“Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it.
Instead of retaliating against people who persecute them, a true Christian seeks and pursues peace. By orienting to God’s plan, the Christian can have victory over low living.
Let him turn away from evil
Here is the second “Let him” – “Let him turn away from evil.”
“Turn away” comes from two words: from and to turn, connoting to cease doing something. The idea is to cease, to stop, to avoid or shun, to turn aside. This implies that the person who turns away will engage in some alternative, to change orientation and direction. That alternative here is to turn to God’s plan for them. This Christian turns aside at the approach of evil and then turns toward God’s plan. Rather than retaliate against those who demean him, this Christian seeks peace (v.10).
“From evil” – Evil here is the evil of broken relationships (context). “From evil” means to turn from the ultimate source of evil. This evil comes out of our lust pattern. There is no place in the plan of God for Christians to operate in lust patterns. To shun evil here means to confess sin and turn from it.
Romans 16:17 uses this term for turning away from division–makers,
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
We should make a clean-cut break with the pattern of breaking relationships by confession of that sin.
Do you “avoid” evil? Let us suppose a girl is on a date with some bore. She becomes tired of the conversation and goes to the powder room with her girlfriend to complain about her date. She complains that he is fat-headed, a lemon for a date. If you have spent 5 hours with a man you can’t stand, you know what it means to “shun” evil! In her mind, he does not exist. He is there physically, but he is not in her mind.
Job hated evil (Job 1). He gave evil a wide berth. He hated sin.
Ps. 97:10, “You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.”
Heb 1:9, “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
2 Tim 2:19, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”
Make a clean-cut break with sin.
1 Peter 4:1-2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
This is more than living in the will of God. This is living to the will of God. The will of God is our career. This is our central concern. His will is our passion.
Orientation to the will of God lifts you to a higher spiritual plane so that you do not lower yourself to mundane, verbal feuds. Running feuds may be legitimate for non-Christians or carnal Christians but not for the spiritual Christian. Carnal Christians do not know how to live with a central purpose in view. People who come into the experience of the Spirit-filled life know better. They live on the higher plane of spiritual maturity.
Why do you downgrade other Christians now that you have grown in the Lord? We say that new Christians have not grown in the Lord, and that is why they are loose with their tongue. If you have been a Christian for 5 years, why have you not grown in those years? New Christians will eventually outgrow their immaturity but have you come to a plateau and are not growing? Immaturity judges people. God will judge us by what we say about people in small group meetings and around the dinner table.
Do you enjoy sticking a verbal knife in the back of some people? Would you not receive the same in return?
Gal. 5:15, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
The word “consumed” conveys gulp down. Imagine Christians gulping down one another!