Innocent As To What Is Evil

“I want to see you experts in good, and not even beginners in evil.”

We don’t even begin to know evil. We are truly innocent of it. And that is what stopped me cold. I am not innocent. I know way too much of the ways of this dark world and the ways of depraved humanity to be innocent of evil. From the shows I watch on TV, to movies I stream, to even the things I read, I am very versed in evil. So how can I claim to be innocent?

 

It was such a simple little phrase, but it rocked me to my core. It halted me in my tracks and set my mind whirling. Just a few words and yet they cause great contemplation and introspection. It made me wonder where I was putting the focus of my mind. It made me consider my life from a new angle. It was the simple phrase, innocent as to what is evil.

This phrase is found in Romans 16:19. Paul’s last bit of teaching at the end of the letter. He is expressing what he wants these Romans to be like, so he says to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The idea of being wise as to what is good makes sense and wouldn’t really surprise anyone. We are called to know the good. To focus on the good. To think about the good. That is what Paul says in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” We are to be wise in goodness. That means we know the good through the Word of God and we put it into practice and be wise in it.

It was the second part of that verse that stopped me in my tracks. To be innocent as to what is evil. J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase puts it like this “I want to see you experts in good, and not even beginners in evil.” We don’t even begin to know evil. We are truly innocent of it. And that is what stopped me cold. I am not innocent. I know way too much of the ways of this dark world and the ways of depraved humanity to be innocent of evil. From the shows I watch on TV, to movies I stream, to even the things I read, I am very versed in evil. So how can I claim to be innocent?

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