Together in Christ: 'Stay Far Away!' — Proverbs 25:26

Thursday, May 11, 2023

If the godly give in to the wicked, its like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.

— Proverbs 25:26 NLT

Key Thought

How much poison is too much to drink? How much sewage can be allowed to seep into drinking water? How much COVID-19 virus should we permit in a baby's nursery? How much dabbling in sin pollutes a Christian's relationship with God and muddies the waters of grace?

Jesus taught His disciples that they were the salt of the earth. He warned them their salt must not lose its "saltiness. [1] Jesus did not intend for His disciples to segregate themselves from people who were sinners. [2] Salt is not doing its job isolated from what is supposed to be salted! However, Jesus did warn His disciples that they must not pollute or dilute their holiness with the evil around them. [3] He and Paul both made a similar set of points by using the image of leaven and yeast in the dough — a little evil leaven or wicked yeast corrupts the whole batch of the dough. [4] Instead, the leaven of the Kingdom should change the world around it! [5]

In the New Testament Scriptures, the Holy Spirit repeatedly emphasized the importance of maintaining holiness by refusing to be defiled by flirting with immorality. Paul chose a nautical term, " stay away from, " to make this point. This nautical term, απέχεσθαι (apechesthai), meant "to give a wide berth to" or "to stay far away from" an approaching danger as ships entered and exited a harbor. His point would have been clear to the Christians in the seaport city of Thessalonica — don't cozy up to sin:

God's will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. [6]

Notice that Paul made clear why "staying away from" sin was necessary: God's will is for you to be holy... Paul stressed this holiness goal before pointing out what they must avoid! To put it into our modern vernacular, Jesus and Paul were saying, "Quit trying to play in the gray." Notice Paul's words again to the Christians in Ephesus:

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. [7]

A part of our corrupt fleshly nature sometimes entices us to see how close we can get to sinful behavior without sinning. Our verse from Proverbs, Jesus' words about losing godly saltiness and the danger of evil leaven, and Paul's nautical warning to stay from and not even have a hint of immoral behavior is our clear warning. Flirting with immorality, playing in the gray, and seeing how close we can get without sinning violate holiness's essential nature. They reveal our hearts as rebellious and not wanting to dwell in the presence and reflect the righteous character of our holy God. [8]

We must not use our freedom in grace as our excuse to dabble in sinful behaviors. [9] When godly people give succumb to the wicked and join them in their behaviors, we have polluted the stream of grace and muddied the waters of salvation! Most importantly, we have broken God's heart and likely influenced others away from Jesus. However, I believe the apostle Peter has given us a vision for another way to live that does not pollute or muddy the waters of grace. Instead, we can love all sinners while displaying the goodness of God to others:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. [10]

[1] Matthew 5:13-16; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:33.
[2] Matthew 9:9-13, 11:19, 18:19.
[3] Matthew 5:3-9; Romans 12:12.
[4] Matthew 16:6-12; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:-9.
[5] Matthew 13:33.
[6] 1 Thessalonians 4:3.
[7] Ephesians 5:3.
[8] Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10, .
[9] Ephesians 5:1, 13.
[10] 1 Peter 2:9-10.

Today's Prayer

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

. . .

The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

. . .

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. [Amen.] *

* This prayer is taken from Psalm 51:10, 17, and Psalm 19:14.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Ephesians 4:17-30, 5:1-21
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

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Illustration

Illustration of Proverbs 25:26 NLT — If the godly give in to the wicked, its like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.