Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Overcoming Evil with Good - Jay E. Adams

I find among Christians today 11th hour thinking, a kind of pessimism, a kind of hang in there by your toe nails attitude, a kind of attitude that says, "If I just don't lose what I've got I've won." There's very little of the spirit among Christians today that says, "Let's go for it. Let's get in there and win." There's very little of that. And Christians ought to be moving forward. They ought not to be moving backward or just standing their ground. Even if it is the 11th hour, we ought not to be moving backward or just standing ground. The Lord says, "Occupy [or be busy] until I come." And that's what we've got to get a hold of.

We have in Romans 12:21 a challenge that says, "Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil by good." You see, that steward among the three who buried the Lord's money, and at His return dug it up and said, "Look I've got it all. It's all here, just what you gave me. I didn't lose any of it." had a very wrong attitude because our Lord said to him in Matthew 25, "You lazy, wicked servant." He said, "I was afraid. I knew that you were a hard Master, One who picks up what He doesn't put down. One who reaps what He doesn't sow, and so I buried it." The Lord said, "You wicked, lazy slave." The ones He commended were the ones who went out and doubled that money! The ones who did do business until He came. And it's your job and mine to change the picture to the metaphor that Paul uses here - - to conquer evil in our lives individually until He comes. He didn't say you could conquer it for the first years of the church. You could conquer it through the Reformation period. You could conquer it up until recently, but now you can let up. He expects us to go forward and to continue to go forward until the very last moment before He comes. "Occupy [do business, go forward] until I come."

Now the interesting thing here is that He is talking about a certain kind of evil. He's not talking about the kind of evil that you bring on yourself. Peter talks about that in his letter and he says, "Let no Christian suffer because of his own evil doing, because of his own sin..." (1 Peter 4:13-16). This is not something we bring on yourselves. An awful lot of evil we do bring upon ourselves. We bring a lot of trouble into our own lives by our sin, by our failure to follow the Lord, by our own aggressiveness not following what God says in His Word and just launching out on our own doing what we please. But that's not what He's talking about here. He's talking here about suffering and evil doing that is brought upon you because you're a Christian—suffering that is wrong that you had nothing to do with bringing upon yourself and that you cannot in any way keep from coming upon you. But it's going to come your way because you live in a world of sin and especially because your living for Christ in a world of sin.

Jesus faced an awful lot of that kind of suffering. He seemed to be like a magnet that drew evil to Himself. And the reason why was because His live was so exemplary. He was perfect. He was the light of the world. He was the One whose light shown so brilliantly, so beautifully, so strikingly that it exposed the lives of others all around Him. And it showed so clearly by contrast what their lives were like. And when a person lives like Christ, he will bring upon himself what Christ brought upon Himself. When he lives like Christ, men will say as they did about Christ, "I don't like that person. His life stands out as a contrast to mine. And I don't like that contrast. It shows me up to be unfavorable." And that's why men tried to put out the light. That's why darkness tried to put out the light, but it could not because light always is more powerful than darkness. So this is evil, then, that comes upon you in this world that you have nothing to do with. It's evil and problems, difficulty, attacks, slanders, persecution, and ostracism that come upon you because you're a Christian living as you ought in a sinful world. How do you handle that evil?

The first thing I want you to notice is that Paul speaks about the whole issue in terms of war. He says, "Don't be conquered" (Rom.12:21). That's what that word literally means. "Overcome" some of your translations have, but it's a war term. It comes right off the field of battle. It has all the smell of smoke and sweat and blood and anguish attached to it that any term that has to do with battle does. What it means is in battle you conquer. So in battle don't be conquered by evil, but in battle conquer evil by good. It's the word that's used all through the book of Revelation where it speaks of the overcomers or the ones who in battle have won.

You may not think of yourself as in a war. An awful lot of thinking in our Christian world today has moved from the metaphor that so frequently occurs in the Bible of warfare to other kinds of thinking. We hear so much about how good and wonderful Christians are and how they ought to love themselves and do good to themselves. We hear all about glorious self-images and all this garbage that comes in from psychology from the outside and is not found in the Bible anywhere. We hear very little today about the fact that we are in battle, that we are in rough hard times, and we are soldiers who are expected by our Lord to obey our marching orders.

You are in war. The war has been declared. You are a part of one side, and there is another side that's out to get you and destroy you. Back in Genesis 3:15 God declared war, and that war has never ended. In that passage God said, "I will put enmity [or warfare] between your seed and the seed of the woman." He was speaking to Satan. And He said there would be Satan and his crowd, his seed, and there would be the woman and her group. And the two would be perpetually at war - - the war between the seeds. It was not very long after that war was declared by God that we began to see that it was a reality. The first fatality was a Christian, one who believed in the Messiah to come, as Cain slew Abel. The first man who was born upon the earth was a murderer and destroyed his brother, and the war was real. And ever since that war has been going on - - the war between the seeds, between the host of the devil, the evil on, and the host of God. Those whom God redeems He takes captive out the evil one's army and makes them His own and makes them His solders as they desert the evil one and become the soldiers as children of God.

Continued Here


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