How Should We Respond to Evil?
By Hal Lindsey
The violence we see and the lies we hear can be infuriating. All over the world, people are doing and saying things that feel like a knife to the heart of civilized culture. How can anyone seriously defend rapists, human butchers, beheaders of babies, slaughterers who burn people alive in their own homes, and who parade the dead through the streets? Yet we’re seeing their defenders all over the world. In a stunning bit of irony, some use their defense of debauchery as a form of virtue signaling.
So, how do we respond? Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV) says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” Some translations say something like, “don’t give the devil an opportunity.” But “place” is a better translation. Some versions of the NASB add a footnote at “opportunity” that says, “literally ‘a place.’”
It’s about territory. The Greek word is “topos.” The English word “topography” combines “topos” or “place” with “graphia” which refers to description or imagery. Topos carries the connotation of a limited space. We all have precious areas in our hearts and minds that should be fiercely protected from evil. Mismanaged anger can be dangerous to those parts of us.
This verse tells us at least three crucial things about protecting our hearts from such dangers. First, it’s okay to be angry. Second, anger does not excuse sin. Be angry, but don’t murder anyone. Be angry, but don’t rob the bank. Third, do not stay angry. Anger that lasts too long and anger that triggers us to sin, give place to Satan. So, be angry, but do not sin. And don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.
When we see violence against the vulnerable or lies perpetrated against the naïve, we should be angry. But even such righteous wrath must not last, and it must not drive us to sin. Romans 12:21 (NASB) says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Don’t let the dark shadows of anger and fear overcome the light of Christ shining through your life. In Luke 6:27-29, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Peter reflected that teaching in 1 Peter 3:8-9. “Let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead.”
That teaching does not prevent us from defending our families or our nations. If a stalker enters your home, you have to do your best to deal with him. That’s part of providing for your own, and 1 Timothy 5:8 says that the one who doesn’t provide for his own house has denied the faith. Defending your country is another way of defending your family.
But even in areas of defense, take on the mind of Christ. Philippians 2:5 says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Such verses give us a blueprint to a godly mind, attitude, and perspective. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”