No Evil Will Befall You – Psalm 91:10

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God’s promise to those who make Him their home, and not an occasional visit, is that “No evil will befall you” (Psalm 91:10).

As I began to study and meditate upon this Scripture, I thought, “Now, wait a minute. What about Stephen in Acts 7 and James in Acts 12? Evil men killed them for their faith! The Apostle Paul endured horrendous persecution and beatings.

The Stoning of Saint Stephen by Rembrandt

If anyone made God their dwelling place, it was men like Stephen, James, and Paul. So, how can it be true that no evil will befall the believer of Psalm 91?

I believe a key to understanding this Scripture lies in how the word “befall” is translated in other verses. In Proverbs 12:21, the translation is “overtakes.”

“No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble.”

Proverbs 12:21

As Epictetus, an enslaved Roman who became a Greek philosopher, said, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Although evil gravely touched men like Stephen, James, and Paul, it did not overcome them. Stephen’s dying words were, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60) His intercession for his murderers exemplified Paul’s writing in Romans 12.

Heap Burning Coals on His Head

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone … But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:17, 20-21
Bishop K.C. Pillai

We picture someone dumping white-hot coals over our enemy’s head in our Western minds! Bishop K.C. Pillai, a Hindu who converted to Christianity, taught Westerners about the customs of Eastern biblical culture. He explained Romans 12:20:

“To start fires in the East, they would use a flint and stone. Maybe only one family had the flint in a village. There is a village fire carrier. They place a leather cushion on his head and then a bowl on top. The coals of fire go in the bowl and he carries it from house to house where each woman will take coals to start a fire. As he walks the fire will not burn his head but rather it will just warm his head. If you do good to the enemy it will warm his heart, renew his mind. In the East, love is symbolic of fire. Coals of fire warm a person, love warms a person—no greater force than love.”

Bishop K.C. Pillai

Stephen’s dying intercession in Acts 7 began the warming process for a young man in the stone-hurling crowd, who eventually became the Apostle Paul.

As I prayed, studied, and meditated upon “No evil will overtake you” in Psalm 91:10, I thought of a man who suffered unspeakable torture for his faith in Jesus Christ. Richard Wurmbrand recounted his suffering at the hands of Communists in the book, Tortured for Christ. He guarded his heart with the love of Jesus toward his captors, refusing to allow evil to overcome him with anger and bitterness.

Richard Wurmbrand, imprisoned for Christ

Evil Overtaking Christians

Today, Communistic evil masquerades as socialism, deceiving many Christians. The promise of “free” education and healthcare provided for all by a just and caring government is a powerful lure into the snare of captivity. Nothing is “free” in socialism, and people pay dearly for it by losing their God-given rights and liberty. Under socialism, the state is “God” and allows no others. This godless state persecutes Christians who dare to remain loyal to Christ.

Unfortunately, evil has overtaken many Christians today who have not made the Lord their dwelling place, their home. They support and vote for leaders who oppose the laws of God and set the wicked over themselves. Proverbs 28:4 reveals the dividing line between those who love God’s biblical law and those who have forsaken it.

“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law resist them.”

Proverbs 28:4

For my brothers and sisters who have forsaken God’s law, I pray, “Lord, open their eyes and hearts to your truth.”

I want to finish this blog post with the words of one who made God his home and didn’t allow evil to overtake him. In Tortured for Christ, Richard Wurmbrand demonstrated his love – his good – for his torturers. You may not be able to take all this in at once, so please come back to read more. Our brother in Christ, Richard, offers hope and encouragement to those who dare to suffer for Christ. 

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“I learned from them [the Communists]. As they allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I would leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.”

Richard Wurmbrand

We Made a Deal: We Preached and They Beat

It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us – so everyone was happy.

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Don’t You Have Pity?

I often asked the torturers, “Don’t you have pity in your hearts?” They usually answered with quotations from Lenin: “You cannot make omelets without breaking the shells of eggs,” and “You cannot cut wood without making chips fly.” I said again, “I know these quotations from Lenin. But there is a difference. When you cut a piece of wood it feels nothing. But here you are dealing with human beings. Every beating produces pain and there are mothers who weep.” It was in vain. They are materialists. For them nothing besides matter exists and to them a man is like wood, like an eggshell. With this belief they sink to unthinkable depths of cruelty.

The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe. When a man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil, there is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil that is in man. The Communist torturers often said, “There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.” I heard one torturer say, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.” He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.

I am very sorry if a crocodile eats a man, but I can’t reproach the crocodile. He is not a moral being. So no reproaches can be made to the Communists. Communism has destroyed any moral sense in them. They boasted that they had no pity in their hearts.

I learned from them. As they allowed no place for Jesus in their hearts, I decided I would leave not the smallest place for Satan in mine.

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Resisting Brainwashing

Westerners have probably heard about brainwashing in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. I have passed through brainwashing myself. It is the most horrible torture.

“There is only one method of resistance to brainwashing: it is “heart washing.”

Richard Wurmbrand

We had to sit for seventeen hours a day-for weeks, months, and years-hearing:

Communism is good!

Communism is good!

Communism is good!

Christianity is stupid!

Christianity is stupid!

Christianity is stupid!

Give up!

Give up!

Give up!

Several Christians have asked me how we could resist brainwashing. There is only one method of resistance to brainwashing: it is “heart washing.” If the heart is cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ, and if the heart loves Him, one can resist all tortures. What would a loving bride not do for a loving bridegroom? What would a loving mother not do for her child? If you love Christ as Mary did, who had Christ as a baby in her arms, if you love Jesus as a bride loves her bridegroom, then you can resist such tortures.

God will judge us not according to how much we endured, but how much we could love. The Christians who suffered for their faith in prisons could love. I am a witness that they could love God and men.

“We were happy preaching.” – Richard Wurmbrand

The tortures and brutality continued without interruption. When I lost consciousness or became too dazed to give the torturers any further hopes of confession, I would be returned to my cell.

There I would lie, untended and half dead, to regain a little strength so they could work on me again. Many died at this stage, but somehow my strength always managed to return. In the ensuing years, in several different prisons, they broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body.

When my family and I were ransomed out of Romania and brought to Norway, doctors in Oslo, seeing all this and the scars in my lungs from tuberculosis, declared that my being alive today is a pure miracle! According to their medical books, I should have been dead for years. I know myself that it is a miracle. God is a God of miracles.

I believe God performed this wonder so that you could hear my voice crying out on behalf of the Underground Church in persecuted countries. He allowed one to come out alive and cry aloud the message of your suffering, faithful brethren.

Prisoners forced to stand for hours in box with razor-sharp nails.

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The Spirit is Master of the Body

One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us.

When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master.

When one Christian was sentenced to death, he was allowed to see his wife before being executed. His last words to his wife were, “You must know that I die loving those who kill me. They don’t know what they do and my last request of you is to love them, too. Don’t have bitterness in your heart because they killed your beloved one. We will meet in heaven.” These words impressed the officer of the secret police who attended the discussion between the two. He later told me the story in prison where he had been sent for becoming a Christian.

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