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What To Do With Evil

October 22, 2014

There is a difference between forgiving wrongs and fighting evil.

Government was instituted by God as a means to execute justice and judgment on wrongdoers. It wasn’t the individual’s responsibility to punish wrongdoing. So how then are we to respond to evil in this world?

The Bible speaks of three ways to respond to evil: Flee, Confront, and Fight

Flee

Joseph, when Potiphar’s wife pursued him daily, ran from her presence (Genesis 39:6-18). We don’t sit in front of the cookie jar when we seek to lose weight and hope that we can avoid the temptation. We run. The same is true of other evils that we know to be our particular weakness.

Lot was told to flee Sodom and Gomorrah. He wasn’t to stay and fight. The evil had become a part of him and he lost his married daughters and their families. While leaving, he lost his wife who looked back and became salt. The angels commanded them to “Hurry… flee for your lives. Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!” (Genesis 19:1-26)

Paul warns Timothy of false teachers “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” The false teachers seek those who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (II Timothy 3:1-5)

Years ago, my husband met someone who had many questions. Everyday this person had more questions for him. My husband spent weeks answering them. As the days wore into months, and the list of questions continued, our family felt the strain; not just from time away from dad but from questions that reflected no desire to learn.

The man was “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” He sought to argue the Word, not know it. He wanted to defend his position, not find God’s.

Eventually, my husband stopped answering his questions. We felt a burden lifted, oppression relieved. That person was one that we should “have nothing to do with”.

Confront

There are times to compromise, to make peace, to get along--but never with evil. Evil does not compromise. Evil always seeks to control, to conquer, and to consume.

Christ did not forgive evil. He confronted it.

Look at the money changers in the temple (Luke 19:45-48) He didn’t flee the evil, he confronted the wrong, and cleaned His Father’s house.

When Peter rebuked Christ for teaching them that he would be killed and rise again, Christ “rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!...You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” (Mark 8:31-34) That was certainly a strong confrontation!

Fight

God doesn’t remove you from the world when you become a Christian. He expects you to be a light for Him in the world.

Christ’s prayer “is not that you (the Father) take them (the believers) out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of this world…” (John 17:15-16)

We don’t isolate ourselves so we don’t see or experience evil. Even if we lived in a nice little commune where we controlled our surroundings, and had special rules that kept us ‘good,’ we would still have evil. Why? Because we are evil! Isn’t that what Paul talked about in Romans 7:4-25? He fights with his flesh to do what his spirit knows that he should do.

We do not teach our children to keep them from the world. We instruct them in the Word so that they will be ready for the world.

If Christians do not confront and fight evil, who will? Evil doesn’t just go away. It commands, controls, consumes.

So how do we fight? Ephesians 6:10-17 shows us the armor that God provides for His children. Truth…righteousness…peace…faith…salvation…Word of God and the Spirit.

When you attack with truth, you stand on something that does not give way. When you’ve put on the breastplate of righteousness, you know that your vital organs are protected, enabling you to extend your reach of conquering wrong. When you walk peacefully, you know there’s nothing else you can do but fight. When deceptive ideas come your way, your faith recognizes them and destroys them. When you become a child of God, you are given the helmet of salvation protecting you from head injuries; you know Who is in charge.

Your defense for this fight? Know the word of God.

You will be exposed to evil. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) A light shining in darkness is going to cause conflict. That’s when you determine whether you must flee, confront or fight. How do you know? By seeking the Spirit through His Word.

His Word gives the victory over evil. Evil may often seem like it is winning, but God will have the final word. “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:19)

Know Him. Know His word. The fight will be in His hands and so will the victory.

My series on suffering is available in booklet form here.



How do you respond to evil?

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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