December 12, 2011

All That Comes From God Is Good, And Sin Is Evil

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1).

Brethren, the first revelation about this world that Holy Scripture communicates to us is that the world proceeded from good and not from evil, from God and not from some power contrary to God and not from some imagined primordial mixture of good and evil. The second revelation, brethren, about this world is that everything that the good God created is good. The light is good; the firmament of heaven is good; the land is good; the sea is good; the grass, the vegetation and the fruitful trees are good; the heavenly lights- the sun, moon and stars-are good; the living creatures in the water and the birds in the air are good; all living beings according to their kind are good; the cattle, the small animals and the beasts of the earth are good. Finally, man - the master, under the lordship of God, over all created things - is also good. "And God saw that it was good." The appraiser of the value of this world is not and cannot be someone who views this world superficially and partially, but can only be He who views all of creation together and each part individually, He who knows their number, name, composition and essence incomparably better than all men on earth. "And God saw that it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). But, nevertheless, there have been men who have slandered the work of God, saying that this world is evil in its essence, that each individual creation is evil, and that matter, from which all earthly beings are formed, is evil. However, evil is found in sin, and sin is from the evil spirit; therefore, evil dwells in the spirit of evil and not in matter. This spirit, fallen from God, is the sower of evil in the world, from whence come the tares in God's wheat. The spirit of evil strives to use both the human spirit and material things in general as his weapons of evil. He is also the one who instills in the human mind the thought that the whole created world is evil and that matter, from which creation was formed, is fundamentally evil. He slanders God's works in order to conceal his own works; he accuses God in order not to be accused. O my brethren, let us guard ourselves from the cunning of the evil spirit. Let us guard ourselves in particular from the evil thoughts that he sows in our minds.

"And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25).

Brethren, only good works proceed from the good Creator. Therefore, let all those who say that both good and evil proceed from God be silent. After His every act, God Himself affirms that it is good. Six times He repeated that what He created was good, and finally, the seventh time, when He saw all in its entirety, He pronounced His judgment that all He had created "was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, in total He repeated seven times that everything was good that came into existence by His holy will. Is it not a great wonder that some people come up with the godless assertion that both good and evil equally proceed from God? God, as if He knew that such slanders would be cast against Him - or, better to say, that such slanders would be cast throughout the centuries - gave His defense in advance and repeated it seven times, for all times and for all generations. Evil comes from sin, and there is no sin in God. Therefore, God can do no evil. He is called the Almighty because He is powerful to do every good. Wicked and twisted are the commentators on God who claim that God is "Almighty'' because He can do both good and evil. God is the source of good and is darkened by nothing, and nothing can proceed from Him that is contrary to good. It is obvious to every normal man that evil is contrary to good. Know, brethren, that those who speak of duality in God, in the eternal Source of good, are those in whom is found the duality of good and evil. However, all those who love good, follow the path of goodness, and yearn for good have a clear revelation within themselves that God is good, and only good.

"And God saw that it was good" (Genesis 1).

Brethren, everything that was created, and the means by which the pure and sinless God created it, is pure and sinless. Every creature of God is pure and sinless as long as it is turned toward God, as long as it is neither separated from God nor hostile to God. Every creature of itself praises and glorifies God as long as it is pure and sinless. That is why the Psalmist sings: "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Alleluia!" (Psalm 150:6). Every intelligent creature of God feels that its natural and primary purpose is to praise the Lord. Thus, brethren, people ask: "If this is so, from whence comes evil into the world?'' It comes from sin, and only from sin. Sin changed a bright angel into a devil. The devil willingly made himself a vessel of sin and then hurried to make other creatures of God similar vessels. By their own free choice, other angels consented to sin with the devil, and afterward the first people, Eve and Adam, consented. From this proceeded the mixture of good and evil in the world. However, even today, that which is of God in creation is good, as it was in the first days of creation. Poison came from sin, for sin is indeed poison, the most bitter poison that exists. Sin was the cause of the curse. It brought about the darkening of minds and caused created things to become hostile toward their Creator. It distanced man from God, and man from man, and man from nature, and nature from man. O my brethren, all that comes from God is good, and all that comes from sin is evil. No evil exists that is bound to God, and there exists no kind of evil that is not bound to sin. Many philosophers have examined the essence of evil, and because of their crude minds they have asserted that evil is in matter and that matter is evil. However, only we Christians know that sin is the essence of evil and that evil has no essence other than sin. It is obvious from this that if we desire to protect ourselves from evil, we must protect ourselves from sin.

"And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

Brethren, when all the parts of a building are good, then the building in its entirety is very good. Every single brick is good, and every stone, the mortar and the lime, and the beams and the pillars-but man is moved to admiration only when he views the entire structure. Oftentimes, a certain detail in the building seems unintelligible and inappropriate to him, but he forgets about this in a moment when he turns his gaze upon the whole. And, indeed, there are many details in this world, as well as in things and in events, that are unintelligible and inappropriate to us. Only when the entire thing as a whole is revealed to us do we understand and are reassured. We consider many of the sufferings and deprivations in our lives as truly ugly and senseless at the time they occur. However, when days and years pass, those very sufferings and deprivations shine as precious stones in our memory, illumining the later path of our life. Therefore, if something in God's creation offends you, look at the whole; if something in life embitters you, wait patiently with faith and hope for new days and years. And if this entire life seems painful and sorrowful to you, raise your spiritual eyes to the other world, and you will have peace and joy. For this entire visible world is not a perfect whole-the other world also exists. For it is said: "God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). Even an artist directs the viewer to look at his painting from a distance, so that he may see it in all its beauty.