Overcome evil with good.
A lost art?

Gordon Wilson held his daughter's hand as they lay trapped beneath a mountain of rubble. It was 1987, and he and Marie had been attending a peaceful memorial service in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, when a terrorist bomb went off. By the end of the day, Marie and nine other civilians were dead, and sixty-three had been hospitalised for injuries.

Amazingly, Gordon refused to retaliate, saying that angry words could neither restore his daughter nor bring peace to his country. Only hours after the bombing, he told BBC reporters:

I have lost my daughter, and we shall miss her. But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge ... That will not bring her back ... Don't ask me, please, for a purpose ... I don't have an answer. But I know there has to be a plan. If I didn't think that, I would commit suicide. Its part of a greater plan ... and we shall meet again.

With all principles in the Word of God we are able to see that they are for the ultimate good for us and the ultimate good for the other.

Many examples could be given.

  • Do not lie.
  • Do not steal.
  • Do not take revenge.

Some had entitled the sermon on the mount “upside down”.

  • Well, we could say that that is the message from the whole Bible.

Jesus called it: “In the world but not of the world”.

1. Our text.

Rom 12: 18- 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good”.

What does this mean to you?

  • Could you answer that?

Can you think of examples?

  • Joseph
  • David. (2 Sam. 24: 16- 19)
  • Jesus (1 Peter 2: 21- 25)

The story of Joseph:

Alexander Campbell wrote: “By taking revenge of an injury a man is only even, by passing it he is superior”.

Here in Rom. 12:21 is the grand strategy of God with regard to human evil. The natural man finds himself living and operating in a world where one rotten apple can make a barrel of good apples rotten; but the spiritual man, having the mind of the Spirit, proceeds upon the premise that one good apple might make a barrel of rotten apples sound! The divine nature of this priceless precept has elicited the most extravagant praise, as well it should.

Pro 25:21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:

Pro 25:22 For thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head, And Jehovah will reward thee.

Exo 23:4 If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.

Exo 23:5 If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, thou shalt forbear to leave him, thou shalt surely release it with him.

We have a change to show our real self.

  • In world of evil.

We follow the example of God.

  • God loved us while we were yet sinners.
  • Rom. 5: 8

Do not withhold from any man the offices of mercy and kindness; you have been God's enemy, and yet God fed, clothed, and preserved you alive: do to your enemy as God has done to you. If your enemy be hungry, feed him; if he be thirsty, give him drink: so has God dealt with you. And has not a sense of his goodness and long-suffering towards you been a means of melting down your heart into penitential compunction, gratitude, and love towards him? How know you that a similar conduct towards your enemy may not have the same gracious influence on him towards you? Your kindness may be the means of begetting in him a sense of his guilt; and, from being your fell enemy, he may become your real friend!

That is, subdue or vanquish evil by doing good to others. Show them the loveliness of a better spirit; the power of kindness and benevolence; the value of an amiable, Christian deportment. So doing, you may disarm them of their rage, and be the means of bringing them to better minds.

Only Christianity has this great theme.

In our text we see several evidences.

  • Vers 9. Let love be without hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy: unfeigned, undisguised, sincere
Abhor: to detest utterly, to dislike, abhor, have a horror of

1) to glue, to glue together, cement, fasten together

2) to join or fasten firmly together

3) to join one’s self to, cleave to

Other evidences:

  • Vers 10

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Giving preference to one another in honour.

Devoted: loving affection, prone to love, loving tenderly (cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children); fond of natural relatives, that is, fraternal towards fellow Christians: - kindly affectioned.

Preference: to go before and show the way, to go before and lead, to go before as a leader

And he continues this same thought throughout these verses til vers 16.
These verses are for Christians.

And he continues with thoughts like:

  • Not lagging behind in diligence.
  • Fervent in spirit.
  • Serving the Lord.
  • Contributing to the needs of the saints etc.

Then from verse 17 on he gives us details how to live with all men.

  • The Bible makes that distinction. And it is an important distinction.

2. If one does not overcome evil with good, he is of another mindset. The mindset of evil thinking.

Many studies have been done on this concept.

Daniel Coleman's sister Frances was murdered in 1985. He was an army sergeant, and he had been trained to kill. When the police failed to find his sister's killer, he was enraged. He wanted to take his gun and mow people down. When he picked up her car from the pound and inhaled the awful smell of blood, he wanted vengeance in the worst way. Two and a half years later his mother watched him being lowered into the ground alongside his sister. Anne Coleman said, He had finally taken revenge - on himself. I saw what hatred does: it takes the ultimate toll on one's mind and body.

  • What did hate do in the case of the brothers of Joseph
  • In the case of Saul.

3. What is the heart of the issue.

A. Agape love.
Love thy neighbour as thyself.

B. Restraint.
What does this word mean?

  • The act of restraining or the condition of being restrained.
  • Control or repression of feelings; constraint.

Who is good in this?

  • God. We are to follow His example.

Pro 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; And he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.

It is much easier to subdue an enemy without than one within. There have been many kings who had conquered nations, and yet were slaves to their own passions. Alexander, who conquered the world, was a slave to intemperate anger, and in a fit of it slew Clytus, the best and most intimate of all his friends, and one whom he loved beyond all others.

Pro 25:28 He whose spirit is without restraint Is like a city that is broken down and without walls.

4. Heaping coals of fire.

This is an amazing scripture. The writer once heard of a woman involved in bitter quarrels with her husband. Seeking counsel, she was asked, "Have you tried heaping coals of fire on his head?" She replied, "No, but I tried a skillet of hot grease!" She, like many others, failed to realize that Paul here used a figure of speech, a style of rhetoric often found in the sacred scriptures.

Batey noted:

The original meaning of this figure of speech has been lost:

  • It could suggests that the enemy will burn with shame for his abuse of one who loves him.
  • It could mean that kindness would be as effectual as fire.
  • It could mean that it would be a burden.
  • To melt him into kindness.
  • The sense of such verses is that as metals are melted by placing coals of fire upon them, so people’s hearts will be melted as we show kindness to them … and thus make them more open to the gospel.

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