Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
I was surprised
when I read this from Paul.
Sounded just like Philippians 4:4-9.
During this Advent season,
we often turn to the prophets
to hear again your promises
and wonder at their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Then I wonder why Paul wrote to the church:
"Do not despise the words of the prophets,
but test everything."
Is this what students of the Bible
would later call a hermeneutic of suspicion?
Then Paul advises
the result of "testing everything" is to
"hold fast to what is good;
abstain from every form of evil."
Advent is a time of testing.
Testing our lives.
Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves --
the 4th step of a 12 steps ministry.
And testing the prophets.
Making a search and fearless review of Your promises.
At the end of such a test,
Paul tells us,
"hold fast to what is good"
In other words:
Keep doing the good.
Focus on your strengths.
Do what you do well!
Believe God's promises.
Stand strong in God's grace!
And Paul says,
"abstain from every form of evil"
In other words:
Stop doing the bad.
Turn away from destructive thoughts, ways of being.
Let go of the negative.
Renounce the power of evil.
Trust that God is more powerful than evil!
sanctify me wholy!
spirit, soul, and body.
You are faithful!
And You will do this!