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August 31, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Abstain from Evil Today

“abstain from every form of evil;”

 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Page 1851

       I know a group of people who love to drink beer, vodka, and strong drink whenever they can afford it.  Some of them work some every day, but most of them either have no jobs or very meager, part-time employment.  Evil comes in many forms for them.  If any one of them wants to stop drinking, their companions are always there with a drink for them.  Evil holds them in habits that their entire environment sustains.

       In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, page 1851, Paul issues another simple command, linked as we have seen to the entire list of commands preceding it.  The command directs us to stop evil in our lives: “abstain from every form of evil.”  Paul makes two points here we need to understand and apply to our lives.

       First, the term “abstain” emphasizes your personal choice.  You actually have the power in Christ to stop doing evil.  As a believer, you will never be overwhelmed with temptation to the point where you cannot resist it (1 Corinthians 10:13, page 1793).  Will you in fact live a sinless life? No, you will always have a sin problem until you die ( 1 John 1:8-10, page 1904).  God, however, demands that you abstain from evil and use the power He gives you to abstain from every evil work.  While unbelievers struggle under the burden of slavery to sin (Romans 6:6, page 1765), as believers in the forgiveness of Christ, we died to sin so that we now live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24, page 1896; 1 Peter 1:15-16, page 1894).  While we may never completely escape all sin in our lives before death, we can grow in holiness by the power of God working daily in our lives.  The choices we make about evil control the direction our lives will take.  We can either walk in the Holy Spirit, or we can walk away from God.  Any specific sin plaguing our lives can be eliminated, right now by the power of Jesus Christ.

       Second, Paul uses the phrase “every form of evil.”  I am so happy to see the words “every form” (“παντὸς εἴδους “) of evil.  Jesus did not say, “Well, I can help you with some forms of evil, but other forms are just so bad, no one can help you.”  Instead, the promise here is that every form of evil Jesus has already triumphed over, and now, by His power, you can abstain from every form of evil.  So, drugs, alcohol, adultery, fornication, immorality, homosexuality, drug addictions, depression, discouragement, and every other form of evil we face can be eliminated by Jesus Christ.  He provides the power for overcoming every form of evil.

       So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we abstain from every form of evil.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we encourage our friends in Christ to trust the power of Jesus Christ to abstain from every form of evil. 

       ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when allow our friends in Christ to think Jesus Christ cannot remove every form of evil from their lives.  In Christ, He will use friends to help His children triumph over every from of evil, one decision at a time.

Application for Today

        Today, I want to abstain from every form of evil and encourage my friends to know the triumph of the power of Jesus Christ in our lives.  Will you abstain from every form of evil today?

 

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