“Loved ones, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
The desire to know more was part of the lure that led to the fall in the Garden of Eden, and with it, the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:22). For generations after the fall, people did whatever they wanted and that led to unrestrained wickedness (Genesis 6:5). Scripture tells us that as time passes “many will run back and forth and knowledge will increase” (Daniel 12:4, TLV). Our fallen nature is inclined toward doing what is evil in God’s eyes. God sent the flood to cleanse the land of evil and to start a new generation of people having intimate knowledge of Him. That may have lasted a while, but the tower of Babel narrative (Genesis 11) shows us that we are prone to walking away from God and glorifying ourselves. With all the knowledge we have gained over the years and all the ways that we have applied it; how do we discern good from evil and truth from falsehood?
God made himself known to Avraham (Abraham) and, through Moshe (Moses), gave us his laws, rulings, and regulations so that we can distinguish between good and evil. The story of Balaam (Numbers 22-24) gives us a glimpse of God revealing himself to others and teaching them right from wrong. Balaam is also a perfect example of how we often try to find ways around doing what God commands us, to satisfy our own desires. God, through Moshe and the Prophets tells us what is good, bad, true, and false! Yeshua came to give us a more perfect understanding of Torah and to teach us how to worship God under the New Covenant.
The word of God is our perfect guide to what is good and true. Through Scripture, prayer, and the help of the Holy Spirit we can know and/or discern what is bad and what is false. As the Apostle Paul said, “I would not have known sin except through the Torah. For I would not have known about coveting if the Torah had not said, “You shall not covet”” (Romans 7:7). Put simply, doing what God says to do is good and the opposite is bad. In the same way, God’s word is truth and all other must be weighed against it.
Worshiping God is good, idolatry (putting anything before God) and taking His name in vain are bad (Exodus 20:3-7).
It is good to honor the Shabbat and to honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:8,12; Ephesians 6:2).
Murder, adultery, stealing and to giving false testimony are bad (Exodus 20:13-16; Luke 18:20).
It is Good to love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39) but bad to covet what your neighbor has (Exodus 20: 17).
It is bad to be “lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, hardhearted, unforgiving, backbiting, without self-control, brutal, hating what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:2-4).
One may say, these are obvious! Yes, and they should be, but how often don’t we obey them? How often do people kill, steal, lie, and willfully break these commandments? Nations’ created laws around these commandments, and we still have a need for prisons, lawyers, and courts. Why, because the more we learn it seems the more ways we find to break those laws. In the same way, the more knowledge has increased, the more we rebel against God.
Scripture also tells us how to behave when we are wronged, persecuted, cheated, etc. Asked about taxes, Yeshua said “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21). He tells us to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). The people who went to see Yochanan the Emerser (John the Baptist) asked him how they should conduct themselves. He told the tax collectors not to collect more than is due and the soldiers not to take anything by force, falsely accuse anyone, and to be content with their wages (Luke 3:10-14). In other words, don’t cheat others and don’t abuse your power!
Scripture says the ones who will dwell in God’s presence are those who “walks with integrity, who does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart, who does not slander with his tongue, does not wrong his neighbor, and does not disgrace his friend, who despises a vile person in his eyes, but honors those who fear Adonai, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, and does not change, who lends his money without usury, and takes no bribe against the innocent” (Psalms 15:2-5). But “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the sexually immoral and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15).
According to Micah 6:8 God has told us what is good. We would do well to listen and obey. In Deuteronomy 30:19, Moshe told the children of Israel “I have placed before you life and death, the blessings and the curse. Therefore, choose life”. God had given us knowledge of good and evil, truth and lie. Let us choose the good and live in truth so that we can enter His presence and not be outside with the disobedient and those who practice falsehood!