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                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                     Responding To Evil (12:17-21)


1. The twelfth chapter of Romans has much to say about what is expected
   of Christians...
   a. In general terms - Ro 12:1-2
      1) They are to present themselves as living sacrifices to God
      2) They are not to be conformed to this world
      3) They are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds
      4) They are to prove what is God's good, acceptable, and perfect
   b. In more specific terms - Ro 12:3-16
      1) They are to fulfill their function in the body of Christ - Ro
      2) They are to love without hypocrisy, abhorring what is evil - Ro
      3) They are to love brethren as family, esteeming one another
         highly - Ro 12:10
      4) They are to serve the Lord diligently, with fervency of spirit
         - Ro 12:11
      5) They are to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation,
         steadfast in prayer - Ro 12:12
      6) They are to share in the needs of saints, pursue hospitality
         toward strangers - Ro 12:13
      7) They are to bless those who persecute them - Ro 12:14
      8) They are to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those
         who weep - Ro 12:15
      9) They are to be of the same mind, with humility and lowliness of
         mind - Ro 12:16
   -- Such behavior is certainly an indication of a transformation!

2. But perhaps one of the greatest signs of transformation...
   a. Is how one responds to evil
   b. Is how one treats their enemy
   -- Human nature responds in kind, with vengeance; is this how
      Christians are to respond?

3. In our text (Ro 12:17-21), we find what Barnes describes as...
   a. "...probably one of the most difficult precepts of Christianity,
      but the law of Christ on the subject is unyielding."
   b. "It is a solemn demand made on all His followers, and it must be

[This "difficult precept" pertains to how one reacts when mistreated by
those who are evil...]


      1. Thus Paul writes in Ro 12:17a and elsewhere - 1Th 5:15
      2. He is not alone in this prohibition
         a. Solomon's counsel in Proverbs - Pr 20:22
         b. Jesus' teaching in the sermon on the mount - Mt 5:39
         c. Peter's writing in his epistle - 1Pe 3:9
      -- Thus we are prohibited against responding to evil in kind

      1. Note first what our concern is to be - Ro 12:17b,18
         a. To have regard for good things in the sight of others
         b. To live peaceably with others if at all possible
      2. Therefore, our response to evil is to reply with good - Ro 12:
         a. As the Law of Moses instructed - Exo 23:4-5
         b. As David exemplified in his dealings with King Saul - 1 Sam
         c. As Solomon counseled, and Paul quoted - Pr 25:21,22
         d. As Jesus taught in His sermon on the mount - Mt 5:38-44
      -- Note carefully that the response is to be one of aggressive
         good will and kindness

[People normally respond differently, depending upon their ability
(e.g., vengeance, self-defense, passive resistance, running away,
helpless victim).  Yet Christians are taught to respond with love.  Why?
Paul explains...]


      1. Vengeance is a Divine prerogative - Ro 12:19
         a. He certainly possesses the ability to administer it justly
            - cf. Nah 1:1-8
            1) He is slow to anger
            2) He knows the hearts of men
         b. He has the tools to administer vengeance
            1) E.g., governing authorities - cf. Ro 13:1-4; 1Pe 2:13-14
            2) E.g., giving man up to the depravity of his sins - cf. Ro
            3) E.g., the coming of the Lord in flaming fire - cf. 2 Th
      2. Therefore we are to give place to wrath
         a. The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God
            - Jm 1:19-20
         b. The wrath of man is more often a work of the flesh - Ga 5:
            19-21; Ep 4:31; Col 3:8
      -- It is a mistake to presume that every example of Divine conduct
         means we can do the same!

      1. Our goal is to overcome evil - Ro 12:21
      2. How can we best hope to overcome evil and change the evil
         a. If we react as:
            1) Avenger, defender or passive resister
            2) We only convince the opposition that might makes right
         b. If we react as:
            1) Runner or helpless
            2) We may only confirm the opposition's view that we are
               cowardly or weak
      3. The most likely way to both overcome evil and change the evil
         person is by reacting with active good will!
         a. Is this not how God sought to change the world? - Ro 5:8; Jn
            3:16; Ro 2:4
         b. Is this not how Jesus sought to change the world? - 1Pe 2:
      4. Certainly Jesus' example demonstrates a better way to handle
         conflict and evil...
         a. His humility and sacrificial love has motivated many to turn
            from sin
         b. And we are called to walk in His steps!
      5. Those who do follow Jesus' example often make a powerful impact
         on others:
            Kim Joon-gon has seen 2,000 out of 20,000 people on Chunnam
         Island murdered by the Communists.  They dragged his family to
         a spot where 160 people from two villages had gathered to beat
         the Christians.  There Kim's father and wife were beaten to
         death and Kim was left for dead.  When he revived and sought
         safety at an acquaintance's house, he was turned over to the
         Communists.  Only the sudden appearance of an American ship off
         the island coast saved him this time, for the Communist
         soldiers hurried away to battle.
            He hid out in the countryside until the South Korean army
         captured the island.  The Communists who had killed his wife
         and father were arrested.  Because it was wartime, the police
         chief had authority to execute without trial.  But as the chief
         prepared to kill the men, Kim pleaded, 'Spare them.  They were
         forced to kill.'
            The police chief showed great surprise.  'It was your family
         they killed!  Why do you now ask for their lives?'
            Kim replied quietly, 'Because the Lord, whose I am and whom
         I serve, would have me show mercy to them.'
            The Communists were spared execution because of Kim's plea.
         News of his action spread among other Communist supporters in
         the area.  When Kim later ascended a mountain to preach to
         Communists hiding out, he was not killed.  Many of the
         Communists became Christians, and when Kim finally left the
         sland there was a flourishing church of 108 members.
                               - Dictionary Of Illustrations, p. 188


1. We may never be called upon to manifest the power of responding to
   evil with good in such a remarkable way, but...
   a. We can begin by how we respond to personal abuses we often receive
      from others
   b. We can react to evil treatment even on a small scale with active
      good will

2. Reacting to evil with good will does not always convert the
   a. Jesus was crucified on the cross, enduring hostility by sinners
      - He 12:2-3
   b. In such cases we must commit our cause to God, as did Jesus - 1 Pe
      2:21-23; 4:19

3. But there other reasons for responding to evil with good...
   a. To be different than sinners - Lk 6:32-34
   b. To be like our Heavenly Father - Lk 6:35-36
   c. To receive a blessing (more likely to love life and see good days)
      - 1Pe 3:9-12

Do you desire to "love life and see good days"?  Then be transformed by
the renewing of your mind and demonstrate that God's will for responding
to evil is indeed good, acceptable, and perfect...!
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