The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
May 16, 2010
1) Sick and Tired? (Norman E. Sewell)
2) "The Appearance of Evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22) (Dick Blackford)
3) News & Notes
Sick and Tired?
by Norman E. Sewell
How often have we felt tired and frustrated, as though things just
never work out right for us? What's that old song from Hew Haw, "If it
weren't for back luck, I'd have no luck at all"? Perhaps all of
us feel this way sometimes, and certainly Christians are no
exception. Then comes the confusion over the 28th verse of Romans
chapter 8 which reads, "And we know all things work together for good
to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his
purpose." Does this verse promise us that things will always go well
for us in this life, and that there will be no pain or heartache or
trouble? It really doesn't say that, but many have misunderstood it to
mean just that. When you study that verse in its context it becomes
clear that Paul was dealing with the blessings to be found in Christ,
and how God cares for His people, and that He was not promising heaven
here on earth.
The 8th chapter of Romans begins by saying, "There is therefore now no
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit." Here is the relationship, "in Christ."
And in the next three verses Paul shows that what the law could not do
God did in Christ, making us free from the law of sin and death. In the
next several verses Paul explains that we must meet the condition of
walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh, and that this is done
by setting our mind on the things of the Spirit (the revealed word of
God -- 1 Cor. 2:10- 11; Eph. 3:3-5) and not on the things of the earth.
In the 14th verse Paul affirms that those who are thus led by the
Spirit are the sons of God; that the Spirit bears witness with our
spirits to this fact, and that as children we must expect to suffer
with Christ in order to inherit. But that suffering is nothing compared
to the glory that is to be revealed (v. 18). In the next few verses
Paul shows that all of the creation suffers in this life, but that when
we who are the children of God don't even know what we should pray for
the Spirit helps "with groanings which cannot be uttered" (v. 26). It
is then because of this relationship that we have with the Christ, and
God's blessing of us through His Spirit that He can say to us, "and we
know that all things works together for good to them that love God" (v.
28). And finally Paul ends the chapter by showing "if God be for us,
who can be against us?" (v. 31).
The fact that all things WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD does not mean that all
things ARE good. Earlier in the Roman letter Paul wrote: "And not only
so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh
patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope
maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our
hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:3-5). Even
James says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers
temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh
patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be
perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:3-4). There is something
to be learned, and something to be gained even by trouble and hard
times and yes, even by temptation. This doesn't make these things any
more enjoyable, but they work together for good to produce in us
steadfastness and a stronger faith. James wrote: "Blessed is the man
that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the
crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him"
(James 1:12). The ones "that love him" here in verse 12 are the same
ones described in Romans 8:28 for whom "all things work together for
How do I know if I love God? Jesus said it well in John 14: "If a man
love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we
will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not
keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the
Father's which sent me" (John 14:23-24). If you love God it will be
shown in your obedience to whatever God has asked of you in His word.
So it is to those who obey God that this promise is made, that all
things work together for good.
As long as we live in this world we will have pain. There will
still sometimes be periods of frustration and disgust with ourselves as
we struggle with properly applying God's word in our own lives. But
once we begin to get this all in perspective, remembering that whatever
we may suffer here is nothing compared to eternal life, then we begin
to more quickly resolve the frustration and get on with living. Paul
told the Corinthians, "for our light affliction, which is but for a
moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal;
but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:17-18). It's
only when we let our sights drop down so that we are focused on the
problems of this life and failing to look at the goal, the big picture,
that we allow frustration and distress to overrun our lives. Keep your
eyes on the goal, and remember that whatever may come in this life that
for those who love God and obey Him "all things work together for
-- Via Searching the Scriptures, March 1992, Volume 33, Number 3
"The Appearance Of Evil"
1 Thessalonians 5:22
by Dick Blackford
"Abstain from every form of evil." "Hold yourself aloof from every form
of evil." "Shun every form of evil." "Continue to abstain from every
sort of evil." "Steer clear of evil in any form."
These five translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 are from the American
Standard Version, The Epistles of Paul by W. J. Coneybeare, The
Twentieth Century New Testament, Williams Translation, and J. B.
Phillips Translation. This passage is made clearer by observing and
comparing other renderings. They all bear the same message. This, of
course, it not to say that the King James Version is inaccurate in
rendering the passage, "Abstain from all appearance of evil." However,
some erroneous conclusions have been drawn from the word "appearance"
not intended by the Holy Spirit. Some interpret appearance to mean "the
outward aspect of anything." But a thing is not evil just because
someone thought it looked that way. The passage means whenever evil
(the real thing) appears, abstain from it.
Add to these five translations of 1 Thess. 5:22 Thayer's definition of
eidos ("appearance"): "from every kind of evil and wrong" (p. 172), and
Nestle's Interlinear: "from every form of evil, abstain." This shows
the verse is not talking about what may "look like" evil or what
someone may associate with evil.
That becomes subjective, for what some may associate with evil may not
"look like" evil to others. It is in the eye of the beholder. For
example, some suspicious minds accused Jesus of being a glutton and a
wine bibber because he ate with publicans and sinners (Mt. 9). "Guilt
by association." He also spent some time with a woman who had had five
husbands (Jn. 4). It astonished his disciples and to some it may have
had the outlook of evil. Was Jesus wrong or were the suspicious minds
in error? If we are not careful we may put ourselves in the position of
reading other people's minds and of falsely accusing them.
To some Pentecostal groups it appears ("looks like") evil when you wear
jewelry, makeup, etc. In years past about the only place where
billiards was played was in beer joints. Unable to see that it was the
drinking that was wrong, not the billiards, some erroneously concluded
that it was wrong to play pool even when drinking was not present
because it had the "appearance" of evil and was therefore questionable.
The same happened with dice, cards, and moving pictures on a screen.
Though no drinking or gambling was involved, those who used dice and
cards or watched a picture move across a screen, were pronounced
"guilty by association." If I came to your home and saw you playing a
board game with dice or a game of Rook (cards), I would have no right
to accuse you of violating 1 Thes. 5:22.
Certainly, a Christian should not try to see how close to evil he can
get, or seek to make it look like he is doing wrong. Nothing in this
article should be misconstrued as a defense of any sin named
herein. But this passage is not saying every time one is found in
circumstances another might question that he has actually sinned.
In some states the grocery stores sell beer and lewd magazines. If a
Christian is seen in one of these stores, has he sinned by "the
appearance of evil?" No, but he may have violated someone's
misconception of 1 Thes. 5:22.
While aboard a plane, the man sitting next to me ordered a cocktail and
so did the people behind me. Rather than come under the scrutiny of a
suspicious person who thought I violated 1 Thes. 5:22, I reluctantly
decided not to jump out.
Another example: a Christian may be present where cursing,
lasciviousness, cheating and gambling are taking place, without
sinning. There are two places I have in mind where these often occur --
at school and at work! Because one is present where these occur, is he
guilty of "the appearance of evil?" If 1 Thes. 5:22 is teaching that we
sin every time we are found in association with that which could be
sinful, then the only possible solution would be as Paul states, "for
then must ye needs go out of the world" (1 Cor. 5:10).
It is possible that one may sin through impure thoughts when he sees
others involved in sin. He may also sin when he sees murder, stealing,
materialism, or lasciviousness on TV in his own home. Does one sin when
he sees sin re-enacted on television? He may or he may not. He may have
placed himself in a dangerous situation -- dangerous to his spiritual
well-being. It may cost him dearly. He needs to beware of
self-deception. He needs to ask: "What is my motive for watching this
program?" He may have sinned terribly. All I am saying is that I cannot
read his mind (1 Cor. 2:11). I must avoid the temptation to
become a mote hunter or to always put the worst interpretation on
another's action or circumstances. We must "do good to all men,
especially to those of the household of faith" (Gal. 6:10). Being
charitable and using the Golden Rule applies here too (1 Cor. 13; Lk.
I have often heard this verse misquoted to the effect that we should
"Abstain from the very appearance of evil." The word "very" is added to
make it sound like it is wrong because it "looks like" evil to someone.
"Very" is not in the text nor in any of over 30 translations I have
checked. It is an addition which contributes to misunderstanding the
The misinterpretation of 1 Thes. 5:22 has caused no small amount of
problems for brethren and congregations. This misinterpretation
encourages mote hunting. Accusations are often made on suspicion and
one may become guilty of speaking evil against a brother (Js. 4:11)
when, in fact, he may have done no evil. Dissension and division
are often the result.
Let us "judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous
judgment" (Jn. 7:24). Vine's Expository Dictionary points out that this
is the only time the word appearance is used to mean "the outward
aspect." It is from opsis, not eidos. Jesus plainly commanded us not to
judge this way. He did not contradict Paul. He contradicted the
misconception some have of 1 Thes. 5:22. Christians should be cautious
of dangerous situations. Likewise, we should be concerned about one
another. But let us not misinterpret 1 Thes. 5:22 or John 7:24. The
consequences are disastrous.
(Adapted from 1972)
-- Via Searching the Scriptures, March 1992, Volume 33, Number 3.
News & Notes
On May 10, my mother (Marian Edwards) departed from this earth
life. She was 86. A long-time friend of the family was with
her when it happened. She said that as she held my mother's hand,
there was a slight tear from my mother's eye; but also, at the same
time, a little smile. She then closed her eyes as if drifting off
to sleep, and calmly passed away. I appreciate all of you who had
taken the time to pray for her, during her final days on earth.
She had been looking forward to eternity and heaven; and the comfort I
have is in the hope that she has gone to a better place because of the
love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God that is attained through
Let those of us who are Christians also continue praying for Agnes
Shuff who has been having trouble with her heart and blood pressure,
and for Eloise Craver who has had continual hip pain for several months.
I would also like to solicit prayer for my landlord's grandson (Joseph
John Koczrowski IV). He is only 9 months old, but is having to
undergo several surgeries, due to intestinal
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)
Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12. At the end of
the exit ramp, turn north. Go about a stone's throw to Rushing
Road. (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas
stations; with each on each corner.) Turn left on Rushing Road,
and go less then 0.3 of a mile. Hampton Inn will be on the
right. We assemble in its meeting room, which is very close to
the reception counter.