WE CAN OVERCOME THE EVIL AROUND US
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
15 JANUARY 1995
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
1 John 4:4
Last week we talked about the power of praise, and how that power could actually move or remove mountains of sin.
Today we are going to continue with our discussion on how, with this same spiritual power, we can overcome the evil around us.
And as we did last week, we will be looking at a few examples from our Bible and at how to apply these examples in our everyday lives.
Let's begin by looking at part of a message the Lord gave to Jeremiah to deliver to the king of Judah (Jeremiah 22:13-16).
13. "Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness
And his upper rooms without justice,
Who uses his neighbor's services without pay
And does not give him his wages,
14. Who says, 'I will build myself a roomy house
With spacious upper rooms,
And cut out its windows,
Paneling it with cedar and painting it bright red.'
Now, none of us is a king or ruler of a land; but if we analyze this message, it could very easily apply to almost anyone.
The second part of the message obviously applies to someone with wealth, but the basics can apply to anyone.
Whatever we do in life should be done in righteousness, for as we are told, woe to him or her who doesn't do so.
And where do these woes that give these evil people their comeuppance come from?
They come from God, maybe not immediately, but they will indeed come.
And remember, that each and every one of us, no matter how young or old we are, has been given some responsibility in this life.
It is the way we fulfill that responsibility that gives us the power to overcome the evil people around us who don't follow this rule.
Listen to what the Lord says next:
15. "Do you become a king because you are competing in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink,
And do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16. "He pled the cause of the afflicted and needy;
Then it was well.
Is not that what it means to know Me?"
Declares the Lord.
Some people use their worldly power and wealth to either buy or force their way into leadership.
Or they may use their worldly power to oppress a group of humans or animals.
But as the Lord tells us, that doesn't make them the kind of leader that the Lord blesses.
If we look back to those whom the Lord blessed in the past, and we follow their example, it will go well with us, too.
When we love our neighbors and have empathy for their problems and respond to their needs, then we become a true leader.
This same love and empathy must also extend to the animal kingdom that we would care about their well being.
It is only such a person who knows the Lord.
And if we don't know someone, it is very difficult to praise them.
If we don't know the Lord personally, we don't praise Him; thus we fail to gain the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus we give in to the evilness of corrupt leaders.
But when we know the Lord, and have received the power to see beyond the evil to the promises of God, then with our eyes focused there, we have the patience to wait upon the Lord until the woes remove the evilness before us.
Thus we can rejoice and continue to praise the Lord and, in turn, gain more power to overcome other evilness.
Lets now look at Isaiah 26:11-21.
11. O Lord, Thy hand is lifted up yet they do not see it.
They see Thy zeal for the people and are put to shame;
Indeed, fire will devour Thine enemies.
The enemies of God make believe that God won't punish them.
If we believe and are faithful to God, His blessings upon us will put the evil ones to shame.
In other words, if we don't give in to the evil around us, or even respond to it, save for the protection of innocent ones (human or non-human), but remain in the presence of the Lord, the Lord Himself will punish them.
If we try to inflict the punishment on our own, we actually may cause the Lord to delay His response.
Let the Lord respond: blessings upon the righteous and punishment upon the wicked.
We will overcome the evil, if we leave room for the Lord.
12. Lord, Thou wilt establish peace for us,
Since Thou hast also performed for us all our works.
13. O Lord our God, other masters besides Thee have ruled us;
But through Thee alone we confess Thy name.
This is our praise.
14. The dead will not live, the departed spirits will not rise;
Therefore Thou hast punished and destroyed them,
And Thou hast wiped out all remembrance of them.
God will indeed do this, if we back away from the evil by not being a part of it, but take a peaceful stand against it, and let Him take action.
Examples of this would be to prayerfully and peacefully speak out against the ethnic oppression and killing of humans around the world, and the pain and suffering inflicted upon factory farmed animals, and by encouraging others to also speak out.
If we do this, we will indeed see the Lord take action.
15. Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord,
Thou hast increased the nation, Thou art glorified;
Thou hast extended all the borders of the land.
Do you hear the praise again?
16. O Lord, they sought Thee in distress;
They could only whisper a prayer,
Thy chastening was upon them.
God even hears our whispered prayers.
That's having real power over our enemies.
17. As the pregnant woman approaches the time to give birth,
She writhes and cries out in her labor pains,
Thus were we before Thee, O Lord.
18. We were pregnant, we writhed in labor,
We gave birth, as it were, only to wind.
We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth
Nor were inhabitants of the world born.
Unfortunately, this is the problem that many Christians have.
They claim to believe and have faith, but when faced with everyday problems and concerns, they respond as do those who do not know the Lord.
Their faith is but an empty cup.
It contains nothing but air.
And in their impotence, they all too often try to justify the evil around them, and no longer speak out against it.
But Isaiah tell us what will happen if we continue to stand fast.
19. Your dead will live;
Their corpses will rise.
You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy,
For your dew is as the dew of the dawn,
And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.
Even if we should die in righteousness, at the hands of our enemies, we shall yet live again; but our enemies will not, unless they, too, repent and seek the Lord.
20. Come, my people, enter into your rooms,
And close your doors behind you;
Hide for a little while,
Until indignation runs its course.
21. For behold, the Lord is about to come out from His place
To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
And the earth will reveal her bloodshed,
And will no longer cover her slain.
It is better to run and hide, than to add to the evilness of others by sinning ourselves, or by getting in the way of God.
In Psalm 36, we see the characters of the evildoer and the righteous one.
1. Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart;
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2. For it flatters him in his own eyes,
Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
3. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4. He plans wickedness upon his bed;
He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil.
We've probably all heard people say, "If I don't do it to him first, he'll do it to me."
Or perhaps, "I'm going to get even with him, or her, for what they did."
Now, if we think about it, don't they have to do exactly what the evil person did?
Don't they have to cease to be wise and do what is not good?
Thus, they have not overcome evil, but they have joined it.
So, instead of getting even, we should remember who God is, and praise Him, for He will protect us.
5. Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Thy faithfulness reaches to the skies.
6. Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God;
Thy judgments are like a great deep.
O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.
7. How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.
8. They drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house;
And Thou dost give them to drink of the river of Thy delights.
9. For with Thee is the fountain of life;
In Thy light we see light.
No matter how bad the problem, no matter how evil the intent against us, no matter how strong and dark the storm before or around us, if we stay in the light of the Lord, we will see the light beyond the darkest storm.
We will overcome the evilness around us.
10. O continue Thy lovingkindness to those who know Thee,
And Thy righteousness to the upright in heart.
11. Let not the foot of pride come upon me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12. There the doers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been thrust down and cannot rise.
It is our pride that causes us to want to take revenge.
And it is in this pride that the evildoers fall.
Don't worry about the evildoers around us.
We are to concern ourselves with doing as the Lord desires us to do.
Let God handle the evil of this world.
Our job is to expose the evil and show the world the goodness of God.
And remember, we have the power to do so, just as we are told in 1 John 4:4.
4. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
Your Comments are welcome
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