Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and have been reading chapter 12 during the last while.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, to reach out to others regardless of their status, to not repay evil with evil, to do right before everyone, to live at peace with everyone when possible, not to take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath, and to do good to our enemies!
Let’s conclude our multipart study by looking at verse 21.
The twenty-fourth critical imperative is straightforward —
24. Believers are TO OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD! (v. 21)
The truth is evil will always be present with us — until Jesus returns. How are believers to respond to EVIL? First, we need to be able to identify evil. Our world has suffered and is suffering a moral collapse. It calls evil “good” and good “evil.” We must return to a biblical clarity about the reality of genuine evil.
Second, we believers dare not cocoon ourselves off from the evil in our culture. We have absolutely no justification to move our families into caves (with or without internet access) and turn our backs on God’s world. We are to be fully engaged in this fallen world. Some of us will become policemen, some lawyers, some jurors, some conscientious citizens who seek to live out the Christian faith as salt and light.
Third, we are to fight evil! We must stand against injustice, prejudice, inequity, discrimination, perversity, self-centeredness. We must speak for the poor, the disenfranchised, the unborn. Even when we lose such moral battles, we are not to give up and conform to this fractured world’s godless ways. We resist by praising good and doing good.
One of the struggles we believers have is that, while we recognize that our good works have nothing to do with our becoming saved, they have everything to do with our living out our saved lives in this broken planet. We are fond of quoting Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
But we need to read further: 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This issue of doing good works shows up in many New Testament passages. (See the following list at the end of this post).
Today’s Challenge: We overcome evil by good. Is there some example of evil that you know of to which you could respond with an act of kindness or goodness?
Verses on “Doing Good”:
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.
1 Timothy 6:18
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
2 Timothy 2:21
Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness
who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Saved in Order to Do Good
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Two Kinds of Wisdom
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
1 Peter 2:12
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:15
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:20
But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
1 Peter 3:11
They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.
1 Peter 3:13
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?
1 Peter 3:17
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:19
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.