5\5\19

A Bad “Friend”

 

Some things are universally known… learned quickly… like “Don’t stick your hand in a fire.”  Some parent somewhere says that to children in every language the world speaks.  Like that, here’s a social and spiritual truth from Paul we should know: “Bad friends corrupt good morals” (2 Corinthians 14:6).  James said the same thing but identifies the “bad friend”: “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?” (James 4:4).  The NCV: You should know that loving the world is the same as hating God.  Anyone who wants to be a friend of the world becomes God’s enemy.”

 

Two interesting things here…  One, the word “adultery.”  When we enter friend-ship/relationship with God, we marry Him.  If we then live and think as the world lives and thinks, we break our vows to the Lover of our soul and give ourselves to another “lover” (who is not a lover at all, but a hater). 

 

Two, the word “world.”  One “world” in Scripture is the John 3:16 world, all of mankind that God wants saved… His creation… His children… the apples of His eye… and Jesus died for every one!  

 

James speaks of a different “world” – the opposed-to-God world.  It’s the “world” that has Satan as its prince,” as identified by Jesus (John 12:31).  It’s what John speaks of when he writes,

 

“Do not love the world or anything in it. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. Here is what people who belong to this world do. They try to satisfy what their sinful desires want to do. They long for what their sinful eyes look at. They take pride in what they have and what they do. All… from the world. None… from the Father” (1 John 2:15-16 NIRV). 

 

With that information, we can identify “bad friends” as people (or things) we choose to associate with who love the world and that place its pleasures foremost and have by that choice become “enemies of God.”  Their direction is opposite from “loving God with all the heart, soul, strength, and mind” and “loving others as they love themselves.”  A recurring message in God’s Word is that wisdom comes from walking with Him, making Him our friend, and avoiding the “fool, sluggard, and scoffer.”

 

Everyone is in danger of becoming friends with sin.  Church folks, too.  But sin is a BAD FRIEND!  So many want the salvation that Jesus offers “available” when they think “it’s time” (old and enjoyed the world all we want).  It’s a miracle of grace that grace is some-times still available to us then.  But, mark it down, sometimes it’s not!  Why should it make sense that we cheat God for most of our life and still He’ll forgive and forget when we come to Death’s door?  The Prodigal came home to serve the Father and live righteously, not just find a place to die in the Father’s grace. 

 

Satan and sin are an identity… the same thing.  Both are called the “Destroyer” in Scripture, and not without reason.  Revelation presents demonic “locusts” and says “their king was the angel of the Abyss… named Abaddon, in Greek Apollyon, meaning Destroyer” (9:11).  He destroyed by lying to Eve in the garden, by convincing a whole world to turn a deaf ear to Noah’s preaching, by enticing Achan to take some of the dedicated spoil of Jericho for himself, by luring David to lust for Bathsheba and then killing his friends to cover it up, and by moving Judas to sell Jesus for about $325 bucks.  Destruction, devastation, and ruin… ending in the destruction of sinlessly perfect Lamb of God on a cross as He died to pay all the accumulated sin debt of the world.   

 

Those are Bible folks.  Who do we know now that Satan has destroyed… or is destroying?  Maybe you, yourself… something you’re doing that you know is wrong… maybe someone you love dearly and you need to sound warning… certainly most of the people around us throughout our week.

 

But we want to dabble!  We get it… that Jesus is the Way.  We just want to go a different way for a bit… It’s “Hey, Jesus, check back with me later.”  What we so dangerously miss is that sin is a progressive, accumulating thing.  Each sin is a brick in a wall between us and God that we’ll have to get through to get back to Him.  Each sin builds it higher and thicker.

 

Sin “sears consciences.”  Our slide illustrates by a scar.  A conscience becomes so thickened and tough like seared or scarred skin that no warning penetrates.

 

Sin produces blindness, hardness of hearing, and warped thinking.  In Everything Is Beautiful Ray Stevens sang, “There are none so blind as they who will not see.”  Oh but there are!  Those who can’t see because God will no longer let them see…  You think He wouldn’t do that?  He told Isaiah to tell His people this:

 

“Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”  Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-11, quoted by Jesus [Matthew 13:14-15] and Paul [Acts 28:26-27]).

 

Let’s look at King David again… the courageous believing boy who took on and killed Goliath, the shepherd king, the sweet singer of Israel, the “man after God’s own heart.”  So tell me… how in the world could he take Bathsheba by force, conspire to cover up with lies and mass murder and then have the prophet Nathan walk in and him have no inkling that Nathan’s story of a rich man with big flocks cooking his neighbor’s lone little ewe lamb to feed a guest was about what he had done?  Warning signals that could have been heard in China should have been going off in his brain!  Why not?   His God-antennae were down…

 

Sin “entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).  Are you familiar with the “Law of Tangles”?  “If it can snag, it will, and usually when you’re almost where you’re going with it so you have to go all the way back to unsnag it.”  It’s one of God’s non-Biblical laws of nature.  All my life I’ve dragged hoses and electric cords and bungee straps, and had them snag on anything and everything!  When we’re tangled in sin, it’s near an impossible to get untangled easily or quickly.  One of my mother’s words of wisdom to us was “It usually takes about as long to get out of a thing as it did to get into it.”  We all Remember King Agrippa telling Paul that he’d almost persuaded him to be a Christian but then saying, “When it’s a better time for me, I’ll call you.”  Why wait?  Because he was tangled up in being a king in the world with all its benefits and pleasures and was a friend to Satan and sin.

 

That same text that says sin “entangles” says “weighs down.”  (Call up football players for a demo… one laying down and another sits on him can get up… but not from under a dogpile.)  God’s Word warns that sin gets heavier and heavier and our shaking it off and escaping it becomes less and less likely. 

 

Sin “enslaves.”  Peter says so plainly:  “…people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (2 Peter 2:19 NIV).  We know addicts don’t start out slaves but soon are.  Sin is as addictive as any drug.  Get into one for a while and it’s got you addicted!  And here’s a tragedy… you may know very well that it’s destroying you but you know just as well that you no power to stop.  

 

Sin “kills;” sinners are “dead in violations and sin…” (Ephesians 2:1).  Remember Lot’s wife?  Angels at her door couldn’t crack her love for the lifestyle of Sodom. 

 

Sin is progressive and its chains get stronger the longer we befriend it.  Look at Psalms 1:  a man first walks in the counsel of the ungodly”, then stands in the way of sinners”, then sits in the seat of scoffers…” (Psalms 1:1-2).  James wrote: “…people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them.  …desire leads to sin, …sin grows and brings death” (James 1:14-15).

 

Paul told Timothy:

 

“As good men, by the grace of God, grow better and better, bad men, through the subtlety of Satan and the power of their own corruptions, grow worse and worse. The way of sin is downhill; sinners go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).  

 

Paul used an interesting term when writing to the Roman church – he mentioned “the exceeding sinfulness of sin.”  He means what we’re talking about… One sin leads to another, the danger goes unnoticed but gathers, and one day we’re without conscience, blind, deaf, tangled, crushed, chained, and dead to God.  It’s a dreadful scene…

 

Some do turn around by the grace of God… Paul writes to some who “were dead in trespasses and sin.”  In another place, he gives a catalog of sins and says, “such were some of you, but you’ve been washed.” 

 

But he also says it can get worse… and some people are judged and punished by God even while they are alive on earth:

 

To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).

 

One of God’s punishments for sin even while we’re still on earth is a worsening life of sin.  New sin comes as punishment for past sins.  Friendship with sin makes sinners comfortable with the devil.  Just as well.  They will join him in hell forever.

 

Brothers and sisters, sin is not like chickenpox (seriously uncomfortable, but brief).  We pay great prices for our sin.  Doors are closed.  Blessings are missed.  Even if forgiven, a deep regret comes when we consider what might God might have done with our life.

 

In our warped “don’t judge” world, we have shelved the concept of sin, don’t want to think of its danger, and have lost all ability to say, “Go, don’t sin anymore.”  But Paul had no such problem.  He said, “Let him who stole steal no more… but let him work willingly with his hands…” And he had no qualms at all about reminding people who they were and whose they were and calling them to higher living for Jesus.

 

Sin always costs more than we want to pay, always takes us further than we want to go, always keeps us longer than we want to stay, and always changes us more than we ever thought it could. 

 

We want to be “dead to sin” and a friend to Jesus.  In the same way that “bad friends corrupt good morals,” we can say equally that “Good friends build us up spiritually and banish bad morals.”  Let’s make Him our Friend.

 

“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:2). 

 

If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).