Discerning Good & Evil (Isaiah 5:20) - Radical

Discerning Good & Evil (Isaiah 5:20)

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
– Isaiah 5:20

A powerful verse describing the way the world redefines what God has said is good. What God has said is light. What God has said is sweet. And when I say the world, I include us, how we are prone to take what is good and call it evil and what’s evil and call it good. And there are so many examples of this. I think about praying through Song of Solomon recently, just marriage. So many ways that the world has redefined marriage and love in marriage in ways that do not accord with God and his Word, and how he’s so beautifully created marriage and created love in marriage.

Isaiah 5:20 reminds us to use God’s Word to distinguish good from evil.

And so that’s just one example of so many where we are so confused about what is good, what is light, what is sweet because of the way that the world around us and our sinful nature in us is prone to call evil good and good evil, to put darkness for light and light for darkness, to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. That’s the language here in Isaiah 5:20. So I want to lead us to pray today that God would give us his eyes to see things according to his Word, not the world, and to live accordingly to call that which is good, good.

And that which is evil, evil, according to his Word, even knowing that will lead us to go in so many ways against the pattern of this world. And that will cost us in many ways. But let’s call light, light, and darkness, darkness, not according to our preferences or our ideas or our opinions or our thoughts or even our desires, but according to God’s Word and what God has said is true about what’s good and evil, what’s light and darkness, what’s sweet and bitter.

Isaiah 5:20 calls us to renew our minds with the Word of God.

So God, we pray Romans 12, transform us by the renewing of our minds so that we call good, good, and evil, evil. Forgive us, oh God, for the ways we have been conformed to the pattern of this world. God, we pray, transform us by the renewing of our minds so that we see things in the world around us, whether it’s marriage and sexuality or justice and righteousness, according to your Word.

And even in light of the context here in Isaiah 5, where you are calling out your people for not doing justice. God, help us to do justice according to your Word. Help us to, as we prayed in Isaiah 1, correct oppression according to your Word. God, help us to live in light of what your Word says is good and light and sweet, and help us to turn from that which your Word says is evil and darkness and bitter.

Prayer for the Unreached

To use this language from Isaiah 5:20, Jesus, by your Holy Spirit in us, transform our minds we pray. And help us God, to spread in the gospel today, what some people would say is narrow-minded or offensive, that people are sinners and going to eternal judgment. And we need to believe in Jesus that he alone is the way and the truth and the life. God, we know that is not a popular message in many places where we live and people groups around the world. Lord, we pray that you would help us to spread the goodness of the gospel even when people in the world would oppose that message.

God, we pray, knowing that it is your power to bring people to salvation. Oh God, we pray especially for our brothers and sisters in places like North Korea, Somalia, or Yemen… Where sharing the gospel would likely lead to them losing their lives. God help them. Give them boldness and wisdom, we pray. We pray for the spread of the gospel through them in those places, knowing how costly that is. And God, where that cost is not present for so many of us who are listening to this… God help us to be all the more bold in spreading the gospel. We love you, God. We praise you for your goodness and for the sweet satisfaction and salvation that we have found in you. Lord, we pray all this according to your Word in Isaiah 5:20 in Jesus’ name, amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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