Avoid evil: Devotional Commentary for September 12-18
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
5:19 Do not quench the Spirit;
As noted in last week's meditation, Paul admonishes us to rejoice, be thankful, and pray without ceasing. We also noted that these transformations can only take effect in our hearts by the Power and Work of the Holy Spirit. So, do not quench the Spirit. Do not put out His Fire.
Our relationship with God our Father is sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is because of Him and through Him that we can live a life of prayer and have an active and enduring communion with God. It is by the Power and influence of the Holy Spirit that we can rejoice, be thankful, and pray without ceasing.
But sometimes, our relationship with Jesus Christ suffers when we become less responsive to the Holy Spirit or to the Word of God. Unresponsiveness indicates a chronic immaturity of faith or spiritual stagnancy due to a lack of interaction between the Holy Spirit and the believer. In other words, when the believer is unresponsive to the work of the Holy Spirit, he or she is showing disinterest or apathy toward the spirit's fire burning in the redeemed heart of the child of God. The Believer's unresponsiveness is tantamount to quenching the Spirit, putting out His fire. That, we should never do. We should never quench the Spirit. We should never disregard the voice of the Holy Spirit nor discount His work.
20do not despise prophetic utterances.
21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
Paul exhorts us that we should have an appropriate and a godly disposition toward true and biblical prophetic utterances and godly teachings. He warns us not to despise what God had revealed. He urges us not to quench the Spirit as He leads us into all truths. Christians should view the Word of God with reverence, awe, and eager desire to understand and heartily obey its precepts.
However, we are to test every proclamation or teaching of God's Word with God's Wisdom and the Spirit's discernment, rather than simply dismissing what seems to be unpalatable to our private sentiments. Whether the message is written or spoken, we must diligently examine every declaration and sort out the truth from falsehood like the Bereans. When all is said and done, we need to weed out teachings which contradict the instructions of God’s Word and hold on to everything that stands the test of the Scriptures. In this way, false teaching is courageously confronted, and God’s Word is faithfully declared to the Body of Christ and to the world around us.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Paul’s instruction is clear. Stay away from any kind of evil or the appearance thereof. That is, not just what is conventionally accepted as evil, but the very appearance of evil itself.
Sometimes, some of us attempt to live as Christians while retaining an active contact with the world we left behind, excusing ourselves with normalcy or conventionality. We say, "it's normal, it's what everybody does." But such behavior is debilitating. It is ungodly. It is irresponsible. It is duplicitous. When we return to the world through the backdoor, we bring shame to the glorious Name of our Savior. We are behaving like a dog which returns to its vomit.
Therefore, let us not undermine our communion with Christ Who separated us from the world by His precious Blood. We profit nothing by entertaining a more favorable disposition toward the world we left behind. Unless and until we abstain from evil and ungodliness, we will not be able to resist evil effectively. We will not discern the voice of the Holy Spirit. Our mind and conscience will be suffocated with the disruptive presence of evil. So we abstain from evil and resist the devil. We draw closer to God and leave our ungodly past to the world we left behind.
Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. Be thankful. Reject evil and avoid the appearance thereof. Test everything. Hold on to the good and the truth. Paul's words are clear and direct. They are instructive and transforming. They are credible and sound precepts worthy of addherence.
But as the redeemed who once lived in the bondage of sin, we are profoundly aware of the influences of the dead sin-nature and the new man in Christ on our hearts and minds. These two forces turn the heart of the believer into a conflict-ridden battlefield. These natures affect every action we take and every decision we make.
So how are we to always be sober, alert, encouraging, supportive, loving, kind, and patient contrary to our inherent nature? How are we to rejoice, pray without ceasing, be thankful, and acknowledge the Will of God given we are self-centered? How are we to refrain from displeasing the Holy Spirit, given we are sinners? How are we to discern and prove the truth and the good? How are we to avoid evil and abstain from everything that bears the appearance thereof?
However, Paul does not abandon the believer to the apparent deadlock or seeming stalemate. Instead, he offers practical insights to help the redeemed grow in faith and, in that maturing confidence, overcome the natural man and consistently blossom into a life that is pleasing to the Lord. Indeed, the struggle is not hopeless, but it is the testimony of God’s faithfulness and His ongoing work in the lives of His children.
Therefore, because of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and by His enabling Power and strength, we will be sober, alert, encouraging, supportive, loving, kind, patient, joyful, praying, and thankful. We will abhor evil and reject everything which displeases God. We will not merely withdraw from ungodliness. But we will actively and consciously refuse the thoughts and the actions of the sin-nature. We will resist evil and flee to God. Leaning upon God's Word and the unfailing Power of the Holy Spirit, we look to God for His work in our hearts to regenerate a willing spirit to reject evil and draw closer to God's goodness.
Ultimately, the pervasive Power of God's presence in our hearts will be the winning influence in our lives. In the end, we resist our natural inclinations by the Power of God. It will not be us, but Christ in us.