Horrifying incidents of violence and terrorism are happening with increasing frequency in our world. It seems every few weeks brings another mass shooting or other grisly attack. So often, it is perpetrated by someone everybody knew and was unsettled by—the creepy student who played violent video games and wrote hateful posts on social media; the angry co-worker who never got along with others and occasionally spouted off extremist rhetoric. But people, constrained by a mixture of political correctness, sympathy and cowardice, tend not to do anything about these warning signs until it is too late.
Failing to confront evil—both within ourselves and within our society—can have devastating consequences.
We live in a culture where the line between good and evil is broad and gray. People seek to understand evil, to accommodate it—to explain it as anything other than what it actually is.
The nature of evil is to spread. Like bacteria in a petri dish, self-absorption and negativity, left unchecked, grow into depression and ruin. Bad habits lead to addictions. Destructive cultural forces like vulgarity, violence and family breakdown fester and multiply. Political tyrants keep conquering territory and people until some stronger force intervenes to stop them.
Our society sits in profound denial of this plain fact—from parents who do not bridle their children, to judges who protect pornography rather than people, to politicians who insist that our enemies will vanish if we simply make nice with them.
A society loath to identify evil as something to be fought—if it is willing to identify evil at all—is helpless to resist it. Ambivalence about evil—or worse, fascination with it—invites its presence and encourages its growth.
A godly man cannot follow this trend.
There are dangers and evils in our lives, in our relationships, in our families, in our work. We need to exercise godly authority. We need to learn how to confront evil. We need to build the courage to restrain Satan’s influence. We need to become men who deal with iniquity with godly boldness.
A core element of manhood is to confront evil.
Confrontation is a manly duty. If God is leading us to restrain evil, we should not run from the opportunity: We should seize it.
This requires godly wisdom. Right confrontation is motivated by love and outgoing concern. Stepping out and restraining a wrong influence, fighting evil and exercising authority must be an expression not of our will, but of God’s love.
How God Deals With Evil
Evil covers Earth like water covers the ocean beds. It surrounds us; it seeps into our thoughts; it soaks into our families. What do you do when you see evil leaking into your household?
Though some few men have the opposite problem, many men want to avoid confrontation at any cost, especially in this feminized era.
God is not ambivalent about evil. He witnessed its unhappy origin: when the archangel Lucifer, whom He had created, began harboring vain thoughts that ultimately drove him to try to usurp God’s throne (read Ezekiel 28:14-18). God did not respond with sympathy, and certainly not with cowardice. He responded with violent force, expelling His adversary, along with all his demons, out of heaven and casting them down to Earth. God confronts evil!
These events are described in Revelation 12:7-12, a passage that concludes with a chilling warning to us: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth …! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
Yes, the devil is right here among us—even, in some respects, within us. Do you recognize him?
Why would God curse us with the devil’s presence? Because He wants us to learn to confront evil. And He wants us to witness firsthand the devastating consequences of failing to do so.
God confronts evil, and we are striving to become like God. He tells us repeatedly in the Bible that we must follow His example in this respect. “[I]f thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15; also Luke 17:3). “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness …” (Galatians 6:1). Temper criticism with wisdom; be kind—but still, take action. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly [or “admonish the idle” the esv says], comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Confronting evil is crucial for anyone who follows God. It begins with working to overcome sin in your own mind. And in some cases, it requires intervening and confronting evil in the lives of your wife, your children or other people.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love,” Proverbs 27:5 says. You might feel very loving toward someone, but if you’re not expressing it, it does that person no good. What is more beneficial? Open rebuke. At least then the person might actually profit from what is said. And sometimes, rebuke can be extremely helpful.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (verse 6; rsv).
Are you friend enough to deliver a “faithful wound” when needed? If someone you care about is doing something that is hurting him and he cannot see it or refuses to see it, someone needs to intervene.
A man must not fear confrontation. Shying away from it because it is uncomfortable is a failure to love someone enough to help him stop hurting himself or save him from a mistake.
In Your Home
If you are a father, you must confront your children. Satan is broadcasting nonstop to influence, tempt and coerce people into evil thoughts and destructive actions. He is working hard, constantly fighting the positive influence that God and you are exerting on your child. He is not afraid to confront you!
If you are not confronting your children, you do not love them! Read Proverbs 13:24; 19:18 and 29:15. God says if you spare the rod—a very direct form of confrontation—you hate your son. If you love him, you will chasten him promptly. The father who loves his child springs into action when he sees evil.
Our world is dominated by Satan’s influence. Because of this, your children are vulnerable—perhaps already suffering from serious sins. Children everywhere languish under parents who weakly address those evil influences with insufficient force, or ignore them altogether.
Neglect is not confrontation. Nagging is not confrontation. Negotiation is not confrontation. Godly confrontation means establishing firm rules with clear, just, effective penalties, and following through consistently. It is hard, but if you don’t do it, the evil spreads like a brush fire on a windy day.
If you are a husband, you cannot fear confronting your wife. Don’t be soft when you should not be. Stand up and confront when you need to. If you fear confrontation, then you are opening the door to your wife taking the lead.
Fear of confrontation can be subtler than you realize. Maybe you make the decisions, but you do so based on avoiding confrontation with your wife, rather than on where Christ is leading you. She is driving the house from the back seat—and she may not even realize it. But you need to realize it.
Be honest about this. Are you doing what she wants done simply to avoid conflict? God commands you to be the head of your home. Your decision must be based on His influence. The man who fears confrontation will one day realize that his wife is actually the leader of his family.
Don’t confront your wife the same way you would confront your child. She is an adult; she is your bride; she is a spiritual heir together with you. But what is the same is that in both cases, you should confront it! You should exercise your authority to lead your family away from harm. You should restrain iniquity.
How to Do It
Here are three steps for exercising godly confrontation.
1. Be courageous. When the entire nation cowered in the shadow of Goliath, David ran to the battle. Most of us prefer to ignore the problem and push it aside, where it smolders. In these situations, time is not on your side! Don’t procrastinate when you know the responsibility is yours. Sprint forward, grab hold of the problem, and wrestle against it.
2. Be crystal clear. If you are going to really help someone, the person must know exactly what you are asking of him. Once you have stepped forward to confront evil in the life of your child, wife, employee, friend or someone else, make sure you state things clearly. Football coach Bill Parcells said, “The only way to change people is to tell them in the clearest possible terms what they’re doing wrong.” Don’t equivocate. Don’t begin to back down now that you are actually eye-to-eye. Make sure that what you are saying is clear.
3. Be humble. This is essential. It should motivate you from the moment you notice something wrong to well after the confrontation has taken place. Remember that you have sins and need to be confronted sometimes. Recognize that the person you are talking to is a child of God. Don’t assume you see the whole situation completely. And pray for real godly humility.
When you confront, make sure God is with you! For Him to work through you for the benefit of the person you are confronting, you must have godly humility. In fact, the process often involves you being corrected yourself. Christ says in Matthew 7 that you must remove the beam in your eye before you should attempt to remove the fleck in your brother’s eye.
Remember also to be “slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Your human wrath contains none of God’s righteousness. “[T]hat means we must always let God’s righteousness direct our anger, or we will make many mistakes. We absolutely must rule our emotions,” Gerald Flurry writes (The Epistle of James). Your impatience, your frustration, your bad temper are worthless to God! Do not discipline your children with these emotions; they are only destructive. Your only anger should be righteous anger against sin.
Yes, godly confrontation must be done the right way, with courage, clarity and humility. It requires you to eradicate carnal thoughts: pride, frustration, wrong emotion. It requires you to take personal correction yourself. But do not let the hard work of godly confrontation dissuade you from doing it! It is your duty as a man. Don’t fear it. Fear the sin, the evil, the suffering that results from neglecting it! Let God use you to confront and restrain evil. It is a critical duty of biblical manhood.