"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV
This scripture is used so many times to point the finger at a person, or people who someone feels are not acting as they think they should. Often there is also false gossip attached to the person's perception of another's actions.
Many have been overlooked or held back from being who God called them to be because of this injustice, and it's time to dispel the lie. Let's look at the context for this misused verse to reveal the truth.
The problem and error stem from the King James translation, where they used the word "appearance" for the Greek word eidos. They did not use the other definitions or the root, which means to view, see, or discern, any form or kind. Because of this, It was concluded that we are to not only stay away from any form of evil but also any appearance of evil.
Yes, we are to live godly lives. But the other problem is the misuse of verse 22 out of context. The appearance of sin is not what is being addressed in this passage.
Rarely in scriptures is a moral standard given in a stand-alone context. It usually is explained in detail with supporting arguments so that it is clear. The context of verses 19-22 does not address a moral standard; it concerns prophecy.
First Thessalonians is a letter from Paul to this new church who was being persecuted. The letter was written to defend their integrity. In chapters four and five, he addresses the threats to this new body of believers. Chapter 5 verses 12-22 are the threats which concerned their gatherings. The instructions in this passage covered esteeming leaders, dealing with attendee needs, establishing a joyful gathering, and in verses 19-22, not quenching the Holy Spirit in prophecy.
"Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil." - 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 KJV
The Message Translation of the Bible says it well:
"Don't suppress the Spirit, and don't stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don't be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what's good. Throw out anything tainted with evil." - 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 The Message (MSG)
So, there you have it. Abstain from receiving any evil form of prophecy.
For those who have used the "appearance of evil" lie, repent.
For those who have judged someone or held someone back because of gossip attached to this lie, make it right.
For those who have been held back or overlooked by the wrong use of this scripture and the attached false gossip, I pray that you will forgive those who have hurt you. Receive now, the freedom and healing to go forth into the calling and destiny intended for you, in Jesus' name, Amen.
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