Abstain from all appearance of evil – 1 Thessalonians 5:22
The best way to face a temptation is not to face it, to avoid it altogether. When it comes to sin, we often set ourselves up for defeat. We try to see how close we can get to moral failure, or heady success, or romantic involvement without doing anything wrong.
Paul, however, tells us that is wrong. Our goal should be, not merely to keep from committing big, public sins but to abstain from anything that might lead to sin for us, or look like sin to others. We are to foster a pure heart and an irreproachable Christian witness.
While this command does not give the legalist the right to add to God’s law or raise God’s standard of holiness, it should give the sincere Christian a timely warning about the dangers of sin. It is not to be played with, tested out, or carelessly ignored. It is to be avoided at all costs.
Don’t be satisfied with merely escaping the culmination of any sin; abstain from sin’s beginnings, from its first flickering flame.
And avoid all appearance of evil. We are quick to judge the besetting sins of others, and equally quick to defend our own. Yet no sin is acceptable to God and so no sin should be downplayed by us. Every sin—whether public and noticeable or private and indiscernible—must be conscientiously avoided or battled.
What about you? Are you flirting with sin, or are you shunning its very appearance? Is your heart and mind consecrated to the Lord, and is your life above reproach to the glory of God?