by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 20 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)

'Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12.1 7-21

Let me define several of the words in this passage. "Recompense" means "giving back." If someone does you evil, you are not to give it back to him. "Avenge" means "justice." We are not to seek our own justice. "Vengeance" has the same root word as "avenge," and so it also means "justice." Justice is up to God. "Repay" refers back to the word "recompense," which means "to give back."

God is saying that we are not to give back evil to those who do evil to us. Justice is not our responsibility, but God's. He will repay or give back evil to those who do evil to us. We are not to take it into our hands to do so. It is up to us to let God take care of justice.

I was in a church in Pennsylvania where a youth pastor decided to rebel against the preacher. He took about 50 people and started a church across town. The week prior to that, I was in another church where 40 or 50 people took off and started another church because they were disgruntled with the pastor. Three weeks earlier I was in a church where about 30 people had become upset and left to start a church. In most cases, the people involved were sorry, and the churches that they started have done almost nothing! One of those three churches no longer has a pastor.

Who are these evil people that caused trouble in these churches? They are people just like you and me. They are people who were once happy with their church. They are people who followed the Devil's progression of evil and did not win the battle against evil. These are not usually wicked people. They once loved their church and their pastor, but something happened, and they lost the battle between good and evil.

Evil is that which injures someone else. Good is that which benefits someone else. You are not a good person because of what you are. You are a good person because of what you do. There is a battle going on now between good and evil. It is a battle going on in your life.

1. This battle has been going on since the Garden of Eden. In fact, it started in the Garden of Eden when God said to Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That means that Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge of how to hurt anybody. They knew only how to benefit each other. Adam could only benefit Eve, and Eve could only benefit Adam because they had no knowledge of anything, but of benefiting each other.

2. Satan promised in Genesis 3:5 that if they ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and of evil, they would know both good and evil. Satan was trying to introduce them to know how to do evil. They had not had that capacity before, but by eating of the tree, they would know how to hurt each other and to do evil.

3. God saw it. Genesis 3:22, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man Is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." God realized that they had eaten of the tree and had the capacity to do evil. The war between good and evil began in the Garden of Eden, and from that day until now, everybody has had the capacity to either benefit each other or hurt each other. There is a constant warfare in your life either to be of benefit in people's lives or to hurt them.

4. Joseph fought the battle between good and evil benefiting people or hurting people. Of course, he did good to his brothers, even though they had done evil to him.

5. When entering the Promised Land, God told His people that those who knew good and evil would never see the Promised Land, so no adults ever saw it, except for Joshua and Caleb.

Deuteronomy 1:35, "Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers."

6. David fought the battle between hurting people and helping people. I Samuel 25:21, "Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good."

7. Paul fought a battle between benefiting people and hurting people. He did not say that it was a battle between sin and righteousness but between good and evil. Romans 7:21, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me."

8. The battle between good and evil increases. Hebrews 5:14, "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."

9. The battle continued in the New Testament church over whether to hurt people or to benefit them. III John 11, "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."

Sin is not evil. Evil is a form of sin, but all sin is not evil. Evil is that part of sin which wants to hurt somebody. We know that good causes evil. We know that good is the only thing that overcomes evil, and that causes more evil and creates a need for more good. It keeps going. Now consider these three things: (I) Evil cannot conquer you. I John 4:4b, "...greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." Ultimate good will conquer ultimate evil; (2) No one can destroy you, except you; (3) No one's actions can destroy you; only your reactions can cause you to self-destruct. You are the only person who can destroy you. Someone can provoke you to self-destruct. You self-destruct when you lose the battle between good (helping people) and evil (hurting people). Only you can cause that to happen. As long as you keep on doing more good when evil comes your way, evil can never destroy you, for doing evil has a limit, but doing good has no limit!

Let me show you how Satan works to cause you to react in a way that will cause self-destruction. If you can figure out how to react, you can never be destroyed by evil. Satan has certain ways he uses to get you to react wrongly. If you can find out what he does and correct it, you can keep from being destroyed by his evil.

The Progression of Self-Destruction

1. First comes the "outside evil." Can the outside evil destroy you? No! Only you can destroy yourself. However, if the evil can cause you to do evil, then you have rendered evil for evil. That is when you must do good. As soon as evil comes from the outside, that is the time to stop it. If you do not stop it, the Devil has other evil to follow it. That is the time to pour on the good, not just on them but on everybody. If you render evil for evil, you have self-destructed. Your reaction to evil's action is all that can destroy. Nobody can destroy a church except the church.

If you are doing good, there are several things the Devil cannot do. He cannot defeat you from within because "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." Satan cannot conquer you. You are doing good. In response to your doing good, people will try to do harm to you. One reason is, you put them in a bad light. You make them look bad. If a church is experiencing great success, another church that is struggling may begin to do harm to the successful church, because the church that is succeeding is making the other church look bad. The evil comes from the outside to try to destroy you. Remember, overcome evil with good.

This may shock you, but the Bible does not say to overcome evil with prayer. I am for prayer, but the way you overcome evil is with good or by benefiting people. The Bible does not say to overcome evil with Bible study. It does not say overcome evil with meditation. You overcome evil by doing good. Good not only conquers evil, but you will be so busy doing good that you will not have the time to do evil. The time you would have used to do evil will be used up for good.

2. Next comes the "inside evil." If you wait before you do good in order to conquer outside evil, evil will gain a partner inside evil. You will be tempted to render evil for evil. A desire to do evil will come if you do not quickly do good in order to conquer the evil. When someone does you evil, QUICKLY rush for the good to overcome it. The longer you go before doing good to quench evil, the harder it is going to be to quench it.

I know good Bible students and teachers who have evil in their hearts and are trying to hurt people. The Bible alone is not the answer in this case. I have known brilliant Bible teachers who have tried to destroy men of God. They did not do good to benefit people, and they did not overcome the eternal evil that makes them want to hurt somebody.

3. Next comes "spoken evil." It will come if the previous one is not overcome with good. It begins by whispering evil too often about someone. The same person who once would have taught a Sunday school class against speaking evil and would have been against those who did speak evil suddenly is speaking evil. What happened? He did not overcome evil with good. It came inside, and he began to hate, envy, get angry, and then he began to speak evil himself. Many good people are now speaking evil of someone because they rendered evil with evil instead of with good.

4. Next comes "group evil." When you get to the group evil, it is almost always too late to overcome. Your time for doing good is used in doing evil. You have attempted to destroy someone else, and in so doing, you have helped to destroy yourself. You are the one who is going to be destroyed, unless you can cause the person you are trying to destroy to self-destruct.

You do good, and evil comes, so you do more good, and more evil comes. You keep doing good to keep yourself from self-destructing. The destruction will not come by those trying to do you evil. You can prevent your destruction entirely if you can keep yourself from self-destructing.

Wherever you are in this progression, stop before you self-destruct! The progression will either be good, evil, more good, more evil, more good, more evil, more good, etc. Or, it will be good, outside evil, inside evil, spoken evil, group evil! If you are in the wrong progression, quickly get busy doing much good. It's your only way out of evil!

Do you know why it is almost impossible to cure someone involved in group evil? Before it is evil, you can change it by yourself. Once it becomes group evil, you have to go against your peers to change. That is almost impossible to do!


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