First Thessalonians 5:22
In the previous message we noted Paul’s threefold exhortation to the church –
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
A. Respect the Word. “…despise not prophesyings.”
B. Review the Word. “Prove all things..”
And our decision should be to –
C. Receive the Word as the guide to life. “…hold fast that which is good.”
Respecting, reviewing, and receiving the Word of God prepares us for the following command –
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
The manifestation of sin in the world is defined by that which the Lord hates as described in Proverbs 16:16-19
…A proud look,
…a lying tongue,
…hands that shed innocent blood,
…An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
…feet that be swift in running to mischief,
…A false witness that speaketh lies,
…he that soweth discord among brethren.
With God’s help through His Word we are commanded to –
I. Recognize Evil. We are to recognize evil in every manner it reveals itself to us! “all appearance”… This is not always an easy thing to do because evil often –
A. Appears in the form of a just cause. “…A proud look…”
Genesis 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
B. Appears in the form of a just need.
“…A lying tongue…”
Matthew 4:2-3 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
If I am to survive, I have no choice – God understands! Evil often –
C. Appears in the form of a just warning.
The twelve men, a leader from each tribe, were sent into the land to discover information about the land and the people. Ten of these men brought an evil report and caused Israel to be judged by God because of rebellion against Him.
Numbers 13:32-33 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
A land that would develop men of great physical stature and power would not “eat them up”!
Here we see …an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations… and …he that soweth discord among the brethren…”
And sometimes it –
D. Appears in the form of a just rebuke. “…a false witness that speaketh lies.
Do you remember the account of Zacchaeus. He was a wicked man that had cheated the people of his city.
Luke 19:6-9 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
When Zacchaeus received Jesus, he became a new creature in Christ. He was no longer the man that he had been, “a man that is a sinner…”. He was a man that “had been a sinner” but now he was gloriously saved – a son of Abraham. It is a terrible thing to bring an accusation against a person based on what they used to be! It is a false witness – clearly condemned in the Ten Commandments.
Evil also often –
E. Appears in the form of just relationship with the world – a peace and conformity
1. Warned by God through His Word –
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
2. Warned by God through example. Jacob did not accept his responsibility to lead his family according to God’s will.
Genesis 33:17-34:1; 34:30; 35:1-5
Jacob, because of his casual attitude in leading his family, was responsible for the defilement of his daughter, the disgraceful actions of his sons, and the destruction of Shechem.
Some will argue that encouraging a “dress in your best” attitude equates to Pharisaism, Matthew 23:25. Others consider casual dress to result from a casual heart. Jacob discovered the truth – that we live from the inside out, from the heart outward.
Genesis 35:1-5 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
Jacob instructed his family to separate themselves from the things of the world and separate themselves unto the Lord. They were on their way to worship the Lord and they prepared their hearts and their dress accordingly.
Believers should ask themselves “does my manner of dressing communicate my belief that coming together for worship and service is important”?
These are but a few of the forms and shapes, appearances of evil, that we meet each day and we must be able to know the difference between truth and error.
Seeing the danger before us, how are we to be prepared to –
II. Resist Evil. How –
James 4:7-8 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
He makes us able –
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Keep the Word of God in your heart in be guided by Him
He has given us what we need –
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
He knows us –
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
He teaches us –
Preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season… this means that we are to keep hearing the Word of God, know and doing His will – …keep on, when no one seems to listen, when no one is looking, keep on, when things are bad, or going well, keep on…
Do not ever sell the blessings of God for a bowl of soup as Esau did. He traded love for lust and when he wanted it back, even shedding tears for its return, he had given it up, lost it and lived with the consequences.
Seek God’s will for your life and do it – begin today, now.