Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
“God never intended for us to know about evil. In the beginning He made the universe, the world, all living things and mankind. Then He called it good. Evil, sin and corruption never entered the picture until Eve was deceived by Satan. He used her curiosity about evil to trick her into thinking she would be better off if she knew what evil was. The result was disastrous for mankind. As Adam and Eve partook in the tree that God commanded them not to eat of, their eyes were open to the knowledge of good and evil. The rest is history, the result was the universe and everything within it had a working knowledge that both good and evil existed, and we were not the better for it” – Ray Stedman.
In today’s passage, Paul instructs us “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” This begins by understanding what it means to be “knowledgeable about what is good.” This means we must first understand what is right and holy in God’s eyes. Once we understand what is right in God’s eyes, then we should strive to live according to His will. In the same way, we are to be “innocent about what is evil.” In other words, we should “avoid even the appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).
Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts…murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19). Jesus is saying that what you and I do and say comes from the thoughts and beliefs that make up the foundation of our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual foundation. When it comes down to it, our thoughts determine our feelings. Our feelings determine our actions. Whatever we believe finds its way into our actions. “We cannot be tempted with things we don’t think, dwell on or know about” (Ray Stedman). “So fix your mind on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). The enemy can only win if we surrender our minds to him. The key, then, is to surrender our thoughts/minds to Christ.
Paul is giving us practical instruction in this passage. Evil is a reality. We see it in our everyday lives. But Jesus reminds us that “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Knowing what is right and good in God’s eyes brings peace and thwarts the work of Satan in our hearts. Jesus has overcome, and through faith in Him, we too have overcome. So then, “be wise about what is good, and yet innocent about what is evil.”
Questions to Ponder
Do you like to play with fire when it comes to evil? What kind of things does your mind dwell on? How can you set your mind on things above? Paul said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” What steps are you taking to renew your mind daily?
- Sing a song back to the Lord. You can always Google songs, such as, “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you. Oh, my soul, rejoice. Take joy, my King, in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.”
- Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, who was and is and is to come. Continue to worship Him as the Holy Spirit leads you.
- Invite the kindness of God to lead you to repentance. Ask the Spirit of Truth to bring to your remembrance times when you rushed to evil or shared evil. Ask for forgiveness and receive His grace and mercy.
- Pray for yourself, our church family, and the greater one church to have the mind of Christ, to ponder and mediate on good things.
- Pray for those around us who are far from God. Pray for their salvation and open and receptive hearts to the Lord. Pray for your top 3 and that the LORD would show you how to share Jesus with them if you haven’t done so yet.
Good Shepherd, Faithful Friend, Constant Companion, thank You for staying with me always. Thank You for being so patient, kind, gentle, wise, and helpful to me. Thank You for providing to me everything I need for godliness. Thank You for clothing me with compassion, patience, and gentleness.
Father, I am asking for the empowerment of Your Holy Spirit in me and Your church so that we can think on things that are praiseworthy, good, and lovely. Teach and remind us to cast down anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Lifter of our heads, set our gaze on You and not what we see with our physical eyes. Infill us, Holy Spirit, I ask, and empower us to run with radical obedience in trusting You, Oh God. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.