“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits.” — Matthew 7:15-16a
The 1997 movie “Face Off” is a literal take on the age-old fictional battle between good and evil. Get this: The actual faces of both the good guy and the bad guy are surgically removed — thus, “Face Off” — and exchanged. The good guy literally puts on the face of the bad guy, and the bad guy literally puts on the face of the good guy.
The result? Good appears evil. Evil appears good. And everyone around them goes by how things appear until finally, in their inevitable climatic “face-off” at the end, good and evil are revealed and wholesome justice prevails.
Doesn’t the same kind of thing happen in real life? What’s really good — true, holy, humble and right — is often rejected as bad, and what’s really bad — deceitful, ungodly, prideful and wrong — is often accepted as good?
Of course, it’s only how good and bad appear on the surface. Actual good is always good and actual bad is always bad no matter what they may look like. That’s because, as Jesus explained in Matthew 7:17-18, “Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Even in “Face Off,” despite how they look on the outside, the good guy and the bad guy both stay true to their respective inner natures: the good guy stays good and the bad guy stays bad.
But just like the movie’s other characters who take things only at “face” value, when actual good looks evil and actual evil looks good, we in real life too often “call it as we see it” instead of discerning it for what it really is underneath.
The moral and biblical implications are clear. Instead of defining the world by the objective standards of good and evil as provided in God’s inerrant Word, we (even Christians) define good and evil by the subjective standards of the world.
And then we live our lives accordingly.
We foolishly assume that good will always be accepted in this world and that evil will always be easy to spot. We take good for granted and bad too lightly. So, when the world and, increasingly, professing Christian churches say “good” is anything that’s popular rather than what’s right or true and “bad” is anything that claims final authority and expects individual accountability, we often compromise and conform.
Real life examples abound:
- Aborting life for the so-called “good” of, say, protecting a woman’s free choice.
- Lying to protect one’s own cause or interest rather than trusting God to intercede.
- Compromising our Christian walk or witness for the sake of being accepted or to avoid the discomfort of standing up for the truth.
- Measuring faith by material prosperity.
- Measuring the Spirit of God by the outward “spiritedness” of the people instead of testing all things by the Scriptures.
- Planting seeds of doubt and division among God’s children under the guise of doing church “God’s way.”
- Tolerating false doctrine or sinful behavior for the sake of “Christian unity” misapplied.
- Rejecting Christianity altogether or picking and choosing beliefs and doctrines based on personal preference, political “correctness,” or popular charismatic personalities.
- And so on.
Let me put a pin here for a moment and explain why I refer to the age-old battle between good and evil as fictional. In the entertainment arena such as movies, novels, television shows and cartoons, Good and Evil are always portrayed as having equal power. The struggle between them is always arduous because they are evenly matched foes. Of course, most of the time (there are always the dark exceptions), Good comes out on top so that the audience can feel better about the world by the time the final credits roll. But when it comes to the power of God compared to the power of evil in the real world, there is no competition. There is no arduous struggle. And that’s simply because there is no power as strong as, let alone greater than, the Almighty. (I can get into a discussion at another time of the role of evil in all its various forms and why God allows it to happen, even to Christians.)
We must understand and respect the final authority of God’s Holy Word as our preeminent source for wisdom and guidance in this world. When we don’t, then just like the unsuspecting victims in “Face Off,” our guard is down and evil’s knack for looking good has an advantage over us. While we think it’s safe, we fall prey to evil’s subtle “bait-and-switch” trap.
Thankfully, in “Face Off” the true good in the good guy is finally recognized beyond his surgically applied face. Yes, once outward, surface appearances are found to be untrustworthy—once good and evil are discerned beyond face value—good’s triumph over evil is assured.
In real life, 1 Samuel 16:7 comes to mind: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Only God’s wisdom is trustworthy enough to help us un-mask true good and real evil. And only by His Word and Spirit can we safely live our lives accordingly.
Read this related post: The Emperor Has No Clothes! Leave a comment in the spirit of love for God’s sheep and the truth of His Word.