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Drawing the Line on Evil

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1 Thessalonians 5:22 HCSB
Stay away from every kind of evil.

Wrong Thinking

This does not mean

Do not do anything that anyone could perceives as evil

1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV 1900
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Sometimes this verse is wrongly interpreted using a faulty reading of the KJV to focus on perception.
If you are doing something that someone may perceive as evil, it is wrong.
This is often used by “busy-bodies” to conclude, often based on gossip (which is, in fact a gross sin), that someone is off in sin, because they perceive a thing to be sin.
Fishing on Sunday… women wearing pants.. or in in some circles, makeup.. movies, etc. And it gets worse.
She then said “well it appears evil TO ME” It was all a matter of her perception, and truth had no value to her because she had made up her mind, based on the report she heard, not the evidence at hand.
I find it fascinating to see how people use the Scripture, oftentimes quite innocently, to make it mean something that it never intends to mean. The above passage, quoted from the King James Version is often interpreted as follows: Don’t do anything that could be perceived to be evil. This interpretation has been used to cover all kinds of things like card playing, women wearing pants, dancing (Can Baptist dance: Johnny Hunt says some can some can’t), fishing on Sunday, going to movies, etc. The rationale is that you should not do ANYTHING that someone may consider sinful. The emphasis here is on someone’s PERCEPTION. The problem with this interpretation is that it is simply NOT what the passage says.
Notice how this is translated by other versions. Abstain from every form of evil. (ESV and NKJV) Stay away from every kind of evil. (HCSB). Avoid every kind of evil. (NIV) If we understand the word “appearance” has nothing to do with perception, and everything to do with reality, it helps clear things up.
Paul is not arguing that we should avoid something simply because someone else may perceive it to be evil; he is telling us to stay away from anything that is evil.
Luke 9:29 speaks of Jesus’ face changing in appearance on the Mount of Transfiguration. This does not mean that one person saw his face one way, and another saw it another way. Jesus face appeared different because it WAS different. It had changed in form. This distinction is significant. No serious Bible Scholar would argue that Jesus face simply was perceived as different, but the perception was based in the reality that his face shone.
While it is true that we should live circumspectly in such a way that we don’t give our weaker brother an occasion to stumble (both concepts born out in Scripture, see 1 Corinthians 8:9 and Ephesians 5:15),we must be careful to remember that God, who has revealed to us his will in the Scripture, is the decider of what is sin and what is not sin. We cannot allow people, even well meaning people, to lift passages out of context, and make them mean things they were never intended to mean.

Use this Verse on Others, and Pay no attention to yourselves.

While it is true that there is an understood yall here, this is not meant to be a command to tend to everyone else’s business, but that we should each abstain from every appearance of evil.
We must guard against being so quick to look for the “evil” actions of others, while not paying enough attention to ourselves.
The World loves to point out the “judge not” passages in the Bible without giving context, but it sure seems like we can spend a lot of time worrying about someone else, and not enough time on us.
I love the update: Love the sinner, hate the sin. that says loves the sinner, hate my own sin.
Jesus spoke of this in the sermon on the mount,
Matthew 7:3–4 HCSB
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye?

Right Understanding

1 Thessalonians 5:22 HCSB
Stay away from every kind of evil.
Abstain or stay away from - In Acts 15. the Gentile Believers were told to abstain from thing polluted by idols
In 1 thess 4.3 we were told to abstain from sexual immorality, and here
abstain from every kind of evil.
One of the ideas behind “abstain” is “be distant” which is why Holman has translated the word stay away.
Draw a line and get away from it. Keep your distance.
I was ready recently by some pro-global warming that recent melting on Mt. Everest has revealed several climbers who had been lost and died without anyone knowing where they were. Now they can be seen.
If you ever hear that I fell off of something high, just know I was pushed. I am not going to get close enough to the edge to fall. I keep my distance.
I believe this applies here. If we keep our distance from sin, it is harder to “fall into it.”
Let’s don’t live trying to see how close we can warm up to sin, and then be surprised when we fall into it. Back away from the line.
every kind- appearance- again this is not what someone perceives to be evil, but evil in all the ways it may appear.
I promise you, if you start trying to stay away from evil it will show in all kinds of way.
Let’s say you have a problem keeping Paul’s teaching in chapter 3. verse 11 about minding your own business. I promise you, people will come out of the wood work to want to share gossip with you.
You will become hypersensitive to the number ‘appearances’ someone else’s business will make.
Let’s say you decide to be serious about Paul’s command to flee sexual immorality. You will become hypersensitive to the number of ‘appearances’ of too much flesh, that will parade by you.
But draw a line and draw it WAY back.
Now let’s end with the thought of EVIL.
Isaiah 5:20 HCSB
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Evil can be defined as being morally corrupt.
Question: Who are what determines what should be considered EVIL?
For the Christian, we need to be apologetically bold about this. Evil is whatever is contrary to God’s character, nature, and will as declared by the Holy Scripture.
For the secularist and/or atheist, goodness and evil are determined only by the majority thought of the day.
Judges 17:6 HCSB
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted.
But for the Christian, we can’t just claim to believe in the authority of Scripture, we must live it. We must stay away from evil in every form.
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