But Overcome Evil with Good

Romans 12:14-16 ESV

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

Bless those Who Persecute You

What does it mean to “bless” others? The word means to speak reason which confers benefit; to confer what is beneficial. It is used of God blessing people, so it is going to be in line with how God blesses us. And to speak reason is to speak with purpose, with good judgment and good sense, and perhaps for the purpose to persuade and/or to influence. And to confer benefit is to give or bestow something that is helpful and resulting in good.

Like we read in Luke 6:27-28: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”

So, blessing those who persecute us involves doing good to our enemies, and “good” is defined by God and by Scripture and not by human flesh. It would be doing good for others as God does good for us. Same principle. And it means to speak to them words of wisdom that will be for their spiritual benefit that will be helpful for them and not anything that might cause harm or lead them to do what is harmful. And then pray for them.

Rejoice with Those Who

And the word “rejoice” means to delight in God’s grace or to be glad for God’s grace, so our rejoicing should also align with the things of God and the things God rejoices over. They should not be contrary to the grace of God or to what God rejoices over. So, if we rejoice with those who rejoice, we are not talking about being happy for people in things that they are doing which are contrary to God, to his grace, and to his best for us.

And the grace of God, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. So, we must not rejoice over sin or anything ungodly or of the lusts of the flesh. So we should not take pleasure in anything which glorifies sin and the flesh and things like lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultery, and being mean and hateful to others.

And the same applies to weeping. We should not be sorrowful over things God approves of. We should not take displeasure in holiness, righteousness, godliness, moral purity, honesty, faithfulness and obedience to our Lord’s commands and in submission to him as Lord (Master) of our lives. But many people calling themselves Christians are rejecting and disdaining what is holy and righteous while they are approving of what is sinful and hateful.

In Harmony

To live in harmony with one another is to be of the same mind one toward another, and that mind needs to be the mind of Christ and not the thinking and the reasoning of this sinful world. So, this is talking about Christians living in harmony (of the same mind, the mind of Christ) with one another. So, this is never going to involve compromise of morals or biblical convictions or of God’s commands or his gospel message. If we all have the mind of Christ we will be of the same mind one toward another.

We are not to be haughty (prideful, self-righteous), thinking that we are better than everyone else, or in taking the credit for ourselves for the good that God does in our lives. But we are to associate with the lowly (those who are humble in spirit, the people who depend on the Lord and not on self), for they will be a good influence on us and they will help us to see ourselves through the eyes of God and his word. But this in no way means living less than holy lives for God so others think we are not self-righteous.

Never being wise in our own sight does not mean we are not wise in the sight of God and in relation to the teachings of the Scriptures and in walks of obedience to our Lord’s commands. It just means that we don’t rely on worldly and fleshly wisdom to guide us or to live by or to take our stand on. And we don’t take pride in wisdom gained in the flesh. The wisdom we are to live by is the wisdom of God which comes to us through the written word of God and through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Romans 12:17-19 ESV

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

If we are following Jesus Christ with our lives in wholehearted devotion to him and to the Scriptures and to obeying his commands and to living holy lives, pleasing to him, we are going to have enemies who are going to hate us and deride us, who will reject us and even defame us. They may say and do all sorts of evil against us and they may sin against us in very hurtful ways. But we are to forgive them and to not seek revenge. But forgiveness is not permission to keep on sinning. Forgiveness says, “Go and sin no more.” And vengeance is God’s. He will repay.

Romans 12:20-21 ESV

“To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now, if our enemies are those who profess faith in Jesus Christ while they continue in deliberate and habitual sin, in sexual immorality and impurity and in adultery and lies, etc., and while they will not repent, in truth, we, as the body of Christ, are not to associate with them so that they may be ashamed of their sin and so that they might be brought to repentance. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do other good to them in some way.

For we are to love our enemies and do good to them and bless them and pray for them. And if they are hungry, we are to give them something to eat, and if they are thirsty, we are to give them something to drink. But this should not be the totality of what we do. We should also be sharing with them the truth of the gospel in hopes that they will be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so they can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18).

And lastly, we are not to be overcome by evil, but we are to overcome evil with good. And this is why we need to guard ourselves with regard to those we most closely associate with for we can all be influenced by those we spend the most time with. And this is why we need to be people who take pleasure in what is holy and godly and morally pure and we need to not take pleasure in what is fleshly and sinful and immoral. And we are not to let the evil actions of our enemies take us out, but we are to live as conquerors over all evil and continue to walk in holiness and righteousness.

All Through the Night

An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.

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