by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 16 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice

"The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on thy journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well." III John 1, 5, 6

"I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, whom loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men...." III John 9-12

There are several words which are used for sin in the Greek, but not one of them is ever translated as "evil." Likewise, the words for evil are never translated "sin." It is very plain that the words "sin" and "evil" are not the same. Evil and sin are not Synonymous! Evil is always sin, but sin is not always evil.

"Sin" is "missing the mark." "Evil" is a sin which injures another person. Losing one's temper is sin. Taking a drink of liquor is sin. Committing an immoral act is sin. However, selling or making liquor is evil. Gossip or slander is evil. Distributing pornography is evil. Evil is the sin of bringing harm to others when you sin.

Evil is a conspiratorial type of sin. It is usually an alliance of people trying to injure someone, or a conspiracy to bring harm to an individual.

Psalm 51 deals with David's confession of his sin against Bathsheba and against Uriah, her husband. In Psalm 51:4a he says, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned." David was referring to his act of adultery with Bathsheba. David goes on to say, '... and done this evil in thy sight." The evil David confesses is his conspiracy to have Uriah killed. David's sin was his passionate act of adultery with Bathsheba. His evil was his planned act of having Uriah killed. It was worse for David to conspire to kill Uriah than it was for him to fall into adultery. Both were terrible sins, but the evil was the most wicked offense.

Evil is the worst of sins.

Thirty-four times in the Bible you will find the words, "good" and "evil," mentioned side by side. Every time they are mentioned together, the word, "good," has a beneficiary. It is speaking of doing good to someone. It does not mean being a good person but doing good deeds, such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, encouraging the discouraged, or winning the lost. It is used in these cases as an act of benevolence toward someone.

In this chapter I am going to give you seven truths concerning this matter of evil and good.

1. Evil is worse than other sin. Even if a person deserves to be hurt, we are never justified in hurting him. Vengeance belongs to God, not to man. When you try to hurt someone, that is evil and is the worst type of sin. Gossip is worse than cursing because it has the intent of injuring someone. We have our own sets of standards by which we define right and wrong, but God has a different set of standards. God does not want us plotting or conspiring to hurt or injure anyone. That is the worst type of sin, and God calls it evil.

We are not to treat people who sin in the same way we treat people who do evil. I often preach about salvaging people who have gone into the depths of such sin as alcoholism, drug addiction, fornication or adultery. Jesus was a friend to people like these, but He was not a friend of evil people. He was a friend of sinners, but in no place in God's Word do we find Him associating with evil people. In fact, He rebuked them. He spoke very harshly to the scribes and Pharisees because they were evil and conspired to hurt others. It is evil to conspire to hurt anyone. So bad are those who do evil that we are to avoid them totally. Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

There are three men mentioned in III John. Gaius and Demetrius were good men, but Diotrephes was an evil man. John said that Diotrephes "prated" against him which means "to bring false accusations." Even the beloved John had someone in the church who was maliciously accusing him. Every church has its good men like Gaius and Demetrius, but every church also has evil men like Diotrephes who try to destroy others with their evil and malicious words and works.

John, under the authority of the Holy Spirit, instructed the rest of the people as to how they were to respond. "Beloved, follow not that which is evil." (III John ha) Diotrephes was evil because he was the one who was falsely accusing the others. He was trying to injure other Christians. John warned them not to follow him.

Do not follow accusers! You are much safer following the accused than you are following the accusers. We are never to follow the accusers. We are to avoid them entirely. In fact, we are to mark them and avoid them.

So, whom are we to follow? The Bible tells us to follow those who are doing good to others. Often, those are the ones who are being attacked. You are not to follow those you like the most. You are to follow those who are living their lives doing things that are beneficial to others. Follow people like Gaius and Demetrius, not those who maliciously accuse people, as did Diotrephes.

2. Evil comes because of good. The most criticized people in the world are people who are doing something. Our media is dedicated to the tearing down of individuals who seem to be having a positive influence on the lives of others. Show me a church busy reaching the lost and fallen, and I will show you scandals. Evil people plot against those who are doing the most good. Romans 7:21 says, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good; evil is present with me."

Evil always follows good not just being good, but the actions of doing good. The connection is always there. Evil comes because of good and is an organized plot to stop it. The Devil is behind it all. He does not want people to be helped. The prophet Jeremiah bemoaned the fact that even though he gave himself to the doing of good, evil was recompensed to him. Jeremiah 18:20a, "Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul."

Many evil people do not realize that it is the Devil who is inspiring them. They naively are being used to attack good works. The Devil is much more vicious toward doing good than he is toward being good. Why? Being good affects only you. Doing good affects many others. That is why soul-winning churches are under such vicious attack, but "deeper life" churches are not. They are not getting anyone out of Hell. They are just sitting there being good. They don't run buses or have Sunday school campaigns. Evil does not attack the "be-gooders." It attacks the "do-gooders."

3. Good is what overcomes evil. Good is both the cause and the cure for evil. Evildoers attack those who are doing good, yet the greatest weapon against evil is more good. Romans 12:21, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

If someone conspires to do evil against you, you are commanded by God's Word to overcome it with good. You can have victory over evil only by doing more good. Do not attack the evil. Do not organize a warfare against the evildoer. If you do, you have joined them in their sin. I Peter 3:8, 9a, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil." I Thessalonians 5:l5a, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man."

The Devil is trying to destroy you. Evil men cannot destroy you unless they can cause you to begin doing the same thing they are doing. Do not render evil for evil, hurt for hurt, or conspiracy for conspiracy! Keep on doing good. Keep on helping the needy and reaching the lost. That is the only way to conquer evil.

4. More good causes more evil. The more good you do the more evil will come. Do not be surprised when people try to destroy you. Evil will come to those who are doing good, and more evil will come to those who overcome evil with more good.

5. Doing good will always overcome evil, but evil cannot overcome doing good.

6. Evil can be the motivation for doing good. Evildoers force us to do more good just so we can continue to overcome them. The more people have attacked First Baptist Church the greater the work of reaching the lost has become. We have done more good because of the evildoers. That is Biblical. It is warfare! When one side escalates its efforts, the other side automatically escalates its efforts. God always means for His people to turn evil into good. That is exactly what Joseph did. Genesis 50:19, 20, "And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good; to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

7. Evil can make you or break you; it is up to you. Evil can be the best thing that ever happened to you, or it can cause you to self destruct. It is up to you. Evil people can destroy you or help you. They can lead you to greater good or to evil, destroying the good you are doing. I Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation take you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

God will never allow you to be tested more than you are able to bear. I am able to bear the evil that is against me because God enables me. I may choose not to bear it, but I am able. God never allows more evil to come to you than you can bear. God will not allow evildoers to hurt you more than you can take.

How can you bear the evil that comes from doing good? Go out and do more good. Do not cry or seek for pity. You don't overcome evil with sympathy or pity. You overcome evil with good! Do not resort to evil to overcome evil because it will never work, and you will become evil in the process. You will hurt only yourself. Overcome evil with good.

Good causes evil. Good overcomes evil which causes more evil which causes more good. The more good you do, the more evil will attack you. The measure of good most of us do will in large measure be a result of the evil that is done to us.


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