Overcome Evil With Good

Overcome Evil With Good

Overcome Evil With Good

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Overcome Vengeance With Faith

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

It was peak hour traffic and trains are running every twenty minutes.

One morning there was a gentleman driving to work who was stuck in a line waiting for the train to move from a railway station. There didn’t seem to be anything holding up the train nor anything that might prevent the boom gate from opening to let the traffic through (we have all experienced this at some time).

Well after fifteen minutes, the gentleman was already late for work, the train finally took off and the boom gate opened up. As he neared the railway line, he diverted his car into the line and out of the way of the traffic so the cars could still get through. He parked his car, got out the door, locked it and walked the rest of the way to work, leaving his car across the track.

The traffic finally had a good run through this notorious early morning crossing while the next train was stuck due to this abandoned car. It took thirty minutes for the police to find the owner and ask him to please move his car. They did not give him any fine.

Vengeance seems sweet to those who have been wronged, they feel as if justice is accomplished and it is not an unjust sentiment. Vengeance or recompence of evil is exactly what the Law and justice system has been set up to undertake. 

When the crime is unjust, when it is evil and there seems to be no possible way of getting justice for that evil, it seems natural for people to take it upon themselves to “take vengeance”. Laws within a society are supposed to be swift, judgment is good when it is acted upon in good time for those in civilised community. When it is not done quickly, people feel cheated, the cost of crime is born by the bearer of the burden, they do not feel that recompense for the evil they have suffered is paid in full, they are not at all lightened by the load and bear the full cost of the crime and This is not good.

11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. (Eccl 8:11)

God is a God of justice and we, being made in the image of God, have that same sense of justice within us and we desire justice in all matters dealt with….but it is considered an evil if that justice meted out by ourselves?

The Bible itself has within it a legal framework to deal with all kinds of evil, it is what binds the citizens of any nation and shows how things are to be dealt with lawfully and with oversight. 

Turn to Exodus 21:23-27

23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. 26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

We see the context of that passage but also see that God has taken care for just justice and this is found in the portion of the Bible known as The Law, that is, The First Five Books of Moses. Man is not to take vengeance upon himself outside of this law, that is what Solomon refers to when “sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, …the heart of the sons of men… set in them to do evil”, they take vengeance and do so outside the law.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

Vengeance it is not ours to undertake and there is reason for it that we will get into in the third point, the most important of those reasons is that when we are overcome of evil, as mentioned in verse 21, we have our hearts turned away from doing good and most importantly, trusting God, our FAITH is diminished.

Ordination of Government and rulers

God has ordained government and rulers who are tasked to undertake just judgment (we will speak to this in great detail when we get into the next chapter), and to meet out equitable ends for people to live peacefully one with another. 

In the Old testament we see the laws the Lord has provided for just such a manner of life. Nothing is omitted, everything that needs to be dealt with concerning mankind and their manner of life has its example dealt with in the Bible.

Story: Mutiny On The Bounty

Change On Pitcairn Island

The true story of the Mutiny on the Bounty has often been retold, books written and even movies made of the infamous famous Captain Bligh and the mutiny against his violent authority.

But one part is not often related, and it is the transformation wrought by one book, the Bounty’s Bible.

 Nine mutineers with six native men and twelve native (Tahitian) women put ashore on Pitcairn Island, a tiny place only 2 miles long and a mile wide, in the South Pacific in 1790. One sailor soon began distilling alcohol, and the little colony was plunged into debauchery and vice.

Jelousy, theft and then finally murder soon followed. Within Ten years, all but one of the original mutineers were dead. 

Alexander Smith, aka, John Adams, was the lone white survivor and was surrounded by native women and half-breed children. In an old chest from the Bounty, this sailor one day found a Bible. He began to read it, was transformed by the gospel and then taught it to all the others. The result was that his own life and ultimately the lives of all those in the colony were completely transformed. 

In 1808 this small community were discovered by the USS Topas, what the found were a happy society of Christians living in prosperity and peace. Pitcairn had become a prosperous community with no jail, no whisky, no crime, and no laziness.[1]

The Bible has the complete set of legal precepts for prosperous, crime free communities. The Story of Pitcairn Island is not unusual, it is told hundreds of millions of times through history in peoples personal lives. 

But it is the times when our rulers or our laws do not provide the justice required that, well, the heart of the sons of men [become] fully set in them to do evil.

We are commanded to restraint not revenge, there is an expectation in the passage for those who have faith in God to have a different heart to that of the “sons of men”, especially to those who know not God. We are to “give place unto wrath”. When we take it upon ourselves, we are taking divine justice away from the Lord; “Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord”.

When the Law of the Land will not fulfil its divine obligation, it is not assumed by “the sons of men”, (you and I), it is REVERTED to God, to whom vengeance actually belongs.

Personal ANECDOTE:

In my business career I had an obligation to my clients to attend to the work at a certain standard of workmanship. There are times that I would delegate that work to an employee. But if the employee did not attend to the clients work properly, it was NOTthen incumbent upon the client to do it, that work would REVERT BACK TO ME who owns the company attending to the work.

IF the client ever did something like this himself, what he is saying is that, because the worker whom I delegated the work to did not do it properly, he does not trust I.E. has no FAITH that I will do the work properly.

When the law does not execute their delegated justice properly, and you take on the vengeance that belongs to God, you are saying that you don’t trust, you have no FAITH, that God will attend to it properly. 

Trust that God will take vengeance, and wait.

There was an old and very pious, but quite cranky widow who once got really annoyed when she found out her close neighbours were going on a picnic and didn’t invite her. On the day they were going they suddenly realised they forgot to invite her and quickly sent their son to ask her to come along.

“Its too late” she snapped back, “Ive already prayed for rain”.

Scriptures: Vengeance has ALWAYS belonged to God.

Lev 19:18

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

Proverbs 20:22

22  Say not thou, I will recompense evil; 

But wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee. 

Proverbs 24:29 

29  Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: 

I will render to the man according to his work. 

Beloved, God has given to us a way of rest trusting that he has all things in hand. We are free to go on with life knowing that justice in ALL things are for HIM to meet out.

What the laws of the land will not do, (or for one reason or another, cannot do) the Lord, to whom belongeth vengeance, will repay!

We are free therefore to bless our enemies rather than curse them, and we can do so in all sincerity that we ourselves might receive a blessing;

Turn to 

1 Peter 3:9 

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 

Overcome Enemies With Blessing

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head

It was Jesus who said

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39

There was a wonderful example a few years ago where a street evangelist had a heckler that simply followed him everywhere and tried all he could to disrupt the preaching of the Gospel. 

It’s not difficult to see the spiritual battle going on there, time after time when I have tried to share the gospel with some people, others who knew what I was doing would do all they can to disrupt it. It’s Interesting as it is concerning.

Nevertheless, this individual became quite abusive and he and the evangelist were almost nose to nose with one another arguing when the evangelist stopped and said…. “You hungry?

The guy was thrown off guard and said, “What?”

The evangelist said, “Are you hungry, can I buy you a burger?”

Still stunned by the question, the enemy of this evangelist said “ok” and they ate a meal together and talked.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink…

This is the enactment of Jesus words; 

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44

Overcome Enemies with Blessing!

When we trust that the Lord is the one who repays, when we trust by faith that he will perform the vengeance where it is necessary, we are free to love even our enemies. We are free to bless them and watch how the Lord turns the hearts of men.

SCRIPTURE EXAMPLE: David and King Saul

When David was in the wilderness, running from the wicked King Saul who was after his life and caused him to flee from the inheritance of the Lord, David would not take vengeance on him even when he was given no less than two perfect opportunities, but instead blessed Saul by sparing his life.

Then see how Saul responds,

Turn to 

1 Samuel 24:16–19

16 And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. 17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil. 18 And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not. 19 For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day. 

This is the evidence of a blessed and wonderful miracle that is achieved in the hearts of those who will wrong another. 

Here we See the opportunity is given to TAKE VENGEANCE and do away with an enemy, and yet when good is rewarded instead of evil, SUDDENLY repentance has opportunity to abound.

Is this not THE SAME with the Gospel?

Is it not the same, how we have all so offended and disturbed the God of heaven and earth and, while it is in his hand to perfectly take us away as he sees fit, and cast us into hell AT ANY  moment, YET mercy is shown us.

Think of it beloved, there was NOTHING that held back God, nothing that holds him back from the godless now, from saying “Enough, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 22:13). 

You and I who, if we decided to curse instead of bless and take vengeance in our own hands, we would need to find great opportunity to do so, planning and much pains trying to effect our desires, but God can EASILY DO IT, he has no obligation to refrain his hand.

YET, mercifully he shows us Christ.

He shows us his side… pierced. 

He shows us the print of the nails in his hands, 

He shows us a man marred more than any other.

He shows Jesus crucified for our sins, for our evil that we have done. 

God blesses with opportunity after opportunity.

But there will be a time when he says “enough….”. God has not promised to sustain your breath for another moment. On the contrary;

Deuteronomy 32:35

35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

Their foot shall slide in due time! Your own weight will precipitate your fall and it is God alone that holds you up and your FALL is imminent. 

Vengeance belongs to the Lord, but at this moment, not only mercy but Grace is shown to you to turn to him and live.

God has demonstrated in his flesh his willingness to overcome his enemies with blessing, he demonstrated it on the cross and commands that those who are ‘Christ ones’ should do likewise and, watch and see how hearts are transformed.

20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head

On the latter portion of the verse there has long been confusion of its overall meaning resulting in two interpretations, one of those refers “Coals of Fire” as simply cold coals placed into a container and carried on the head as a gift to the recipient.

But when you take the definition directly from the Bible, you get the other interpretation that is most commonly believed. 

Short Bible Study:

The expression is taken from Proverbs 25:21–22

21 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: 22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee. 

The actual phrase “Coals of Fire” appears nine times in the Bible, its first occurrence is in Leviticus 16:12 and speaks of the actual coals of fire employed for the sacrifice of a sin offering to the Lord by the High Priest.

2 Sam 22:13, Psalm 18:12, 13, all speaks of a form of judgement poured out by the Lord upon the recipients.

Song 8:6 sees it employed and likened to Jealousy, “the coals thereof are coals of fire which hath a most vehement flame

Ezekiel describes four living creatures he has seen in his vision as like “coals of fire” in Ezek 1:12, but the tenth chapter the “Coals of Fire” are scattered over the city (Ezek 10:2) just prior to the Glory of the Lord departing from off the threshold of the temple (Ezek 10:18).

Explanation:

In short the phrase seems to indicate a form of conviction for sin determined to be laid upon the mind of the recipient. I can go into more detail, but the passages are given you to search them in their respective contexts. Not all of them seem to have application, but all of them do have something to say.

Let me therefore employ it as I see it:

When good is done to those who would otherwise expect evil to be their just reward, a fiery conviction weighs upon the mind until it either brings them humbly to their knees, or brings judgement upon them for their sin.

Overcome Trouble With Hope

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

The anger that rises up in our hearts has an overwhelming power that not only takes away the sleep from our eyes but it also takes away the rational consideration of our hearts. In this we are Overcome of evil.

Troubles that abound against us have the risk of having us Overcome of evil, Paul writes of his trouble in Asia 

2 Corinthians 1:8–9 

8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: In this we can see his trial of almost being overcome of Evil, but he says in the next verse, 

9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 

Beloved that is the key, the anger we have of desiring to take vengeance for our own trouble is taken away with Hope. We know we can do nothing of ourselves, we need the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 

On the one hand Paul tells us “we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Rom 8:36) and yet without contradiction and in the same passage we are told “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom 8:37), how can this be if it were not for our trust and hope in the Lord who says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord”.

Look I don’t know how many of you are affected by the desire for vengeance against those who have done you wrong, who still do you wrong;

I don’t know if this passage applies to you now, 

had applied to you in the past, 

or will apply in the future, but what I do know is that it is true.

You have a risk to be Overcome of Evil;

Other trials can come your way that are exceedingly heavy as a burden, even enough to overrule your faith. You read the phrase in the scriptures that “All things work together for good to them that love God”, but then question the truth of it, your faith has failed and you are Overcome.

Our anger has us overcome because we ought to, as Jesus said, “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19). James who wrote; But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:4

Your lose this patience through your anger and lack of hope, you identify that you are Overcome.

Perhaps you are one of those who I spoke of last week who says you have peace with all men, but there is one or more that you do not have peace with in sincerity, as such you harbor resentment against your enemy, if so then you are Overcome

Why? Because we are called to “Love our enemies

We should in every way have a greater burden for their souls, because there is wrath appointed in the day of Wrath when God will have his vengeance. They are set in slippery places and their own weight is set against them to fall.

Mercy and grace is to them today, there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Your lack of love has you OVERCOME of Evil

Perhaps its through fears and worries about tomorrow, you have distress in your heart, you see evil on the horizon and it causes you to lose your love or zeal for the Lord, you are enticed to sin in that fear, you lose your integrity through that fear, your confidence of blessing is gone and you are again OVERCOME.

It’s not hard to do beloved when you lose hope, when you have lost your first love, when you forget who’s child you belong to. 

NO, NO, not consciously forget…NO…PRACTICALLY FORGET, but YOU REVEAL THE TRUTH OF YOUR STATE BY THE ANXIETY OF YOUR HEART.

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home

Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

But this is lost and you are OVERCOME of Evil.

Anger

Fear

Trials of Faith

Worries and concerns for the future

ALL THESE EVILS, all these troubles risk you being OVERCOME and have you lose your hope!

But how can you deal with them?

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Overcome Evil With Good

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Beloved, all that is before us in this passage is antithetical to our nature. This is because our nature is flesh, but his words are spirit and they are life.

We have our refuge and our high tower, we have our high place and our rock upon which to stand and 

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with Good.

In this one verse we find both the negative, stating what we should not entertain, and the positive, that is, stating that which should replace it.

We have the flesh presented as that which has its temptation common to man, and we see the door of escape also presented that we may be able to bear it.

be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with Good.

Matthew 5:16 (AV) 

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

1 Corinthians 15:58 (AV) 

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

Galatians 6:9 (AV) 

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 

Philippians 4:8 (AV) 

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 


[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 275). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

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