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Overcoming Evil: Beyond Politics

By Charles Crabtree

Any person who reads a newspaper or views a TV newscast knows all too well that evil not only exists but also is pervasive in our world.

The United States, founded upon the bedrock of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values, is being overcome by evil. Institutions that once stood as firewalls against perversion and immorality have become allies with the “rulers of the darkness of this world” and with “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).

The evidence is all around us.

The highest court in the land may declare abortion on demand legal, but divine justice declares it a crime against humanity. When the law of any nation approves the slaughter of innocents, that is evil.

When society declares same-sex unions and marriages as sacred, we are staring evil in the face. There is no other name for actions that would seek to reconstitute and redefine the institution of marriage that God established at creation.

It is a temptation for American Christians viewing the moral disintegration of their culture to be overcome with despair and feel helpless against the onslaught of evil, forgetting that righteousness and truth have flourished in cultures far more decadent and depraved.

The question is not whether the American Christian is going to face evil. The question is, “How does a Christian confront and overcome evil?” It is imperative we answer that question properly. The triumph of righteousness depends upon it. The answer lies in careful examination of how Jesus confronted evil.

Our Lord lived in a time of societal evil. The political system was driven by vile despots with absolute power. The judicial system was a pawn for Caesar. Religious institutions existed to preserve tradition and further a satanic agenda. Perversion and depraved behavior were not only accepted but also lauded.

How did Jesus react to the evil so prevalent in His day? He proclaimed the good news of the gospel and lived a lifestyle that pleased God and convicted evil men. He loved sinners so much He earned the title “friend of sinners” (see Matthew 11:19). He honored the role of government and even performed a miracle to pay taxes. When He stood before Pilate bound for trial, the Roman ruler could not understand why He did not fight. Christ’s reply was powerful: “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36).

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The only time Jesus became angry and lashed out was when “His kingdom” — the synagogue, the ancient church — was defiled or religious leaders perverted truth. His righteous indignation was real when others (including His disciples) stood in the way of people coming to Him.

The life of Jesus is the answer to evil. He came to overcome evil with good. Everything He said and did was better than anything the world has ever known. As followers of Christ, we must never allow ourselves to resort to carnal means to defend our faith and counter evil.

Too many Christians have forgotten that the weapons of their warfare are not “carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We are to overcome evil with good, not with anger or selfishness or argument or partisan politics.

It all begins with a good spirit, which comes from and is sustained by the Holy Spirit. An angry and mean-spirited person does nothing but drive people away from Christ and His church. When James and John (the “Thunder Brothers”) did not receive a good reception in a village, they asked Jesus to call down fire from heaven and destroy the resistant crowd. Jesus rebuked them: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56).

The Spirit of Jesus is seen at the cross when the suffering Savior who had every right on earth to strike out said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). You can imagine what would have happened to the woman caught in adultery if our Savior had the same spirit as the religious activists of the day.

His reaction to her immorality is a cautioning example to everyone who would lash out against perversity today. Believers must be careful to love the adulterer or the homosexual. We will never overcome such evil by hating those bound by it.

So, following Jesus’ example, what are some practical steps believers can take?

• We are to overcome evil with good, and it must be an active good. Our Lord told us to let the truth or light we have emanate from us in such a way that people would recognize God in our works and glorify Him. Shining lights in people’s faces will only blind them. Christians do not shine God’s words and works upon themselves but upon Him.

• We are to overcome evil with prayer. No one alive knows the full power of prayer. Might it be more effective to pray and fast for political leaders we do not agree with than to rail against them? Christian protests must be bathed in prayer until those who protest have the Spirit of Jesus. Otherwise, it will not be a Christian protest. Prayer is the only way the command “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26) can be obeyed. The church needs to unite in believing prayer for righteous judges to be appointed to overturn Roe v. Wade. Believers need to bind together in the Holy Spirit to overturn the homosexual agenda. Out of our prayer meetings will come divine direction and wisdom to understand the times and know what to do.

• Christians need to overcome evil in their community and nation by being good citizens. It is not enough to speak out against evil (though we should); we overcome evil with good when we do more than blame the government for poverty and homelessness and become involved in feeding the poor and volunteering time and effort in assisting charitable organizations and compassion ministries.

God has provided American citizens the ways and means through democracy to put in place those who would be best to rule over us. For Christians to choose not to vote for any reason is most serious and grievous. Any citizen who chooses not to vote has disqualified himself or herself from criticizing those who are elected. It is the same as a church member who will not tithe complaining how money is spent in and through the church.

Let us as Christian people rise up and overcome evil with good. Let us overcome the threat of broken homes and divorce and the undermining of marriage as an institution by having Christ-centered, Spirit-filled relationships where husbands love their wives, where wives submit to their husbands’ leadership, and where children obey their parents.

Let us fight abortion by Spirit-filled teaching and by providing wholesome and supervised activities for youth. When a single girl is found to be pregnant, let us gather round with loving counsel which leads to godly repentance for both individuals involved in the pregnancy and then provide support systems for the birth and nurturing of the child.

Let us fight immorality and crime by boldly declaring the power of God unto salvation and making the case through example and not theory that a godly life is a fulfilling, joyful and rewarding life. A life well lived for God is the greatest argument against lives lived in sin for self.

Let us return good for evil. Anyone can strike back, point fingers, get embroiled in partisan politics and argue all day long; the only hope the Christian community has in winning the victory over evil is to go into the world with a Christlike spirit, a loving heart and servant hands. With these weapons, we will overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.

Charles Crabtree is assistant general superintendant of the assemblies of God.

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