Divine service for the departed: Overcoming evil


Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? — 1 John 5: 5


Belief in Jesus Christ overcomes evil.

In our Bible text, the term “world” does not refer to people, but rather to the reign of evil. Since the fall into sin, evil has exercised its rule over both the creation and all human beings. This reign of evil produces lies and envy, avarice and hatred, violence and death.

Jesus has overcome evil

In order to redeem human beings from evil, God sent His Son into the world. At that time, evil manifested itself in the same way it does today. The following examples bear mentioning in this connection:

  • The slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem (Matthew 2: 16).
  • Lies and corruption (Matthew 26: 59; 28: 12).
  • The wars fought by the Romans at the time, as well as the persecutions of the Christians.

Jesus not only lived in a world dominated by evil, but also experienced evil personally: He was betrayed, and unjustly condemned, tortured, and executed. Nevertheless, He gained the victory over evil. None of the sufferings He had to endure were able to shake His relationship with His Father. He remained obedient to the end.

Through His sacrifice on the cross, He made it possible for human beings to be saved “from this present evil age” (Galatians 1: 4). After His death, He preached the gospel to the dead who had succumbed to evil by rejecting the offer of deliverance announced by Noah in his time (1 Peter 3: 19–20).

Belief in Jesus Christ overcomes evil

In order to attain salvation, we must believe in Jesus Christ and in the preaching of the gospel. This belief must produce works: believers must bring their lives into line with the gospel and receive the sacraments. The salvation that God grants to those who believe does not result in their removal from the domain of the evil one (John 17: 15), but equips them with the means to resist the evil one.

Overcoming evil on earth

Here on earth we will continue to be exposed to the evil one, but our faith enables us to resist his influence.

  • The trials we face do nothing to impair our trust in God or our love for Him.
  • The injustices we have suffered do not call into question either our gratitude or our commitment to the Lord.

Let us examine ourselves! Is our faith strong enough? If necessary, let us humbly ask the Lord to come to our aid in fighting against unbelief (Mark9: 24). Through His word, He grants us His help. Let us take it to heart!

Overcoming evil in the beyond

Evil also reigns in the realms of the beyond. Death itself is an expression of evil. The salvation that God offers the departed does not consist of compensating them for the evil they suffered during their lifetime. Through word and sacrament, which He dispenses for the beyond through the Apostle ministry, He gives believers in the beyond the opportunity to forgive those who have done them harm, and thereby acquire the peace of Christ.

Full redemption from evil

At His return, Jesus will lead His bride into His kingdom. Both the dead and the living who belong to the bride will then be completely liberated from the influence of the evil one once and for all.

* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service for the departed held on 03 July 2016 at Midrand Congregation.

— We would love to hear from you on any of these topics. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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