Romans 12:21. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The war between good and evil is the great cosmic battle of the ages. It started in the Garden when Adam and Eve decided they wanted to determine good and evil for themselves. Ever since that terrible day the battle has been raging all around us and even inside of us.
Although some may want to dismiss the reality of evil, there is no denying its existence. Just look around you. Read the headlines. Shootings. Injustice. Oppression. Sex trafficking. War. Violence. We can all see the destruction that we bring to each other’s lives. Even the late atheist Christopher Hitchens referred to Osama bin Laden as “motivated by the force of evil.” As Christians we know that evil is the curse under which we all live. The curse we invoked when we rejected pure life and love, and sought our own way without God. Yes, evil is real, and it is to be overcome. But how?
First and foremost, we must see that evil has been overcome once for all time in and through the good of the cross of Jesus Christ. On Good Friday, it looked like evil had won. When Jesus died and was buried the forces of evil cheered triumphantly. But on Easter Sunday the great plot twist of history was revealed. The cross had confronted sheer evil with pure goodness. The real goodness of Christ’s life. And Good won. Good overcame evil when he was resurrected from the dead. Good’s final victory is sure in Jesus Christ.
But beyond this great victory, the cross now defines good and evil for our lives. What is evil? It is the cross. It is the destruction of the only good person who ever lived. The destruction of unconditional love. What is evil? It is the rejection of God’s unconditional love.
But here’s the paradox – what is goodness? It too is the cross. Jesus’ pure, unconditional, selfless love for us.
And now the cross reveals how pure good can overcome pure evil. Not by overpowering it, but by overcoming it. Can you see the difference?
Jesus didn’t overpower evil on that Friday. He wasn’t the action hero that went in, sword drawn, wiping out the bad guys. He didn’t call ten thousand angels as back up. He didn’t take a buzz saw to the cross and turn it into saw dust. No. Jesus didn’t overpower evil, he overcame it, by allowing it to destroy him so that it wouldn’t destroy us. All while trusting in a Father who would never allow him to be destroyed forever. Jesus overcame evil with faith and love. He overcame evil with good.
What about us? Are we too busy trying to overpower evil rather than overcome it? Are we trying to argue it away? Vote it away? Avoid it away? Complain it away? Or are we going to overcome evil by loving it away? Which means loving its perpetrator. Loving our enemies.
To return evil for evil is to be overcome by evil. But to return good for evil. To forgive. To add grace and mercy. To bless and curse not. This is the only way evil is ever defeated. Through self-sacrifice. Now evil has been overcome, not overpowered.
“To live is Christ” means that Christ’s goodness is in you and me. And his goodness in us can overcome evil. The goodness of the cross, of unconditional love and grace, has already, and will one day, overcome all evil both in us and around us.
Are you being overcome with evil lately (revenge, bitterness, hatred, blaming)?
You in Christ
God has overcome evil in you by the goodness of Jesus and his grace. How does this truth empower your own goodness today?
Christ in you
What specific evil do you need God’s grace to overcome today (not overpower)?
Playlist: Overcoming Evil.
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