Today’s world is a harsh reality for the Christian. Lifestyles and activities that the Bible clearly condemns as evil are commonplace and celebrated. We are confronted with images and messages that seek to displace us from our faith we hold so dear.
How do we handle it? How do we tune out the world around us and focus on Christ? In Proverbs 4:14 Solomon provides practical steps to standing firm when the world and our sinful nature tries to pull us down the path of evil.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not go on it; turn away from and pass on” – Proverbs 4:14
Inside the heart of every person is a desire to follow in the footsteps of the wicked. This desire to pursue a life of evil is a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. In Psalm 51:5 David laments the fallen nature of humanity,
“Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”
All of humanity is bent on evil from birth, it’s all we know. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 7:18, sheds more light on the depraved nature of mankind,
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out”
Paul laments that he is aware that he should follow God, he even desires it, but because of his sinful nature he can’t carry it out himself.
How do we stay off the path of evil?
We know that a way of evil exists and we shouldn’t follow it. Returning to Proverbs 4:14, Solomon helpfully illustrates the way of evil as a path through several key words.
Solomon says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked.” Entering something doesn’t mean we fully engage in something, it just means we’ve taken the first step. Solomon makes it clear we are not to even enter the path of evil. The path of evil is deceitful and can pull us in without us even realizing it. It can be a slow fade, difficult to notice that it’s happening to us.
Solomon warns Christians to stay as far from evil as possible. He says that we should take steps, if possible, to not even be confronted by evil, something that is increasingly difficult to do in today’s world. All too often we willingly expose ourselves to the evil and perversion of this world. We believe the lie that we can handle it. We believe the lie that we’re strong enough to knowingly dabble for the sake of enjoyment and not be affected by it. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Picture this. You’re in the middle of a forest sitting around your campfire when it freakishly turns into an out of control wild fire. It becomes so big that it is consuming acres of land in seconds – milliseconds. The flames are quick to lick up every branch, every log, every living being in its path and fire begins to roar. The heat it generates now radiates for miles and the smoke billows to the nearby city. You know there’s nothing stopping this. Your heart is racing and beads of sweat pour down your brow. It’s not a matter of if, but when the fire will consume even you.
The same concept applies to evil. If we lose sight of what it is we’re looking at, doing, or participating in, if we do not move far enough away from evil – fleeing its path, the sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that God has built up in us will be lit on fire and evil will overwhelm and consume us. It’s not a matter of if, but when. We need to keep evil from entering our hearts and minds through avoidance, and at the same time, we need to fill our lives with the Word of God to bolster our defenses.
Turn away and pass on
The final phrase of Proverbs provides the final step in the process of avoiding the pathway of evil. It says, “Turn away from it (pathway of evil) and pass on.” When faced with a choice of whether or not to enter the pathway, it’s not enough to know that we are to avoid it; we need to know how. It does no good to stare at the evil; let it swim around in our heads, giving the devil time to convince us it’s a road worth traveling. When we are confronted with evil, we cannot just think it away, because there it continues to sit, right in front of us. We need something more. We need action.
Instead of staring at it, and thinking it away, we must turn from it. We must stop looking at it, pondering it, trying to will it away. We must turn from the path of evil, and pass by it towards the path of life that can only be found in Christ. We must fix our eyes and heart on God and trust that he will help us stay off the path of evil.
In John 6:37 Jesus states,
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”
If we turn from evil and fix our eyes on Jesus, He guarantees that He will direct our paths. Not only that, He will comfort us as His children, as we walk away from all that can hurt us. So it’s up to you which path you will choose; God’s way or the way of evil. It’s up to you to decide if you’ll let the Holy Spirit change you or if you’ll continue down the path of evil. You start today.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” Revelation 3:20