This article is part two of “Overcoming Evil with Good,” which is a sub-series within “Preparing for End-times.” In Overcoming Evil with Good (Part 1) – What is Evil? We discussed the definition of evil in some-what loose terms, how evil perpetuates itself and why evil cannot overcome itself. We also discussed how we should treat sinners and how this topic relates to the gospel.
In this article, we will briefly define what is “good,” how to approach what is good by forming a relationship with Jesus, discuss the problem with good becoming corrupted by evil, and finally bring this around to seeking Jesus and the promises of salvation which teach us what is true and good.
What is Good?
The scripture we are considering when discussing the idea of overcoming evil with good is Romans 12:14-21, which ends with the phrase, “overcome evil with good.” The word “good” in this passage is a transliteration of agathos which is an adjective meaning “intrinsically good, good in nature, good whether it be seen to be or not, the widest and most colorless of all words with this meaning.” This word for good is used to describe the goodness of God.
When we think of what is good, we think of God. Being that God is the highest most sovereign power from everlasting to everlasting, He cannot be anything but good because it is God that determines all things, so all things for His purposes are good. This can get a bit tricky, because we could even say that evil has a kind of good – and in the purposes of God, evil is good ultimately.
For a good study on this, I recommend Evil in the Purposes of God by Paul Stringini.
If God destroys, it is just because it is He who brought all into being, so it is only fitting that God would take things out of existence. If a man kills, it is evil. In general, destruction can even be good when it is a constructive kind of destruction, like the regeneration after a fire, or the dying to self we experience as Christians. As for evil being ultimately good, we are taught that the purpose of the creation is “bringing many sons of God to glory” (Hebrews 2:10, Romans 8:29), and we are given the affirmation that “all things work together for the good of those who trust the Lord and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Defining “good” can be complex because we would be getting close to defining God, and who can define God? Who can place what is good in a box? However, in Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God and God in the flesh, we can begin to know what is good.
We approach what is good by forming a relationship with Jesus.
As Christians, there is nothing more satisfying than drawing nearer to our Lord, Jesus Christ. How does this happen? For most of us, it begins with hearing the gospel preached, or maybe we are raised in the faith (Roman 10:17). In either case, at some point we understand that we are sinful people who need a savior, so we put our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If we believe in Jesus and treat him as Lord sincerely, then we will want to know about Jesus. In learning about Jesus, we learn about what he teaches and promises for those who follow him. As we learn these things, our sins become obvious to us (or many of them) and we learn of the high demand of the commandments of the New Covenant—a perfect law which no man can keep on his own.
If we strive to keep the commandments of the Lord and ask to receive the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, Jesus will send us the Holy Spirit at the time he deems best (John 14:5-26, John 3). I have known people who asked sincerely for many years, so it is no strange thing if he does not come to you right away. Jesus provides a parable about this (Luke 18). We are told that Jesus rewards those that “diligently seek him,” so do not give up (Hebrews 11:6). If you have questions about this, you can email me or comment below.
Once the Holy Spirit enters into us, we have the “earnest of our inheritance” as adopted sons of God (Ephesians 1:14), which means we have a reason to be confident in our salvation. This is also a seed of the divine nature, the Spirit of Truth, and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of sin, teaches us sound judgment and righteousness, comforts us as we mourn over our sin and the state of this world, and provides us with the power to overcome sin in the flesh as we learn and grow in walking in the Spirit (See John Chapters 14-16 for more on the Holy Spirit).
Walking with the Spirit is walking with the Lord himself. This is the most wonderful journey, full of much difficulty and wonder, joys and pain, and all of this comes together to grow us into conformity with Jesus Christ. This is the essence of the Christian walk, and during this walk, we begin to learn more of what is good, and we get closer towards hitting the mark of what is perfect and we “miss the mark,” which is to sin, less and less overtime.
Though none is good like God is good and none can live perfectly, we should all be moving towards perfection with faith that Jesus will work within us, freeing us from sin overtime if we seek him with our whole hearts. This is what it means to be a “good and faithful servant,” “wise virgin” and to have our “wedding garment.” We become “fruitful” meaning the Holy Spirit causes growth in the things of goodness, things pertaining to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, and temperance. If we are fruitful, then this is the marker of true faith—faith that will raise us from the dead at the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ!
I understand this is a different idea of salvation than many are taught. If you have been with KindlingTruth for some time, then you already know my stance here. I will not go into further detail here. I also touched on the gospel in Part 1 of this sub-series. Questions, comments, and concerns are welcome in the Comments below.
Good Overpowers Evil
When considering this series, I wrote an article entitled, “Is Death Stronger than Life?” In this article I explored the idea that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, so how can good overpower evil? Wouldn’t evil just cancel out good, with death and life being the ultimate example? I later discussed that Jesus has power over death, therefore, life in Jesus is stronger than death.
There are some flaws in this thinking because it does not consider the power and sovereignty of God fully. As mentioned earlier in this article, all things are good to God, and though this goes against our natural understanding, even evil is ultimately good because God made it. God kills and God makes alive (Deuteronomy 23:39). Yet, we, being created beings, have no right to kill.
If we sin, we kill. Sin destroys our bodies and minds and that of others. There are some sins that one might argue as arbitrary, like fornication for example, but we can consider how all sin brings destruction. Fornication, for example, leads to broken homes, increased abortion rates, abuse from those not ready to be parents, and more.
The punishment for sin is death, and that is good. It is just that we should die, not evil – another fault in my thinking in the above article. However, there is one point that is correct. Jesus has power over death, and in Jesus, we too have power over death and all things that destroy (John 17:1-2, John 10:28, John 16:33, Revelation 1:18).
This brings us to overcoming evil with good.
Evil, as mentioned in Part 1, originates with Satan (though actually, with God who created Satan and evil for His ultimate purposes which are good). From our perspective, evil begins in the mind as ideas and thoughts which lead to sinful actions. Jesus teaches us that evils in the mind (or heart) are sinful just as the actions are sinful (see the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapters 5-7). To overcome sin, we must first seek to our own salvation with the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.
This goes back to walking after the Spirit, as mentioned above. When he rules our hearts, we are no longer ruled by the kingdom of this world and Satan—who is the prince of this world. That means we are not bound to the deception of sin, and we are given the power to overcome sin (Romans 8). We are also taught lessons from our lives and past sin so that we can assist others as they grow and strive to overcome themselves. We must always seek to have the “beams” removed from our eyes first by having the Lord heal our sins, then we have proper perspective to help others in truth, compassion, and without hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5).
When we live in love (not the feel-good emotion, but the action that wants the best for others over ourselves), we overcome hate. When we live in peace, patience, mercy, and all the fruits of the Spirit, evil is first overcome within ourselves.
We grow in the wisdom of the truth, righteousness, and the ways of the Lord, providing us with understanding that is effective towards overcoming evils in this world—evil ideas that hold others captive and destroy their lives though evil action. We also become living examples of the gospel, making us trustworthy witnesses of the salvation offered by Jesus alone. We preach liberty to the captives to sin, freedom to the oppressed in this world, and the comfort that comes from a life aligned with the things of God.
When Good Becomes Evil and Evil Becomes Good
Woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20-21)
Can we overcome evil with good when we can no longer tell what is good or evil? Obviously, we would say no. However, most of us have confused evil with good at some point. In-fact, it is safe to say that we all have—especially before we learned the ways of the Lord.
When we neglect our conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we can justify our sins as righteous. We can blame our hatefulness on the actions of others, as if they deserve it and caused our behaviors when in fact, we are responsible for our own actions no matter what others do. We can justify sins that go against God because we become pressured and corrupted by social morals—morals that are in direct opposition to the teachings of Christ.
We can view success in terms of worldly prosperity, outward appearances of pride and vanity, or social status instead of viewing success in terms of righteous living and a close walk with Jesus.
We can lose our ability to distinguish good preaching from bad, true doctrine from fables or corruptions that mix truth and lie. We can fail to judge “fruit” of prophets and teachers properly, and we can even think we are doing the righteous will of God when in fact we are doing evil.
Once the lines are blurred between good and evil, truth and lie, we become lost indeed. Our perspective is not correct, and we look at things with an evil eye instead of the understanding the Holy Spirit gives, filling is with light and life (Matthew 6:22).
The only way to protect ourselves from such corruption is to seek first the kingdom of God. If we make Jesus first and seek the Holy Spirit, the Lord will not allow us to continue in deceit, confusion, and destruction.
Seek Jesus and Be Filled with Light and Life
To wrap this up, I want to reiterate that the only one who is good is God. If we want to truly know what is good and learn to perform what is good, we need to seek Jesus, learn about his ways and promises, seek the Holy Spirit, and learn how to walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh. In so doing, we will become freed from sin as evil is overcome with good within us.
As we learn, grow, and become free, we have the perspective to be that force of good for others. We cannot be effective in this if we still have huge beams of sin in our eyes obstructing our view, so we should always be seeking to our own salvation and understanding first—no matter how far we come. We are all growing and we will continue pursing goodness throughout the course of our lives. If we are faithful in that which we are given and become “fruitful,” then we are granted eternal life in Jesus Christ.
This is part 2 of a 4-part sub-series. In part 3 we will look at Jesus as an example of overcoming evil with good. In part 4 we will discuss what overcoming evil with good has to do with end-time preparedness. This sub-series is contained within “Preparing for End-Times,” a series I created to combat fear and unproductive forms of preparation.
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