What does overcoming evil with good have to do with preparing for the end times? Let’s recap what we have discussed in the previous articles within this series.
In Overcoming Evil with Good (Part 1) What is Evil? we discussed:
• The definition of evil.
• The importance of separating the evil idea or sin from the individual.
• The fact that due to the very nature of evil, it is impossible to overcome evil with evil.
• The gospel of the kingdom of heaven.
In Overcoming Evil with Good (Part 2) What is Good? we discussed:
• The definition of good.
• The importance of following Jesus to learn what is good.
• Ways in which good overpowers evil.
• Confusing evil and good.
In Overcoming Evil with Good (Part 3) What Does Jesus Teach? we discussed ways in which Jesus overcomes evil with good including:
• Overcoming death with life.
• Overcoming bondage with liberty.
• Overcoming judgment with mercy.
• Overcoming persecution of his people with wrathful judgment.
When I consider all the above points along with my understanding of the end times—which is not complete—there are some things that come to mind. Before getting into this, I want to say something important, which I do not think I’ve mentioned during the preparing for end times series.
As of now, my understanding of the end times events, like those in Revelation, is very limited. I am much better at applying these teachings to this present time.
I think that is best, because we only have this present life to get our hearts set on the kingdom, and sufficient to this time is the evil that can keep us on the road to destruction. So, I will write about my thoughts for this present time and my speculation about future events based on the scriptures.
Knowing the Difference Between Good and Evil
What can we say about this issue today? As Christians, if we are serious about the Lord and his teachings, we should be able to think of ways in which our society already confuses evil with good. We might even suppose that this is worsening, at least in the United States. I cannot speak for other parts of the world.
As Christians, we should always be seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness. Pursuing a godly lifestyle through the guidance, patience, and power of the Holy Spirit is a fundamental aspect of our life. If we are not listening to the Holy Spirit, but we are instead listening to the spirit of the times, then most likely we are calling evil good and good evil.
As the spirit of the times continues to darken while calling evil good and good evil, then we are in great danger, and we might be worshiping evil instead of the Lord if we succumb to social pressures.
That might sound impossible, but is it really?
Look at this time. How many profess Jesus yet call evil good and good evil? How may profess Jesus yet slander or outcast those who stand up for what is true and righteous? The ways in which we currently confuse evil with good and vice-versa are vast. So much so, that a book could be written on it. There is no way to sum it up here.
Sure, I could write some buzz words, right? Yet, to do so would neglect the complexities of these issues and the fact that right and wrong occur on every single side—and Christians are not immune. Not even in the slightest, minus the mercy of the Lord. We must keep seeking him to reveal his will to us.
If we think we are so rooted in the Lord that we will not fall away during the last times, a time in which evil and good are totally confused, then we might not be acting honestly with ourselves. Chances are we already confuse some matter of evil and good, even if its only a small matter hidden in the heart.
If you want to be one who does not confuse evil with good in the last days, then be one who does not confuse evil with good now. Seek Jesus, ask for the Holy Spirit in Jesus name, and search yourself with honesty. We all have hidden delusions that confuse evil and good, but if we really want to do what is right, the Lord will help us.
Remaining Patient with the Sinful
It’s so easy to look at sinful people and despise them, forgetting we have also been sinful. How do we treat sinful people today? Do we consider ourselves as better than them? Do we belittle them and otherwise abuse them?
We can disagree with people without abusing them. This is hard when we are not given that same treatment, and we see this now. We are not allowed to say certain things that might offend someone. If we do, we are deemed abusive, and the irony is the other side will then abuse us simply for stating our beliefs. We cannot stoop to that level.
No matter how bad it gets, we are not to repay evil for evil. We do not hate those that hate us. We stand firm in the gospel and keep preaching Jesus to them, no matter the cost. Most importantly, we preach Jesus by how we live our life. You cannot deny Jesus, not just with your lips, but with what you think and do.
If things keep going as they are, it is not hard to consider how we might be shut out simply by living a Christian life. Simply resisting evil ideas and evil actions in a world utterly dark that calls evil good and good evil would be sufficient to be outcast socially, forbade from buying and selling, and even persecuted and killed—and no matter how bad it gets, we cannot lose the gospel.
We cannot hate them. We cannot overcome evil with evil. How hard would that be!? How hard is it now to turn the other cheek? How hard is it now to have compassion for the sinful instead of despising them? How hard is it to remain humble and not feel as if we are better? Now is the time to learn this.
Standing for What is True and Good Despite Severe Persecution
In a time when family betrays each other to death, all the while thinking they are doing God’s service, do we think we will remain faithful to the Lord, Jesus—and not some imposter? It’s so easy to be like Peter, so sure that we will never deny Jesus.
How might we be denying Jesus today? In what ways do we honor the Lord in word but deny what he teaches because it is inconvenient for us in some way? How do our works deny Jesus? I know, we are not saved by works. Yet, true salvation wrought in living faith will produce righteous works. We will get into that more when we go over James.
We do not want to be among those who honor the Lord with their lips yet deny him with their works. You cannot deny Jesus, not just with your lips, but with what you think and do.
Today, if we do not conform to the social pressures of this world, we are at the very least socially reviled. If we cannot handle that without denying the truth about Jesus, then how do we expect to do so when the heat is turned up? Even now, among Christianity, if we stand up for the true gospel instead of legalistic gospels or prosperity gospels, we are shunned, socially reviled, and “put out of the synagogue” very often. How much more when that Great Whore is wholly given over?
Finding Peace in the Judgment of the Lord
Many today do not like to talk about the wrath of the Lord, and I do not mean the common ideas about eternal conscience torment. I mean the vengeance of Jesus when he returns to overthrow the evil powers of this world, chiefly the false prophet and his corrupt world system.
I tell you what, if you’re a Christian and you’re enduring the end-time persecution, you will be begging for the Lord to come and avenge you and your loved ones. Consider the whole picture.
You are a Christian. Christians are being cast out of the marketplace, they’ve lost their jobs, and they are being hunted down and killed. Yet, in order to retain your identity as a Christian, you cannot give into this. You cannot deny Jesus, not just with your lips, but with what you think and do.
You cannot kill. You cannot steal. You cannot hate those who are killing your loved ones. All you will have is your faith, knowing that Jesus will raise you and your loved ones from the dead if you keep his word and remain patient with those who are given into the accusing spirit of the times. Vengeance belongs to Jesus, and you know that he will come. He will slay those that persecute you. He will come. He will!
Considering the Problem of the Two Witnesses
There is one event in the Bible that has thrown me for a loop since I’ve been considering the idea of overcoming evil with good, and that is the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
I strongly believe that we are absolutely commanded not to overcome evil with evil. In Revelation 11 we see the two witnesses casting plagues “as often as they will” and devouring their enemies with a fire that comes from their mouths. So, I cannot say Christians must remain totally patient and never do any harm to anyone without considering this seeming contradiction.
There are only two ways I can look at this, and I do not know which is correct. Like I wrote, my ability is mostly towards applying last days events to this present time — and no, we are not in the last days yet.
The first would be to consider that the Bible teaches us there is a time and place for everything under the sun. I think about when Jesus told his disciples that they do not know what spirit they are of when they wanted to act violently. That could imply that there is a time in which violence is called for. Or, what Jesus said could continue even until the end.
I cannot say for sure that the two witnesses will not be violent, but if they are, then it would have to be during the extenuating circumstances of the last days. As of now, we should remain at peace with everyone as much as it is possible with compassion, patience, and faith in the timing and righteous judgment Lord.
The second way I look at the actions of the two witnesses is metaphorical or otherwise misunderstood by common beliefs. I’ve speculated that since the Bible says they will cast all manner of plagues “as often as they will,” this leaves room for the will to not cast plagues. Could they have power and refrain from using it, like Jesus did? Jesus had power to call down legions of angels, yet he died instead. What a testimony for “the remnant” who are commanded to do the same, right? Who are commanded to not be overcome with evil, but to lay life down. As for the fire, with this interpretation, I would have to say that the fire is the word of God. Those who do not receive the word of God will deny Jesus, and they will die.
If we deny Jesus, we will die. We will probably be told that if we deny the beast then we will die. Yet, if we remain faithful to Jesus, we might die in the flesh, but we will escape the second death and live eternally! I do think of Peter though. Could there be exceptions? Sure. Especially if the exception mimics Peter. If we deny Jesus with our lips because the flesh is weak, yet in our heart of hearts we love the Lord, he might choose to be merciful. I would certainly not recommend that though, and to rely on that mercy is tempting God. To tempt God is not wise, and that alone could lead to being rejected because it indicates a severe deficiency of heart and lack of faith.
*Inserted morning after publishing* I forgot to mention, and I was reminded, that the Two Witnesses are partially identified as the two candlesticks. You will notice, that in Revelation 2-3 there are 7 churches (called the 7 candlesticks) and only 2 of those 7 were not rebuked. These later become the 2 witnesses. These are the approved churches and body of Christ, which are many people. Not just two. That is how I was taught it, and this seems true to me.
I know this was a long article, and if you made it through the whole thing and have questions, please leave a comment below or email me. Let’s see if I can condense this into something more digestible.
The Christian life means something. It means seeking first the things of the kingdom of heaven. It means seeking Jesus with our whole heart with faith that the Lord will free us from sin and forgive us.
In the last days, a time in which evil and good are totally confused to the point in which living a Christian life means your death, we must hold fast to Jesus. This goes much further than outward confession of Jesus, but even down to the way we live.
No matter how dark it gets, we do not stoop to the level of evil. We do not deny the teaching of Jesus by becoming hateful or accepting the ways of this world. We continue living and preaching the gospel, even unto our death. Those who do not hear and keep the gospel which we live and speak will die. They might escape death on the surface according to false promises of “the beast,” but they will die in the end. Read about the vials of the wrath of God and the second death. If we are faithful, we will live. We might die in the flesh, but we will be resurrected at the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Will there be a time in which Christians are casting plagues and the like? Maybe. Yet, I think about when Jesus came as the messiah. He was not what they expected. They expected a kind of vain idea. I consider many of our ideas about the two witnesses to be just as vain, but who knows? Only Jesus knows for sure, and it will be revealed for certain according to his timing.
The last days will be terrible. So much confusion, pressure to deny Jesus, and death. The only way to endure that is to begin now. Begin seeking Jesus now. Learn how he expects us to order our life now. Learn to resist evil with good now. If you expect “the rapture” to save you, then that’s not good. We are to be doing things that prepare us now, no matter what time we live in. For more on that read, Seeking First The Kingdom of God.
The Lord will grow you in strength and faith, and should we be here when that day comes, I believe he will extend much peace to those who trust in the Lord. With elation in the coming kingdom, knowing that this time of trouble will bring forth something beautiful, knowing that JESUS WILL COME, we will endure. Jesus will keep those who sincerely love him, not allowing them to become deceived or to fall away from the faith.
This article is the conclusion of, “Overcoming Evil with Good” which is a sub-series within “Preparing for End-Times.” If this article was helpful for you, please consider sharing with others. Subscribe if you’d like to receive future posts by email.