Resisting Evil

Jesus said, "Resist not evil," but James taught, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you," a thought which Mrs. Eddy has reexpressed when she says, "Resist evil—error of every sort—and it will flee from you" (Science and Health, p. 406). To the superficial reader the first passage might appear to be a direct contradiction of the other two, but to the student who is willing to examine each passage separately in connection with its context, taking into consideration the point of view of the author and the circumstances under which Jesus' words were uttered, much light as to the true way in which to overcome evil may be gained.

Previous to making the statement, "Resist not evil," Jesus had done a very humble thing: he had come to John to be baptized of him in the Jordan, and as a result of his meekness and obedience "the heavens were opened unto him," in proof of his understanding of divine Science. Immediately following the spiritual manifestation which had laid bare the nothingness of materiality, Jesus learns, as many of his followers have learned since, that the revelation of the truth is not its demonstration, for he spent forty days and forty nights while being tempted of the devil, before he proved to his own satisfaction the truth of what he had perceived. To test still more thoroughly his understanding, he "went about all Galilee, ... healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease," also, all the afflicted that were brought to him from the surrounding country. Not until he had thus convinced himself of the infallibility of divine metaphysics did he go "up into a mountain" and deliver his famous and only recorded sermon,—the Sermon on the Mount,—in which occurs the admonition, "Resist not evil."

After outlining in unmistakable language the infinite blessedness and divine compassion contained in the gospel of peace which he taught, he told his hearers that unless they were more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees, they in no case could enter the kingdom of heaven. Taking up various sections of the Mosaic law taught by rabbi and priest, he explained the real meaning of the divine law of Love in contradistinction to the stern rabbinical law. When he came to the part which reads, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," he took issue with such teaching by instructing his auditors to "resist not evil." By this saying Jesus did not mean that evil is not to be overcome, for shortly before this he had been victorious over the tempter, but he did object to the "eye for an eye" and "tooth for a tooth" method, or human resistance to evil. All through the ages the effort has been made to subdue the sins of the human mind by means of the human mind, to fight evil with evil; nevertheless the Master knew that it is the light of spiritual understanding, not the exercise of the human will, which effectually destroys all evil,—sin, sickness, and death.

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Lessons from a Garden
May 30, 1914

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