A. It is not possible to avoid all evil (I Corinthians 5:9-13).
- Yet, when it comes to what we participate in we have to be very cautious (i.e. Ephesians 5:6-11).
- We cannot partake in sin (I Timothy 5:22).
- Jesus was separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:22-26).
- Yet, not altogether separate in every way (Luke 15:1-32).
- Insomuch that there was a continual allegation levied at Him (Matthew 11:16-19).
- However, He was sinless in and through all of that (I Peter 2:21-22).
II. Body: So, How Do We Follow I Thessalonians 5:22?
A. Looking at the terms and context: If something looks evil, opposed to good, refrain from it.
- Abstain: “to hold oneself off, i.e. refrain: — abstain” (Strong’s # 567). I.E. Acts 15:20, Acts 15:29, I Thessalonians 4:3, I Timothy 4:3, and I Peter 2:11).
- All: “all, any, every, the whole…” (Strong’s # 3956). “Every” (James 1:17).
- Appearance: “a view, i.e. form (literally or figuratively): — appearance, fashion, shape, sight. The external or outward appearance, form figure, shape, form, kind” (Strong’s # 1491). I.E. Luke 3:22 [shape], Luke 9:29 [fashion], John 5:37 [shape], and II Corinthians 5:7 [sight].
- Evil: “evil (properly, in effect or influence, and thus differing from 2556, which refers rather to essential character, as well as from 4550, which indicates degeneracy from original virtue); figuratively, calamitous; also (passively) ill, i.e. diseased; but especially (morally) culpable, i.e. derelict, vicious, facinorous; neuter (singular) mischief, malice, or (plural) guilt; masculine (singular) the devil, or (plural) sinners: — bad, evil, grievous, harm, lewd, malicious, wicked(-ness)” (Strong’s # 4190). I.E. Luke 6:45, Romans 12:9, I John 3:12 [wicked one] etc.
- The previous verse: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21), shows that this passage is about holding to good and avoiding things that even appear evil.
- If taken completely and strictly literal without exception, where could you go in this world (I John 5:19)?
- Obviously, the conclusion without exception is not the right conclusion (Mark 2:13-17).
- How could Jesus repeatedly keep company with sinners and not be violating the premise of His own law? Well, He was teaching (Matthew 18:11 and I Timothy 1:15)?
- Does that mean the only time(s) we can be in the company or environment that includes sin/sinners is if we are teaching them? No, there are exceptions (John 2:1-2, I Corinthians 7:12-13, I Corinthians 10:23-33, etc.).
- We have to consider the impact of our environment and the company we keep on our faithfulness (I Corinthians 15:33).
- Like most things, this all can vary by the individual. The ultimate picture of abstaining from the appearance of evil is similar to that of living above reproach (I Peter 2:5-4:19).
- The weaker conscience might be more restrictive (I Corinthians 8:1-8).
- The differences that there can be (Titus 1:15).
- If I am strong and I can say or do something, what impact could my actions have on someone not so strong that may follow my lead (Romans 14:21 and I Corinthians 8:9-13)?
- Should I go here and do this or that (Proverbs 4:14-16)?
- Why do I want to go here and do this or that (Galatians 5:17)?
- My motives need challenged - Am I pleasing God by having this motive or that motive (I Corinthians 14:20)?
III. Conclusion: Look, even the principle of I Thessalonians 5:22 existed under the old law (Exodus 23:7 and Isaiah 33:15-16).
© 1999-2021 Brian A. Yeager