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For your obedience is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Note 4 at Ro 16:19: This is the second and final time that the English word "simple" was used in the New Testament. The first time was in the previous verse (Ro 16:18). However, this one English word came from two different Greek words. The Greek word that was used in Ro 16:18 was "AKAKOS" (see note 3 at that verse), while the Greek word that was used in this verse is "AKERAIOS," meaning "(a) 'unmixed, pure,' as wines or metals, (b) of the mind, 'without admixture of evil, free from guile, innocent, simple'" (Thayer's Lexicon).
Therefore, when Paul presented being simple in Ro 16:18 as something that is not good, and simple in Ro 16:19 as something that is good, he was speaking of two different things. Ro 16:18 is speaking against being gullible, while Ro 16:19 is speaking in favor of being pure, focused only on things that are good (see note 5 at this verse).
Note 5 at Ro 16:19: This is a wonderful key that the Lord is giving us for living the Christian life, yet very few people use it. It goes contrary to the modern thought that all knowledge is good, even the knowledge of evil.
Satan used Eve's desire to know about evil to entice her to sin (Ge 3:5-6). All that she knew about was good, but Satan convinced her that she would be better off if she knew about evil. That definitely was not the case.
God never intended for us to know about evil. That's the reason He forbade Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We cannot be tempted with things that we don't think about (see notes 7 and 9 at Ro 12:2, note 10 at Ro 8:4, and notes 11-12 at Ro 8:5). Therefore, if we don't think about evil things, we will not be tempted with them.
Of course, since the Fall, evil is in the world, and there needs to be knowledge about evil so we can avoid its pitfalls. Paul said, "We are not ignorant of his devices" (2Co 2:11). Notice that Paul said we should be simple, not ignorant. However, most of us are indulging in a knowledge of evil that is far beyond what Paul was advocating.
Paul also said, "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (Eph 5:12). Yet many Christians feel it is necessary and beneficial to plumb the depths of the moral debauchery in our world today. That is not so.
We don't have to know all about Satanism and what its followers are doing in order to avoid that pitfall and help those who have already fallen in it. If we are seeking God with our whole heart and thinking on all the good He has to offer, we will never fall prey to Satanism. We will also have the wisdom of God to deliver anyone who has become possessed by that spirit. The best defense is a good offense.
Bank tellers don't become astute at recognizing counterfeit money by studying counterfeit bills. It would be impossible to school them on all the possible variations they could encounter. Instead, they become so familiar with the genuine article that they are able to recognize a fake.
Likewise, Christians should be wise concerning that which is good, and simple (unmixed, separated from--see note 4 at this verse) concerning evil. Undue attention to what Satan is doing will actually give the Enemy inroads into our lives.
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