“Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”
We know that, as Christians, we’re to follow Jesus. It means believing both the promises and the truth he’s given to us. It means living in daily repentance, turning from our sin, and looking to him for mercy.
However, that being said, too many of us in the church are enamored with the world around us. We try to emulate what the world identifies as cool, in-style, smooth, hip, or whatever slang term you choose to insert. We desire Jesus’ forgiveness, we desire his blessings, and we want to follow him. But, at the same time, we try to remain current and in-touch with the world around us.
This leads us to make compromises. It leads us to begin accepting behaviors and attitudes that God calls sinful. It leads us to see how close we can walk to the world without abandoning Christ.
Most years, as I teach young people in confirmation, I receive questions like this: How far is too far? They want to know how far they can go with a person of the opposite sex before it’s considered sinful. Is it kissing? Is it touching in areas that are generally considered out of bounds? Or does it simply mean “going all the way?”
We tend to do the same in other areas of life as well. We want to live like the world around us, but we want to know how far is too far. We want to know the line of no-return.
I’ve seen this, even in churches, that desire to remain “relevant.” There are churches where the pastor curses and swears during the sermon in an effort to appeal to the unchurched. There are churches and pastors who hold gatherings at a bar and around pitchers of beer in an effort to seem approachable to those who may otherwise never set foot in a church. And, as we know, there are churches who have turned from the truth of Scripture and adopted societal norms in an effort to be more appealing.
As we see in the verse above, we are called upon to abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good. In other words, those things that are sinful, those things that are identified by God as evil, should be detested and despised by us, as his followers. We should not try to see how close to them we can get, but rather how far away from them we can place ourselves.
When we become a believer, and when the Spirit of God fills our heart, our desires and passions become like those of God. Not perfectly, of course, because we’re still a sinful people. But we naturally find ourselves loving the things that God loves and hating the things that God hates.
We begin to turn away from sin, not because we have to, but because we want to. When confronted with temptation, we choose to obey the Lord, not because we have to, but because we want to. And when we fall, when we sin, we immediately confess our failure to the Lord and seek his mercy, wanting to be free from our sinful behaviors and attitudes.
If you have been walking closely with the world, if you find yourself wondering how far is too far, I encourage you to repent. Ask the Lord to forgive you and to fill your heart. Ask him to make your desires like his own. We must do this because, as we read in James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”