As most of you know, I’ve been away for the last 6 months on an unplanned sabbatical due to some medical issues stemming from not managing my time and resources better. Energy takes fuel, and rest is a key component of fuel. I’ve not been very good at that, and have paid the price. Hopefully though, I have learned, or AM learning how to do better on that front. We’ll know soon enough.
My time away however has not been completely unproductive. I did plenty of reading I would not have done (in terms of the range of topics and genres) which has been most enjoyable and profitable. Don Carson says “there is reading, and then there is reading, and then there is READING.” Some things you skim, some things you swim in, others you really concentrate on. I’ve spent a disproportionate time only doing the latter and that renders the brain a bit dull. No comments from the peanut gallery thank you!
With that, I’ve also gone back and skimmed some old notes and thoughts and stumbled back into an area of interest I’ve had for several years. The idea is that there certain principles which emerge from Scripture which may or may not be stated very overtly, but which nevertheless are extremely useful in guiding how we filter the things we think about. And I thought for the next little bit I would visit some of these as I’ve jotted them down over time. They are in no particular order, but appear simply as they strike my mind on any given day.
Today’s Principle is: We are never under any obligation to assist evil.
Now keeping this in mind will keep us from stumbling unnecessarily over certain portions of Scripture which seem (on the surface) to be antithetical to the plain teaching of Scripture. For instance: It is almost universally agreed upon that Christians are to be truth-tellers, honest, and avoiding lies and deception at all costs. The problem is, how do we square that with the Hebrew midwives deceiving Pharaoh in Exodus 1 and God’s blessing upon it? Or consider Rahab’s deception of the authorities in Joshua 1. Think too about the 3 wise men going back on their promise to Herod to relay back to him when and where they had located the Christ-child in Matthew 2. We could cite a number of other examples as well.
So, how do we reconcile these lies and deceptions with God’s blessing on them?
We see repeatedly that we are never under any obligation to assist evil. In each of these cases, the lie and or the deception was to prevent an evil act from taking place. And with such a principle, we also see how it is that many Christians righteously deceived the Nazis in their attempt to persecute the Jews. In fact, it wouldn’t be too hard to dredge up any number of instances where to protect the innocent or otherwise thwart evil (think of a Christian undercover cop for instance – lying to infiltrate organized crime) we might find God most pleased with one willing to distort the truth so as to keep evil and harm at bay.
Now no one (I would hope) would take this as carte blanch to be untruthful whenever they feel like it, nor to escape hard realities that are simply uncomfortable, or that would allow you to continue in your own sin, keep it from being discovered or merely fall into the category of self-interest – to make yourself look good. That is clearly not the idea here. But where evil looks to enlist us in aiding its attacks on others – we are not only free to, but have an obligation to undermine its success. And that is a very liberating and God-glorifying truth.