For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
– Romans 16:19 KJV
How do bank tellers know when they are handling fake money? Do they study counterfeiting in-depth? Must they mark every bill? No, they keep it “simple concerning evil.” They study real money. They handle real money on a regular basis. And on those occasions where the bills are big, the counterfeiters are busy, or the money feels funny, they’ll use a marker. That’s how it ought to be with good and evil.
Yes, there are times when we need to dig into cultural and religious studies in order to reach the lost. We must! It is practical…but only so far as it is practiced(basic English etymology). To study the knowledge of evil “just because I want to know” is perilously parallel to the original sin. We already have a consciousness of good and evil; we’ve inherited that from Adam and Eve. But we are called to study the good. Evil is intuitive enough; don’t chase it. “Refuse the evil, and choose the good.”Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. – Isaiah 7:14-15 KJV
Philippians 4:8 is a tremendous summary of what we are to pursue: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” *emphasis added
However, in quickly reading well-known verses, we often miss the intensity of what is being stated. I am blessed that this is such a positive verse, but if you’ll allow me, may I present a “thou shalt not” commentary on this verse?
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are false, whatsoever things are deceptive, whatsoever things are lawless, whatsoever things are corrupt, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever things are of evil report; if there be any vice, if there be any condemnation, DO NOT think on these things.
Please do not fixate on my commentary above, merely “emptying the house” as it were,When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. – Luke 11:24-26 KJV but rather on Philippians 4:8 in all of its positive directives for Christian living. Verse 9 assures us, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
No, do not bury your head in the sand. We are to be salt and lightYe are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16 KJV IN this present evil world.To be ‘in’ but not ‘of’: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” – John 17:15-16 KJV But we must be wise with Godly wisdom, and so be equipped to recognize and fight against those evils. Keep it simple: God is good–learn from Him, walk with Him; evil will come, and you will be ready.Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. – Colossians 4:5-6 KJV
~ Eric Druist, Mailroom
All Scriptures referenced in this article are from the KJV.