How to Overcome Evil: A Practical Exposition of Romans 12:14-21

I picked up this book by Jay Adams to check it out as a possible resource for my counselees and for my own benefit. Half way through, the thought occurred to me that it would make a handy, practical guide for parents to use with siblings of a difficult child. Jay Adams clearly and succinctly explains each verse of Romans 12:14-21, beginning with the last verse:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

That sets the tone. Do not be overcome by evil. When someone sins against us, we are not to lose battles to evil. That means that we don’t tolerate our own anger and don’t respond in kind. We are not to withdraw into self-preservation, not simply learn how to “cope,” and not just grin and bear it. Rather, we are to resist anger, reject resentment, refuse to grow bitter, and genuinely rejoice in the Lord no matter what is done that hurts us.

But it doesn’t stop there. We are to overcome evil with good. This means aggression, going on the offense, mounting a charge, waging war. We are to attack our offender with love, persistent and aggressive love. The whole book is about how to overcome evil with good.

Drawing truth from each verse, Jay explains the war we face in human conflicts, what the Christian’s battle orders from God are, and what our weapons are. He explains how the common understanding of “turn the other cheek” meaning “be a doormat” is incorrect and what the right response really is. He discusses right speech and what it means to, “Bless and do not curse.”

One section that I really like is the discussion of the verse “Respect what is right in the sight of all men” (12:18). The Greek which has been translated “respect” literally means “make plans and provisions for.” We are to plan out how to respond in a godly way. This means considering the situation, studying the Bible to learn what God says about it, praying, and thinking out how to effectively love the other person in practice. It means planning what to say or do, and making provisions to carry it out.

Then it gets even more convicting. On page 94 Jay writes, “Now let me ask you–have you ever sat down for even an hour to make such plans?…ask what are the situations that I am most likely to face this next week that I have failed to meet successfully in the past.” Sit with paper and pen and plan how to love the other person “with finesse.” I have done this a couple of times in the past and it was extremely helpful. But it takes a lot of effort. When reading about it again, I was convicted to be more deliberate about planning for a present situation in my life.

The chapters are short and each shines the spot light on just one primary concept. Each can easily be read in one sitting and then discussed with your children. Buy it on Amazon or from Jay’s store at Store.


About Linda

Wifing, Singing, Studying, Counseling. I counsel at Gateway Biblical Counseling and Training Center. M.A. in Biblical Counseling. Certified by Association of Certified Biblical Counselors
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