Shun Every Appearance Of Evil

I Thessalonians 5:22 says in the KJV, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Right away it may be concluded that this is saying that anything that appears to be evil, whether it is or not, ought to be shunned. While that is true, at least in many instances, this verse is not likely saying that. Newer versions render the verse "form of evil" (NKJV & NASV) and "kind of evil" (NIV); the idea being that ALL evil must be avoided, no matter the form or kind. Every time evil appears, abstain from it; and in whatever form or appearance it takes.

Do Circumstances Ever Make Good Things Evil? Yes. There are many times that what inherently may not be wrong, becomes wrong for the Christian, due to surrounding circumstances. Though a thing may be lawful, Paul says not all things are always expedient (I Cor. 6:12). What may not be wrong in and of itself, still may need to be avoided, at least in some instances, due to it not being constructively helpful.

He goes on to say that good things must not be permitted to enslave us. What might be right in bounds of moderation, becomes evil if I become addicted or lose control over it.

The apostle says in 8:9-10, that something I might have the freedom to do, may not be advisable if someone seeing me do it is made weaker. I need to think of how this appears to others; what others might think. In other words, the conscience of others needs to be factored into my decisions.

Simply put, there are some times when whether something is right is not the only thing that needs to be considered, for we must not contribute to our good be spoken of as evil (Romans 14:16).

But aren't there times when we stand by our good regardless of what others think? Yes. But that is the article that follows.

Doing Good...Regardless Are there times when I must disregard what others think in doing some good thing? Yes. Peter, in Galatians 2:11-14, is recorded as withdrawing from eating with Gentiles when certain Jews came to town, likely for fear of what they might think. Peter failed to do right, but we must learn from his example, that even if others don't like something, misinterpret it, etc., there are times when we must do the right thing anyway.

Circumstances may even warrant a refusal to alter things, though you could (Gal. 2:3-5). Paul knew that circumcision was neither here nor there, but he put his foot down and refused to have Titus circumcised when some began to try to force the issue. On another occasion he had Timothy circumcised for expediency, when no deal was being made about it.

I believe it was Leslie Diestelkamp who used to say that we do not have to go through the window simply because the Baptists are going through the door or words to that effect. But, as we have noted, there are many times, places and situations that factor into any discernment about good and evil.