Dealing with evil people is hard. It also brings with it the danger of causing us a spiritual heart attack brought on by the stress of revenge. Romans Chapter 12 verses 17 to 21 show us the way to overcome evil.
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Music: Achaidh Cheide - Celtic by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Romans chapter 12 Relationship with your Enemies Overcoming evil
Introduction: Loving enemies- it's a family trait Mat.5.45, Our Father causes HIS sun to rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rains on the Righteous and the Unrighteousness. Every family is a mix of traits and behaviors- some good some bad. With us, the family traits are all Good! The Father is the Sun -owner- did you catch that! Now if the owner of the sun willingly allows its rays to bless the lives of both the good and the bad, then how can his children be sunscreens, blocking his light through meeting evil with evil? The picture here is not of the oppression of the Florida sun- but the power source behind agriculture which in turn produces food to sustain the very life even of those who will commit great evil.
1. The Challenge
a. Provocation: It starts at the most basic level- provocation Rm.12.17- when kids are hit with a snowball-all you want to do is hit back- fun in a snowball fight. But when it’s words and actions or inactions that are been thrown intentionally to hurt you- provocation-DO NOT respond. ESPECIALLY if it’s online!
b. Temptation: Many a culture- honor- demands it…the Scottish comedian Norman MacLean once worked in South America- with fellow musicians, when once over a woman one was ready to take a knife to him, saying- I like you- but I have a reputation to protect! Now that is often the fuel in the tank of the car called Provocation- we seek to repay. But the good stories tell us from the nursery up- of the danger: there is a temptation to face evil with evil- The Lord Of The Rings, by JRR Tolkien all about not responding to evil by using evil’s weapons- symbolized in the power of the ring.
c. Realism: Finding an alternative response: doing right in everyone’s eyes v.18- even in the most wicked person there is an awareness of what is right- and responding the right way can awaken that. everyone- no exceptions! Broadens it perhaps- from the specifics of evil to all people- live at peace – your place in your community, you circle of connections. As afar as is possible- very realistic- there come times when it would be more wrong not to confront. If you see an injustice that could cost you your job, would you challenge it?
2. The Choice:
a. What Not to Do: V.19- vengeance is like having a spiritual heart attack. And I fear some here or listening online are in serious danger. 3 or 4 arteries are completely blocked- things aren’t good. But what about Justice we cry? But remember whose children you are- your Father owns the Sun, and if he can make us sail around it then surely his cosmic power and goodness can guarantee you justice? Rarely in this life –sometimes through the Laws of the land- which we will see next week- yet always worth pursuing. But there will always be justice in the next life, and the gap of time between the two is only a wrinkle in time.
Therefore Wait: for the Day – 2 The.1: 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
b. What To Do: That means you can leave space for God’s wrath. This is the equivalent of putting stents into your arteries. You leave him no space if you rush in and fill it with recrimination and trying to make others suffer because you have suffered. Give space- first- you have his word- that promise- it is his to repay creates the space. He alone knows all the facts and the motives of every criminal heart. But even in this life …God will not be mocked.
c. So do not worry about others- worry about what vengeance will do to yourself? If you have arteries blocked by physical, emotional, or spiritual abuse – each one closing off another artery- then you are in danger of spiritually dying! Even as a child of God. So do not resist him right now- the Holy Spirit has you here as in a cardiac unit in a local hospital, and right now he is seeking let your heart work again by clearing your arteries of vengeance and placing the stent of God’s grace inside you.
3. The Conquest
a. Bless: Just ignoring people is not enough- The final response v.20- feed him….burn their conscience! Make them feel bad. Then they might repent!
- Egyptian Christians executed by ISIS families interviewed- TV- the power of forgiveness…wife- “The first few days were very difficult, but when I saw… how brave my husband was (TV), I was so glad that he did not deny Christ before he was beheaded…forgiven the murderers and were praying that they would come to know the love of God through Christ. After the last interview the well-known Egyptian news presenter sat in silence for several seconds and then, looking at the TV camera, he said, “Where does this power come from? How were they able to forgive the very people who killed their loved one? How is such a thing possible? We have to find out more about this king of faith. I have never seen anything like this in my life.” (R.Pippert- Stay Salt p.231)
b. Halt the chain reaction: v.21 overcome evil with Good- putting things in the positive. Not being a door mat – opening up to more abuse- but to STOP the chain reaction of abuse. Passivity can just let evil flourish. Instead, positively find a way to bless. During WWII a Japanese prison guard who was exceptionally cruel- Louie- was horrifically treated by him. After the war, The Bird, (or Watanabe) acknowledged beating and kicking prisoners, but was unrepentant, saying, "I treated the prisoners strictly as enemies of Japan."
But Louie Zamperini tried to meet him because Louie had met Christ and was willing to be reconciled but Watanabe, who had evaded prosecution as a war criminal, refused to see him. You see Louie discerned that wrapped up in all the cruelty and horror was still another human being. Add for a moment in this brief life the power of forgiveness and you could unpick the rags of horror and free the man inside. Otherwise that horror show would enter into an eternity in hell tied up in the rags of sin, the horror show is all that is left as the last vestiges of humanity, once upheld by God's common grace now withers. And all that is left is the rage, forever full of hatred.
c. Trust: Knowing that Christ offered such forgiveness to his own enemies- Father forgive them for they know not what they do- in the ultimate sense they don’t know what they do to themselves sowing bitter fruit that will have all of eternity to destroy their last vestiges of recognizable humanity.
Conclusion: Ministry- who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to bless? Go in the power of his Spirit and extend his light even in the most taxing relationships of your life.