There is evil in the world. That must be evident. It is as obvious today as it has ever been, perhaps more so than in recent memory. We see the evil, experience it and sometimes bemoan it. We wonder how God can allow it to not only continue but to seemingly flourish.
Paul wrote extensively about evil, sin, disobedience and the like. He discusses it at length in his letter to the Romans, along with how to defeat it. And his methods may seem counterintuitive, at least at first.
After discussing the state of the Gentiles and Israel and their times of disobedience to the commandments of God Paul states, “For God has shut up all in disobedience so the He may show mercy to all.”
I must admit, the thought, “Wouldn’t it have been easier to not allow the disobedience in the first place,” if only for a moment. Then I read the next few verses. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
After establishing this premise, Paul pivots, as he often does, to the application of it in the live of believers. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Then Paul goes on to give some concrete examples what that should look like. He talks about how we are to use the gifts God has given each one of us for the building up of the body of Christ. And he gets around to evil and how everything he has written up to this point informs our response.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
He continues this line of reasoning into the next chapter where he exhorts us to “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Remember that Paul began this discussion by looking at how both Israel and the Gentiles had been guilty of disobedience to the law.
Paul wraps up this portion of the discussion with yet another reason for following God’s word, “Do this knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
We only need to look around us to know that we are getting ever nearer, at times it seems we are sprinting nearer, to that hour when we our salvation will be fully realized. Therefore, we ought all the more seek to recognize, call out and overcome the evil around us not with more evil, but with the good that we have available through our relationship with Jesus.
I’ll be sharing from this section of the New Testament book of Romans the next two weeks during Middays Prayer Time, around 10:30 AM and 2:30 PM.
Mon 09/21 Romans 11:32-36
Tue 09/22 Romans 12:1-2
Wed 09/23 Romans 12:3-5
Thu 09/24 Romans 12:9-13
Fri 09/25 Romans 12:14-16
Mon 09/28 Romans 12:17-18
Tue 09/29 Romans 12:19-20
Wed 09/30 Romans 12:21
Thu 10/01 Romans 13:8-10
Fri 10/02 Romans 13:11-12
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