DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN GOOD
“For solid food is for those of mature age,
even those who by reason of use have their mental abilities
exercised to distinguish good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).
As Orthodox Christians we may be called upon to help solve disagreements between others. It is useful to know who may possess the ability to judge and help to settle such disputes. This article may be useful to those who are called upon to offer fair and just judgments.
Only the more erudite of souls have the ability and experience in most cases, to clearly distinguish good and evil or virtue and vice. They usually are able to discern just behavior to be good and unjust behavior to be evil. Not everyone, however has the capability and experience to clearly distinguish between good and evil. This is verified by the Apostle Paul who says: “Some are similar to those that have need of milk and not of solid food. For everyone that partakes of milk lacks experience of the word of justice, for he is a babe” (Heb. 5:12-13). Which means the inexperienced and infantile soul cannot taste the word of justice because he uses milk and not the solid food of a mature man, rendering him less capable of distinguishing between good and evil.
The distinction between good and evil is analogous to the distinguisher’s knowledge of justice, hence, the possessor of more perfect knowledge of this virtue can perfectly discern between good and evil in most cases. But the person having imperfect knowledge and limited experience is checked and proclaimed to be lacking in his distinction between good and evil. Furthermore, knowledge acquired through experience regarding some virtues and some vices does not presuppose knowledge of every virtue and every vice, for it is impossible ever to derive a general or complete knowledge from a partial one. But there are some who yield to this absurdity, for they think that because they are able to distinguish some virtues and vices that they are then capable of clearly distinguishing between all good and evil
It is good for all of us to strive each day to continue to improve our ability to distinguish good and evil, which is invaluable in making just judgments among families and friends. All that we face on a daily basis where there is a need to distinguish between good and evil should be useful and will be useful in developing our minds so as to make good judgments. The opportunity to make such judgments during each day, seeking to discern good and evil will greatly enhance our abilities. Many questions concerning good and evil come before us a hundred times a day. This means that in our personal lives we can continually distinguish between what is good and what is evil, and making such correct choices will become a good and virtuous habit. In the mixed up world of today there are many which confuse good and evil and this is destructive to their moral senses. The mass confusion of the present time, often appears because people either ignore or do not seriously consider what they are thinking or saying and become more confused by what they hear or read For example they hear it said that all faiths are good and true but this error leads them into captivity. They then conclude that all faiths lead to God or that it really doesn’t matter!
It is not our intention to offer various subjects for disputation, by presenting erroneous arguments and conclusions which leads men away from truth and into the bedlam of confusion.
With the Incarnation the Father has settled all previous disputes for His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the truth who came down heaven, sacrificed himself on the Cross, suffered, was buried, and arose on the third day and He took the fangs out of death and put death to death, rendering it and the devil powerless. He firmly established His holy Church which is the pillar and foundation of truth. The Church will always remain whole and true for Jesus Christ is the divine-human Head of the divine-human and indestructible Church.
In distinguishing between good and evil we have very important infallible guides which are the all the words of Christ, the holy Tradition of the Church, the entire Holy Bible and the holy fathers of the Church. Also the Rudder, (available from us on CD) is a treasure house not only for this purpose but also a great help for every purpose in our present life, the main one being everlasting life. The Rudder contains all decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Synods, of many local synods and canons of many fathers and saints which help us to distinguish good and evil being an extremely useful source.