Among the many purposes God has given his people, one of them involves preventing the further spread of infectious evil. How God’s people are to achieve this spiritual offensive might be surprising.
Whenever people suffer injustice, wherever slander has destroyed, however sin has hurt, evil’s impact entices retaliation. To succumb to the temptation only enables darkness to penetrate one’s own heart, further promulgating the spread of evil. The Christian life, however, involves being called to stop that infectious spread of sin.
Jesus’ statements are succinct. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not fight against an evil person …” (Matthew 5:38-39). Instead, the Christ’s counsel constitutes nothing less than, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Paul’s writings provide further explanation, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. … Do not take revenge. … Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17,19,21).
Rather than allowing evil toxins to infect one more heart like a contagious virus, the Christian breaks this chain reaction with an unlikely weapon, goodness. The “weapons of light” (Romans 13:12) are fundamentally different from how evil operates. They seem counter intuitive as long as the conflict is measured in terms of temporal things, such as possessions and my honor.
“If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).
“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (Matthew 5:40).
However, when the curtain is pulled back revealing the conflict between good and evil, the Christian’s response makes sense. Responding to sin with goodness involves taking a stand against the devil’s schemes. Christians struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:11,12).
Sin must go no further. Evil must not gain fresh legs having corrupted one more human heart. What the world may regard as weakness requires the strength God provides.
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).