Justifying Evil

Justifying Evil

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4

I grew up in a Christian environment in which I developed an ample conscience. So, with any self-destructive behavior which I’ve known to be wrong, I’ve always had to first get around my conscience. When it came to my opioid pills, I convinced myself I needed them. I work hard. I need to sleep and relax. I’m a better physician when I get a good night’s sleep. God probably wants me to use. I won’t get caught. I got pretty good at it and by the end, I could take almost any evil and make myself think it was a good idea. My appetite for sin was exceeded only by my ability to justify that sin.

Since I’ve been in recovery then, it’s been eerie to read the pseudo-logic of the serpent in today’s passage because the voice of the serpent sounds a lot like the voice of my addiction. In the passage, the serpent approached Eve, tempting her to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. God had previously warned Adam and Eve that they’d die if they ate from the tree. Satan always desires our self-destruction though and so he went to work on Eve.

The serpent’s first attack was to make God sound absurd – Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1)? The voice of evil still does this today. Does God really expect you to have only one sexual partner your entire life? That’s a bit restrictive, isn’t it? Next, the serpent rejected God’s promise of consequences. – You will not surely die. This is the voice that convinces us we can get away with anything. You won’t get caught. No big deal. What your wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. In the serpent’s final triumph, he completely twisted reality, taking something evil and making it out to be good – You will be like God, knowing good and evil. With this approach, we can be convinced that our sin is actually beneficial. If I just look at porn, then at least I’m not out cheating on my wife. She should be thanking me.

This is the voice of evil and it’s alive and well today, continually seeking our destruction. If we desire the blessed life for which we were made, and if we desire to stop making ourselves miserable, then we must learn to recognize that voice for what it is – the voice of sin and self-destruction. Then daily, we must abandon it, embracing that which we know to be true and right.

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