Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Company We Keep

This will be a short one. Christians are given clear direction on the company they are to keep:
1 Corinthians 5:11 "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."
Of course this applies to everybody, not just men. Yes, Jesus ate with sinners, but he is God. Even the devil failed to sway him because he was pure and holy. Can you withstand that?

Why are we to beware of whom we associate? I don't like psychology, but they are partly correct on this one!
"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with."  (Jim Rohn)
I will take this further! Not only do the five people with whom you spend the most time have the most influence on you, but the the composite of person, amount of time and the ability to influence are the key elements in who you are and  how you behave. Most married people spend the most time with their spouse. However, if there is little respect or love for the spouse, that person will not be the one to make the influence. You will find another person to influence you the most. In fact the spouse may not even factor into the top five!

Influence, as does love and relationships, triangulates. Those who fail to have fidelity to those who should influence them most, seek out another to provide that influence. Oftentimes, the new apex in the triangulation is someone loved or admired. Face it... long married couples aren't as interesting and exciting as they were before the onset of finances, disagreements or same-home incarceration.  The person who influences the most is the one most enjoyed, the one with the strongest personality, the one you spend the most time with and sometimes the one who has the most wealth or prestige.  They are the ones who provide the pleasure and relate to your personality.

Now, let's leave psychology and look at theology. That's what I buy into because God is reliable and trustworthy! He wants what best for you and warns what is not. His warning (1 Cor 5:11) is basically "If a person who claims to be a Christian lives in sin, that's the person to avoid"! Paul, on behalf of Christ, gave us a list of great sinners: those who have sex outside their own marriage, covets what you have (perhaps your own life), has things which are favored over God, one who gives bad advice meant to sow dissension, one who drinks too much, or someone who gains favor using the wiles of the devil!

Why a "brother"? That means a fellow Christian, and that's important because of the trust that you may have because that's part of the deception! "The advice must be good because he's a Christian." or "I trust her because she's a Christian". Likewise, if we are with a pagan, the same applies anyway. If they fail to listen to the gospel, we are to shake the dust from our feet and leave them!

Why does God want a Christian to avoid associations with sinning Christians? It's because Satan uses other people to influence you. The devil's  "M.O." is deceit, and the best person who can deceive you is the one who can influence you the most. God doesn't buy into psychology; but he created the psyche!  He knows the influence others can have upon you and he was plain with his instructions. He knows that when a Christian hangs with the wrong crowd, that crowd is empowered by demons to change you! When you listen to those whose true father is the devil, you may gradually become the follower of him too without being the wiser!
1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) "Do not be deceived: “'Bad company ruins good morals.'"
 Proverbs 14:7 (ESV) "Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge."
 Psalm 119:115 (ESV) "Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God."
1 John 3:18 (ESV) "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth"
First, it is said "Bad people influences you." and that's whether you acknowledge it or not! Then "We're not to listen to the words of sinners because their counsel is not the will of God". And "Evil doers influence you to disobey God's commandments". And lastly, "Do not enjoy the conversation of those who speak not God's truth"!

God's will is righteousness. True Christian friends will never counsel you to do unrighteous things. We are to flee from them that do! God's will is that we all avoid sin: pride, anger, infidelity, lies, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, divorce, and even hanging out with those who appear to be sheep, but are wolves in sheep's clothing! Some of those wolves are jealous of your relationships and want you to be as sorry as they are. Your failure becomes rationalization for their own sick lives!

How does one avoid bad influences. They discern who is bad by how they live and then flee from them! Your very soul is at stake, not to mention what you have already. It's never shameful to run away when that from which you run is evil!

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