Responding To Evil

(Matthew 5:38-42)


A. When someone treats you wrong, how do you respond?

1. Do you react in kind – treating evil with evil?

2. Do you just stand there and take whatever abuse is

3. What is the proper way to respond to evil?

a. Many “think” they know they answer to this

b. Today I want to challenge your thinking, the way you
have always thought about this issue

c. As we consider this topic today I want you to allow the
Scriptures to totally direct your thinking

B. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus taught concerning the
righteousness of the kingdom…

1. He did so by contrasting it with the so-called
“righteousness” of the scribes and Pharisees

a. Noting how the Law had been interpreted and applied

b. Declaring what He expected of His disciples

2. We have seen Jesus contrast this righteousness in such
matters as:

a. Murder and anger (Mt. 5:21-26)

b. Adultery (Mt. 5:27-30)

c. Divorce (Mt. 5:31-32)

d. Swearing Oaths (Mt. 5:33-37)

C. In this lesson, we shall look at what Jesus taught
concerning “vengeance” (Mt. 5:38-42) as we discuss
“Responding To Evil”



1. Concerning “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”

a. It is found in Exodus 21:24-25

b. A parallel passage is Deuteronomy 19:21

2. These statements were laws for civil courts to apply

a. Notice carefully Deuteronomy 19:15-21

b. Exodus 21:22-24

c. They were given to guide the priests in meriting out
proper punishment

3. But notice what the scribes and Pharisees had done.

a. Interpreted these statements so as to justify personal

b. Applied them by frequently taking matters of
revenge into their own hands – Just as many people
do today!

4. The law repeatedly forbid “personal” vengeance

a. Leviticus 19:18

b. Proverbs 24:29

c. In both Old Testament and New Testaments, the
matter of vengeance was to be left up to God and His
duly appointed agent: civil government!

1) Romans 12:19

2) Romans 13:1-4

5. There really is no difference between the Law and what
we find in the New Testament in this regard:

a. Personal vengeance has no place in the lives of those
who are the children of God!

b. Now let’s examine more closely…


1. Jesus proclaimed two principals

a. Do not resist an evil person (39a)

1) Not only should you not take vengeance into your own

2) But don’t even oppose (resist) the evil person when the
evil is being done!

b. Respond to evil by doing good! (39b-42)

1) Jesus illustrates this with several examples

a) Responding to physical abuse (39b)  “Turn the other
cheek” – This may refer to offering the other cheek as
an expression of love

b) Responding to a civil suit, by giving more than what
the person is suing! (40)

c) Responding to government oppression, by offering
to do more than what is being demanded of you! (41)

d) Responding to those asking for help, by giving them
what they ask! (42)

2) In each case, the principle is the same

a) We are not to resist the person who would
mistreat us or who would try to deprive us of our

b) Instead, respond in a positive manner by
demonstrating love toward them, or by freely
giving them more than they were hoping to gain
by force, oppression, or manipulation!

2. Is this to be taken literally?

a. Why not?

1) We have several O. T. examples…

a) Joseph, in forgiving his brothers – Gen 45:4-15

b) David, in sparing the life of Saul – 1 Sam 24:8-15

c) Elisha, in feeding the army of the Arameans – 2 Kgs.
6: 8-23

2) We also have several N. T. examples…

a) Jesus, our prime example – 1 Pt. 2:20-23

b) Stephen, when he was being stoned – Acts 7:59-60

c) The Hebrew Christians, who “joyfully accepted” the
plundering of their goods – Heb. 10:32-34

3) We have the clear teaching of Paul in Romans

a) We are not to avenge ourselves

b) We must seek to overcome evil with good

c) Are we to take these teachings literally?

b. If not, then how do we apply these words of Jesus?

3. I find striking the attitude of Christians in the second
century, A.D.:

a. “Do good, and give liberally to all who are in need from
the wages God gives you. Do not hesitate about to whom
you should not give. Give to all. For God wishes gifts to
be made to all out of His bounties.” (Hermas, 135

b. “And he said to love not only our neighbors but also our
enemies, and to be givers and sharers not only with the
good but also to be liberal givers towards those who take
away our possessions.” (Irenaeus, 185 A.D.)

c. These statements were written at a time when Christians
were constantly mistreated, abused, and manipulated by

4. The teachings of Jesus in this passage are admittedly

a. It is opposed to what we might call “human nature”

b. But we are called upon to be “partakers of the divine
nature” (2 Pt. 1:4); in other words, to be more like
God than men

d. As we will see in the next lesson on the Sermon of the
Mount Jesus teaches a standard of righteousness that far
exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees and of most
people today!

e. At the very least, let us expend as much energy in
seeing how we can apply this passage to lives – as
many do trying to explain how it doesn’t really mean
what it appears to say!


A. Summarizing the teaching of Jesus concerning
“Responding To Evil”…

1. We are not to resist evil

2. We are to respond by doing good in turn

B. We may never face the exact situations Jesus used to
illustrate His point…

1. But the principles can be applied to so many things we do

2. For example, how people treat us at work, in our
communities, in our own families, in the church

3. Whenever mistreated, take the challenge to see how
you might overcome evil with good.

4. Then your “righteousness” will exceed that of the scribes
and Pharisees!


About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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