The Peacemakers Part 3: What’s Right is Right

Preached on April 14, 2024

This week, Pastor McCrary continues to take a look at the high calling of being a peacemaker. In order to do what’s right, the believer must understand God’s justice. Join Pastor McCrary this week as he dives into scripture to uncover what’s right and wrong in the eyes of God.


As God’s children, we are supposed to be lamps in the darknesspeacemakers.  This means that in this dark world, we should be standing for what’s right and what’s good.  Yet, how can one stand for what’s right and good if they don’t know what is right?  So, let’s focus on what’s right and good.

We are going to take a look at scripture from Isaiah 5:8-25 for today’s sermon.  This is a section of scripture that was directed to Israel for how they were living at that time.  In this passage of scripture, we see the word “woe” seven times.  Woe:  a warning for how terrible or distressing something will be.  Israel was living wickedly, and were being warned of future suffering because of their wickedness.

With that in mind, in my key verse, the prophet warned those who “call evil good, and good evil”.  The prophet warned those who “put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”  The prophet said, “woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”  Woe to those that confuse darkness for light is a warning that should be shared in the world today.

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! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!


What’s Right in God’s Eyes

Some say what’s right and good is subjective.  As I have said the past couple of weeks, there is much confusion in our world over right and wrong, good and evil.  This often happens because one wants to have absolute authority over what’s right, good, and true but absolute authority belongs only to God.  

When God speaks about what’s right, He speaks about what leads to salvation.  When God speaks about what’s wrong, He speaks about what offends Him and will lead to condemnation.  The petty squabbles we have over opinions aren’t of much concern unless they bring harm to the spirit.

However, this is where we, the peacemakers, come into the picture.  As Paul wrote, we have been made stewards of the mysteries of God (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Cor. 4:1).  What this means is that sincere believers have been made supervisors of the gospel.  Why?  Because we have received the gospel.  So, as stewards we should be faithful to the gospel (1 Cor. 4:2).  Are you being faithful to the gospel?

Throughout scripture God’s children are charged to be faithful and to “do good”.  What is the good we are supposed to do?  We often sum up that answer by simply saying we should “help others.”  Scripture, however, paints a broader answer for doing good.  In Micah 6:8, it is asked, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

In Psalm 11:7, David said, “the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness (what is right and good).”  In Isaiah 61:8, the Lord said, “For I, the Lord, love justice.”  Justice is what’s right and good in God’s eyes.  If justice is what God loves, then we should love justice and work to carry out justice.

God’s Justice Defined

Now, we need to understand how God defines justice because God’s justice differs greatly from man’s idea about justice.  If you look in the dictionary, we define justice as the maintenance and administration of what is just.  The dictionary then adds that justice is determined by “impartial adjustment” of conflicting claims.

Retributive justice

God proclaimed the justice He loves and carries out in Exodus 34:6-7.  The Lord proclaimed that He keeps mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, but by no means clears the guilty.  This part of God’s justice speaks to retribution as the convicted wrongdoer – sinner – will receive the punishment they deserve.

Now, retribution is the kind of justice that we often think about.  Governments have established laws and if those laws are broken, criminals are punished.  Yet, we have seen flaws in man’s justice system.  For a long time it has been recognized there is an unjust bias in the punishment of wrongdoers.   In our system, what is “fair” often leans one way for one and the other way for another based on biases.

Is such a biased way of justice right?  Would God stand in support of such a biased system?  In Deuteronomy 1:17, the answer is clear as the children of Israel were commanded not to show partiality in judgment.  To be fair in judgment, Moses said to the children of Israel, “You shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s.”

God, you must remember, is impartial.  As Paul wrote in Romans 2:11-12, “For there is no partiality with God.  For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law.”  Again, keep in mind that Jesus taught that one must be careful in what manner they judge another.  Jesus warned, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged (Matt. 7:2).”

Distributive justice

While retributive justice (punishment) is justice to mankind, God’s justice extends beyond punishment.  This is the point in today’s sermon where I must remind you that God is love.  Taking a look back at Exodus 34:6-7, God proclaimed that He’s merciful, gracious, and abounds in goodness and truth. What this means is God’s goodness is plentiful to give and share with all people.  This statement speaks to God’s dispersing of justice – distributive justice.

Scripture shows us that when one asks in faith, God will give without hesitation.  I think of Solomon asking God to give him the wisdom to be able to discern justice and God gave without hesitation.  God is a liberal giver.  James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach (Jas. 1:5).”  

While retributive justice is important, God would much rather give – bless – than to have to punish!  Let us remember what the Lord said in Jeremiah 29:11.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  He gave, as a blessing to all people, His only begotten Son.  When God created mankind, He created us to be fruitful and to multiply (Gen. 1:22).  

Now, some may think to themselves, “well, I don’t have what that person has.”  There is a thought that God is not fair in His giving.  Yet, the word of God, once again, forces us to answer whether or not we are living according to God’s desire.  If God is a liberal giver, one has to wonder, are we?  If good to God is to lift us up, are we helping each other to flourish?

Man’s Flawed Justice

In Isaiah 5:8-25, we see how incomplete our idea of justice is.  In Isaiah 5:8, the scripture says, “Woe to those who join house to house and add field to field.”  Those who were doing this in Israel were those who were greedy.  They built up their homes, had lots of land, while the less needy had no place to stay.  Does that sound right?

Observe the world we live in today.  The rich continue to get rich and those in need continue to work hard for little in return.  The rich say that they care about others but CEOs continue to collect bonuses while the ground floor worker struggles to pay bills.  Everywhere you turn today, the powerful and greedy have their hands stretched out saying to give them more.  

Buy this bible because I’m a good guy,” right?  Add on this service that your payments should already cover but doesn’t coverWe see your small business trying to flourish but we need more so we can’t allow that to happen.  Sure, that certainly sounds just, I say sarcastically.

In Isaiah 5:11-12, the scripture says, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink.”  We would consider that this scripture is speaking of drunkenness but there is more.  The scripture speaks of a lifestyle that does not regard the Lord.  The lifestyle of many is to consider the world over everything, including the Lord.

How many of us are truly grateful for all that God has done for us?  Better yet, how many of us even take the time to realize all that God has done for us?  If we all recognized how good God is, then we would move with love and a high regard for each other.  Yet, God is disregarded by many and if He is disregarded, you better believe we’re easier to disregard.  Does this sound right?

Because Israel lived in such a manner, we will see the Lord said, “my people have gone into captivity because they have no knowledge (Is. 5:13).”  The captivity in mind here is the bondage of sin- living in foolish disobedience.  Because they lived in such a manner, the Lord said, “Sheol (Hades) has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure (Is. 5:14).”

Sheol (Hades or hell) feasts on sin and darkness.  If hell was expanding back then and opening its mouth wide, can you picture it today?  I observe a world where good, God’s justice, is fading and darkness continues to cover the earth.

Dark and demonic confusion of good

My key verse speaks to just how flawed our sense of good and evil is.  Isaiah 5:20 warns, “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.”  This twisted, corrupted, and deranged mindset is only growing today and it’s frightening.  

So that there’s no confusion, I don’t care how much you hold up a bible for the world to see, if you live with this twisted mindset you’re in the wrong.  You can go to church everyday of the week, but if that’s your mindset, you’re in the wrong.  If you support those who live with this mindset, you are also in the wrong.

In James 3:13-18, James wrote about the difference between wisdom of the light and wisdom of the dark.  James stated, “if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there (Jas. 3:14-16).”  Again, woe to you if your heart is filled with this corruption or you support those with such a corrupt heart!”

James then stated, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield (compassionate), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (Jas. 3:17).  Now, tell me, which mindset is right?  If you’re God’s peacemaker, then it is important that you know and recognize what’s right and good!

Doing Right by Others

Are we called on to be covetous and greedy as peacemakers?  Did God call on us to be drunkards as peacemakers?  Did God call on us to disregard Him and His way of good?  Did God call on us to be wise and self-righteous in our own eyes?  Are we supposed to be envious and self-seeking?  No, no, no, no, and no.

As Proverbs 14:12 says, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  From Isaiah 5:23-25, the Lord lays down a very grave warning to those who take away justice from a righteous man.  There is a promise that as fire devours stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, the root of the wicked will be as rottenness.  The scripture says that God’s anger is aroused against such wickedness and His hand is against them.

It is important for us to know what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s evil.  Yes, it is important because God is going to judge all people.  God is certainly a gracious and kind God, but I do not want any part of His anger!  Many may make light of God’s anger but they should not be doing that!. 

Go up and beyond in your service

If you don’t want God’s hands stretched out against you, then you should commit yourself to doing what’s right and good.  So, rather than being greedy, the peacemaker should be liberal in dispensing the good they have.  In other words, we should love to give what we are able to give of ourselves and not begrudgingly (2 Cor. 9:7).

In Luke 17:10, Jesus taught that when we carry out our duty, we shouldn’t be looking for a reward.  Jesus said, “when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.  We have done what was our duty to do.”  

Some of us have developed the nasty habit of helping others expecting something in return.  Like the religious leaders, some of us have also developed the nasty habit of helping others just to boast and brag, or to be praised by others.  Does that sound right?  Again, what’s right is for you to distribute proper justice and not mankind’s flawed justice of biased, unfair, and greedy giving (giving little).

Peacemakers should love what they do because they know they’re doing what’s right!  Peacemakers should love what they do because they love God!  If this is your mindset, then as Jesus said, when one compels you to go one one mile, go with him two (Matt. 5:41).  In this world of unrest and darkness, this is the mindset that is needed to bring light to the darkness.  This is the mindset that can lead many out of the dark.

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