Saturday, May 25, 2013

"They think it strange that ye run not with them..."

I sent a message like this to a friend who complained of struggling with doubts, who has since walked away from and contrary to the faith. I won't talk about the grief this has brought, because I can't, and certainly not on this blog. But I'm sharing this in the hope that perhaps the warning will find someone who will hear it:

Who we keep company with is very important (and I'm sorry if some of these passages are long or difficult, but the basic idea of them is clear, important, and urgent):

The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
- Pro 13:19-20.

I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
- Psa 119:63.

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
- Mal 3:16-18.

O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
- 2Co 6:11-18.

Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
- Psa 119:115.

Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
- Psa 119:79.

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.
- Psa 142:7.

A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
- Psa 101:4-7.

Whoso loveth wisdom rejoiceth his father: but he that keepeth company with harlots spendeth his substance.
- Pro 29:3.

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father.
- Pro 28:7.

Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
- Pro 23:20-21.

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
- 1Pe 4:3-4.

Of course this doesn't mean that we run away from the world altogether so that we never have any contact with such people, because that wouldn't even be possible, and how then would we be witnesses for Christ to them? But apart those times (like at our daily workplace) when we have to be in their company, we certainly don't seek to spend any more time with them - and we don't delight in the time that we do have to spend with them, and we absolutely don't have fellowship with them - because it's impossible to have fellowship with God through Christ, while in fellowship with those who are in enmity against God (Rom. 8:7-8; Rom. 5:10 - they are enemies of God unless and until they are reconciled by Christ). Although we can be pleasant and polite and cordial with them, we keep a certain distance - and we especially keep a distance from any who live as a hypocrite (even if it is only for a time until they are brought to repentance again).

I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 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.
- 1Co 5:9-11.

When we don't deliberately spend time with our fellow believers in Christ, we will either end up spending time alone (and getting more self-centred, which leads to loneliness, self-pity and depression, and sinfully not loving others as we ought to put others first always and seek how we may serve one another in love), or we end up spending time with unbelievers which leads to all manner of temptations, and stumbling blocks, and corruption, and torment of conscience as we are led into doing the things that they do, and adopting their attitude of impurity and godlessness.

So, that's my advice. I'm pretty sure it makes sense, and then when we do this, we receive more strength and encouragement from each other to walk as we ought to, and to always be repenting of our sins, and even to be good witnesses to others, and to be more of a help and encouragement to those who strengthen us too. That's simply how God works by His Spirit among His people - mutual edification in loving fellowship with one another. And the more we love His people, and are loved by His people, the more we all are assured of His love for us and of our fellowship with Him (I John 4:12-13). And the more we are assured of this, the more thankful we are to Him, and the more we desire to live according to His righteousness and goodness, and the more we hate our sins, because they offend our loving Father, along with His people, and the more we want to keep ourselves from doing anything to harm this most important and blessed relationship with God. Of course, spending our time this way also means that we meet with God's people to worship Him with the Psalms that He gave us, and to Him speaking to us through the faithful preaching of His word, by which our souls are fed.

And Jesus answered him [the devil], saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
- Luk 4:4.

I know that the times in my life when I have been weakest and most disobedient were when I was not spending time with godly Christians, either spending time on my own, or with people who were not very interested in God, and with unbelievers.

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