All Appearance of Evil
By Ron Graham


“Abstain from all appearance of evil” 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Paul admonishes us to abstain (stay away) from even the very appearance of evil. He’s speaking about the outside, visible part of us as what others might perceive as evil. Born again believers in Christ have an awesome responsibility to Jesus, we’ve put on Christ therefore we are to hold ourselves above what even the appearance of evil. By the way Christians should know what constitutes the appearance of evil and what doesn’t.


I read a news article recently about a woman scorned. The woman’s husband had been caught in an extra marital affair and she decided to embarrass him by going public with the news and details of his lapse into infidelity. In today’s culture where we see and hear about this type of activity continually, just how embarrassed would this guy be if he had to stand out in public with a sign indicating his infidelity? Later I read that the article was a hoax, still my conclusion doesn’t change. Are people actually embarrassed when their infidelities become public domain? The sin of adultery seems to be at a point of commonality that would rival the sin of homosexuality. Under normal circumstances adulterers would be outcast until they had repented and asked for forgiveness. Today adultery seems to be so commonplace that their boldness goes unnoticed. Where’s the outrage from God’s people? Even in the Church today there’s a problem with adultery. Many just ignore God’s word.


The Church has allowed the appearance of evil to manifest itself right inside the sanctuary. Yet God’s word is true and unchanging. The seventh commandment proclaims “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14. In Leviticus we read “And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death,” Leviticus 20:10. Obviously our civilization now looks on adultery with a lackadaisical attitude. I live in a community that boasts of its many Churches, yet adultery’s ugly head is raised even here among all these saints.


A married brother in Christ asked me once if it was alright for him to be alone in his car with a single woman. I quoted the verse found in 1 Thessalonians to him and tried to explain why this was not a good idea. My explanation of why this would be seen as inappropriate went right over his head. Another man asked me if two older people in their sixties could live together without being married. Again, it’s the appearance of evil, it isn’t a Godly behavior, and it could lead others astray. That brother went on to give the reason why this older Christian couple opted for living together instead of following God’s precept of uniting in holy matrimony. “But if they get married they’re placed in a higher tax bracket and that’s why they remain unmarried”. Excuse me, but where in the Bible is there a verse that condones living together to avoid paying your taxes?


People will invent a plethora of excuses that allows them to dabble with or even wallow in the pig’s trough. Then they begin to flaunt their sin since they’ve been able to condone it in their own eyes. As for those who belong to Jesus, we must find ways to prevent even the slightest manifestation of evil in our lives. Our intensions may be perfectly innocent but remember it’s the perception of evil that’s being addressed here.


“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” 1 John 2:10. In Greek the word “meno” can be translated as “Abide, tarry, remain continually, and endure”. As followers of Jesus Christ we are to remain (abideth) steadfast in the light; all of those translated English words above apply. There should be no variance or movement out of the light into darkness. As Christians we are to not only avoid the darkness but even the appearance of darkness in our lives. We know God sees everything, every sin we commit whether out in the open or hidden by darkness. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” Proverbs 15:3. When we are out in public others can see how we act and how we speak. Believers know it’s their responsibility to present Jesus to the lost and they see Him through our lives. How can we be His light to the lost if we are stepping back and forth in and out of darkness?


The second part of John’s admonition is for the brethren to have no occasion to stumble a fellow brother in Christ. In other words there should be nothing in our walk with Christ that would lead another into sin. Again, we abstain from every appearance of evil (sin). Just how do we go about that seemingly elusive task? There’s an old adage I’m sure you’ve all heard before, “What Would Jesus Do”? This comes from a book entitled “In His Steps” and was written by Charles Sheldon back in the 1800s. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend you purchase a copy or go to and read it online for yourself. It’s a story of a pastor who challenges his congregation to repeat the words “What Would Jesus Do” each time they were about to make an important, possibly life changing, decision.

 I know what you’re going to say “WWJD is an old and tried idea that had its run and now is thoroughly out dated” it may seem that way to some because we’ve stopped applying it to our lives. Nothing about keeping Jesus on our minds can ever be considered outdated. WWJD was marketed and sold to the public as a merchandizing scheme. It seems this is always the case when something good is identified as a money maker. My challenge to you this day, is to grab that old tried idea back up off the shelf and restore it to its position of prominence. And the next time you are about to make that very important decision which just might have the appearance of evil ask yourself the question “What Would Jesus Do”. But take it a step further next time and ask yourself this, “How will what I’m about to do glorify God?” If it doesn’t glorify God, abstain. It’s that simple.


Many Christians today have become lax in their attitudes toward sin. Because of the influence of the world and the temptations put before us by those who are lost, many followers of Christ stumble and some make a habit of stumbling. I’m sure there are many who see nothing wrong with being alone with someone of the opposite sex. That’s because our morals have been tampered with. Just look at all the movies that have been produced to lure us into evil. Sin (evil) is sin and there is no hiding from it when it appears in our life, we can’t fool God. Having a grasp of what may constitute the appearance of evil before we step into that dark arena might just keep us from stumbling a brother, not to mention ourselves. Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, comes with maturity, Christian maturity. Christians who are mature in their walk with Jesus will do anything to avoid the appearance of evil; no one wants to knowingly lead another astray.


I mentioned two different accounts of believers participating in what would be an appearance of evil; there are many more. As believers who have been reborn, born of God, and since He now owns us we should do everything possible to keep from associating with even the tiniest fragment of evil. Why be conformed to the world. Since we’re only passing though this world to get to our permanent home we should have that home on our minds. It should be our privilege and honor to lead others into the light of Christ while abstaining from all appearances of evil in our own life.

Conforming to the world is a pit many Christians have fallen into. Some of whom have knowingly, and willingly conformed their bodies into the exact image and lifestyle which they were brought out of. Instead of separating themselves from the world they’ve joined the ranks of the walking dead. Certainly this is the appearance of evil.  

When believers get caught up with the cares of the world they lose their focus and begin to put on the world. There are those who mark up or punch holes in their bodies then say it’s done so they can witness to others who are into that type of mutilation. They want to be on a level playing field so to speak with those they are witnessing to. Some believers seem to be under the false assumption that if they take on a similar look as those who are lost their witnessing will be more productive. This is a huge error. We’re not taught in the scriptures to conform to the world in order to be a better witness “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.

To abstain from ALL appearance of evil means just that. If believers become intertwined, so to speak, with the walking dead, the lost can have a devastating effect on the saved. They may very well bring you down to a level that will be difficult, if not impossible, to separate from, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14. If we follow Paul’s admonition, then we shall find it much easier to abstain from any appearance of evil. 

When we look around at the world today we can plainly see evil permeating every nook and cranny of society. There will always be folks who try to tell us that what we once perceived as good is no longer good and they’ll turn normal around and replace it with abominations. They’ll tell us that bad and evil are now good. Believers must be constantly on guard and thoroughly prepared for what’s coming. This world is turning upside down. We must abstain from joining in with the crowd.

I made, in the beginning paragraph, a very important statement. Christians should know what constitutes the appearance of evil. Many today who call themselves Christians haven’t a clue as to the full scope of evil that currently permeates our society. The truth is, evil abounds in both its scope and its depth. Believers have neglected their Bibles long enough. We read and study God’s word thus we learn His truth and what God considers evil and what He accepts as good. Then we need to take it one step further and apply His precepts to our lives.  

 Gird yourselves with righteousness, allow no evil into your circle of influence, be the light Christ has ordained you to be. Be wise, be prudent, be an example of Christ on earth. Avoid at all cost the appearance of evil. Remember the temptation to embrace evil comes from the lust of the flesh which is Satan’s domain. “...every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:13-15. 

 God bless you all,
 Ron Graham

All scripture is from the KJV