Romans 12:21 NIV commands us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
How, in a world filled with evil, do we overcome it with good? We can’t change everyone’s hearts and minds. We don’t have enough power or influence to transform nations and leaders.
When it seems like sin and godlessness reigns, what difference does it make if I stand for good? Can I make any kind of real distinction by holding fast to doing the good God has called me to do?
I would like to submit to you today that not only, YES, YOU CAN OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD, but if you are obeying God’s word, you ALREADY ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. Sometimes, we just need a little encouragement.
Bible Verses About Overcoming Evil with Good
According the John in his first letter to believers, we have overcome evil with good when we know and follow Jesus:
I am writing to you, little children,1 John 2:12-14 NIV
because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?1 John 5:4-5 NIV
The reason for this is clear when we go back and examine the life of Christ. Because He has overcome, we as His followers have overcome as well. We have the Holy Spirit, His word, and the promise of victory.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:5 NIV
John 16:33 NIV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Examples in the Bible of Overcoming Evil with Good
There are numerous examples in the Bible of people who feared God enough to stand up against the evils of the day and see good come out of it: Moses, Samson, Gideon, David, Josiah, Daniel, and the list goes on. Today, I want to focus on two men who lived at the same time. They each made a difference in their own way.
The first man is well-known, the prophet Elijah. He was an amazing man of God. He stood up against some vile rulers of his day. The likes of wickedness, which I’m not sure most of us could comprehend.
A lesser known man who was a contemporary of Elijah and maybe easily overlooked in his shadow is Obadiah. He was “in charge of the king’s house.” Now, this may seem like a cushy job. But, what if the bosses, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, are blood thirsty, pagan, sociopaths and you “feared the Lord greatly”?
Obadiah Stands for God
And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)1 Kings 18:3-4 NIV
Obadiah lived in a place and time where immorality ran wild. He could have easily given in to the rule of the day where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. He also could have used the excuse, “But I work for an evil king and I really have no say in the way things go. I just want to keep my job.”
Obadiah refused to sit back and do nothing.
When Queen Jezebel was executing God’s prophets so she could promote Baal worship, Obadiah was quietly but bravely gathering 100 of God’s anointed and hiding them in caves. Not only this, but he secretly was finding a way to feed and water them. (I like to hope it was food from the the king’s own table.)
Friend, we cannot change our circumstances anymore than Obadiah could. We have ungodly leaders and we see sin abounding around us. We can stand up and overcome evil with good in our own lives. We can minister to the saints and give to those in need.
And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; and he will kill me.” 15 And Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah.1 Kings 18:7-16 NIV
Obadiah let his faith overcome his fears.
Obadiah feared God, but he also knew enough to be fearful of King Ahab. He was in a dilemma. He knew Elijah was God’s man, but he also knew that King Ahab hated Elijah for bringing word of God’s judgement and the current drought.
This is not a unique or new temptation to fear God or man. Hebrews 13:6 NIV encourages us, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” And God says in Isaiah 51:12-13 NIV:
“I, I am he who comforts you;
who are you that you are afraid of man who dies,
of the son of man who is made like grass,
and have forgotten the Lord, your Maker,
who stretched out the heavens
and laid the foundations of the earth,
and you fear continually all the day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
when he sets himself to destroy?”
How have we let the fear of man diminish our faith? Remember, God is our help and our comfort. It is He alone we need to please and obey. Are we letting fear of others opinions, actions. or words suppress the good we could do in serving God?
Jesus says in Matthew 10:28 NIV : “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Elijah Stands for God
If you are not familiar with the life of the prophet Elijah, I would encourage you to take a minute and read 1 Kings 17-20, 2 Kings 1-2. It is too long for me to post here so we are going to look at the major highlight of Elijah’s ministry, the stand off on Mt. Carmel.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”1 Kings 18:36-39 NIV
Elijah showed the people the one, true God.
Their leaders had encouraged Baal worship and exiled or executed God’s ministers of the day. The pagans around them served all manner of foreign gods. The people were confused. They needed some one to show them truth. Elijah boldly stood in the gap.
Many today are confused. They make a god of money or success then feel let down when it isn’t enough to keep them happy and satisfied. We have a duty out of love to show them the One, true God just like Elijah did. Maybe we don’t call God to reign down fire, but we can stay in the gap and pray that Jesus would “open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith.” (Acts 26:18)
We can also proclaim the good news of Jesus and share our personal testimony. We have to remember not to hold back truth but to speak it in love.
Elijah’s faithfulness inspired many to believe.
The scriptures say when the people saw God’s power, the fell on their faces and cried “The Lord-He is God!!” We are not capable to open people’s eyes are selves to the saving power of God, but it should always be our aim and goal to inspire others toward belief in God through our faithful obedience to share the Word and shine our light.
How Can You Stand Out as a Christian in an Evil World
God calls us to be holy as He is holy. Holy means set apart. How do we behave in such a way that the world knows we are different? How do we overcome evil with good in the way we live our lives on a daily?
- Share your faith. Satan wants you to stay quiet so that others do not become over-comers. We have a chance to share the good news of Christ so that lives may come from darkness to light.
- Change your thought patterns. Don’t focus on the negatives of the world, but instead focus on the positive things. Meditate on God’s word so that your right thinking leads to right living.
- Seek God’s justice and love mercy. Many in this world seek their own justice. They oppressor the poor and weak. They make excuses for bad behavior. In addition, many refuse to give mercy rather dealing out harsh punishments for minor offenses. As God’s people, we have an obligation to stand up for those unfairly mistreated. At the same time, we have an example of mercy to follow for those who offend us.
- Pray for and love your Enemy. This is a tough one, but we are commanded in scripture to do it. Praying for some one softens our hearts for them. It also allows us to give them and their sin over to God and let Him do the change.
- Be unified with other believers. Jesus prayed before the cross and His prayer for both his disciples and believers to come was that they would be unified. If we are not working together for the cause of Christ, we are a house divided and Jesus said house divided will not stand. We need regular prayer meetings, Bible teaching, and fellowship to encourage each other.