Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Abstain from all Appearance of Evil

Several times this past week, this verse has came up either in conversation or across my mind when reading something. Different situations, different scenarios, but that verse held as common to all of them.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 King James Version
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Have you ever stopped and just thought about that verse, what it means and how powerful it is? It applies to so many things in our lives! I want to start with the dictionary definitions of the words abstain, appearance and evil.

Abstain: To hold one's self aloof; to forbear or refrain voluntarily, and especially from an indulgence of the passions or appetites.

Appearance: Semblance, or apparent likeness; external show. pl. Outward signs, or circumstances, fitted to make a particular impression or to determine the judgment as to the character of a person or a thing, an act or a state.

Evil: Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; having a nature or properties which tend to badness; mischievous; not good; having or exhibiting bad moral qualities; morally corrupt; wicked; wrong; vicious;  producing or threatening sorrow, distress, injury, or calamity; unpropitious; calamitous

Okay, so, having read those definitions... I think it's safe to say that when that verse says to abstain from all appearance of evil, it's pretty specific, right? We are to voluntarily keep ourselves away from having the apparent likeness or outward signs of anything that is not good, corrupt or wicked. Pretty simple, right? 

Wrong. It's incredibly hard, I'll be the first to admit, although it does get easier.

As a believers, we are to be Christ like. We're to walk, talk, dress and have attitudes that reflect Him. People should be able to tell by our words, by the way we react to situations, by the way we act and the things we do, and the places we go, that we are followers of Christ. Part of that means abstaining from things we know are not glorifying to God. It means not giving room for doubt, not allowing yourself to get into a situation where others could say you compromised and letting your testimony be ruined.

I know I've talked on this before, but I'm going to reiterate that I believe 100% in chaperones. I don't care if you are 15 or 50. If you're not married to them, you shouldn't be alone with the opposite gender (unless it's a parents or siblings or relative). If for no other reason than, again, your testimony, you should want someone (a friend or family member, but definitely someone you know) there as a witness that the two of you did nothing you can be accused of later.

And I don't want to hear "Well, we were in public, there were witnesses!" Umm, do you know those strangers' names and numbers so I find out if you're telling the truth? No, you don't. Sorry. Anyone can say there were 'other people there' but you don't have an actual witness that can say from the time the outing started to the time it ended -the whole time the two of you were together- nothing happened. I'm not for that. I want accountability. I want there to be no room for doubt, gossip or lies.
I'm going to abstain from all appearance of evil by never being alone in a room or vehicle with a guy unless it's my brothers or husband (Not future husband, mind you, but my husband!)

It's so, so, so easy to fall into acting like the world. We're bombarded on every side by the world, and the flesh loves to give in. I could easily act just like girls around me that aren't saved. I could walk the same, talk the same, and go to the same places and dress the same- but I choose not to. I choose to abstain from all appearance of evil.

I don't flirt and throw myself at guys.

I don't worship and idolize and spend all my time following after celebrities and musicians who are obviously not believers and are living ungodly lives.

I don't use cuss words or swear words (Who honestly wants to look that ignorant?)

I don't dress in skimpy no-nothing, shorty-short clothes with my body hanging out and more skin showing than is covered by clothes that look painted on.

I don't spend my time in place with rock or rap or country music blaring.

I don't go in places I know that no truly born again Christian has any business being (And believe me, my local mall is FULL of them).

I don't listen to music that praises everything but God, and encourages ungodly behavior, thoughts and actions.

If I did all those things, would I look any different from the world to a random stranger walking by? NO! They would not see that I'm a saved person who is trying to live for the Lord. They wouldn't be able to tell by my appearance that I'm a Christian. 

Can I be blunt? If you're doing those things, don't expect people to know or even believe when you tell them that you are born again. This is where the verses about knowing people by their fruits comes into play. You act like the world, people will think you are of the world.

I know that God knows each of us by heart. But I also know the world only sees what is on the outside. They only see what we talk like, what we do, how we dress and where we go and judge by that.

You could ruin a chance to witness to someone by being just like them. 

I've heard people in the past try to justify acting, talking and dressing like the world as a means of winning others to Christ. That's a really ignorant way of thinking and trying to justify sin, let's be honest. I'm not going to drink poison along with someone to keep them from dying. I'm not going to rob a bank to pay someone else's bills. I'm not going to pop three tires on a car to keep one from going flat.

God won't bless acting like the devil to win someone to Him. He never has nor will He ever tell you to sin to be a witness to someone. He doesn't condone acting like the world to win a lost person to the Lord.

And Anyone who tells you that you have to act like the world to win them seriously needs to read their Bible and study God's Word better, because they lack understanding what God's Will is for believers!

God has set us apart on purpose, to be different than the world so others can see Him in us. If you're acting just like the world, no one is going to see God in you!

Abstaining from all appearance can be hard, but the more we do, the easier it gets. Saying no is difficult, I understand, but not impossible. Especially when we choose friends who are not living godly lives, we make it harder for ourselves.
That's why it's so important to surround yourself with believers who are trying to live for God and are also abstaining from all appearance of evil. That's why it's important to avoid going to places where we will be tempted to sin. That's why it's important to guard what our eyes and ears are filled with. That's why it's important we be careful watch we watch and what we listen to. That's why it is important we don't idolize and follow every move of famous people who we Know are not living for God by their words and actions. That's why it's important we live every moment of our lives as if Christ were coming back, and ask ourselves would we be comfortable doing that/saying those words/dressing that way/listening to that song/acting like that/walking like that if Jesus were standing right next to us? Would you really? Would you see Jesus joining in? 

Honestly, it boils down to this: God has given us commands and specifics about how we are to live our lives. Those things that are sin, He died to forgive us of them. Do you really feel no conviction over living like the world, even though it cost Christ His life to pay for those sins?

If you are a child of God, if you are saved, then God will chastise you- He promised to in the Bible. You won't get away with living that way for long without God correcting you like a earthly father corrects his child. He wants us to understand why He said in His Word to abstain from all appearance of evil, and He corrects us when we start to drift and stray away from Him. It's a dangerous place to live when you are saved and purposefully ignoring the commands God has given us. You not only lose the blessings God would have given you if you were living your life according to His Word, but you lose the ability to serve Him wholly and have your service blessed!

If you feel no conviction over living in sin and living like the world, then I hope you would truly search your heart and make sure of your salvation today, because God says in the Scripture that if you are not chastised then you are not His child. There can be no more important decision you can make in your life than choosing to accept the free gift of salvation Christ offers to anyone who will call on His Name. 

If you are saved, and you've been letting the world and the flesh win, and haven't been living for God... why continue another day in that? I'm SO thankful God will forgive us when we sin, and is always ready to hear our prayers when we come to Him confessing our sins!

I know I am in need of that forgiveness everyday of my life. I need God's grace and mercy every minute of my life, and I could never repay Him for it. But what I can do is to live for Him, to live not to please anyone- not even myself- but God, and to encourage others to also 'abstain from all appearance of evil' so that we can be an effective witness to those around us.

To those who are striving to abstain from all appearance of evil, I hope this has been an encouragement to you. I hope you know that you are not alone. I pray God strengthens you in your desire to please Him by your actions, your choices and your appearance. Please don't give up your standards or give in to the flesh when it looks easier to be like the world than to fight against it. God sees your life and knows your desire is to please Him, and He will bless that.

Your sister in the Lord,