He has his purposes for it.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

‭‭(Romans‬ ‭8:18‬)

Suffering seems to be synonymous with being human. It’s just something that we cannot escape. It’s all around us and it is happening all the time, it’s hard to not notice it. Every day people deal with loss, pestilence, heartbreak, death, violence, murder, rape, natural disasters, terrorism, genocide, and all kinds of evil. The questions that lay on the minds of many are “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “Why me Lord?” and “Where is God in all of this?” When the sound of agony and suffering becomes loud, it seems that the beautiful songs about a good and loving God are drowned out. I assure you that though it becomes hard to have faith in God in the midst of suffering, God is still there and (though it may be hard to see how) He has his purposes for it.

Some might ask, “If God is in the midst of suffering, then how come he hasn’t done anything about it? Is he heartless? Is he unwilling? Is he not powerful enough?” This sounds very similar to the often used quote by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, in which he says:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

To your everyday run of the mill skeptic this seems as if it were a philosophical/theological checkmate… A sort of question that a Christian would be powerless to answer. The truth is that this question makes a lot of assumptions and doesn’t consider certain possibilities or extra factors (it’s a logical fallacy called a “false dilemma”). For instance, a question that could dismantle this so-called “checkmate” would be, “How do you know that God cannot use suffering for good in a way that doesn’t undermine His morality?,” or better yet, “How do you know that God has no good purpose for suffering?”

In her book Victims and Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery, Linda A. Mercadante writes:

In Christianity, God is in the process of healing the world. Sin and evil are effectually, promisorily, defeated. This is not a completely realized eschatology, but a future apocalyptic hope. We expect wrings to be righted and justice to reign through God’s actions. Christ’s work has been both a preview and a beginning of this, but we still await the consummation.

Throughout the Bible, it is clearly evident that God uses evil for His own good and just purposes. He does so, even though He is not responsible for the existence of evil. Consider the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealous anger and then faked his death. Did not Joseph end up becoming governor of Egypt and saving the Hebrews and the Egyptians from famine? Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Consider the story of Job. Did not God put Satan to shame and supply Job with twice as much as he lost? Consider the story of Israel itself. Did God not use their sufferings and struggles to bless all of the nations? Consider the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Did God not use the sufferings of Christ to give life to humanity? “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)

Throughout the Bible can be found a plethora of other instances where evil is used towards God’s good and just will. This is a recurring theme of the Bible. By using evil, God can bring more glory to Himself. This also brings into question God’s own morality. Isn’t it evil for God to use evil towards His own personal gain, especially His own recognition? The answer to this question is no, it doesn’t. God bringing glory to Himself isn’t a necessarily a bad thing. Glory is defined as “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” or “magnificence; great beauty.” To put the definition simply, the glory of God is the impressive, goodness of God. The more God expands His glory, the better it is for the whole of humanity, as more of humanity can come to have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ and be given eternal life. Now taking this new discovery into account, another question is brought into the mix. “Why can’t God bring glory to himself without using evil?” The answer is that He can and He has before (for instance the burning bush in Exodus). God’s goodness and graciousness alone is sufficient enough to bring Him glory. God does not need evil to be good, nor does He need evil to prove that He is good to the world.

While God does use evil, it must be stressed and noted that God does not create evil, neither is He the cause and/or original creator of evil. Jesus says in Luke 6:43 that “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” If God is good (the ultimate Good), then Jesus would be a liar if God made evil. How could God make evil if He is good? It makes no sense. Atheists often use the King James Version of Isaiah 45:7 to argue this. The verse says “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The Hebrew word for “evil” used is actually better related to the word “calamity.” The English Standard Version of the Bible translates the verse as “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.” God (in His goodness) causes calamity (in the form of justice) to come upon those who do evil. In Michael L. Peterson’s book The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings, he uses some of St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings from his Summa Theologica to add to his point. One of Aquina’ quotes says:

Further, a deficient effect can proceed only from a deficient cause. But evil is a deficient effect. Therefore its cause, if it has one, is deficient. But everything deficient is evil. Therefore the cause of evil can only be evil.

Though God’s goodness can be glorified alone, it is especially glorified when it triumphs over evil. What also has to be taken into account is what God has to work with. This is a fallen and broken world where evil is everywhere and every single, morally conscious, human being is corrupted in some sort of way. The world is also full of disease and death. What glorifies God more? Using what is good to glorify Himself, or showing the world that He can do good and revolutionary things through evil?

It can be argued that evil and suffering actually proves the existence of God considering that in a naturalistic worldview in which neither God nor any standards exist, evil and suffering don’t actually have proper places in the world. The reason why is because both evil and suffering assume the existence of good. Evil automatically assumes a standard because evil is just the deviation of good. Suffering, (in this context) being a cohort/repercussion of evil (though not necessarily evil alone), is dependent upon the existence both evil and good. Since neither of them existence in a naturalistic worldview (as morality is relative), neither does suffering. Relative, naturalistic, morality does not give any place for good or evil. The reason why is because suffering, in this context, is viewed as a negative.

In other words, a world where negative and positive are relative to each individual, there is no place for an overarching negative such as suffering. If someone views rape as good, then who’s to tell that individual it is bad? To assume that moral violations such as rape, murder, genocide, and human trafficking are bad, one must assume that everyone prescribes to his or her moral standards. Friedrich Nietzsche sums up relative morality perfectly with this quote: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” In order for an atheist to even argue against evil, he or she would have to borrow from the Christian worldview since it is the only one which gives a proper place for good and evil.

Now take look at this quote evolutionary biologist, and devout atheist, Richard Dawkins from his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

If all there is in the universe is “pitiless indifference,” then why does Dawkins continue to fight against religion, claiming that it is “evil and repressive?” And that God is a “moral monster?” Why does he even concern himself with abstract concepts such as evil and good? He is wrong in his last sentence where he says “The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” While overlooking the arguments for God’s existence such as the Cosmological argument and the fine tuning of the universe, Dawkins also falls into the same folly that Epicurus did. He is assuming that there is no possible purpose for the evil in the universe. Dawkins (if he were here) would probably ask the question, “Well what kind of a good God would allow for such pain and suffering to exist? What kind of morality is that?” The answer is the kind of God who can effectively use what He has to work with.

Dawkins’ quote also leaves a bit of moral ambiguity. If there is no purpose, design, justice, good, or even evil, then why do people feel guilt when they do certain things? When people are wronged, why do they have the inclination to seek justice? If purpose, design, justice, good, and evil don’t exist, then why do people so desperately seek them? Most importantly, why does Dawkins argue for his set of beliefs and ideals, when ultimately nothing truly matters? It seems redundant doesn’t it? The man who says that there is no purpose has a purpose; that purpose being to let others know that there is no purpose.

In his book Problems of Evil and the Power of God, James Keller further shows how Dawkins cannot escape God:

Unless it is an expression of bewilderment with life and not a genuine question, in it’s various forms it presupposes some sort of theistic context, even when it is raised by atheists. For it is a request for a reason why things happen, a purpose they serve, not for their scientific or commonsense causes. If a hurricane kills many people and someone asks, “Why did this happen?” That person is not asking for meteorological or geographical information– information about the causes; rather that person is asking what purpose this evil event served. And that purpose must be the purpose of some agent great enough to envisage and control the event. Only a divine being could have purposes and abilities large enough to make the question a sensible one. If there is no divine being, then there is no reason why bad things happen; they just do. We can seek their causes, we can be bewildered by them, but it is pointless to seek any purpose in them.

To add to this, in his book Suffering and the Search for Meaning, Richard Rice argues, Suffering is universal, the urge to makes sense of suffering is also universal, and that no response to suffering is entirely adequate, which causes the need for multiple theodicies. Dawkins falls into this because his reasoning for evil and suffering, is just that… Reasoning that leaves nothing but more ambiguity!

Now back to the question, “Why does God allow evil?” Another reason that God could permit evil to continue is the fact that God is merciful. Though humans are a mix of good and bad (due to the state of our nature), humans are still morally corrupted and more prone to do bad things. When it comes to human nature, the Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) In this fallen world, evil does not stop at genocide and rape. Evil goes even further with things that are often considered minimal such as lying, stealing, using God’s name in vain, looking with lust (equivalent of adultery- Matt. 5:28), hate (equivalent of murder- 1 John 3:15), disrespecting of parents, laziness, racism, prejudice, fornication, and more. Some have even blamed God for the evils caused by man. Look at this quote from Anthony B. Pinn’s book Why, Lord?:

The concept of divine persuasion and the functional ultimacy of man leads to a theory of human history in which the interplay of human power centers and alignment is decisive. In this context, racism is traced, casually to human forces. Divine responsibility for the crimes of human history is thus eliminated.

God cannot be blamed for the sins of man, but is He to blame for not stopping all of the sins of man? The answer is yes. God judges sin by a moral Law. The basic judgments are known as the Ten Commandments. Judging by the Ten Commandments, everyone is guilty and deserves God’s wrath and justice. If God were to judge the whole of humanity and put a stop to all evil, then no morally conscious human being would be left alive on the earth. God is merciful in that He hasn’t destroyed the whole of humanity yet. God is also merciful and loving as He provided Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sins of the world, offering man a way to have eternal life in a new world.

Now what of suffering that is not caused by moral agents? This includes factors such as sickness, and natural disasters. Who’s to say that God does not have a purpose for this too? Professor Paul Copan of Palm Beach Atlantic University argues that if we didn’t have evil and suffering such as this in the world, then we would not know the truth of our fallen nature and God would be a liar and a deceiver. When reading books such as Ecclesiastes, Job, the questions and emphasis on evil and suffering are impossible to escape. D.A. Carson argues that “One of the reasons that the books of Job and Ecclesiastes play so an important role in Scripture is that they frankly acknowledge the irrationality and disproportionality of evil in this world.”

Something else to be considered is that when things are going well, people often will ignore God. Often when things are shaken up in life people start to either blame God, or draw close to God. Though many blame God, what must be kept in mind is that God often permits people to suffer as a direct result of their own foolish decisions and misuse of their free will. For instance, what if a woman decides to wear high heels that don’t fit her (either to small or too large) to boost her external appeal. She walks down a flight of stairs, she then trips and falls down that same flight of stairs and breaks both of her legs. Is it God’s fault that she hurt herself? No, it was not God’s fault, but a direct result of her own carelessness. Even though she made this foolish decision, should God have intervened? The answer to this is no because this was not an act of God and again, God was not responsible for this.

Though the situation involving the woman and high heels was hypothetical, there are situations such as this that happen every day. Everyday people die from lung cancer because they decided to smoke cigarettes. Everyday people drive under the influence and die in car crashes. Everyday people overeat and die of heart attacks. Everyday people die of STDs such as AIDS and HIV, because they decided to have unprotected sexual intercourse outside of the bonds of marriage. What do these unfortunate, situational deaths all have in common? All of them are self-inflicted and all of them are a result of rebelling against God’s Law along with their conscience. When it comes to situations such as this, God can intervene if wants to, however, he does not have to. Though God is sovereign, humans have free will and moral responsibility.

To add to suffering as a result of man’s own free will and foolish decisions, this is also seen in the Bible. Take for example biblical figures such as David, and Samson. Both of these figures had instances where their suffering could have easily been avoided. Take for example the incident between David and Bathsheba, or Samson and Delilah. If these men would have not given into their lust, the repercussions such as Samson’s death at the hands of the Philistines, or the death of David and Bathsheba’s first son. What is confusing is that even though both of these men made horrible life decisions, they are both regarded as Biblical heroes. Why does God favor such broken people? Roland Earnst says :

In Samson we see a man who seemed to do most things wrong and in David we see a man who did most things right. However, they both suffered the consequences of their bad decisions and actions. We can expect the same thing when we make bad choices, and we should not blame God for the pain that results. But don’t forget, God still loves you anyway and he is always willing to forgive.

The moral of this is that God’s is willing (in His grace) to overlook the faults of man and offer redemption by reason. Though David committed adultery with Bathsheba, their child (Solomon) would be an ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Though Samson died because he trusted Delilah and she turned him into the Philistines, in his death he saved the nation of Israel. Even here God uses people’s mistakes and evil for good purposes.

What about the sufferings of those who are Christians? If God is good, he would surely take care of His own right? This is what one should expect. Especially when verses of Scripture such as “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) and “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) It seems like a contradiction when there are verses in the Bible such as “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4) Why would God promise a group of people that they will have a wonderful life and experience nothing except for good, and then tell them to count it all joy when they go through trials? The problem here is a misconception of what God means by good. In Romans 8:28, the “good” that Paul uses does not mean “whatever we perceive as good or desire.” In the commentary section of the ESV Study Bible by Crossway the writers argue that, “… good in this context does not refer to an earthly comfort but conformity to Christ, closer fellowship with God, bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God, and final glorification.” (2170) When good is understood in this context, verses such as James 1:2-4 should be no problem.

God has also been known to use suffering as a catalyst to bring people towards His undeserved favor, forgiveness, and gift of eternal life. Take for example Nick Vujicic who is a young evangelist from Australia and President of the non-profit ministry Life Without Limbs. Vujicic was born without arms and legs and was bitter at God for a while. His main question to God was “Why?” Vujicic said in an interview that “There is no point of being fixed on the outside when you’re broken on the inside.” Vujicic later gave his life to Jesus Christ and became who he is today. He now travels the world and shares his story with millions. Vujicic says, “God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!” This is only one example of many people who have disabilities that God is using to do great and amazing things!

Throughout all of man’s evil and suffering, one must realize that God is with them always. This is evident from Genesis to Revelation, as God was there during the fall of man and will be there during the ultimate redemption of man. Though it may seem rough, there is a Savior who knows what human suffering is like and who knows their pain. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) We also have a Father who offers salvation through that same Savior, who is Christ. There is a Spirit who guides Christians through suffering, and there is a God who shapes and molds them through every step of the way, so suffering can be good. Man shouldn’t blame God for all of their suffering as there are times when they are the cause of their own suffering. Even when man is the cause of their own suffering, God is patient in that He bears with the foolishness of mankind and still loves them more than they could ever imagine. Some say that evil and suffering makes the probability of God’s existence pretty low, however logically speaking (considering the fact that evil requires the existence of good, and purpose requires a will) it makes the probability rather high.

Thank you for reading dear Reader. God bless you and may you have hope in Him during your sufferings and down-times. 

Sincerely,

Noah

Works Cited/Bibliography
Mercadante, Linda A. Victims and Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery. Louisville, KY.: Westminster John Knox, 1996. Print.

Peterson, Michael L. The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1992. Print. (31)

Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995. Print.

Keller, James A. Problems Of Evil And The Power Of God. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web.

Rice, Richard. Suffering and the Search for Meaning: Contemporary Responses to the Problem of Pain. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2014. Print.

Pinn, Anthony B. Why, Lord?: Suffering and Evil in Black Theology. New York: Continuum, 1995. Print.

Carson, D. A. How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990. Print.

Earnst, Roland. Why Pain and Suffering? Suffering for Our Mistakes. John N. Clayton, 2007-2015. Web.

ESV Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. (2170)

Bio – Life Without Limbs. Life Without Limbs. Web.