WFW: Departing From Evil
Today, I'd like to focus on the first point of fearing the Lord that I mentioned last week (I plan to continue this series until I have tackled all of the points): IF YOU FEAR THE LORD, YOU DEPART FROM EVIL. I am aware that this is a rather broad statement, but there are SO MANY Scriptures to substantiate this that I wanted to bring some of them to your attention. In my opinion it is a rather interesting study, and it serves to narrow down just what it means to depart from evil.
We started off with Proverbs 3:7 being our foundation, so... "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil." So, if we fear the Lord, we are not wise in our own eyes. What does this mean? Well, Proverbs 12:15 clarifies it a bit: "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise." In other words, don't think that because you have this grandeos idea that your way is right and everyone elses' is wrong; furthermore -- and most importantly -- don't think that you have a better way than God. Our opening verse says that we are to "fear the Lord and depart from evil," so if we think that we are okay doing this sin -- that it's not all that bad; it's just a little sin -- we are not fearing the Lord, because we haven't departed from evil. Sometimes, we may not actually think that way, but our deeds show it. Proverbs 13:19 implies that if you abhor the thought of departing from evil you are a fool: "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil." Why is it such a hard thing for a fool to depart from evil? Because he is foolish enough to think that he can continue in the status quo and do things his own way, heeding no instruction whatsoever.
So to continue, Job 28:28 states, "And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.'" This is interesting, because Proverbs says: "1 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to WISDOM, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for UNDERSTANDING, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. 10 When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, 11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil..."And in another Proverb (1:7), it says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
(Okay, so I guess I addressed more than one point here, but it's almost impossible to just stick to a few verses of Scripture when they ALL go together!)
Proverbs 16:6 states, "In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil." Notice that it says, "BY the fear of the LORD, one departs from evil." This goes along quite well with 1 John 5: 18 -- "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him."You may be asking, "Exactly how do these two verses go together?" Well, if you fear the Lord, you won't sin, because you want to please Him. It's not that you're afraid of God; rather, you are afraid of sinning against Him -- that's how much you honor Him. (And that's where Psalm 119:11 comes into play: you hide God's Word in your heart so that you won't sin against Him, because you know what He requires of you.) Proverbs 28:13-14 also goes along with this quite well, because in Proverbs 16 it mentions "Atonement" for iniquity and this Scripture says, "He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity." 1 John 1:9 also talks about this: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Also consider 1 John 2:1-2 : "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."
Proverbs 16:17 states, "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul."
What does it mean to depart from evil? The word "depart" means "to turn off, turn away, pluck away, rebel, revolt." This reminds me of 1 Timothy 6:11 which says, "But you, O man of God, FLEE these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
So if we are not supposed to do evil, what exactly are we suppose to do? The Answer: "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth" (Ps 34:14-16). We are not talking about the kind of doing good that most people speak of -- "I'm a good person!" No, we are talking about imitating God. We are told in the Scriptures that God is good: Isaiah 1:16-17 -- "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; CEASE TO DO EVIL, LEARN TO DO GOOD; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Psalm 119:68 -- "You are good, and do good; Teach me Your statutes."Psalm 106:1 -- "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
So if it's part of God's nature to do good, we should do good, too, and this entails departing from evil. "You shall be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). 1John 3:5-6 states, "And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." And this brings me back to 1 John 5:18 -- ""We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him."
James 4:6-8 "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.'Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." (Special thanks to Jean, host of The Word For Wednesday, for pointing me to this Scripture. For More Word For Wednesdays visit her blog by clicking on the above link.)