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November 29 – Avoiding appearance of evil

“Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

Scripture reading: Psalm 84:1-12

The ESV translated the text as: “Abstain from every form of evil”, but other Bible versions translate it to read, “Avoid all appearance of evil”. Although both translations are valid, in the context of testing the teachings of false prophets, and the injunction to “hold fast to what is good”, it would appear that Paul is warning about prophecies that might “appear” to be false. Calvin, reflecting on this text, observes that any teaching, not having been proven false, but yet gives the appearance of perhaps being so, is to be avoided.

Any teaching based on Scripture and the “Three Forms of Unity” (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession and Canons of Dort) are to be accepted, but if an interpretation raises doubts and questions, it is better to avoid it unless and until more clarity can be given from Scripture. In other words, Paul’s advice to the Thessalonian Christians is to not only reject any and all teaching clearly in conflict with what they had been taught previously by himself, but they were also to avoid any interpretation or teaching that was doubtful or questionable. Paul’s love for the Thessalonians compels him to warn them of the danger of being led astray while on their road to God and eternity.

In another place, Paul speaks of the Deceiver and those who are deceived. Here he warns of the danger of falling victim to the Deceiver by allowing ourselves to be deceived by false prophets. We need to know the Scriptures so we can test and separate the false from the true.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask the Lord for the gift of discernment, enabling you to distinguish truth from error.

Rev. Mark Zylstra is an emeritus minister of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He and his wife Corrie, live in Smithville ON and their home church is Wellandport, ON URC. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at


"Be Fruitful and Multiply" tour comes to Albertan April 19-22

Families are having fewer babies, and the world’s population is expected to peak and then decline later this century. The world isn’t prepared for the impact that this is going to have. However, what may be the greatest challenge of this century can also be a huge opportunity for the Church to shine…. if we embrace the blessing of children, and are prepared to raise them faithfully.

In this presentation, Reformed Perspective’s Mark Penninga will unpack data, history, and God’s Word to make the case for embracing the gift of children with open arms.


Ages 16-116, single or married, children or no children, these presentations are suitable for all mature Christians.


Edmonton: April 19 at 7:30 pm at Immanuel Canadian Reformed Church

Barhead: April 20 at 7:30 pm at Emmanuel United Reformed Church

Ponoka: April 22 at 7:30 pm at Parkland Reformed Church


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