Monday, August 24, 2015

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

The above Scriptural warning is vastly overlooked and ignored by countless Christians who think that this and other Scriptures does not apply to them. Well, we have testimony and personal experience on the danger of ignoring Scriptural admonitions which are meant to protect and safeguard our salvation. However, before we share those experiences, let us briefly examine Scriptural teaching on this important matter. As always, we encourage all our readers to carefully examine the referenced Scripture verses as they augment and qualify our message.

God’s Message to Christians in Managing Relations with Unbelievers and Doubters

Essentially, human relationships are built on the premise of interaction with others, and this joins us together into a group or community that shares common interests. As a group, we influence or are being influenced by others into accepting ideas, behaviours and attitudes (Exodus 23:32-33). Right at the beginning of establishing a relationship with the children of Israel, the Lord gave them His Word to influence their lifestyle and to separate them from the rest of the other peoples around them (Leviticus 18:30; Deuteronomy 18:9-13). Thus the hatred, ridicule and rejection Christians are experiencing today is largely due by this call by the Lord to "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE" says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you." And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 NASB).

Given the above  Bible references, don’t you think that the Lord foretold our hardship and persecution when He said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword…”? (Matthew 10:34-36 NIV). As it is, these Scriptures concern the value of our relationships with others. In other words, would we value our relationship with others whether friend or relative by conforming to the way of life they follow more than what Christ called us to? (Matthew 10:37-39).

Therefore, it is abundantly clear from Scripture that our choice of company must always be pleasing to God. Exactly why? The answer is twofold. First is to protect us from being corrupted through temptations leading to lusts and from evil desires coming through the company we keep (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Peter 2:7-10). Being a holy priesthood, we should proclaim His praises, holy living must be uncompromising for this is our only guarantee to Heaven (1 Peter 2:9-12; Hebrews 12:14). On the day of reckoning, many Christians will discover that their slothful and disobedient worldly living resulted in a Christ-less eternity. The second reason is to set us apart (being holy) as belonging to God for His glory and as objects of His mercy (Romans 9:22; Deuteronomy 10:8-9). Scripturally, from the earlier times we see God accepting people into a relationship with Him based on their choice of obedience (Genesis 4:4-7). As we know, The Lord God gave each person freedom to choose and He desired that we choose to follow His will. He says: “… I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11). If we remain obedient, He sets us apart for His glory (Romans 8:30).

Should We Vilify Those Outside of Our Fellowship?

Truly, vilifying those who are not in our fellowship group is not a directive we received from the Lord. In contrast, He commanded us to pray and love those who persecute us (Luke 6:28; Matthew 5:44). Furthermore, our works of service and our attitude of obedience towards the Lord should serve as an encouragement to unbelievers leading them to salvation (1 Peter 3:15-17). Evidently, as Christians it’s inevitable that we have to work with people who are not Christians in all spheres of life. Being a light shining in the darkness, we cannot hide our light from non-Christians; we will have to face and show them what we’ve got (Ephesians 5:8-11).

Often, Christians don’t know how to behave in the company of non-Christians. Some have reportedly said that they feel strange, unwelcomed, and rejected by lukewarm Christians and unbelievers because of their faith in the Lord. Brethren, we must remember that it is not us they have a problem with! They dislike the new life of obedience to the Lord that we follow. Inasmuch as it is tormenting to share a company with non-committed Christians because of their sometimes unwelcoming insults to our faith, this is a test to our faith where we should not allow offensive insults to weaken our confidence in Christ (Hebrews 10:35-36). In terms of interaction, keep the company to achieve shared objectives, especially work or community-related things, but without compromising your faith. Where necessary, give reasons for your refusal to comply, especially when it concerns things that go against the Lord’s will (Exodus 23:2). We must not imitate evil, even if we are pressured to sin (3 John 1:11). As Christians, our association in sharing a company with the unsaved is to reveal Christ by sharing our testimony, and to display through our behaviour the lifestyle He called us to (1 Peter 2:12; Colossians 4:5-6).

Lone Christians

Naturally, all human life is made up of community and through birth, individual members are entering this community resulting in social cohesion. Through this, we learn and develop certain social skills to help us live better and peacefully with others (Genesis 11:1-6). Therefore, God intended that we have social company, but according to His choice for our well-being (2 Corinthians 6:14; Hebrews 10:25). This ministry is not encouraging "lone ranger Christianity"! In essence Scripturally, when we do meet, we get the opportunity to benefit from the gifts for our edification and growth in the Lord (1 Peter 4:10). In joining a Christian grouping, we need discernment from the Holy Spirit to help us identify like-minded believers (Philippians 2:2-4; 1 Peter 3:8), regardless of their social class or standing in society (Romans 12:16).

A brother, who was in the habit of always excluding himself from fellow Christians, was rebuked by the  Lord  for dissociating himself from the brotherhood. Sadly, and with love, this brother was in the habit of always rejecting calls by fellow Christian brethren to join them in sharing the gospel and his testimony. This habit grieved the Lord and He gave us a message to encourage the brother to make use of opportunities to meet and benefit from the gifts from others while seizing the opportunity to preach the gospel. We should share whether we like it or not; our command is to preach in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).

Brief Testimony on The Influence of Worldly Company on Christians

A few months ago, we wrote extensively and by a command from the Lord on the negative influences of some social networking activity (refer to Social Media: Godliness or Worldliness? article).In this message, we pointed out how some Christians and non-Christians use this technology platform as a tool to work for Satan by gossiping, flirting resulting in adultery, fornication, and avoiding fellowship with God through prayer and Bible reading. Brethren, the testimony we are sharing below is not to expose, or slander but the Lord permitted that we share it to show other Christians the dangers of our disobedience and stubbornness in going against Scriptural warnings. When we fail to heed Scriptural warnings, we will have to live with the consequences of our bad choices. After all, bad company does corrupt good habits!

Having said this, we had a sister in our fellowship who served the Lord very faithfully and this was echoed by the Lord Himself through messages He let us give her. In her faithfulness, she never skipped our fellowships as commanded by the Lord. However, she loved the company of her worldly friends who shared their lustful appetite with her, eventually influencing her to have similar desires. She did her best to stay up very late in social networking sites. Upon discovering, as a ministry who loves her, we cautioned her on the dangers of such activity and the resulting consequences. Sadly, these were ignored! The Lord issued her several messages warning her that Satan was using unsaved people to destroy her life. Yes, these were the exact words of the Lord. Through subsequent messages from the Lord, He warned her and through these messages we could understand that she was involved in a relationship with an unsaved man, which later developed into a sexual affair. As it is, we lovingly confronted her, showing how this had ruined her relationship with the Lord and that she should repent and serve faithfully. Brethren, this sin of infidelity that the sister committed against the Lord hurt Him very much, for Charis could feel His pain when He gave her a message for this sister saying, My daughter Joyce has hurt this ministry, her children and herself and she lost her innocence before Me, and I will punish her for this”. As a result of this message from the Lord, we were equally hurt as members of this ministry. In our concern that this might affect others, and after providing Godly counsel to this sister which she rejected, she decided to quit our ministry. Beloved, I can tell you this ministry has suffered the leaving of many people, who could not endure living holy. For when the Lord exposes our sinful living, it is for us to choose either to repent and secure eternal life in Heaven, or continue sinning eventually resulting in His judgements (Hebrews 12:6). I choose the Lord’s discipline!

Similarly, the Lord warned a young man against lustful behaviour and worldly ways. This man kept his worldly friends and social networking habits alive while serving the Lord. This led him to question the Lord’s teaching on separation from worldliness, including worldly music. My wife and I counseled him briefly, explaining to him the will of the Lord and the things He warned us against. In his anger with us and the Lord for correcting him, he walked out on us, choosing worldliness. In a prophetic vision and before we knew he would quit, the Lord showed Charis how this young was angry, wrinkled and untidily dressed (signifying his spiritual condition and deterioration through sin), saying, Behold, the worldly man!”.

In conclusion, I would like to share a brief testimony. Dear brethren, please bear in mind that I am not sharing this to elevate myself or portray myself better than you, but to encourage you -- especially those of you who feel weak in faith and need courage. Earlier on in my walk with the Lord, about 24 years ago, I suffered many insults and abuse at the hands of both colleagues and friends, for choosing to avoid their company after they tried to win me back into sinful fellowship with them. In their quest to humiliate me, when they would see me I would hear some of my colleagues laughing loudly while looking at me. However, with God’s help I kept sincerity to my faith and showed love despite their ridicule. I once overheard a conversation one of them was having with some of the others where they were comparing religions and the conduct of some ‘Christians’ in relation to others. To my surprise, I was blessed to hear him saying in agreement that my faith was real and my obedience matched what the Bible teaches. After all, through the humiliating experience I had endured, they recognised the Lord Jesus in me and they also seemed to have changed their perception about me. From then on, I enjoyed peace and respect from them. The Lord knows how to use our obedience to draw people to Him to save (Proverbs 16:7).

Finally, have you been allowing yourself to hang out with and be wrongly influenced by bad company? Have you failed to be a light in obedience to Christ by showing good behaviour, bearing good fruit, and serving as an encouragement so others can be saved (1 Peter 3:15-17)? Remember, we are in the world but not of the world and therefore we must not do as they do. The Bible says, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:1-3).

If you would like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please begin by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed Grace in Peaceful Company,

Brother Glenn.