top of page

26. Overcome evil with good

My life (put) alongside God's word. Protecting peace section.

In every war there are at least two battles going on. One is being fought with rifles, tanks, bullets and bombs. The other is inside each individual human being – a battle of the mind and will. Christians especially will know the force of the second, while unbelievers may only know the first. We’ll look at Romans 12:21 and our own inner battle.

Romans 12 – the sacrifice of the saved

In Romans 12:1 Paul teaches that every Christian must make a sacrifice. This is not to make atonement for sin, because our Lord Jesus has done that already. This sacrifice we make is because we are saved people and therefore we are different from all other people around us. This sacrifice is not made in church or temple but in everyday life at home, at work and at play. When we put our own lives, alive, on to the altar of Jesus Christ, we are willing to be different people, God’s people, in Sudan or South Sudan today.

Complete change

Verse 2 says we are “transformed”. This means to be completely different. As a transformer changes the voltage in a flow of electricity when an electricity generator is used, so God changes us when we live by Christian standards ahead of community standards. We must prioritise our thinking. We must think like God thinks and act like God acts towards life, death, war, peace, revenge, forgiveness, reconciliation and so on.

Verse 3 urges a sensible view of ourselves. We are so used to looking at other people, we seldom see ourselves as we really are! Look into God’s mirror.

Rightly dislike the wrong

Verse 9 commands we must “hate evil”, have a right feeling of strong dislike for any bad things. We must know God’s views on good and evil, and we must make them ours. We

must like what He likes and hate what He hates.

Verse 10 wants us to see all others in a good and godly way, giving honour to all humans made in the image of our Creator God, not just the easy people!

Verse 12 urges the ability to remain calm and not to respond angrily when life’s events are causing you suffering, pain and anguish.

Verse 14 ties this especially to persecution. The community may curse, but the Christian must bless.

Verse15 asks Christians to enter into the feelings of other people and not to think about themselves. This is developed in verse 16 which uses music to suggest living in tune with everyone else. John Stott writes: “Think the same thing towards one another”. (See his 'BST Romans' commentary).

Verse17 rules out responding with like for like, with tit for tat violence etc. R.C.Sproul writes: “I never have the right to do wrong”. (See his 'Romans the Gospel of God' commentary).

Let God be God and do not step into His place

Verse 18, as far as it is within your responsibility be people of peace, not people of war. Avoid fighting if at all possible.

Verse 19, Always remember, only God has the right to take revenge. His vengeance in the course of eternity will be just, right and holy. Only God never makes a mistake. Trust Him. Your bitter feelings will fester like an untreated wound. Surrender your feelings to God your Saviour. He has always responded with good to your evil. Imitate Him. Visualise your Saviour Jesus dying on the cross for your sins. In the present day God sometimes uses the State and the Courts, institutions that He has established, to give justice, see Romans chapter 13. Let them do their work.

Verse 20 promotes taking concrete actions to show ‘God-love’ for people who would think themselves your enemies. “Burning coals” may be a sign of them coming to repentance. There was an Egyptian ritual that involved someone literally carrying a burning coal on the head, showing himself to be a repentant sinner.

Live the Christian (different) way

Verse 21 reads (and perhaps summarises the chapter), “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. We have seen that the daily conduct of believers is to be very different from those around us. They are spiritually dead. This type of living is not easy, but God never asks us to do

something without also giving us the ability to do it. Twice, in verses 3 and 6, Paul writes of God-given grace, the power and equipment for ministry in this way.

David Kasali, a Congolese contributor to the African Bible Commentary, writes well. I summarise his points and quote

in full his conclusion:

  • Love everyone unconditionally

  • Be willing to forgive, whatever

  • • Focus your mind on the good of the other person

  • Decide to act for the other’s good

  • (And I would add, ask for and by faith receive God’s grace to do this).

“If these principles are followed, Africa will be transformed into a community where peace and justice prevails”.

Shall we say the same for Sudan and South Sudan?


bottom of page