““Sin For Evil – God For Good!”, Pentecost 7A, Proper 11 – July 23, 2017”
From July 24th, 2017

“Sin For Evil – God For Good!”

Genesis 28:10-19; Psalm 139:1-11, 22-23;  Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43.

There is a great drama taking place in the heavens and here on earth. It is a drama in which we are part of the cast. It is a drama portraying the purposes of Good Vs. Evil. The lead protagonist for Good is God and the lead protagonist for Evil is the Devil. The spiritual power from the Devil that promotes evil is the temptation to Sin, and the spiritual power from God that promotes Goodness is the Holy Spirit working within us.
Today’s lessons illustrate this point that ‘sin is intended for evil results, but God’s intentions are for good results.’ From Genesis we see how God is redeeming His good purposes through Jacob even after Jacob grabbed Esau’s blessing and covenant position. Jacob, a grabber, wants good for himself but not the same good for his brother. Jacob is not an honorable man, yet God takes him where he is, works with him, and turns him into one of the Patriarchs of our Faith.
Of course, this raises questions regarding the origin of sin. If God is the Creator of everything, then one could lay the blame on God for the existence of sin and its evil results. Unless, you are wise enough to also understand that God created us with minds unparalleled in the universe, and the free will to go with those minds. And, in the design of those minds and the will to act on their thoughts,
God Created Freedom Of Choice.
Do you realize God placed limits on Himself when he designed us to think and act on our own, sort of like the tension that exists between loving parents and strong-willed children. There is a tension and risk that exists between the parents who don’t want anything bad to happen to their children and the teens who want to control their own lives. But, we were not the first created beings to enjoy such freedom and responsibility. The angels also enjoy such minds and freedom of choice.
Angels are also allowed to think and making moral choices. And, in their freedom, one-third of them chose to rebel against their Creator. In following the lead of the arch-angel Lucifer, sin – disobedience to God – was born, and evil revealed. At its heart sin is rebellion against the will of God. Angels have rebelled, Adam and Eve rebelled, and probably all of us have rebelled at least once? The Bible is filled with stories of rebellion against God’s perfect will.
Jacob’s life, from birth until being confronted with the reality of a living God, is filled with deception, lying, stealing – rebellion against the perfect will of God for his life. Is there anyone here, old enough to understand what I’m saying, who can honestly say, “In all my thoughts, words, actions, or failures to take action, I’ve never rebelled against God’s will for my life?” That’s why St. Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned (rebelled) and come short of the glory of God.”
God intends us to live in freedom. Sin, manifested in rebellious thoughts, words, and actions intends for evil to rule over us. Sin results in evil. God is for good. Human nature is now corrupted to believe we don’t need God, and that is why God has to work so hard converting us so we think good, speak good, and do good.
From today’s Psalm we learn in verse one that God knows everything about us, and in verse six that we can’t hide from God. Jacob had spent his life grabbing what he wanted. He stole his older brother’s birthright and he deceived his father into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. Sin was at work in Jacob’s life. Evil was let loose and was in control, or so it seemed. But God is not mocked. In the end, God is the Almighty.
Since Jacob had received Isaac’s blessing then the responsibility for continuing the covenant established with his grandfather and renewed with his father had now passed to him. That was not his desire; it was not why he stole his brother’s birthright. Sin intended to disrupt the covenant renewal process. What was at stake was salvation for humanity. Evil intended to use Jacob as a pawn getting him to sin against his brother, his father, and against God. However, what sin intends for evil, God can turn for Good.
The Story of Jacob’s Ladder Is An Illustration Of God Turning Evil Into Good.
Jacob has a dream in which he sees a stairway – a ladder, reaching from earth to heaven. Angels of God are ascending and descending between heaven and earth on the stairway. Verse 13 says: “There above it stood the Lord, and he said: ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.’” Then God renewed the terms of the covenant originally made with Abraham and with Isaac.
The culmination of the covenant is verse:14 – “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” Sin at work in Jacob intended his life to be used for evil. Instead, God The Redeemer turned it into Good. And because God redeemed Jacob’s life, the covenant was kept alive that resulted in Jesus coming into this world and redeeming us from our sin and offering us eternal peace with our Creator and each other.
The Intermixing Of Good And Evil In This World Is Like Jesus’ Parable In Today’s Gospel Lesson.
In the parable of the Weeds Jesus tells a story about a field where weeds are sowed among the good seed. Further, they won’t be separated until the harvest. (:30 – “Let both grow together until the harvest.”) This is the way our lives are. As Christians, we are seriously working on our salvation (studying Scripture, worshipping, serving others, fellowshipping), yet there are weeds in our personal lives that threaten to choke out God’s will for us. The sin in our lives intends for evil to happen to us, but God will work it out for good, if we cooperate with God’s will.
In verse 41, Jesus said: “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” Eventually, God will totally remove all evil and sin from our lives, but that day won’t arrive for us until we are in heaven. In the meantime, we are responsible for growing as close to God as possible. St. Paul wrote for us today in verse 14, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Paul is trying to encourage us to invite, and allow, God’s Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us in our daily living. In verses 15 & 16, he teaches us that, “…the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And to him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Now we are heirs, co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” The ultimate good news for us today is from Jesus’ teaching in verse 43 – Once the sources of sin are removed from us we will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of (our) Father.”
There is a drama of which we are part. It is a drama for our very souls, and whether Good or Evil will control the destiny of human beings and planet earth. Evil works through the corrosive power of sin. God works through the enlightening presence of His Holy Spirit. We are free to choose how we want to live, and who we want to serve – God or the Devil. It is not an easy fight, but it is worth the fight. Paul teaches us in verses 24-25, that Placing our hope in God’s ability to redeem us through Jesus Christ allows us to wait with patience.
Which course do you choose?