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Good Through & Through

As we continue in our goal to become more and more like Jesus (I hope that is your
goal), we study and teach the Bible for the purpose of translating theology into
activity. For example, we are not only to learn the theology of justification and
sanctification alone, but we are to live it too! We are to be doers of the word and
not hearers only. That being so, let us consider a passage of scripture that, on the
surface, may bring an impression perhaps we would be wise to look deeper into.
Key Passage: Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath;
for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore, If your
enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will
heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with
good. (Rom. 12:19-21 NKJV)
What might be the practical application on how to live the Christian life with an
understanding of how believers are not to seek personal revenge? What evil is Paul
talking about? Specifically, what good?
First impressions tell us that we are to allow God to make things right (vs. 19)! Its
not our place, but its Gods place. Proverbs 20:22 states, do not say, I will repay
evil; rather-wait for the Lord, and He will save you. In other words, never take
your own revenge means leave room for the wrath of God. (See Deuteronomy
32:35)
Secondly, we are to treat our enemy with respect (vs. 20). In light of Gods
impending wrath and Pauls admonition (here, he is quoting Proverbs 25:21,22), we
are to treat our enemy kindly and not vengefully. If he is hungry, we are to give him
food; if he is thirsty, we are to give him drink, for in so doing you will heap burning
coals upon his head. What on earth does that mean? On the surface, it sounds
vengeful.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we are not be overpowered by evil (vs. 21).
Paul concludes his thought with the double-edged sword, Do not be overcome
by evil, but overcome evil with good. The word translated over-come is
nikao in Greek, the language in which Paul wrote his letter. It means to conquer,
to prevail or to carry off in victory. Paul is cautioning his Roman readers not to
be carried off in victory by that which is evil, not to let the enemy have the upper
hand, not to cave in to the things he has just cautioned them about. He advises
them to be on their guard, just as Peter warned; Be of a sober spirit, be on the
alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to
devour (I Peter 5:8). Paul also warns us elsewhere. Therefore, put on the full armor
of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
(Ephesians 6:11) We add to this the promise of overcoming in Revelation 21:7; He
who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.
These truths are connected with the idea that when we live the life of sacrifice

Good Through & Through


(Romans 12:1) and the life of service, we overcome all things and inherit all that
God has for us, His children.
You are of God, little children, and you have overcome them, because He who is in
you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NKJV) Perhaps we could say
it this way. The Good One who is in you is greater than the evil one who is in the
world. Lets look deeper into this truth.
We begin by considering the last word of the chapter; the term good. Is it a noun?
Is it an adjective? Is it something else, or both? We must admit that each of us likely
has a different spin on what good is. All you have to do is consider the last movie
you watched, or, the last thing you put in your mouth. Was the Good & Plenty any
good? Was your Campbells Soup Mm-Mm good? Was your morning cup of Maxwell
House coffee good to the last drop? Was your good apple good to the very core?
These are not silly questions if we consider our purpose in knowing what is meant
by good. After all, our so to speak heroic act here is to overcome evil with good!
Overcoming evil? Really? With good?
Perhaps we would do well to revisit a couple things that Jesus said about this subject
(good). They are:
A certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. No one is goodexcept God alone.
(Luke 18:18-19)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil
man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks
what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
The first passage is tremendously important because it causes us to see good
solely from the Lords viewpoint rather than our own a human perspective. His
perspective is always good. Ours may not be. It is with this perspective, then, that
we continue on with our consideration of Romans 12:19-21. What is the thrust, the
motivation of our conduct, anyway? Is it because of some superficial adherence to a
code of ethics or a commandment, or is it something much grander? Specifically, is
it possible for the believer not just to do good, but to be good?
(Greek) good [ agathos] curative, remedial, excellent, distinguished,
upright, honorable, and of a good nature. From this root word directly comes a
component of the fruit of the Spirit; namely:
(Greek) goodness [agathosyna] an uprightness of heart and life, goodness.
The Good One who is in us (I John 4:4) is the precious Holy Spirit. He is a good Spirit
(Psalm 143:10); good through and through. Hes good and plenty, certainly enough
of a deposit to guarantee what is to come (Ephesians 1:14 & II Timothy 1:14). He
fills us with streams of Living Water that are not only good to the last drop, but this
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Good Through & Through


is a river that will never run dry (John 4:10-14)! No one will argue that He is
absolutely good to the very core! Oh taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm
34:8) and figuratively speaking, even Mm-Mm good! The Holy Spirit is good
because, as Jesus has confirmed, God is good, and God is Spirit (John 4:24). Is it
not possible, even probable, for a Spirit this good to transform, renew,
and equip the believer to be good and to do good - inside and out?
Consider also Ephesians 5:9 - (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness,
righteousness and truth). Being the light of the world as Jesus said, would we not
expect that the fruit of such light would be, at least in part, goodness?
Lets be honest. Avenging ourselves is a work of the flesh, because it is motivated
by self-centeredness. Someone offended or hurt us, and therefore they must hurt
also. Dare we say that the tendency (or the urge) to avenge ourselves is a lust of
the flesh? It most certainly is. It is certainly not a work of the Spirit!
We are admonished (again by Paul) to walk in the Spirit, and the result is that we
will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not
gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so
that you are not to do whatever you want (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV).
The truth is, I have absolutely no hope of overcoming evil on my own! It is
only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me that I can overcome evil with
good. The good I overcome with is not a good that originated with me or that I
invented. Rather, it always originates with God. It is a through-and-through kind of
good. It always results in good because it originates from a good God. In fact, we
can only overcome because Jesus did, in the power of the Holy Spirit! Said another
way, we simply can and will not overcome evil without Holy Spirit
enablement.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you
will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) The
apostle affirms it for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the
victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (I John 5:4)
So much of what we as Christians hold to be key passages of scripture (that pertain
to our life in Christ; and our life in Christ in action) come into play here. Galatians
2:20 is only one example. It would do you well to stop and read it at this moment.
As you probably know, Paul wrote this as well as most of the New Testament
epistles. Looking back at Ephesians 6 and the Armor of God in particular, we see
that the purpose of taking the armor is to withstand evil. The issue is not that we
overcome evil in the sense of warring against it, but rather, that it wars against us!
Either we overcome evil, or it will overcome us.
It is also important to note what he has already said in the book of Romans (prior to
chapter 12) about good and evil. Each of these serve as a back-drop to what he
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Good Through & Through


says in our key passage, as well as all of chapter 12, and what he says in closing his
letter and specifically:
1. Romans 7:18-19
(backdrop)
2. Romans 12:2,9,14,17-18 (backdrop again)
3. Romans 16:19
(a final note)
It may appear that I am changing our subject matter here, but that is not so. A look
back at chapter 33 of Exodus will reveal this passage: The LORD replied, My
Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then Moses said to him, If
your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone
know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?
What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the
face of the earth? And the LORD said to Moses, I will do the very thing you
have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name. Then Moses
said, Now show me your glory. (Exodus 33:14-18)
Do we desire to have God show us His glory even as Moses asked Him to do? What
might we expect? In Gods response to us, should we encounter His mighty power?
Might we behold His beauty? Would we behold something else of His wonder, or all
of it? Would we expect that Gods glory not only can, but should overcome evil?
Gods response reveals something I hope you will never forget! Are you ready?
And the LORD said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I
will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I
will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,
he said, you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. Then the LORD
said, There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory
passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I
have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face
must not be seen. (Exodus 33:19-23)
The LORD Himself equates His glory to His goodness! Moses had asked to see glory.
He saw all goodness. If we want the world to see and for the earth to be filled with
the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk
2:14), we, too, must show them all goodness. Yes, we must do good. But we must
also be good. We must walk in the Spirit. We must overcome evil in the power of the
Spirit. We must be like Jesus. He was, and is, good and goodness personified
through and through.
When we consider our Battle Cry verse, Do not be overcome by evil, but
overcome evil with good, we may tend to somehow picture the double-edged
sword of the Word of God coming out of our mouths with a shout of zeal. After all, it
is a battle cry, right? And the Word of God is indeed not just a defensive weapon,
but an offensive one in the war we wage (Ephesians 6:17). Indeed, the weapons of
our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of
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Good Through & Through


strongholds (II Corinthians 10:4). After all, we are told to overcome evil with
something, as if it were a tool in our hands or a skill to be learned. The tool, as it
were, is good!
However, a close examination of Pauls exhortation in the last few verses of Romans
12 as well as earlier in his letter in chapter 7 (vs. 18-19) reveals that he is not
speaking about a war being fought about, around, or outside of us. No, he is
referring to an inner battle. The most tremendous evil to be overcome in our lives is
not the evil around us it is the evil within us! We are not being urged to be socalled evil vigilantes, spiritual heroes who seek out and squelch evil and evil doers.
On the contrary. Speaking to believers on a personal level, Hebrews 4:12 also
makes this clear. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any doubleedged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it
judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Let it first divide MY soul and spirit,
joints and marrow, and let it first judge MY thoughts and attitudes.
Do you truly want to overcome evil with good? Then allow the good Holy Spirit to
perform His complete and good work in you, perfecting His fruit in you which
includes Gods glorious goodness. Begin with Romans 12:1 by presenting yourself as
a living sacrifice to God. Continue to be transformed by the renewing of your mind
(12:2) and no longer become conformed to the worlds patterns. Avenging oneself is
just a sorry behavioral pattern the world has adopted. Even Solomon recognized this
(Proverbs 24:29) by saying; Do not say, Ill do to them as they have done to me; Ill
pay them back for what they did. The fruitful options of kindness, gentleness,
meekness and self-control coupled with Gods agape love will go much further to
win the worlds notice. Hate what is evil and cling to what is good (12:9). Learn to
hate the evil inside you just as much if not more than the evil around you. Cling to
Jesus, and hold on tight. He is the Good Shepherd! By the abiding help of the Holy
Spirit, bless those who persecute you; bless them rather than cursing them (12:14).
Do not repay evil for evil (12:17). The merciful Spirit at work in you will cause you to
be more and more merciful. Then vengeful tendencies will soon vanish.
I admonish you to allow your outer and inner work in Gods service to be Good &
Plenty. Let the people in your life, including your enemies, see your light shine and
to recognize that He is Mm-Mm good. Allow Gods good Holy Spirit to transform
and change you to the very core of your being. Do this good thing not to the last
drop, but to your last breath, and until you hear the words of our loving Father;
Well done, you good and faithful servant.
Friends, He who began a GOOD work in you will carry it on to completion until the
day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6). This is not a good work from a human
perspective. No, this is GODs good work, the best of all kinds of goods! Oh
hallelujah! It is Gods plan and purpose to present us to Himself as one who is
Christ-like; good through and through.

Good Through & Through


The battle-cry we speak of is not shouted aloud from the rooftops. It is an inner cry,
deep into the soul. Thanks be to God He makes all things new, even inner things!