Abstain from all appearance of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:22
This one little statement has become the centerfold statement to many religions. They use it as a rigid standard by which they dress, act, and treat others. But what does it really mean? Am I to become the fashion police now? Does my appearance portray the evil lurking within me?
First, what is the context of this verse? The Word interprets itself by usage and by the context. So let’s look at that first. I should tell you, we have stumbled upon another “asyndeton.” An asyndeton is a figure of speech. I went over them two posts ago linked here, in What are the 8 Secrets of God’s Will. They are a list of statements without conjunctions that build to a climatic conclusion or point.
Let me show you the list of 5 statements in this Asyndeton.
- Quench not the Spirit. (vs. 19)
- Despise not prophesyings. (vs. 20)
- Prove all things; (vs. 21)
- Hold fast that which is good. (vs. 21)
- Abstain from all appearance of evil, (vs. 22)
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (vs. 23)
Isn’t that gorgeous!? An asyndeton, is regarded as a whole statement, with the point of the statement at the end. We can, as I did yesterday, study them separately, or look at how it fits perfectly together as a whole unit.
What is the “appearance of evil” in this context? Look above, it’s quenching the works of the spirit, despising (making a mockery) of them–prophesy being an example, not proving anything and not holding fast to that which is good. Isn’t it amazing how the Word explains itself right in the context? Then it goes on to say; “the God of peace sanctify you wholly.” Does your tie sanctify you wholly? What about long pants or skirt on a woman? Um…nope. God is Spirit. God does the sanctifying.
“But, it mentions body in there, what about that? Doesn’t that mean you shouldn’t have tattoos or body piercings? Okay…we should lump it all together right. If we’re going to go there, we might as well go all the way. That includes smoking, eating preservatives, and drinking caffeine or putting anything in your body that is unhealthy? (This would have to include cancer treatments, because I hear that’s a near death experience.) If we’re gonna do this, we might as well go all the way, because where does it stop? Where do we draw the line?
Here’s the literal translation according to usage from the Greek of verse 22.
“and avoid any form of evil.” (vs. 22)
In reality, an old English translation of the Greek has caused all this ruckus? Wow. If, we are supposed to walk around our church as the fashion police and judge every little sidestep, we’re going to be living by sight and not by faith. Then we will quench the Spirit, make a mockery of the work of the Spirit, etc.
Jesus said and incredible statement to people doing this very thing, in Mark 7.
“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” Mark 7:15
Then he explained to his disciples later;
“And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? And he said, That which cometh out (from the heart) of the man, that defileth the man.” (vs 18-20)
It defiles the whole man, his body, soul and spirit. Why? Because it manifests in the form of evil.
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (vs 21-23)
What if someone puts meth in their body, is that defiling the man?
Did Jesus Christ say it defiles them? He said no. Does that mean we should do meth? NO, if the actions after the introduction of meth include, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, is that wrong? That action was, yes! But what if someone tried it once, hated it and left it alone, then never did anything like that again? It never led to the things that cause “defilement of the man” which is a decision of the heart to do evil. Did the meth make the decision or did the person? Does the tattoo decide or does the heart of that individual decide? Does a woman deciding on pants for church defile her? Please… Otherwise none of us would make it in this journey, because no one would measure up. Weren’t we saved by grace? Don’t we live by faith and not by sight?
God never takes away your freewill choices. There are two kinds of born-again believers, those who are in fellowship with God and those who are out of fellowship with him. If something you put in your body or on your body, causes you to get out of fellowship with God, (which is another way of saying missing the mark, or harmatia=sin) then what do you think God wants? Sin (being out of fellowship with God) leads to sickness, that leads to death. He doesn’t want that for your life. That would contradict this verse.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 2.
It all comes down to loving yourself the way God loves you. We are supposed to be imitators of God. How big do you want to see that love in your life? It’s freewill. And everyone got their own jug of that stuff.
God bless you today!