“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22)
Obedience is only manifested when there is an opportunity to disobey; but at the same time, when we go looking for opportunities to disobey, obedience is less likely to be manifested.
We should “abstain,” or refrain from those things that appear to be evil, says our text; but the fact that we are able to see them says we are not unconscious of, or oblivious to, them. To seek to isolate oneself from the world is not feasible, or even advisable, according to Jesus, in His intercessory prayer for His disciples, found in John seventeen “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (v.15).
When it came to the lost, Jesus never promoted isolationism. In fact, He was criticized on more than one occasion for fraternizing with people of questionable virtues. What He did affirm was that a true disciple may be in the world, but he or she would never be of it. In other words, those of us who name the name of Christ may rub elbows with unbelievers, but we should never put ourselves in questionable circumstances where we may rightly or wrongly be accused of being partakers of their evil deeds.The more we dabble on the fringes of sin, the more likely we are to slide all the way in. We will always be faced with the possibility of sin, but we need not linger near places of its greater probability. As the proverb says:
“He who would not fall down should not walk in slippery places.”