Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
A Simple Rule
Evil is not invisible. The temptation of Eve was clearly evident as a tree planted in the midst of the garden. Her understanding of it was far more than eating the forbidden fruit. She knew they should not touch it lest the temptation be so great they would partake. Satan’s wiles allowed her to look more closely at the tree and embrace the belief that a little rebellion would be allowed. She was wrong. A simple rule was broken. She saw that it was good and before she knew it she and Adam had eaten the fruit. In fear they hid. They did not commit murder, adultery, idolatry or telling a lie. They ate a fruit. As benign as it may have seemed their actions led to expulsion from the garden and the penalty of sin.
Sin has an inviting attraction. Paul’s warning understands the nature of what causes us to be overwhelmed by evil. It can be assumed that as long as we do not find ourselves the victims of the major sins of scripture we are safe. Big sins come from small sins leading to greater rebellion. Walking on a rooftop is harmless but when you see a woman bathing it should be a warning to turn away and leave. David allowed an innocuous event to lead to adultery, lying and murder. The lesson should be learned that anything that has a shape of evil should be avoided.
A daredevil is someone who seeks the thrill of getting as close to death as possible escaping at the last moment to the applause of adoring fans. They show a carefree disregard for danger. Many die at the last moment when things go horribly wrong. Daredevil Christians are those who are deceived in believing they can tempt a roaring lion and escape unharmed. The simple rule is to stay out of the jungle. Why would anyone place themselves in a place of danger when it comes to Satan?
An old saying suggests that if you play with snakes don’t be surprised when you get bit. Unless we abstain from even the appearance of evil we should expect to be bitten. A simple rule is to remove any form or shape or fashion of evil from our lives and it will greatly decrease our being harmed. Flirting turns to adultery, a social drink becomes drunkenness, small lies become larger lies, and a casual curiosity can become an obsession. Preventive brushing today will keep truth decay from appearing later. Building a strong resistance to Satan can be done when we inoculate ourselves with the grace of God to resist the evils of tomorrow. A simple rule so often not followed.
Someday, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now in these quiet weeks. (Phillips Brooks 1835-1893, Perennials From)