Overcoming Darkness


Photo by Alexis Antonio on Unsplash

Matthew 5:38-42 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.


It was a week or so ago that we studied the Biblical Lex Talionis, the Law of Tooth and Claw. Jesus summarizes it this way:

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

The first time the Law is quoted is in:

Exodus 21:22-25 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

We illustrated that the Law initially and specifically has to do with the death of an expectant mother and her prematurely born child. We noted also that the Law was given to limit the response to be taken to literally make the punishment fit the crime. God did not want His people being cruel. Nevertheless crime was to be punished. Though crime was to be punished, vengeance and grudge carrying was never to be normalized among the people of God. The Law specifically stated:

Leviticus 19:16-18 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the LORD. 17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.

In the Old Testament YaHWeH (the Great I AM) commanded His people be light and unity in the midst of a dark and lost world. Jesus preaches on the mountain He reminds His Church that we are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Light cannot be darkness. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil

What Did Jesus Mean By “Resist Not Evil”?

IA Church was going to have a picnic at a local park one fine Sunday morning. The Church felt that this would be a good way to reach out to the lost. The members planned, and set the date for the next Sunday morning. The only problem was no one told Sally. Sally was an old, somewhat cranky member of the Church. She was not invited to the planning sessions because of her demeanor. She missed the Sunday that the picnic was announced, and when she heard of the picnic she assumed she had purposely been uninvited. On the morning of the event a little boy from the Church stopped by Sally’s house to invite her to come. Answering the door and hearing his invitation, Sally snapped at him. “It’s too late now. I’ve already prayed for rain”.

“Resist not evil”. The word translated “resist” is the Greek ἀνθίστημι anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee) which means “to set oneself against”. What did Jesus mean by “do not set yourself against evil”?

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the Devil. As the Light of the world we are supposed to actively resist the devil and his fallen followers. The Scripture says:

James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom RESIST (anthístēmi, (pronounced anth-is’-tay-mee)) steadfast in the faith …

We are to resist the devil by walking with God, and doing His Word. We are not to let the devil in any way control our lives.

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to ignore the darkness around us. We are the light of the world. When Jesus – the Source of all light (John 8:12) – went into the Temple and saw the money changers there, the Bible says:

Matthew 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Jesus not only chased the money changers out, but He often corrected the Pharisees and Scribes. Jesus never compromised the Word of God, but always did as His Father directed (see John 14:7-10). We as God’s Church need to actively stand against darkness in our community. We must shine for Jesus! We must!

  • “Resist not evil” does not mean to condone and cloak sin in the Church. When the Apostle Peter was being hypocritical the Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 2:11-14 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

The Apostle Paul told the Church at Corinth that when there is evil in the Church to “put it away” (1 Corinthians 5:13). When Ananias and Sapphira lied to God Peter called them on it publicly, saying:

Acts 5:3-5 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

So what did Jesus mean by “resist not evil”. What Jesus meant was you cannot fight darkness by becoming darkness. You cannot fall to darkness in your methods. As the light of God every Christian is to avoid “fighting fire with fire”. We approach the darkness as LIGHT.

When Insulted, We Do Not Insult In Kind

Matthew 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

The word translated “smite” is the Greek ῥαπίζω rhapízō, (pronounced hrap-id’-zo), which means “to slap in the face with the palm of the hand, to box the ears”. In the ancient world to slap someone was to show extreme contempt for that person. The slap did not injure the body, but was meant to scar the soul. When Jesus was questioned by the High Priest prior to His crucifixion “one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand” (John 18:22). Jesus questioned the need of the slap, but “turned the other cheek”.

When we as Christians are insulted, we are not to insult in kind. This is similar to what the Lord tells us in:

Proverbs 24:28-29 Be not a witness against thy neighbor without cause; and deceive [not] with thy lips. 29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.

When personally insulted we are always to remember that we are to be “the light of the world”. When the government forbade the Apostles from preaching Christ:

Acts 5:27-29 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straightly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

To “turn the other cheek” does not mean you cannot defend yourself if you are assaulted. It means you are not to trade insults with the darkness. You represent the Light of God, dear Church. Be the Light! Remember the admonition:

Romans 12:17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is what Jesus our Lord did, even on the Cross of Calvary. The Scripture says:

1 Peter Chapter 2:20-23 For what glory [is it], if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer [for it], ye take it patiently, this [is] acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:

If you are insulted, be the Light. Let Christ shine through you. Don’t let the world drag you into the pit of darkness!

Surrender Your Earthly “Rights” To Be The Light

Matthew 5:40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.

The word translated “sue” is the Greek κρίνω krínō, (pronounced kree’-no) which means “to go to law against, seek a judgment against”. According to the Mosaic Law it was the right of every Israelite to have their cloak:

Exodus 22:26-27 If thou at all take thy neighbor’s raiment (cloak) to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27 For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.

The person who is Christ’s child is to be reliant on God for our blessings. Our lives are not enriched because of our “stuff”. Our lives are enriched because we have a Heavenly Father Who loves us, and has adopted us through the Precious Blood of Christ.

It’s just stuff!

Do not let your “stuff” rule your lives. Jesus said in another place:

Luke 12:15 … Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Our primary calling as Christians is not our “earthly rights” nor our “earthly stuff”, but that we are the Light of God. We are to live so as to earn the smile of our Savior. Shine for Jesus. Shine! The Apostle rebuked the Corinthian believers for sullying the name of Christ in court.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Don’t let “stuff” dim your light! Be the Light. Follow the Law of Christ.

Support Your Earthly Government As The Light

Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Russian author Leo Tolstoy who wrote the book “War and Peace” said:

“Christianity in its true sense puts an end to the State. It was so understood from its very beginning, and for that Christ was crucified.”

He based this on Jesus’ principle of “turn the other cheek” and “resist not evil”. Yet Christianity does not “put an end to the State”. As God’s Light we are to pray for our government, and uphold its laws as long as they do not invalidate the Law of Christ. How does this apply to this particular text?

Israel was occupied by Rome, an invading force. The average Israelite hated this. What they particularly hated was Roman Law. Under Roman Law a soldier had the right to command you to carry a pack, or a weapon, for up to one mile. This is exactly what happened to Simon the Cyrenian:

Luke 23:26 And as they led {Jesus} away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.

Jesus told us to support our government. Though our Kingdom is not of this world, we are to shine for Christ as good citizens while on this planet. We are told in:

1 Peter 2:13-14 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

Shine where you are. Shine as the Light of God, being good citizens – as long as that Law does not violate the Law of Christ. Go the extra mile. Richard Wurmbrand (a.k.a. Nicolai Ionescu) was a missionary for Christ in the Communistic Soviet Union. He wrote:

I have seen Christians in communist prisons with 50 pounds of chains on their feet, tortured with red-hot iron pokers, in whose throats spoonfuls of salt had been forced, being kept afterward without water, starving, whipped, suffering form cold, – and praying with fervor for the communists . . . Afterward, the communists come to prison too. Now the tortured and the torturers were in the same cell. And while the non-Christians beat them (the former torturers), Christians took their defense. I have seen Christians giving away their last slice of bread (we had at that time one slice a week) and the medicine which could save their lives to a sick communist torturer who was now a fellow-prisoner.”

Help The Needy As The Light

Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

The Lord was not telling us to become easy marks for welfare minded people. The Scripture is very clear:

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Every week I receive calls from able bodied people who want me to pay their utility bill or their rent. Many call me on high priced mobile phones – while watching cable television all day long. If you will not work, you shall not eat. However, as the Light of God we must examine each case – and give to those who are truly in need and not just lazy. We do not fulfill wants and wish lists – but also do not turn away someone genuinely in need. Help others, but always be mindful that you are to be the Light of the world. Share Christ with others. Help your brothers and sisters in Christ. This was the pattern of the early Church:

Acts 2:42-47 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Let’s be the Light that Christ calls us to be. May the Lord lead us all to shine for Him. In Christ’s name. Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.