For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” (Romans 16:19, NKJV)
Faithful, obedient living has a positive influence that reaches much farther than you think. To keep a good influence the Lord wants you to develop the ability to discern good and evil. God’s word teaches us the difference between good and evil. By obeying God’s word you show yourself to be wise. Furthermore, by doing so you will be innocent of evil and your obedience will encourage others to also obey the Lord.
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (James 4:11–12, NKJV)
James, the “bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”, warns us not to slander our brethren. Backbiting and malicious words must not characterize how we speak of each other. Ironically, some false teachers run to this passage attempting to find shelter against being publicly identified or marked for their divisive error. Paul said to “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). Paul is not advising us to use evil speech or to misjudge a brother. Neither is Paul contradicted by James, whose prohibition is against evil misrepresentation, not accurate identification. On the one hand, we must carefully identify brethren who teach divisive and false doctrine (so they can be avoided), while at the same time avoiding malicious, evil speech. As James previously noted, such tongue control is a mark of spiritual maturity (Jas. 3:1-12).
15 “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:15-16)
The heart is the spring well from which comes all things both good or evil. Israel was commanded to observe food restrictions under the Law of Moses (Lev. 11). But, what Jesus Christ taught on this occasion made all food pure (Mk. 7:19). The food that goes into a person’s body does not defile that person before God. It is the “evil things” coming out of the heart (in the form of thoughts, words and actions) that defile a person (Mk. 7:23). Jesus urges us to listen carefully to what He says. We cannot let evil things proceed from our heart and think we are pure before God: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22). Put away evil. Cleanse your heart through Christ and His gospel (Eph. 4:20-24).
10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)
Good things do not result from doing what is evil. While this may seem too obvious to state, many go right on doing evil things, blindly believing it will result in good for them. We are under obligation to do good things, like restraining our tongue from speaking hurtful, destructive and deceitful words. Deliberately turn away from evil, and just as resolutely pursue peace. God listens to the prayers of such a person. But, He opposes the person who does evil and expects good to result.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 97:10)
Christians love the Lord and abide in His love by keeping His commandments. “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (Jno. 14:15); and If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jno. 15:10). Loving the Lord also means we will despise or detest (“hate”) evil. We are not loving God when we practice sin. Evil is not attractive to those who love the Lord. See the dangers of sin with clear eyes. Love the Lord by being His obedient child. He will preserve you and deliver you from evil.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)
It is true, evil is real and it exists in the world. As we observe the power of evil around us to destroy lives we are tempted to think evil will prevail. It will not. Goodness is more powerful than evil, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jno. 4:4). Christ Jesus is stronger than Satan. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and He did (1 Jno. 3:8; Heb. 2:14-15). Evil is overcome by the goodness of God. So, God’s children do good in the face of evil. Refuse to be drawn into “returning evil for evil” (1 Pet. 3:8-9). Jesus said, “do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Matt. 5:44). Wait on the Lord’s judgment; He will right every wrong on the great day of His coming (2 Thess. 1:7-10). Overcome evil with good.
32 There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. 33 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” And they divided His garments and cast lots. (Luke 23:32-34)
Today is Pearl Harbor Day, when we honor the memory of those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy”. 2,403 military personnel and U.S. civilians died in the Japanese attack that day. We honor those who lost their lives in the defense of our nation. Another day in the history of the world is marked by the great evil done on it. A gross injustice occurred the day Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to a cross to die. It appeared that evil had been victorious. But, God turned death and despair into great victory. The death and resurrection of Jesus overwhelmed sin and defeated death. The gospel calls upon us to honor Jesus Christ with loving, obedient faith. By his act of loving sacrifice we live with the sure confidence of eternal triumph.