We have come to depend on words having a dedicated meaning. We count on that being true in everything we experience in life. If we order a beef burger at a restaurant, we fully expect to get a 100% beef burger. We don’t want or expect to get some kind of mixture made with beef and pork (or any other meat). It matters to us. It matters enough that when something has the suspicious “all meat” label, we will probably avoid it. We need to ask ourselves however, why a manufacturer would use such a label in the first place. The obvious answer is marketing. Public perception can be incrementally changed over time to where “all meat” can sound very much like and be mistaken for 100% of any given meat variety. This simple example illustrates that even though words do have dedicated meanings, there is an active movement in the world to use words to devalue and even change their true meaning.
Benjamin Dierker, a law student at George Mason University, recently wrote this: “Words can now literally be defined with their antonym. We are a hair’s width and an ounce of stupidity away from war is peace, freedom is slavery.” From the political realm, he used the word “liberal” to show how a word can defined by its antonym. The true meaning of liberality as the apostle Paul spoke of it in 2 Corinthians 8:2, is “sincerity without self- seeking,” which objectively means generosity (copious bestowal). It defines selfless giving. Dierker’s point is that the word “liberal” – in the political realm – has now taken on a different meaning.
“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!” (Isaiah 5:20) Dierker’s present day observation of what God said through Isaiah should not take any of us by surprise since we are living in its fulfillment. But we should take note of the word “woe” that precedes the statement. God hates it. In Proverbs 17:15, Solomon said that those who justify the wicked and condemn the just are an abomination to God.
We need to be aware that there is a war on words being waged in this world and our adversary wants us to incrementally lose sight of what evil really is and come to call it good. Christ describes one of Satan’s chief tactics in dealing with the Pharisees. “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God’” (Luke 16:15). Satan works to get us to justify ourselves – to render ourselves just or innocent, when we’re not. It is apparent in the context here a few verses on that some of the Pharisees were involved in adultery. They were able to justify themselves and find a way to call evil good. But regardless of what the offense may be, self-justification can change the true meaning of words.
Thankfully we know the remedy. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).