"Every Form of Evil"

Written by Drew on March 20th, 2006

Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thes. 5:20-22).

Abstinence is a tricky subject, for if even the vilest practices on earth can be traced back to their beginnings, they are found to originate in what God made. And all things made by God are “good” (Gen. 1:21). Sexual perversion can be traced back to the “one flesh” relationship in the Garden (Gen. 2:24; cf. Heb. 13:4). The “love of money,” which is “a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10), can be traced back to provisions given by the hand of God (Ecc. 5:18-19). Substance abuse is merely an unlawful mixing and indulgence of elements that were originally created for the benefit of man (Ps. 104:14-15).

A young couple may practice abstinence during courtship, only to consummate their marriage on the wedding night. A Christian may abstain from drinking alcohol recreationally and at the same time treat a nasty cold with cough syrup classified as a narcotic, bought with a doctor’s prescription.

Paul commands believers to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thes. 5:22). The KJV translation “every appearance of evil” has created the misunderstanding that he wants us to avoid anything that has the semblence of evil, apart from reality. However, the word “form” translates a term that denotes a “kind” or “class” of something. For instance, it was used to describe the Holy Spirit, who descended upon Christ at His baptism in “bodily form, like a dove” (Lk. 3:22). The Spirit really did descend upon Christ; this was manifested by the form of a dove. So we’re not to avoid everything that looks wicked, although it may not be wicked at all. Paul is saying evil takes on many forms, every one of which is actually wicked, and we are to stay away from all of them.

Literally what the apostle says is, “Hold fast what is good; hold off every form of what is wicked” (Lenski, First Thessalonians, p. 361).

Are modern alcoholic beverages “forms” of evil? Some contend they are not. However, consider some of the following statistics:

  • On an average day in 1996, an estimated 5.3 million convicted offenders were under the supervision of criminal justice authorities. Nearly 49% of these offenders, about 2 million, had been using alcohol at the time of the offense for which they were convicted.
  • About 6 in 10 convicted jail inmates said that they had been drinnking on a regular basis during the year before the offense for which they were serving time.
  • For more than 4 in 10 convicted murderers being held either in jail or in State prison, alcohol use is reported to have been a factor in the crime. Nearly half of those convicted of assault and sentenced to probation had been drinking when the offense occurred.
  • Over half of lifetime alcohol users have used one or more illicit drugs at some point in their life.
  • Alcohol is involved in 60 percent of child abuse cases, 75 percent of all broken homes, and 50 percent of all homicides.
  • Alcohol is a major contributor to teen suicide attempts.
  • Of 330 children born today in the U.S., one will die and one will sustain serious or crippling injuries in an alcohol-related crash before they reach the age of 24.
  • In 2001, 25 percent of the young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes were intoxicated.
  • Drunk driving is the nation’s most frequently committed violent crime.

Statistics were derived from Drugwarfacts.org and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Surely there is enough evidence to show that modern-day drinking is a form of evil. I’m not saying alcohol is intrinsically evil. But its recreational use in America is responsible for countless crimes and much suffering. This does not mean a person is condemned if he consumes alcohol in spaghetti sauce or a dose of NyQuil. I’m not asserting that every example of alcohol consumption in the Bible is cast in a negative light. Drinking has changed, thanks in large part to the Arabs who invented distillation in the Middle Ages.

The truth is our culture has turned alcohol consumption into a source of crime, debauchery, revelry, and sorrow. Thus drinking alcohol is a “kind” of evil. Christians should abstain from it.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. fitzage says:

    The recreational use of sex is a huge problem in our culture. I’m not going to stop having sex because of it.

    The recreational use of food is a huge problem in our culture. I’m not going to stop eating because of it.

    The recreational use of drugs is a huge problem in our culture. I’m not going to stop using helpful medications because of it.

    You are completely missing the fact that alcohol is not the source of any of these problems that you mention. Sin is at the root of the alcoholism and drunkenness problems, just as it is at the root of all the problems that it influences.

    Deleted and reposted due to unnecessary harshness on my part. Sorry.

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