Overcome Evil With Good
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”–Romans 12:21
We all face problems or situations that seem to hold us back from our goal from time to time. It is never easy to overcome obstacles. In fact, failure is often the result of the attempt. The key to success is to never stop at a single attempt. Our God believes in second chances. From the beginning, mankind has struggled with overcoming obstacles.
In the book of Genesis, chapter 3, starting with verse 1 we read about mankind’s first obstacle. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
The serpent—that is, Satan—promised Adam and Eve they would gain so much if they simply ate the fruit of the tree. The truth was far different than promised. We know that the serpent was very cunning. When he approached Eve, he used partial truths. Satan kept his promise: her (and Adam’s) eyes were opened. What they saw was not the wisdom equal to God’s, but, rather, they saw their own nakedness.
For most of my life, I have taken this discovery at face value. Adam and Eve realized their nakedness. There is so much more they saw than just their lack of clothing. Their nakedness represents the fact that they now had nothing. In seeing their own nakedness, they saw everything they no longer had. Eden now was a paradise lost to them. Eternal life now had an ending. The infinite now became finite. A veil cut off communication with God the Creator. They saw sin. Sickness would come. They would know death. The loss of all of this had to be overwhelming.
Mankind failed in its first attempt to overcome. As I have already said, however, God believes in second chances.
Time passes, and all the while mankind deals with the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin. Floods, famine, plagues, wars, slavery, disease, death, all manners of calamity because they couldn’t overcome the temptation. Let us jump from the first book of the Old Testament to the first book of the New Testament.
Matthew 4:1-11 shows us mankind’s second chance. “Then Jesus was lead up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Adam and Eve’s first temptation was with food. They knew no hunger, yet, when Satan pointed out the forbidden tree, they saw it bore good fruit. How often do we let things we don’t need become a stumbling block? How often do we create our own obstacles?
Continuing in Matthew, we read what Jesus did when tempted with food. “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Seeing he failed in his first attempt, Satan continues. Verse 5 tells us, “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. And said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Satan promised Jesus death would not be a consequence of this action; Adam and Eve received that same promise. Verse 7 tells us what happened next.
“Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”
Another failure and Satan still refused to give up. He decided to make one final attempt at causing Jesus to sin. In verses 8 and 9, we read what the devil did next.
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give to You if you will fall down and worship me.”
Adam and Eve were promised knowledge like God; the devil offered power to them. Jesus, received the same offering. Satan offered Jesus a chance to rule the world, but the world was not his to give. It already belonged to God.
In Matthew 4:10, we see the authority Jesus has is already beyond what the devil has offered. It read, “Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Adam and Eve saw the food, the promise of continued life, and the promise of power to be like God, and they couldn’t resist. Their failure meant mankind lost everything. Yet, when Jesus faced these same temptations—food, life, power—he resisted, and by doing so, prepared the way for mankind to regain everything it had lost. There is a paradise waiting that is greater than Eden ever was. There is a life that is more abundant than ever before. Sickness, pain, and sorrow will be no more. And the veil between man and God? Removed when Jesus died for our sins. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.
In Revelation 2:7, Jesus tells us, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
In verse 11, He tells us, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
Revelation 2;26 says, “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations…”
Overcomers also receive white garments, rulership with Christ, and we are made pillars in God’ temple. We receive a new name. Christ will confess our names before God. We will even sit with Christ on His throne.
Is it ever easy to overcome the obstacles in our path? Usually not. But, is it worth the struggle, the pain, the hunger? In every single instance, it is a resounding “Yes.”
Remember this; we never need to face our obstacles alone. There is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. God said He would go before us and make our paths straight. If we follow the Word, we will be overcomers. This is God’s promise to us.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”