#70 New Year's Resolutions (Part 3)

15 January 2000

"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil"- I Thessalonians 5:16-22 The Apostle further calls upon us to "Prove all things". This means to "try" or "examine" what has been preached. Is it truth or "cunningly devised fables"? Is what has been preached the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man? Did it come from scripture or from the minds of men? God's true ministers would encourage his hearers to compare their teaching with God's world. They would encourage every believer to own a Bible and search it out. Paul's "prove all things" means, "Don't be taken in" by false apostles or false doctrine. Prove it! Apparently, there were those at Thessalonica who were prone to believe any thing that they heard. Luke compares them with the believers at Berea who, "were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so"-Acts 17:11. The believers at Berea had a ready mind as well as a ready Bible to "prove" what had been taught in their church. This was Luke's mark of nobility. Once they had "proved" what they had been taught, they were to, "hold fast that which is good." "Hold fast" means to retain or possess in memory; keep the good, throw away the bad; remember the truth, forget the fable. As some put it, "keep the chicken and throw away the bones." Paul encouraged Timothy to "Hold fast the form of sound words." What good is our hearing if we forget what we have heard? We must remember the law so we will not break it; remember our duties that we may perform them; and consider the promises that we may continually rejoice in them. Hold fast to that which is good. Why would Paul give such a seemingly simple lesson? Because we are prone to do just the opposite, to remember the things we need to forget and forget the thing we need to remember. Surely, this will bring depression and misery. Christians are called upon to keep their minds upon profitable things. Whether it is doctrine, duty, God's promises or our feelings about our fellow man, we are to "hold fast" to that which is good and profitable for our souls. Finally, we are to "Abstain from all appearance of evil". Apparently, there were those at Thessalonica who thought they could flirt with the world and "rejoice evermore." But it is evil that brings God's children into the pit of despair; dashes their hopes; diminishes their joy; stops their prayers; makes them unthankful; quenches their spirit; moves them from God's house; and confuses their judgement of right and wrong. Satan will have us think that we can look upon that which God has forbidden and we are safe as long as we do not touch. Was that not the opinion of King David as he beheld Bathsheba from his palace roof; or Samson as he flirted with Delilah; or Eve as she looked upon the forbidden fruit and saw that "it was pleasant to the eye"? What would they have gained had they abstained from the "appearance of evil." In his "Holy War", John Bunyan drew the same truth in an allegory. When eye-gate was taken by evil Daibolis , the whole town of Man-soul was in danger. Eye-gate was where Lord Innocence was killed after which Mr. Lustings was made Lord Mayor. Mr. Forget-good became the town recorder in place of Mr. Conscience. And so the story goes for those who do not abstain from the appearance of evil. Satan knows that a circling fish will soon bite the worm after which all rejoicing is turned to sorrow. The many categories of sin are too numerous for us to mention. We must all search our own hearts and discover the bait that Satan has so cleverly placed before our eyes. Lord, these are of great encouragement to us and good resolutions. Help us to keep them. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Help us to "rejoice evermore" and the praise will be thine forever. Amen. Come and worship with us at Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, in Donaldson, where God is sovereign, and salvation is by His abundant and amazing grace. Services begin at 10:30 each Sunday morning. By His mercy and grace, Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor