First Thessalonians 5.22



1.   Turn in your Bible to First Thessalonians 5.22.  When you find that verse in God’s Word, please stand for the reading of Scripture:  “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

2.   To remind you, Paul’s first Thessalonian letter should be taken as the new convert’s course in the New Testament, since it is the only portion of God’s Word that we know was written to Christians only weeks old in the faith before Paul was forced to leave that city.[1]

3.   In First Thessalonians, we see the entirety of the Christian life and testimony reduced to three important essential activities; the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope.[2] 

4.   Indeed, the entire letter to the Thessalonians is geared, first to those essential activities as evidence of the Thessalonian Christian’s election by God,[3] then to a brief explanation of their lifestyle expression of those three essential activities,[4] and finally, to how Paul’s own life and ministry to those new converts had been an expression of those same three essential activities.

5.   Yes, not only did the Thessalonian Christians provide demonstrable proof to Paul that they were the elect of God, that they were genuine Christians, by their work of faith, by their labor of love, and by their patience of hope, but Paul’s ministry to them was also described in this letter in those same terms.

6.   When you consider First Thessalonians in this way, it is quite easy to discern that Paul’s work of faith is the thrust of the first chapter, with Paul’s labor of love being dealt with in chapters two, three and two-thirds of chapter four.  The last part of chapter four and all of chapter five sheds light on Paul’s patience of hope as it affected and was then applied to the Thessalonians.

7.   If hope can be properly understood in Paul’s writings to refer to “the confident expectation of future blessing based upon the promises of God,” then we can predict what reactions such hope will generate in a believer’s life.

8.   Are you comforted by the promise of Christ’s return?  Then such hope will produce a predictable response toward spiritual leadership, First Thessalonians 5.12-13:  “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  And be at peace among yourselves.”

9.   Rather than jostling for position and resisting their oversight over you, if you are hoping for Christ’s return, you will defer to Christ’s chosen spiritual leaders.  This will be evident when you allow them to teach you and preach to you instead of insisting on teaching them and ignoring their preaching.  The result, of course, will be peace among yourselves.

10. Are you comforted by the promise of Christ’s return?  Then such hope will produce a predictable response toward other Christians, First Thessalonians 5.14-15:  “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”

11. Are you comforted by the promise of Christ’s return?  Then such hope will produce a predictable response toward the Holy Spirit of God, First Thessalonians 5.16-22:  “16 Rejoice evermore.”  This has to do with the fruit of the Spirit.  “17 Pray without ceasing.”  This has to do with the intercession of the Spirit.  “18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  This has to do with the filling of the Spirit.  “19 Quench not the Spirit.”  This has to do with the leading of the Spirit.  “20 Despise not prophesyings.”  This has to do with the instruction of the Spirit by means of the preaching of God’s Word.  “21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”  This has to do with the discernment of the Spirit.  “22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.”  And this has to do with the sensitivity, the holiness, of the Spirit.

12. Let me say this again, so you will not lose sight of the truth because you may be unfamiliar with it:  Christians, real Christians, exhibit faith, love and hope.  Each grace manifests itself, shows itself, in a different way, but with both faith and love being closely related to evangelistic outreach.  But without these three graces on exhibit you have little likelihood of persuading any discerning believer that you are a real Christian.

13. I could spend an entire sermon dealing with faith.  I could spend an entire sermon dealing with love.  I could spend an entire sermon dealing with hope.  But my plan this morning is to bring to you a very practical sermon that focuses on a simple, yet profound truth:  Christians who have hope respond in a predictable way to the indwelling Spirit of God.

14. And how do hopeful Christians predictably respond to the Holy Spirit?  Instructed Christians, those who have been taught, as Paul is in this letter teaching the new Christians at Thessalonica, know to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

15. But what does this directive mean, “Abstain from all appearance of evil”?



1B.    “Abstain from all appearance of evil” does not mean that a Christian should refuse to do anything or participate in any activity that is thought by others to be evil or sinful.

2B.    Did the Lord Jesus Christ not do, on many occasions, those things which were thought by many Jews of His day to be evil?  When He and His disciples plucked grain from the field on the Sabbath and ate it, others who saw it were persuaded that what they were doing was wrong.[5]  And did they not think the same way when He healed a man on the Sabbath?[6]  As well, they were outraged when Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath, in the synagogue![7]

3B.    Likewise, did not many Jewish people think the preaching and teaching of the apostles was seditious?  Paul, himself, persecuted the followers of Christ before his own conversion, because he was utterly convinced that what they did and the way of life they were following was just plain wrong.

4B.    Much of what Christians are commanded by God to do are things that others believe to be wrong.  It is of no concern to us whether someone believes what we do is wrong.  After all, our rule of faith and practice is not the standard set by other people, is it?  No, it is God’s Word.

5B.    So, it is reasonably established that “Abstain from all appearance of evil” does not mean that you should not do things that other people are persuaded you should not do.  Christians are not to be slaves to the opinions and values of others.



“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

1B.    The word “abstain” is a verb that means “to hold one’s self from.”[8]  Therefore, what we have here is a command to pull yourself away from something, to draw back from something.

2B.    Yet, it is the word “appearance” that causes problems for many reading the Bible.  Too frequently, insufficient study results in the reader thinking that this word refers only to what something looks like.  But closer examination reveals that this word “appearance” refers to something else.  Rienecker tells us that the word refers to “visible form, outward show.  The word could also be used in the sense of ‘kind,’ ‘species,’ ‘class.’”[9]

3B.    Thus, Paul is not telling us to pull away from everything that appears to others to be evil.  He is telling us to withdraw from every kind of evil, from every sort of wickedness, from every class of wrongdoing.  To put it another way, there is no kind of sin which is acceptable for a Christian to engage in.



1.   Thus, a principle is established in the Christian life.  We are to shrink away from what is wrong.  We are to withdraw from what is sinful.  If it is the right thing to do, however, even if others think it is wrong, we are under no such obligation.

2.   After brother Isenberger comes and leads us in a song, this morning’s sermon will be devoted to reasons “Why Christians Should Not Celebrate Halloween.”  Not because some people think it is wrong to do so, but because it is wrong.

3.   Now, as brother Isenberger comes, let us stand to sing.



1.   Friday, October 31st, is Halloween.  Throughout the United States the campaign is already underway to promote the celebration of witches, hobgoblins, occultism and death.

2.   I am ashamed to say that I used to fully participate in the celebration of Halloween.  From the time I was a little kid, Halloween was something I really looked forward to every year.  I even angrily reacted when I was questioned by one of my Church members about the propriety of what I was doing when I celebrated Halloween as a pastor.

3.   Understand that I stand before you, not as someone who lives in a glass house, not as someone who has not suffered from profound ignorance myself, but as someone who recognized how wrong I was, and who has purposed to behave differently in the future.

4.   Perhaps you celebrate Halloween.  Maybe you enjoy the costumes and makeup, the children going from house to house collecting candy, and all the rest, just like I did.  I would like you to listen carefully for a few minutes.  I want to give you ten reasons why you should not ever celebrate Halloween again.



1B.    My exposition text, “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” very clearly establishes God’s will regarding matters that are evil.  Abstain from all of them.  Withdraw from every one of them.  Do not participate in any of them.

2B.    I am not urging you to give up Halloween because some people think it is wrong.  I am urging you to give up Halloween because it is wrong.  And because it is wrong, you should no longer participate in its celebration.

3B.    “But pastor, my child loves Halloween.  He will cry if he doesn’t get to go trick-or-treating.”  I have been in the ministry for more than 25 years.  I have never heard of any child crying and feeling sorry for himself who has had it explained to him that Halloween is wrong and dishonoring to God. 

4B.    Besides, what kind of parent would even consider allowing his child to do something that is wrong just because he wants to do it?  “Oh, but daddy, I want to say nasty words to her.”  “Oh, but mommy, I want to steal that boy’s bicycle.”  No.  Parents who allow their youngsters to do wrong are bad parents.



1B.    First John 2.15-16:  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  The word “world” refers to mankind, in this context.

2B.    How can anyone who has ever seen a Halloween celebration deny that it is worldly?  What is there about Halloween that is spiritual, that is of God, that is not self-centered and sensual?  Therefore, because it is worldly, and we are forbidden to love the world, with its lust and its pride, forgo its celebration.

3B.    As well, First John 5.19, which declares “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” establishes for us the morality of the world, the morality of mankind, the level of spirituality of the human race.  Things that are worldly, and Halloween is definitely worldly (don’t let anyone suggest to you that it’s not), are things that should be shunned, avoided, passed by in favor of that which is pleasing to God.

4B.    So, what pleases God?  God is pleased when His people gather together, Hebrews 10.25.  That is precisely why we will engage in a Christian Alternative To Halloween next Friday night, no costumes of any kind allowed, beginning at 7:00 PM.  Please come and join with us.  No witches.  No hobgoblins.  No occultism.  No Satanism or demonism.  Just God’s people enjoying good fellowship.



1B.    I will not take the time to prove once again what I have proven time and time again, that Halloween is the Devil’s night, that it is recognized by Satan’s followers as Satan’s celebration.  That fact is already established and can be verified by anyone who can do an Internet search of the phrase “Halloween evil.”

2B.    What I think needs to be pointed out is that there is something that those who claim to be blood bought and blood washed Christians should exemplify.  What is it we should exemplify?  Loyalty.  We sang a wonderful hymn just before I stepped to the platform to deliver this sermon to you, titled “Loyalty To Christ.”

3B.    Do you feel any compulsion to demonstrate loyalty to God, loyalty to Christ?  From time to time a man or a woman is called upon to make such monumental decisions that forever alter the course of your life and lifestyle.  Sometimes these forks in the road of life are open and public for all to see.  Sometimes they are private matters that most people will not usually notice.

4B.    No matter what kinds of decisions they are, fork-in-the-road-of-life decisions are all important.  Remember when Joshua confronted the children of Israel, in Joshua 24.15?  He said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve. . . as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Then there was Elijah on Mount Carmel, facing off the false prophets.  Listen to what he said to the people, in First Kings 18.21:  “How long halt ye between two opinions?  if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”

5B.    I am suggesting that you decide whose side you will be on Friday night.  I am urging you to stand on the Lord’s side.  I am exhorting you to show loyalty to Christ.  Do not, my friend, turn your back on the One Who shed His precious blood for you, so that you might enjoy a few meaningless hours of mindless amusement celebrating the Devil’s holiday.  No.  On Friday night I urge you to be loyal to Christ and to God.



1B.    My friend, we are engaged in a spiritual warfare.  You are exhorted to put on the whole armor of God,[10] and to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.[11]  Therefore, with the battle lines clearly drawn, with the opponents identified, what opinion do you have of the Spirit of God?

2B.    Do you not care that the Spirit of God is grieved by that behavior which opposes the Savior, which demeans the Lord, which denigrates His importance?  This Spirit Who indwells you, if you are a Christian, means to exalt Christ through you and to extol Christ by you.  What, then, is the reaction of the precious Holy Spirit to your religious compromise and your collaboration with the enemy?  I tell you, He is grieved, because such behavior wounds Him.  Yet Ephesians 4.30 bids us, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”



1B.    Do you have a more dangerous foe than Satan, the god of this world,[12] the prince of the power of the air,[13] who tempted Eve to sin and who seeks your eternal destruction?  Do we not have to contend with the wiles of the devil,[14] this one who fills men’s hearts to lie to the Holy Ghost,[15] as well as his minions?  Is Satanic opposition nothing?  Are we to simply ignore this one who walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour?[16]  And what about those foul spirits, those fallen angels, those demons, who serve him by subverting us?  Are they to be laughed at who seduce men to depart from the faith?[17]

2B.    Yet, what is Halloween but a carnival of demonic silliness, a reduction of demonic terror and danger to childish fun?  To be sure, 99.99% of that which is associated with Halloween is nonsense and amusement and is exploited by businesses for the sole purpose of generating cash flow.

3B.    But does plastic masks or sugar candy make Satan less dangerous an adversary than he is?  Just because ten thousand girls dress up like witches with makeup and costumes, are we to thereby conclude that demon possession and the effect of foul spirits on poor souls is not real?

4B.    My friends, I have seen demon possessed people.  I have observed some of the tragedies that are caused by these foul spirits that are made fun of on Halloween.  And I am here to tell you that making a game of it and pretending that it’s all harmless fun is of no benefit at all to the people afflicted by those foul creatures.  It serves no good purpose whatsoever to trivialize your spiritual enemy.  On the contrary, it only gives aid and comfort to the enemy by causing those afflicted by him to underestimate the danger and the damage that he can cause.



1B.    Imagine yourself to be a child.  On Sunday your are told that Satan is a fierce and deadly foe, and that his minions are foul spirits who afflict and torment those under their control.  We read in the Bible that they are fallen angels who will someday be cast into the lake of fire because of their rebellion against the God Who created them.

2B.    But then they are dressed up once a year in plastic costumes and masks that poke fun at spiritual darkness and demons, that laugh at death and depravity, that convinces the children that behind the apparently fearful and scary stuff there is really nothing to be afraid of.

3B.    So, who is the child to believe, the Bible, or the whole world of people he is drawn to and wants to someday be like?  Do you see the danger of not coming out from among them and being separate from the unclean thing?[18]  It is difficult enough to persuade your child that the Word of God is true and evolutionists are wrong, that the Bible is correct and the infidels are incorrect.  Why make the task more difficult by either taking a neutral position on Halloween or by compromising and thereby confusing those who are childish and those who are simple?



1B.    In First Corinthians 10.23, Paul wrote, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”  What did he mean by that?  He meant that Christians have great liberty, but that the exercise of Christian liberty must be guided by consideration of whether or not people are edified, whether or not people are built up in the faith.

2B.    Think long and hard about this.  Consider and ponder and meditate for as long as you want.  Search the Scriptures to your heart’s content.  Does celebrating Halloween benefit anyone in a spiritual way?  Is Christ exalted?  Is God honored?  Is the Spirit yielded to by anyone’s involvement in a celebration of Halloween?  The answer is “No.”  Therefore it is not expedient.  Since it is not expedient, Christians should not be involved in it in any way and to any degree.



1B.    Conscience is that faculty given by God to every man that renders a verdict of guilty or innocent when one’s thoughts or actions are evaluated.  Conscience is not infallible, but must be guided by the absolute truth of God’s Word.  However, it is a useful tool so long as it is kept pure and undefiled.

2B.    I submit to you that celebrating Halloween defiles the conscience, which his not good for you.  And should you protest that celebrating Halloween does not feel wrong to you, I would assert that such is the case only because your conscience is either uninformed or is already defiled, and perhaps even seared.

3B.    We already know that those who are affected by demons and foul spirits end up with seared consciences.[19]  It follows that Halloween, with its emphasis on death, and knowing that it trivializes the demonic and the pagan, is certain to dull the spiritual senses and deaden the sensitivity of the conscience to wrongdoing.



1B.    I am unaware of any informed person who does not know of the druidic origins of the different practices of Halloween, that it is virulently antichristian, and it is positively Satanic.  There is no question that what we know as Halloween comes from a series of pre-Christian practices in Europe and the British Isles.  And each practice, from trick or treating, to the Jack-o-lantern, to the bobbing for apples, to the witches, to the black cats, and all the rest, have their origins in the wickedness of this festival of death.

2B.    My question to you is this:  On what occasion was this celebration sanctified and consecrated by God so that it would bless and benefit those who observed it?  At what point did God’s opposition to that which is demonic suddenly change to approval?  Do you see my point?  That which has wicked origins is wicked.  That which has wicked origins cannot become good.  Therefore, since Halloween started evil, it is still evil, and no Christian should have anything to do with it.



1B.    Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago, while surfing the Internet to prepare for this message, and finding a web site which reads as follows:  “Abdullah Hakim Quick is an Islamic scholar and an historian featured in the video documentary Holiday Myths which discusses the origins of Halloween and a number of other holidays and celebrations common in Western culture.  This is his advice to Muslims for Halloween. 

1.   Avoid it, it’s a night of evil.  Shaytan (Satan) is our open enemy and we do not play with evil. 

2.   Trick-or-treating is really kids begging for candy.  Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him) disliked and discouraged begging.

3.   Remember that Satanic movements have engaged in dangerous acts, like rape and kidnapping on Halloween.”[20]

2B.   My friends, Islam is not a religion with anything like what you and I would call spiritual discernment.  It is a religion that denigrates women and places them on an equal footing with donkeys and dogs, that counts the testimonies of women to be worth one half the weight of a man’s testimony in a court of law, and that to this day believes that the earth is flat.[21]

3B.   Further, Islam is a religion that denies the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, denies that Jesus is the eternal Son of the living God, denies that Jesus shed His blood on the cross of Calvary to atone for our sins, and denies that God is a trinity.[22]  So, I am not advocating Islam as a viable belief system.  Yet moslems seem to have more sense with regard to Halloween than many professing Christians, in that they recognize that it is a holiday of wickedness and that people should not observe it.



1.   So, there you have it.  Ten reasons why no Christian should celebrate Halloween.  And if you disagree with one reason, or if nine of those reasons fails to persuade you that you should not celebrate Halloween?  Only one reason is good enough to persuade you.

2.   Let me list them for you again, and if you can reasonably establish that all ten reasons are invalid, then you go ahead and celebrate Halloween to your heart’s content.  But if not, your are bound by whatever integrity you have, and you are bound by your concern for your children, to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

3.   The ten reasons why no Christian should celebrate Halloween are:

A.                 First, because celebrating Halloween is wrong.

B.                 Second, because celebrating Halloween is worldly.

C.                 Third, because celebrating Halloween is disloyal.

D.                 Fourth, because celebrating Halloween grieves the Spirit.

E.                  Fifth, because celebrating Halloween trivializes the enemy.

F.                  Sixth, because celebrating Halloween confuses the simple.

G.                 Seventh, because celebrating Halloween is not convenient.

H.                 Eighth, because celebrating Halloween defiles the conscience.

I.                    Ninth, because Halloween has wicked origins.

J.                   Tenth, because even moslems recognize the celebration of Halloween to be wrong.

4.   Now that that’s settled, why don’t you come to Church Friday night for our Christian Alternative to Halloween.  No masks or costumes.  Nothing scary or demonic.  Just Christians getting together for a time of fellowship and food and fun.  Things begin at 7:00 PM and end around 9:30 PM.

[1] Acts 17.2, 10

[2] First Thessalonians 1.3

[3] First Thessalonians 1.4

[4] First Thessalonians 1.8-10

[5] Matthew 12.2

[6] Matthew 12.10

[7] Luke 13.14

[8] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 603.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ephesians 6.11

[11] Second Timothy 2.3

[12] Second Corinthians 4.4

[13] Ephesians 2.2

[14] Ephesians 6.11

[15] Acts 5.3

[16] First Peter 5.8

[17] First Timothy 4.1

[18] Second Corinthians 6.17

[19] First Timothy 4.1-2

[21] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and John S. Waldrip, Demons In The Smoke Of The World Trade Center, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 2002), pages 117, 124-126.

[22] Ibid., pages 132-136.

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