4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5, NKJV)
Faith is the victory that defeats the world of evil. A good brother reminded me that the righteous die victoriously (Sword Tips #2226), as assured in Revelation 2-3. Let us briefly note those assurances to “him who overcomes.” 1) Access to the tree of life (Rev. 2:7). Eternal life, forever sustained by God’s provisions. 2) Protection from the second death (Rev. 2:11). The faithful have no part in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8). 3) Identification as God’s chosen (Rev. 2:17). This one is known and kept by God forever (Rev. 14:1; 22:4). 4) Share in the glory of Messiah’s victory over every evil enemy (Rev. 2:26-28). The faithful one will appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). 5) Confessed before the Father (Rev. 3:5). The pure life that unashamedly lived for Christ is written forever in the Book of Life (Mk. 8:38; Rev. 20:12). 6) Secure citizenship with God in His eternal kingdom (Rev. 3:12). Forever dwelling with God, serving Him in full fellowship is the reward of those who hold fast (Rev. 3:11; 21:2, 22). 7) Reign with Christ over sin and death (Rev. 3:21). To forever share in His great victory over every enemy of God will be the indescribable reward of the righteous (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 22:5). These are our hopes and expectations in Christ. He will keep His word to us. Let us keep our word to Him and be faithful even to the point of death (Rev. 2:10).
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:15–17, NKJV)
God’s word teaches Christians to identify and turn away from those who promote and practice sin at every season, including the “perilous times” in which we live (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Eph. 5:8-11). Today’s passage teaches us to do good when the “ignorance of foolish men” would otherwise incite us to be unruly, unrighteous, and ungodly. In context, that includes submitting to human ordinances (that do not force us to sin, 1 Pet. 2:13-14; Acts 5:29). Being free in Christ (free from sin and death) means we are now bondservants of God and not men (Rom. 6:4-11, 16-18; 1 Cor. 7:23). Our freedom in Christ is not our license to be wicked; it is our calling to be God’s slaves (v. 16). Therefore, when evil authorities do evil things, we are to bear the image of Christ and patiently accept suffering for what is good (1 Pet. 2:18-24). For our part, we must be respectful of everyone (including rulers over us), love all our brethren, and fear God (v. 17). By doing so we silence (muzzle, give no credence to) worldly ignorance by exposing its inept, mindless, and egotistical foolishness (v. 15; 1 Cor. 3:18-23). By doing so, with God’s help, you “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
“When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.” (Proverbs 28:28, NKJV)
We are living through a moment of social upheaval in America. To say there is only one cause would be simplistic. Scripture says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach of any people” (Prov. 14:34). We have witnessed wickedness and righteousness by people with authority and by people who live under it. Godly people pray for peace and pursue conduct that makes for peace (1 Tim. 2:1-2; Heb. 12:14). Evil increases when civil authority does not live up to its God-given work to punish evildoers and protect the innocent (Rom. 13:1-7). Sin draws a crowd of likeminded people. The righteous diminish when sin has free rein in communities and nations. Solomon observed the opposite is also true (see Prov. 28:12). The decision we must make is not to wring our hands and fret over evildoers – they will soon be removed (Psa. 37:1-2, 9-10). What we must do is “trust the Lord, and do good,” “commit your way to the Lord,” and “rest in the Lord” (Psa. 37:3, 5, 7). “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
“For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4, NKJV)
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Allied invasion of Europe on the beaches of Normandy, France. Their goal was to liberate a continent captured in the grip of Nazism. Their success continues to be felt to this present hour. As we honor the sacrifices of that day and the freedom it signaled for millions of souls, we ought to remember it is God who ordains civil authorities. The governments of men are intended by Him to execute justice, and to apply punishment (wrath) to evildoers. Therefore, we are to submit to governing authorities out of our respect for God (Rom. 13:1-3). They are God’s servants for us to administer what is good. But, what happens when governments before evil and oppressive? Since God rules the nations, He raises them up and He brings them down when their rulers and their citizens refuse righteousness (Prov. 14:34; Dan. 4:28-35). We must keep on doing good and not take personal vengeance against evil. Instead, we are to give place to the wrath of God: “for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-19). He did. And, He continues to do so. Let the righteous be patient, and “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.’” (Revelation 2:7, NKJV)
What the Spirit of God said to the church of Ephesus (by the Lord’s messenger or “angel,” Revelation 2:1) was said to all the churches of Christ. Christians are urged to lend an ear and give careful attention to the divine message. Notice how the Spirit of God communicates with Christians. It is not through your emotions, feelings, and life events. The Bible says God speaks to us all in the same way, through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). The apostolic Scriptures are the mind of God, revealed for us to know (1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Also, please see in today’s verse that it is the person “who overcomes” who is given access to the tree of life. Those who prevail will be saved. But, not everyone will eat from the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-5). Some Christians will not listen to Jesus. And so, they will not “fight the good fight of faith” nor “lay hold of eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:12). Refuse to be that kind of Christian. Open yourself to the word of God and faithfully follow Jesus by following “what the Spirit says to the churches.”
15 Do not lie in wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; Do not plunder his resting place; 16 For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” (Proverbs 24:15–16, NKJV)
When a righteous person falls into sin or calamity, the wicked person is tempted to take advantage of the situation; to enrich himself at the expense of the fallen. Yet, the righteous will not remain overwhelmed by the moment of transgression or trial; the righteous rise in confessional repentance to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Jno. 1:9-2:1; Phil. 3:14). Therefore, do not seize upon the trials of another as if it is your advantage. It is certain that such wickedness will not stand (v. 16). But, the Lord renews the righteous because they trust Him. If you should find yourself overwhelmed by sin or by a burdensome trial, do not lose heart. The Lord forgives sin and strengthens His people to endure present sufferings. Thank God today for His compassion and for the guidance of His word, which renews our faith and strengthens us to move onward to the dawn of eternity.
20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20–21, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use Proverbs 25:21-22 to teach Christians to give place to the Lord’s vengeance against those who do them wrong. This counterintuitive counsel is a hallmark of the “wisdom from above,” and is in striking contrast to the (foolish) wisdom that is “earthly, sensual, demonic” (Jas. 3:13-18). God calls on us to rise above the thinking of the world. Such commands challenge our faith and keep us focused on eternity instead of the immediate satisfaction of personal revenge. Jesus said to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Matt. 5:44). Evil never overcomes evil. Good is more powerful than evil. Honor the power of good by doing good to those who are not good to you. By doing so, Christian show themselves to be “sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil” (Lk. 6:35).
19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19–21, NKJV)
How very different this counsel is from that of the worldly-minded. Revenge is glamorized in movies, YouTube videos and just about every medium that exists. Self-vindication, not divine-vindication, is the impulse of the selfish and self-centered. Christians shun retaliation against evil as their personal “right” and responsibility. Instead, Christians overcome evil by continuing to do good things for those who are not good to them. This does not mean we are unconcerned with justice. It means we know that true, lasting justice will be exacted by the Lord God. He is perfect in knowledge, righteousness, wisdom and might. We much prefer for God to deal with the evil-doers. We know that when He does, it is always fair, just and complete. Do not fret over evil-doers; trust the Lord to right every wrong by and by. In the meantime, you overcome evil with good.
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.