People of Promise 101 Overcome Evil
As I’ve noted before, we often use words without completely understanding all they imply. We hear them so often that we don’t really think to any depth about their meaning. Good and evil are two of those words. So when we read Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good (Rom. 12:21), we don’t really have a good handle on exactly how to do this. And after all, this doesn’t really seem like a promise. I mean, come on, it’s just a directive. Yes, but if God says that we can overcome evil with good, then He is promising that in fact, we can—every time.
So, let’s back up just a bit and consider these two words, good and evil. Simple. What comes from God is good (James 1:17), and what comes from Satan is evil—that’s why He’s called “The Evil One” (John 17:15). Now, a bit more subtle, please. We typically think of Evil as harsh, cruel, physical, destructive, war-like, and so on. Sure these things are evil. But what about taking things like writing pads, paper clips, staples, and so on home from work, without asking if it’s OK (usually it is not OK). I mean, come on, everyone does it, and the company builds it into it product pricing, anyway. Hey, stealing is stealing, and it’s evil—it is against God’s wishes for us. But what if I ask, and the boss says, “Sure, we want to you to have those things so if you have ideas about work you will always be ready to make notes.” “And besides, we want your kids to have paper to draw on, and etc.” Well, of course it’s OK then, but note this, it is the boss (i.e., the company) that has to make the decision, not you.
Hmmm, well how about things like a little harmless gossip. I mean, those people talk about me, so if I spread a little misconception about them, certainly no one will care. Well, God cares—a lot. It’s evil; it’s against God’s wishes for us. On the other hand, discussing someone’s problems in a way that encourages others to pray for that person, and/or help them emotionally, physically, etc. is not against God’s wishes. Yes, well how about dancing. How about it? Is it done as a way to exercise, or a way for husband and wife to be close to one another, or as a way to promote sexual stimulation between boy and girl, man and woman for out of wedlock intercourse? See, you can’t just say all dancing is evil, because it isn’t.
As it turns out, it is not so much the act but the intent of the act. When we do things that are intended to bring honor and glory to God, and to help others, then that is good. When the intent is to breakdown, slander, steal from, or hurt others, then we are not bringing honor and glory to God. And certainly we are exercising Satan’s intent for us, not God’s.
And this battle between what God wants for us and what Satan wishes for us is ongoing, never ceasing, always present, not ever going away. For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (2Cor. 10:3-5).
Now, there’s the “how to.” Our weapons against the evil one and his wiles come from God. And of course, we are told what those weapons are. Eph. 6:11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
Eph. 6:12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
Eph. 6:13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
Eph. 6:14 Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
Eph. 6:15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
Eph. 6:16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
Eph. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
Eph. 6:18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people
We have discussed the armor in some detail before, but I put this in to remind each of us that we have the weapons—both defensive and offensive. All we need to do is haul them out and use them. And of course, that is always the catch. We come up with really silly ideas like: “Well why should I have to go to all the trouble of praying and using the sword of faith?” “God knows what I need, and, after all, He has control of everything.” Oh so wrong, so wrong. Why do you think He gave us the armor—oh, I see, it’s for our parade.
Sarcasm aside, we are the ones who are responsible for using our own armor and overcoming the “fiery darts of the Wicked One.” Remember the “Lord’s Prayer” plea that goes, “and protect us from evil”? Actually it says “protect us from the Evil One.” Not only that but, Jesus’ specifically wrote into His Last Will and Testament (John Ch. 17): I do not ask that You will take them out of the world, but that You will keep and protect them from the evil one (v. 15). And guess what—God did exactly that by giving us His armor to wear. So get it on and use it to overcome evil with good.
One piece of the armor that is rarely mentioned is the 7th piece– Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. It’s this piece of the armor that makes and keeps the others fully operational. For example, you have been given the helmet of salvation. So? To make it fully and powerfully operational, just give God thanks for it and say something like, “Thank you Father for saving me from the Evil One. I give you praise and thanks for giving me your helmet of salvation, and I stand fully in the power of your promise that I will live with You forever.” Now Satan knows that you know, and that you are not about to back down from that knowledge.
There’s another exaltation that God provides that we must not forget about, and that is our exaltation spiritually. First, when we give our lives to Christ, we are reborn spiritually and exalted to a position of righteousness before God (Rom. 3:21-22). Furthermore that is an exaltation that few really walk in, and that is the fact that Jesus very specifically said, in His Last Will and Testament, I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one (John 17:22). Look again. Jesus has not only provided for our salvation, He has given us the same honor and glory that God gave Him. That’s why we can be so confident before the Father. We need to live in that status, recognizing every moment that Jesus bought and paid for all this with His very life. It was His gift to us, and nothing we can ever do will “earn it,” it’s ours by His grace.
We overcome evil through our association with God, not off in a corner by ourselves. We recognize evil and then we go to God and get Him to help us, and to accomplish the protection. But we have to go to Him. No going it alone. Get right with God, and then get tight with God. Allow Him to rule your life, and your life will be more than you ever dreamed possible. You will have a “good” life.