No More Blurred Lines: Hold Fast To Good; Abstain From Evil.

#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.

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At the start of this year, we examined 12 instructions given to us from I Thessalonians 5:12-22. We decided to implement these instructions by doing at least one of them each month. Following our list, the instruction for December is:

Hold Fast To Good; Abstain From Evil

This is gotten from this specific verse:

But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it].

– I Thessalonians 5:21-22 [AMP]

Key Point: When we are satisfied that anything is right and true, and good, we must hold it fast, and not let it go, no matter what opposition or persecution we meet with – MHC.


We spoke last month on the importance of testing all things carefully. The purpose of testing all things is to discern the good, separate it from the bad and hold fast to it. Right from the dawn of creation, God has been doing this. Whenever He created something, He would pause, discern its goodness and hold fast to it. He always “saw” that it was good, this is testing, discernment and holding fast in action. See the verse below:

God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness. {Genesis 1:4 AMP}

From this verse, we see the three steps to fulfilling the instruction in I Thessalonians 5:21-22. 1. we see (i.e. discern) the good, 2. we affirm and sustain it (hold fast) and 3. we separate it from the bad (abstain from evil).

Since we’ve discussed the first step already of discerning good, we’ll move to steps 2 & 3.

STEP 2: HOLDING FAST TO GOOD.

Why should we “hold fast”?

We’re advised to hold fast to good in order to build up our faith. We must not always be seekers, going to and fro, blown about by every wind of doctrine, double-minded. Rather, we must be firm in our faith, knowing what we believe. We also hold fast to good to help us get through the bad times.

Jesus, because of the joy set before Him, was able to endure the cross! He focused on the glory ahead to get Him through His painful experience on the cross. And we must do the same! In life, there will be ups and downs, but we can get through these periods by discerning what is good and holding on to it.

How do we know what is good?

Paul specifically states that we hold fast to that which is “good.” In this verse, “good” is from the word kalos, denoting a thing that is sound and in order – testedproven, and authentic. God’s word and the promises therein have been tried, tested and proven authentic – we must hold fast to them, for they are good. We must not let the troubles of life seize them from us.

Remember the Old Testament characters who received prophetic words, such as Abraham or Joseph, they had to “hold fast” to these promises before their fulfilment! Likewise, you must clutch steadfastly to prophetic utterances spoken over your life that you have tested to be legitimate and biblical. These promises often test us — just as the word of the Lord tried Joseph (see Psalm 105:19). Scripture says,

taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.  

– Psalm 34:8 

Some of us have had experiences that left a “bad taste” in our mouth and lead us to conclude that everything relating to God is not good at all. However, taking this approach is illogical. It’s like someone saying, “You know, I ate food once and got food poisoning, so I’ve made the decision that food is bad and I’ll never eat food again.” How silly! Instead, we apply longsuffering in our walk with God and our experiences with His people. The hasty generalisation that all things pertaining to God, or the Church is bad because of one or two experiences is no way to live as a Christian.

How do we Hold Fast?

Like our heavenly father, we hold fast by taking possession, affirming and sustaining it, by embracing it and refusing to let go – this is how God holds fast to His elect whom He considered good upon creation. We too must discern a good thing, not by the standard of our flesh, but the standard of God’s will and intentionally hold fast to it the same way God holds fast to us with His love. Declare it out loud, just as God did when He declared that creation was good. Scripture says: out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks. Therefore, the very things we speak reveal the substance we hold on to in our hearts.

A few other bible verses which demonstrate ways in which we can hold fast  to good include:

– I Corinthians 15: 1-2: By welcoming, accepting, standing on and faithfully remembering it.

John 15.10: By consistently practising it. 

With this final verse below I want to encourage you to discern the good, speak it out loud, focus on it, make it the subject of your thoughts and actions:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].

Philippians 4:8 [AMP]


STEP 3: ABSTAINING FROM EVIL

Abstain From Evil.

The battle of Christian living is mainly to get our emotions changed, not just our behaviour. Scripture says God loves a “cheerful” giver – it’s not just about giving, it’s also about the emotional state of the giver. This shows that God’s requirements for Holy living extend beyond behaviour to include our emotions!

So when Paul says, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good,” we must remember he is commanding our emotions, not just our behaviour. We may abstain from fornication, but if our emotions linger on it then we are not fulfilling the true calling of this verse!

But wait! What if your heart loves evil and hates good? (one example is the person who loves pornography/fornication and hates sexual purity) How can such a person obey this command? The answer is that they must be born again. We can’t make ourselves immediately hate or abstain from what we love, only God can. Only by being born again can God give us new hearts and help us win the battle against evil in our lives.

See John 3:3-7Romans 8:7-81 Corinthians 2:14-16, Ezekiel 36:26.

Now, for those of us who have committed our lives unto God, abstaining from evil can be practised on two levels:

A. In our relationship with others

An important part of abstaining from evil is watching how we respond to offences which arise in the course of dealing with people, especially those who are in our family of believers. How many times have we held on to evil words and things that people have spoken or done to us? Not only do we hold on to them, we meditate on them, bury them deep in our hearts and regurgitate them as soon as we get the first opportunity!

Someone offends you, you bury it someplace safe in your heart, pretend you have forgiven them, only for it to resurface as gossip or a means to chastise the next time the same person does something wrong.

Beloved, God holds fast to our good, not our evil deeds and we who are made in His image ought to demonstrate the same in good measure to others! 3 John 11:

Do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

B. In our relationship with God

When scripture speaks of abstaining from evil, we often imagine not doing bad things to other people i.e. wickedness, which is “action-based” and is committed by one person against another.

However, it is better to think of the general notion of evil in terms of sin.

All form of sin is evil. 

Therefore, to abstain from evil is to abstain from sin and maintain intimacy with God. He alone is good, and we must hold fast to Him and throw whatever threatens our hold on Him in the gutter. In Matthew 18:9 Jesus makes a very chilling statement:

If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

This begs the question, how serious are you about avoiding sin?

Are you serious enough about holding fast to God that you would cut off anything that prevents you from doing so? Are you serious enough about abstaining from every form of evil that you would go to great lengths to tear it out and throw it away?

These are questions worth thinking deeply about. How committed are you to holding fast to God and abstaining from evil? Will your hold be affected by life’s circumstances, internal/external forces or the opinions of people? As you ponder on these questions, I leave you with one last charge:

Abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin.

– Matthew Henry’s Commentary

 ∗ SELAH ∗

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