I have chronic pain so, for fun, I Googled “top 10 worst pains”. I won’t go through the list but one pain on this list I’d never heard of is a “spinal headache.” Just the thought of that makes me hurt.
So, being on such a fun scavenger hunt, I Googled “top Bible verses.” Did you know there’s a top 100 Bible verses list*? And, of course, there is a top 50 list, a top 10 list and so on. Who are these people that have nothing better to do than compile these lists? I’m old, sick, and retired, and I don’t have time to make these lists!
Anyway, while scanning through this top 100 list, I noticed that verses from the book of Romans showed up quite often. That had me worried about today’s devotional. Diving further in, I discovered that the twelfth chapter of Romans showed up twice in this list. Now I was getting nervous. Thankfully, those verses are Romans 12:1 and Romans 12:2. Whew, we’re looking at Romans 12:21 today. You’ve probably not read that one. 😉
Romans 12:21 (ESV): Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Being on a roll, I looked at over a dozen Bible translations and paraphrases and all of the ones I checked used the words “evil” and “good.” Digging a bit deeper, I checked the definitions the salient words of this verse.
Overcome means succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty) – defeat (an opponent); prevail. – (of an emotion) overpower or overwhelm.
Evil means morally bad – causing harm or injury to someone – profoundly immoral and malevolent.
Good means that which is morally right; righteousness. – well – of high quality – correct or proper.
This verse is thrilling! We, as Christians, have been given a mandate, a commissioning, to overcome evil with good. We are to instigate a coup d’ état against evil.
Now, coup d’ état means “a blow against the state” and satan is the prince of this world (John 14:30) so through using “good” we can strike a blow against the prince of this world. We can overcome satan’s power by the power of God. We know this because Jesus said in Luke 18:19 (ESV), “…No one is good except God alone.”
So, we succeed in defeating, overpowering, overwhelming things that cause harm or injury to someone or are immoral or malevolent (i.e., evil) by doing morally right things, by righteousness, things that are well, of high quality, that are correct or proper (i.e., good).
The picture I see when I read this short verse is this: When a CO2 fire extinguisher is used to put out a fire, the CO2 replaces the oxygen that fuels the flame. CO2 starves the chemical combustion (i.e., fire) by replacing the oxygen, which is its fuel. Likewise, good starves evil by replacing the morally evil things, the things that cause harm, that are immoral things with morally right things, correct things, proper things, that are of high quality, thereby starving the evil until it is extinguished.
God’s Word is so fantastic. Even an eleven-word verse can profoundly change how we live.