Ivy points out every so often that in Judaism, Satan is not hateful but rather another righteous servant of the Almighty, only one charged with testing God’s people. It’s a job along with any other, kind of like an undercover cop who tries to buy narcotics but isn’t himself breaking the law.
That’s not the Christian view, which goes with Jesus’s statement that Satan was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and is God’s enemy.
Ivy and I have discussed this a few times, and here’s a problem: Jesus tells us that we can know a tree by its fruit. In other words, if the outcome is bad, we can assume the thing itself was bad.
But the New Testament states that all things work together for the glory of God for those who love Him. In other words, if something bad happens to you, God can turn it to good.
This muddles up the whole fruit industry. It implies that over the long term, the fruit of everything is going to end up being good, and that makes it difficult to figure out whether something is from God or otherwise. And it implies that anything Satan does is going to be “perverted” by God in order to achieve goodness, and therefore Satan is actually in the service of God. (Whether he wants to be or not is another question.)
I’m taking the Christian line on this one, but the next question is, if God turns evil into good (which He does) and if you can only tell the tree by its fruits, then in the long run all the fruit is good fruit, so we’re working in the dark here. Right?
Discernment is a lot trickier than I thought it was back when I was sixteen and I knew everything.
Last week, I had another thought, and I’m running it here in the interests of being corrected if I’m wrong.
Good tree will produce good fruit. That much is a given.
Bad tree will produce rotten fruit. But here’s the next thought: that inside that rotten fruit, there are seeds.
And those seeds can become trees themselves. In other words, in the heart of that rotten fruit is the makings of something which can go on to become a source of goodness for all of us.
That’s how God turns evil into good. Some things are going to themselves be good. And other things are bad and then fall apart, rot away, and their residuals become the source of other good things.
A man’s child is murdered. That’s clearly evil. He uses his grief over the child’s death in order to raise awareness, prevent crime, and safeguard other children. The seeds of the rotten fruit become good fruit-bearing trees for the future.
The tools are there to discern. We just need to be able to reconstruct whether we’re dealing with ‘the first fruits’ or the second generation fruits.