Posts Tagged ‘evil in the eyes’

The Appearance of Evil

Posted: April 13, 2021 in Uncategorized

2 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil

What does it mean not to give the appearance of evil?

Answer: Many Christians assume that to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV) is to avoid any behavior anyone might perceive as being evil. Not only do we flee from that which is evil, we flee from that which appears to be evil. For instance, a pastor should not be seen frequenting a bar because someone may think he is getting drunk. However, the actual meaning of this verse is a matter of some debate within Christianity.

Depending on the Bible version you use, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 refers to the “appearance of evil” (KJV), “every kind of evil” (NIV and NLT), or “every form of evil” (NRSV, NKJV, and ESV). Each is a good translation. The Greek word translated “appearance,” “form,” or “kind” can mean any of these things. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 5:7 translated as “sight.”

Obviously, the difference in translations can lead to a difference in application. Is it the appearance of evil we should be concerned with, or is it staying away from all forms of evil?

One problem with emphasizing the appearance of evil is that it can make us slaves to the perceptions of others. There will always be someone who thinks that something you are doing is wrong, or that it looks wrong to him. So, rather than spending our time getting to know God and serving Him, we worry about the possibility that someone, somewhere, might misconstrue our actions. In the same letter that he wrote about avoiding evil, Paul wrote, “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts”

 1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

 Our goal is to live righteously before God, not to comply with others’ arbitrary standards of conduct.

At the same time, we are instructed not to allow our Christian freedom to become a stumbling block to others 

1 Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to them that are weak.

We are also instructed to be salt and light in the world (Mathews 5:13-16). Christians have been set apart 

2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 

We are still talking of this evil man of verse twenty-nine. This is saying: keep your eyes wide open, do not fall for his sales pitch. Moving his lips means he talks you into bringing the evil thing to pass

Under Gods Command

Judges 10:6-9 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.  They served the Baal and the Ashtoreths, and the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites and the gods of the Philistines.  And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and on longer served him, he became angry with them.  He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shatter and crushed them.  For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead, the land of the Amorites.  The Ammonites also crossed the Jordan to fight against Judah, Benjamin and the house of Ephraim; and Israel was in great distress.  Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD, “We have sinned against you, forsaking our God and serving the Baals.” 

Once again the Israelites suffered for many years before they gave up their sinful ways and called out to God for help.  Notice that when the Israelites were at the end of their rope they did not look to their pagan gods for help, but to the only One was really able to help.

Lets bring it home: In your last resort? So much unnecessary suffering takes place because we don’t call on God until we’ve used up all other resources.  Rather than waiting until the situation becomes desperate, turn to God first.  He has the necessary resources to meet every kind of problem.

Under Gods Command

Judges 6:01-05 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.  Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds.  Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country.  They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys.  They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locust.  It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it.

The Midianites were desert people descended from Abraham’s second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1,2).  From this relationship came a nation that was always in conflict with Israel.  Years earlier the Israelite’s, while still wandering in the desert, battled the Midianites and almost totally destroyed them (Numbers 31:1-20).  Because of their failure to completely destroy them, however, the tribe repopulated.  Here they were once again oppressing Israel.

Under Gods Command
Disobedience and defeat

Judges 3:5-7 The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They took their daughters in marriage and gave their own daughter to their sons, and served their gods. The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs.

The Israelites discovered that relationships affect faith. The men and women of the surrounding nations were attractive to the Israelites. Soon they intermarried, and the Israelite accepted their pagan gods. This was clearly prohibited by God (Exodus 24:15-17; Deuteronomy 7:1-4). By accepting these gods into their homes, the Israelites gradually began to accept the immoral practices associated with them. Most Israelites didn’t start out determined to be idolaters; they just added the idols to the worship of God. But before long they found themselves absorbed in pagan worship.

Lets bring it home: A similar danger faces us. We want to befriend those who don’t know God but through those friendships we can become entangled in unhealthy practices. Friendships with unbelievers are important, but we must accept people without compromising or adopting their patterns of behavior.