Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:22-24)
Living Before God Without Blame
The challenge of living the Christian life is the Christian life is a challenge. Serving the Lord brings the wrath of Satan against those who would align themselves with the Son of God. The devil works hard to keep his followers within his camp but he works harder when they desert to the covenant of God. He lays traps, allures with temptations and convinces the followers of Christ to challenge the word of God. One allurement Satan uses is to allow the Christian to have a belief system in God but to taint his life with the trappings of peripheral sins. When Aaron produced the golden calf, he declared the calf was the God who delivered them from Egypt. He mixed the belief in God with the acceptance of calf worship. Allowing an appearance of evil will lead to evil.
Christians are different from the world. The character of a child of God sets them apart from the things of the world. This is called sanctification. Something that is sanctified is set apart and Christians remove themselves from the influences of the world. Paul’s admonition comes from the desire to have God set us apart completely. The prayer of a Christian is asking the Lord to put us apart from the world. Second, this sanctification involves the spirit, soul and body of the child of God. Everything in life is governed by setting apart the motives, actions and example to the glory of God. As a result, the child of God is found without blame when the Lord returns. Temptation attacks the spirit of the Christian daily. Living blameless will lessen the influence of evil and secure a greater blessing from the Lord.
A simple formula to be found blameless before the Lord is to remove any form of evil that would detract. What is interesting about Paul’s admonition is that he does not suggest to abstain from evil (which is vital) but to abstain from the appearance of evil. To be found blameless before God, the Christian should not live life so near the bounds of evil that would tempt them or cause others to believe the acceptance of such. The scripture is very clear. Christians can try to get as close to evil without being influenced but the Holy Spirit plainly admonishes the need to stay away from what may be the form of evil.
God’s sanctification cannot be complete if we put ourselves in harm’s way. Jesus taught the disciples to pray that God would not lead them into temptation and all the while, the Christian is enjoying the form of evil. An example of this is social drinking. Children of God will defend the right to drink beer and wine as long as they do not get drunk. If we are to abstain from the form of evil, how can God sanctify us when we try to keep one foot in the world? If we drink socially, are we presenting ourselves blameless before God? What if we have a few too many beers or glasses of wine and the buzz sets in and we become intoxicated? Whose fault is that? Abstaining from every form of evil means to stay away from everything that can bring harm to our bodies and our soul. If we are to be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ we cannot be found standing with a beer can or glass of wine in our hand. Holding fast to what is good is to remove any trace of temptation from our lives.
Living blameless lives removes everything that can tempt our spirits to evil. The idea that I can be as close to the edge of a precipice without harm is foolish. Staying away from every form of evil will lessen the impact of evil on my life and my example. Flirting with danger usually gets a date. Sanctified people are those who will have nothing in their lives that will tempt them more than the challenges of life that persist on a daily basis. Put away evil and remove the appearance of evil.
A holy person is one who is sanctified by the presence and action of God within him. (Thomas Merton, Life and Holiness, 1963)