Finally, Paul returns to our interactions with enemies and describes what it looks like to respond in love. It may seem strange that I’m discussing love and labeled this section as battleplans, but do not mistake that we are in a battle with the forces of evil.
Our first directive is that we do not battle as the enemy does. We see evil for what it is, trash and worthless, not a currency to be traded. If we deal in evil, we become infected by evil. Not only is this an important aspect to keep in mind, but it addresses how we are to deal with the evil things that we may have allowed into our lives in the past. Objects of the occult, books, pornography, magazines, inappropriate movies and any other items that do not honor God and lead others to God should be removed and destroyed. These are not items, despite what value the world may place on them, to be sold or traded. Do not participate in the currency of evil or of evil things.
We are not to take revenge. Our mission is to continue moving the battleline forward, not to stop and engage in side skirmishes. We need to trust and understand that God is with us and that it is His role and His alone to the people who have fought for the forces of evil in our lives. Remember we hate what is evil, not who is evil. Our mission of love is to entrust the people to God’s judgment. Paul reminds us that we are to “leave room for God’s wrath”, but in Romans 9 he also reminded us that God will show mercy to whom He will show mercy and have compassion on whom He will have compassion. It is not our role or mission, ours is to love, not judge. He emphasizes and illustrates this with the analogy of pouring burning coals of fire on their heads. The fire of God is beneficial or harmful in how it is received. If received as a new believer, it is a tongue of fire as in Acts 2, that alights on the head and brings the Holy Spirit. If received as a non-believer, it is a lake of fire, as in Revelation 20, that brings eternal turmoil. As fire in the physical world can bring light and warmth, it can also bring pain and destruction depending on how it is received and used.
In conclusion Paul emphasizes, do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. We are to play offense, not defense. Jesus did tell us to “turn the other cheek”, but this is in contrast to the idea of vengeance that Paul already dispelled, not as an encouragement to pacifisms or yielding power and authority to allow evil to attack. Jude 1:3 tells us to “contend for the faith”. We are given power, the power of the Holy Spirit, to love what is good, to hate what is evil, to go and spread the good news of Jesus Christ in the face of evil which must retreat in the power of the name of Jesus. We are told to put on the full armor of God not so the enemy might overcome us, but so that we might “stand up” in the faith.
the need to get even or ahead. The emphasis on snarkiness. Neither of these, but I don’t like to feel cheated or taken advantage of, so I tend to be defensive in these areas.
1. Jesus, died for the sins even of those who beat and killed him
2. God, Adam and Eve, banished but redeemed
3. Moses/Aaron, fell down praying to God, plague was stopped
4. David against Saul, rose to be a man after God’s heart
5. Paul, beaten and stoned, continued to preach – His witness was multiplied
To pray for them and turn them over to God. Every sin against a believer is also a sin against God. God’s will and wrath trumps our own. Do not take revenge but leave room for God’s wrath. Rom 12:9. I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy and have compassion on whom I will have compassion says the Lord, Rom 9:15
Only through the power of the Holy Spirit. But, with the power of the Holy Spirit, this is what comes naturally, for love is the nature of the Spirit of God.