Shelby G. Floyd
God has created mankind with the power to choose between good and evil. From the beginning, that choice must be made. Our world is made up of both good and evil. For the most part, good predominates over evil. Whether good wins over evil in our personal life depends upon how we make our choices.
Paul in writing to the Thessalonians urged them to make the right choice: “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). We observe three things from this statement:
(1) Test everything;
(2) Hold on to the good; and,
(3) Avoid every kind of evil.
First, every message and messenger must be tested, because good and evil are presented to us through this medium: “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). It is good to have some healthy skepticism of every messenger and his message. In religion as in all areas there is much false information going around.
Second we must test and examine ourselves and our actions: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5)?
Hold On To the Good
Everything can be divided into two classes—good and evil. We are to hold on to that which is good. Attitudes and actions flowing from the Spirit of God are always good: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues must be held on to in order to please God and avoid the evil.
Avoid Every Kind of Evil
There are two aspects of avoiding every kind of evil. There are things wrong in themselves at any time or place: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, NKJV).
Test All Situations
But there are some things that inherently are not evil within them, but could be evil under certain conditions. Therefore, they must be put to certain tests:
1. Does this hurt my body? Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the vehicle that God gave us to carry out our work on earth (1 Corinthians 6:19-20.) We must honor God by keeping our body fit for the Lord.
2. Does this fit in with my financial means? The present financial crisis has been brought on by greed and avarice:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6: 6-10).
As someone said, “When our outgo exceeds our income it leads to our downfall.”
3. Does this appeal to the dark side of my nature? Does it stir up the indecent thoughts and emotions within me? This form of evil may be presented to us through books and magazines; through conversation; through movies; and through the realities of the five senses.
4. Does this action take me among evil companions that can corrupt my character? “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
5. Does this interfere with my relationship with God? Let us remember the exhortation of James: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Would we want Jesus to go along with us in these attitudes and actions? That is the ultimate test? May God help us to hold on to the good and avoid every evil thing!
Copyright © 2009 2015 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street