The Appearance of Evil
"Abstain from all appearance of evil."” (1Thes. 5:22 ) KJV
This verse might be confusing to some, because as we read the Gospels, we noticed that Jesus was constantly doing things that had the appearance of evil to the Pharisees, Saduccees, and scribes. How can we follow Jesus’ example and also be faithful to the meaning of the verse above?
Let's think about it....
The Pharisees and other religious leaders were constantly denouncing Jesus to the Jews because He was constantly doing things that they thought no true servant of God would do. He offended them on a regular basis!
1. He healed on the Sabbath!
They considered that not only as appearing to be evil, but a direct punishable offense before God. You cannot be God's servant and also a Sabbath breaker. He must be a sinner, not a prophet sent from God!
2. He ate and drank with publicans and sinners!
The Pharisees could cry out: Evil companions corrupt good morals! ”How can He be sent from God when He sits down with sinners, harlots, and tax-collectors? He must be a sinner like them and not a saint sent from God!
3. He broke their traditions!
How could He be sent from God if He ignored the traditions handed down from the Elders of their Sacred Faith? He would corrupt the Jews and soon no one would observe the sacred traditions that made one Holy before God! He must be a sinner, not a servant sent from God!
Obviously, Jesus did not shun the appearance of evil before the self-righteous of His day, but rather used every opportunity to offend and outrage them!
So, what does the verse above mean?
The correct translation of 1Thes.5:22 is -
“Abstain from every form of evil.” (NASV)
The message is to refuse evil in every shape and form that it comes in. Such as pridefulness, outbursts of anger, greed, lust, lying, gossiping, envying, hate, and so on. As for not "appearing evil" to the self-righteous leaders of this world, let's follow Jesus’example:
1. Break any so-called religious tradition of men gladly if that tradition keeps you from showing God's mercy, love, and forgiving nature to those around you.
2. Go in and show love to sinners and worldly people. Show them how much you care for them. They will never care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be a light of God's love to them. Treat them as God has treated you. Aren't you a sinner, too?
The self-righteous may gasp and snort and accuse you of appearing evil to them, but to God we will appear like Christ. And Christ showed God's love to those around Him no matter how sinful they appeared to the self-righteous. It was only to the self-righteous that Christ spoke the words: viper! unclean! hypocrite!
It is always those who see themselves as righteous who show us the true appearance of evil
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