Editorial - ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’, 1 Thess. 5. 22.
John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
I still remember with affection the days of childhood, and being able to play outside in the garden. It wasn’t just the pleasure of summer holidays and sun. There was that sense of additional freedom. Yet, as we came in from our garden activity things that we hadn’t realized were soon brought to our attention. Our hands were dirty, as well as other peripheral parts that had been exposed to the grass or the soil. It took a maternal eye to spot these blemishes!
In spiritual terms we do not have to spend long in the world to come back from our activities with similar levels of defilement. Sadly, the defilement is not just external. We can scrub the external clean with copious amounts of soap and water. It is a great pity that cleaning our minds is not quite so simple. What we see, what we hear, and sometimes what we touch, can have serious implications for our moral and spiritual welfare. The Christian needs to be especially sensitive, as well as having a keen sense of what is intrinsically good, and what is not.
There has been much discussion amongst commentators about how the verse above ought to be translated in our English version. Should we accept the KJV word ‘appearance’, when reality is meant rather than a mere semblance? I suspect that when William Tyndale worked on translating the Bible into English his desire was not to generate a discussion of semantics. Too often we can use our command of the English language as a cover for dabbling in things that we know we would be better leaving alone. Sailing close to the wind can cause even the experienced sailor to capsize!
It would be good if we allowed the simplicity of this verse to challenge our hearts. Does what we see, our first impressions, give us a sense of unease about pursuing a matter further? Is there an ‘appearance of evil’? If so, let us heed the advice of Paul to Timothy and flee. We can be reasonably sure that what is for our good will not have the appearance of evil.
In each magazine we try to provide a blend of that which is informative, expositional, devotional, practical, and challenging. We are thankful to those who write for us. The time they commit to this work is considerable. In this issue we try again to provide that which is ‘good’, for the spiritual profit and blessing of the Lord’s people. May we all seek to immerse ourselves in the things of God that we might profit withal!