Innocent Concerning Evil
“…but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” Romans 16:19 NKJ
Simply put, God desires for us to be wise or knowledgeable about the things that are good while being ignorant regarding the evils of the world around us. If we take this in context, when Paul says to be wise about what is good, he is referring to the Word of God. It makes sense, where do we learn what is good, and how to be good? That understanding comes exclusively from the Bible. Jesus wants us to be wise, knowledgeable and well versed in the Bible, thus giving us wisdom about what is good. In contrast, He wants us to be simple concerning what is evil. What does that mean? Well, God wants us to be ignorant regarding the things that are evil. In the Amplified Bible it says that God wants us is to be “innocent” concerning the things that are evil.
In our culture we live the exact opposite of this verse, spending a little time becoming knowledgeable about the things that are good, things of the Word. For most, we get little of the Word after church on Sunday. In fact, consider how much time you’ve spent becoming wise in the Word since Sunday morning? The truth is there has probably been a very limited time (if any) for most of us becoming what the Lord expects of us (wise, competent and thinking about the Word). Conversely, how much time have we spent learning the evils of the world?
We fill our thoughts with the latest news and its speculation about our present and future. We learn of murders, sexual immorality, lies, theft, and corruption. That is all the media has to offer us. There is no good news, nothing pointing to God or to the things that make us wise in what is good. We are actually becoming innocent and naive concerning the things that are good, while simultaneously becoming knowledgeable concerning things that are evil. We learn of evil and its consequences daily and it fills our thoughts, crowding out the truth of the Word.
It is not just in the news alone that fosters our knowledge of evil. It is in the TV shows and entertainment we embrace. It is the dangers that await us online and it is in the violent and horrifying video games that young people play. In these, we are becoming wise concerning evil and ignorant concerning the good. Some would argue these things are acceptable, just a part of our culture, that these things do not affect them. Believing we need to be versed in such thing so that we might be relevant to the culture around us. This is self-deception because it stands in contrast to the Word from Romans 16:19. When I embrace the things that God tells me to be innocent of, I lose that innocence. I invite into my soul the very things that God says He finds abominable! I discredit the heart of God and His commandments for me. The more knowledgeable we become about evil, the more accepting we become of evil.
To be innocent of the things that are evil means that I do not pay attention to them. Does that mean I am unaware of what is going on? Of course not, you cannot help but hear about things that are happening. The difference is that I am not filling my mind with the things that are in opposition to the Word. I am aware, but I am not worried because I just don’t think about it. Becoming innocent regarding evil, I am not affected by it.
I can either choose to fill my mind with the evil of this world and its perspective, or I can become ignorant and innocent concerning evil, having no knowledge of it because I am filled instead with the good things of the Lord. Here is the question: are you wise concerning the Word or the world? Are you innocent and ignorant of evil or the good news of Jesus? The answer determines your success or failure in life.
J Todd Hostetler