On Eschewing Evil

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” (1 Peter 3:10-11)

The venerable English word “eschew” is not used much these days, perhaps because there is not much evil that people eschew any more. Nevertheless, a wonderful formula is couched in this terminology in our text. If anyone desires to “see good days,” then he should “eschew evil,” even in his speech and instead “do good.”

The Greek word translated “eschew” here is ekklineo, meaning “incline away from.” That is, instead of having an attitude that “inclines toward” evil, as the world does, the Christian’s inclination must be its polar opposite.

The word is used only two other times in the New Testament. “Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). We are not only to eschew evil words and deeds, but also evil men who teach things contrary to God’s Word. The other occurrence refers to what ungodly men eschew. “They are all gone out of the way . . . there is none that doeth good” (Romans 3:12). Here ekklineo is translated “gone out of the way.” The ungodly eschew doing good; those who would love real life and see good days must do good and eschew evil.

That such an attitude honors and pleases God is especially evident from His thrice-repeated testimony concerning the patriarch Job, a man that “feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3), “a perfect and an upright man.” Job saw some bad days, of course, but there were far more good days of great blessing until he finally died “full of days” (Job 42:17). Like Job, let us eschew—shun, avoid, run away from—evil in any form. HMM

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