This excerpt is taken from John Piper’s Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Crossway, 2008).
How should Christians relate to evil? How should we think and feel and act about satanic evil? Death? Natural Disasters? What about the evil and pain you confront in your own daily lives?
Here is my brief summary answer.
Eight Things to Do with Evil
On the one hand:
- Expect evil. “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet. 4:12).
- Endure evil. “Love bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7; cf. Mark 13:13).
- Give thanks for the refining effect of evil that comes against you. “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20; cf. 1 Thess. 5:18). “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance . . .” (Rom. 5:3–5).
- Hate evil. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Rom. 12:9).
- Pray for escape from evil. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).
- Expose evil. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Eph. 5:11).
- Overcome evil with good. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
- Resist evil. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Four Things Never to Do with Evil
But on the other hand:
- Never despair that this evil world is out of God’s control. “[He] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11).
- Never give in to the sense that because of seemingly random evil, life is absurd and meaningless. “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! . . . For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:33, 36).
- Never yield to the thought that God sins or is ever unjust or unrighteous in the way he governs the universe. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways” (Psalm 145:17).
- Never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. If you trust him with your life, you are in Christ. Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you—even if it takes your life—is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That wrath fell on Jesus Christ our substitute (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:3). Only mercy comes to us from God, not wrath, if we are his children through faith in Jesus. “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6).
When we renounce the designs of the devil and trust the power and wisdom and goodness of God displayed in the humble triumphs of Jesus Christ, we fulfill God’s purpose in letting Satan live a little longer. We glorify the infinitely superior worth of Jesus. So I invite you to trust him and to stand in awe of how he saves you and defeats Satan in one great sacrifice of love.