Choose friends wisely
Tom Heiden shared Norman Thomas' status on Facebook, as follows:
I wrote you in my [previous] letter not to associate(closely and habitually) with unchaste (impure) people.
1 Corinthians 5:9
The company you keep has such an influence on your spiritual life. Fellowshiping with godly people will help speed you on to victory,
while fellowshiping with those who are ungodly will drag you down to defeat. That's why the Bible has some things to say about your friends. That's why it tells you to separate yourself from the
world. Because evil companions will corrupt you.
Now, I'm not talking about ministry. Jesus Himself ministered to sinners. You have to mix with them to preach to them and pray for them. What I'm talking about here are the people you choose for friends.
If you want to walk in the things of the Lord, don't choose friends who walk in the things of the devil, people who talk and act ungodly, who don't give God any place in their lives. They'll pull you down. As you rub shoulders with them, you'll expose yourself to temptation. You'll get so familiar with sin it will start to appear less repulsive to you. Sooner or later, you'll fall into it.
So choose your friends wisely. Fellowship with those who call on the Name of the Lord out of a pure heart (2 Tim. 2:22). Expose yourself to their love and peace. Let their faith rub off on you!
And then these are the proceeding comments that followed:
Chris Westerman The key word is "closely". To become like Christ we must be the friend of sinners.
Tom Heiden Chris, the problem is that
most who consider themselves to be Christians are still sinners, and they are friends with sinners because they have so much in common. The way Jesus and all real Christians are friends to sinners is
to live holy and righteously, separate from sinners, so that we can truly help sinners without thinking we are better than them of ourselves, looking for their faults, criticizing them, etc. Jesus is
"SEPARATE FROM SINNERS" Heb 7:27. He was falsely accused of being the friend of sinners. Ultimately he was and is the best friend of sinners who listen to him and believe and love the truth about
him, who repent from their sins, but neither Jesus nor we saints are intimately hanging out with sinners. Sin is contagious. The bible is clear that the saints are called out to be holy ones. We must
not love the world not get caught up in godless chatter, because whoever indulges is godless chatter will become more and more ungodly. Sinners are not able to talk about spiritual things because
they are not born again, so to find commonality we end up talking in the flesh about ourselves and the things here below. We have died with Christ and we saints set our minds on things above, not on
the things on the Earth. It is written, "...what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or
what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
"I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people."
"Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you."
And, "I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty."
So we are called in the next verse (7:1) to "perfect holiness (including our separateness) out of fear of God."
Tom Heiden Jesus had no tiny bit of intimate friendship or fellowship with any godless sinners who had rejected God, be certain of that. But most of the "Great Falling Away" hypocritical Christians of the USA try to justify their man pleasing friendships with the world and sinners to ignore the fact that "birds of a feather flock together". Satan's children gravitate to Satan's children. The true holy ones of God, the real church, are a great minority who must keep separate so that when a sinner wants to repent we will know God and the Lord and the truth, and be led by the Spirit to be able to help them, not take them to the ball game or chit chat with them on a fishing trip. This separation from the world will always be one of the main distinctions of the real saints verses the fakes, and it will always be one of the most hated and misunderstood characteristics of the true church
Chris Westerman Tom, I agree. Just want people not to isolate themselves from sinners and only have Christian friends. We must become their friends before they will care about what we share with them. Jesus spent time with sinners and tax collectors, ate with them etc.
Tom Heiden Chris, I also agree, without having yet read your last comment, that so many get this wrong and do it legalisticly and in a sense of superiority and self righteousness, artificially cloistering ourselves in an attitude of exclusivity or touch me not hyper 'spirituality'.
Heiden If you are following and serving Jesus properly you will only have Christian friends. Think about it. When we meet someone we tell them
about Jesus and the gospel. If they believe they obey the gospel. If they reject Christ the love in us, Christ in us, must warn them. Then either they will believe and repent and become Christians,
or they wont want to be around us, or we will eventually have to identify with Jesus and let them know something like, "look, we care deeply about you, and that is why we cannot keep chit chatting
and pretending that you are okay and that you have not just rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, and are heading for death and destruction. We can't ignore that for Christ's sake or for yours, and joke
and laugh and avoid talking about Jesus just because we want you to like us or keep us in your will or give us the job we want or any other benefit."
But that is the problem, we want to be liked and loved, we don't want the cross, we don't want to live as though we were crucified to this world or it to us. So we go on pleasing man, mostly because of our own sins we are not able to make a stand for others to repent. And we fear being labeled as being self righteous, judgmental, holier than thou, hated for Christ's sake. Paul wrote by the Spirit, "If I were still pleasing man I would not be the (real and effective) servant of Christ.
Tom Heiden We must rub elbows with the world as we preach the gospel to them and exemplify Christ. The bible never teaches the good sounding doctrine of men that we must first make friends with people before we preach the gospel to them.
Tom Heiden Jesus allowed sinners and tax collectors who were listening to him to come to him and hear the good news, he did not run them off. But it was only to listen to him, not to be friends and chit chat and do things together if they rejected him.
Tom Heiden We must be friendly to all people, honoring them where we can, being gentle and at peace with all as far as we can, showing them the grace and love and mercy of God every way we can WITHOUT COMPROMISING, all the while trying to reach them with the good news.
Tom Heiden Chris, if you keep watching Satan's entertainments, you will not be able to relate to sinners from Christ's perspective and to be a true friend to them. We must abide in Christ by living holy and walking in the Spirit so we can properly represent Christ to them and so God can use us to draw them to Christ. Old godless movies are from the same Devil and the new godless movies, and they have a similar effect on us in keeping us enslaved to our evil desires and selfish life and sins. Until we realize that we died with Christ we will not be able to reckon ourselves dead indeed to sin and alive to God in union with Christ. Until we are sanctified we are unholy, and without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Chris Westerman I didnt mean we should compromise on what the word teaches. Jesus ate with sinners and taxcollectors at Matthew's home. I'm sure he did not compromise. You may be the only "Christ" they see.
Chris Westerman I think we are basically saying the same thing. If I am going to
Heiden I am hoping to receive the rest of what you were writing above Chris. Please notice that even our great apostle Peter was severely
accused of a great crime in the early church for going into the house of sinners (that is what the Gentiles represented, 'godless sinners') and even eating with them. While this is not forbidden to
us, we should see how seriously the original Jewish Christians took this issue and learn a lesson from it. It was only after a major miraculous vision God gave Peter, repeated three times for
ultimate ephasis, that Peter broke with such protocol and went with them.
Sadly, the usual norm now days here in the USA is that believers who should be "ESCAPING FROM THOSE WHO LIVE IN ERROR" (2 Pt 2:18) are still hanging out with godless sinners, not escaping at all, not being saved at all, still slaves to their favorite sins and yet they don't seem to mind and barely even notice anything is wrong. Yet they want to justify themselves instead of repenting and living a truly holy and separate life by the sufficient grace of God.
Tom Heiden Eating together is a thing of fairly intimate commonality and fellowship. So like you said Chris, if we choose to eat with unbelievers, it must only be to represent Christ to them (when you mentioned we might be their only opportunity for them to see Christ). And we should not even eat with hypocrite "Christians" who are sexually immoral or wicked in any other way. We are commanded in 1 Cor ch 5 not to have anything to do with such ones, yet that doesn't even phase the hypocrite Christian who is sexually immoral himself, he does what he pleases and rationalizes it, just like he does with his chosen sins.
Tom Heiden Chris Westerman, while you may not have deliberately "meant" to compromise in the process (I believe you didn't), I do believe that major compromise is absolutely necessary and inevitable for us to and if we continue to be "friends" with sinners.
Westerman 1 Cor. 5:9 I have written you in my letters not to associate with sexually immoral people---not at all meaning the people of this
world who are immoral, or the greedy or the swindlers or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
I guess much depends on the meaning of the word, "associate".
Chris Westerman My impression is that Peter was eating with gentile believers and the "Judaizers" who were trying to make born again believers obey the old testament law scared him into disassociating himself from them. And Paul reproved him for it. (CHRIS HERE MISTOOK MY REFERENCE TO PETER WITH CORNELIUS AS IF I WERE TALKING ABOUT PETER'S WITHDRAWING FROM GENITLE BELIEVERS WHERE PAUL REBUKED HIM, YET THESE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS AND INCIDENTS ALTOGETHER-TH)
Tom Heiden I agree and yet it does indeed demonstrate how seriously the early church took the policy of separateness, and we still should embrace the truth of it, the essence of it, IF we have really died with Christ and are living in union with him now. The Spirit defines how far we should "associate" with blatant hypocrites when it says that we must not even eat with them. It is interesting that true believers are commanded to "be imitators of God as dearly beloved children." And it is also interesting that "God commands that all men everywhere repent." Acts 17:30 How can we hang out with sinners after urging them about the gospel and then warning them that God commands that all men everywhere repent, acting like everything is okay? If God doesn't hang with them, then His children wont either.
There is still a separation between the saints and the wicked, between the real church (the called out holy ones) and the world. It wasn't wrong for Peter to follow the truth as they understood it until the Lord corrected him by the miraculous vision 3 times. And after Cornelius and his family believed and repented, received the gift of the Holy Spirit and were baptized, the believers were still not hanging out with sinners as their friends. Yes Chris, it was wrong for Peter to separate himself from Gentile BELIEVERS, that is an entirely different matter than the issue of believers having intimate friendships with unbelievers!! Keep in mind that the tax collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew had both truly repented and believed in Jesus, and so to use the Lord's kindness to these and other folks who were listening to the Lord, some becoming believers, as an excuse for all your worldly friends and associations is a big mistake. If you ever repent from your sins you can come out from among them and be separate, but you must follow and serve and obey the Lord Jesus and stop looking for excuses to keep sinning.