Sin and Its Effects and Cure (7)
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12.21
More than words
I don’t want to give the impression that the tragedy of sin is something that can be overcome merely by beginning to talk about it.
That would be a start, of course, but it’s only part of a broader strategy we in the Christian community must adopt if we hope to overcome the evil of sin with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We have to start talking about sin, beginning in the household of faith; and we have to get back to talking about the Gospel, both to one another and to our unsaved neighbors. We must proclaim the Good News, and we must do so against the backdrop of the bad news that everybody knows about, but no one seems to want to name.
Jesus Christ is the only cure for the tragedy of sin. We cannot extricate ourselves from its grip, nor escape the slippery slope. But Jesus can lift us out of the snares of sin into a new life of Kingdom power for righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14.17, 18). We who believe in Him know this, and so we must live and proclaim it to others, or they will continue to be without hope and mired in the downward spiral of sin.
At the same time, however, we need to give attention to two other aspects of a strategy for overcoming the evil of sin with the Good News of Christ and His Kingdom.
First, we need to deal with the sin in our own lives. We need to be open and honest before God, every day, as He searches us by His Word and Spirit to reveal any lingering sin in our own lives (Ps. 139.23, 24). If we harbor sin in our lives we will not enjoy the fellowship or favor of God (Ps. 66.18), and without that, we’re as vulnerable to the tragedy of sin as the most hopeless soul we know.
At the same time, we must strive toward the mark of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3.14). The Spirit of God is working with the Word of God to transform us into the image of the Son of God (2 Cor. 3.12-18). We must work out our salvation (out not for) in concert with Him, applying ourselves to the disciplines of Scripture, prayer, fasting, repentance, and daily obedience. Regular, faithful, and increasing use of these disciplines will enable us to refract the resurrection life of Jesus into our own life spheres.
Only if we are the kind of people who are striving to become more like Jesus will the words we speak on His behalf have anything like the power they did when He spoke them. We must work hard to begood, to be people in whom Jesus is being increasingly formed (2 Cor. 3.12-18), at the same time we make the most of every opportunity to speak the Good News.
And if we are becoming more like Jesus, then we’ll do those works that actually represent and express Him. We will treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve as image-bearers of God. We’ll learn their names and use them as often as we can. We’ll take a genuine interest in others, become good listeners, practice the art of winsome conversation, and look for ways to serve people by our affirming words and thoughtful deeds. We’ll follow the teaching of God’s Law as it directs us in the specific details of how to love our neighbors.
We have been rescued from the tragedy of sin by our Lord Jesus Christ so that we might do good works, thus showing the world that power exists to overcome the ways of selfishness and sin with self-denial, consideration, kindness and love (Eph. 2.8-10). Jesus promised that people would glorify God for the good works they experienced through us (Matt. 5.13-16). Each of us as individuals, and every community of believers, must consider how to stir one another up for love and good works, and we must not grow weary in this high and holy calling (Heb. 10.24; Gal. 6.9, 10). We are a people created for good works (Eph. 2.8-10). We must study God’s Word to become equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17). We must be zealous and ready for good works, and careful to maintain them diligently in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities (Tit. 2.14, 3.1, 8). Only thus will we overcome the tragedy of sin with the glory and joy of good works.
Rewriting the tragedy of human life
The tragedy of sin will continue until the Lord returns to make all things finally and entirely new. But that tragedy doesn’t have to be the last word for every member of the cast. Just as the Lord has worked in our lives to overcome evil with the Good News of forgiveness, hope, and life, so He can work in the people of our day. We must be willing to talk about sin and to recognize and deplore its terrible effects. And we must hold out the Gospel as the Light against which the darkness of sin cannot possibly prevail (1 Jn. 2.8).
If we will speak the Good News out of lives that are good and do good, we may find that the Spirit of God is pleased to use us to rewrite the tragedy of sin in the lives of many people. When the final curtain drops on the tragedy of sin, let’s make sure we’ve done our best to ensure that everyone to whom the Lord sends us has at least had the opportunity of considering a different script for their lives.
1. Why are Scripture and the Holy Spirit so vital for helping us to overcome evil with good?
2. How can you improve your use of spiritual disciplines so that Christ increases in you and you are zealous and ready for good works?
3. How can Christians encourage one another in this calling to overcome evil with good?
Next steps – Preparation: Make a copy of the PDF of this series. Share it with some fellow church members, and invite them to join you in a discussion of the main points of this series.
T. M. Moore
Are you receiving our Scriptorium teaching letter? Our study in Hebrews encourages us to hold fast our convictions firm to the end. Begin reading by clicking here, then update your subscriptions using the pop-up on the home page. Download for free all the previous studies in the Hebrews series by clicking here.
Download this week's study on Sin and Its Effects and Cure in a free PDF by clicking here.
Do you know Jesus? Do you know a friend who needs to know Jesus? Order a copy of our book, To Know Him, and we’ll send you another one free to share and read with a friend. Click here to order To Know Him today.
We look to the Lord to provide for our needs, and He does so through those who are served by this ministry. Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe with your financial gifts. You can send your tax-free contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452, or use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.