Wednesday, April 29, 2020 Service

Good Company  

 

Psalms 1:1-6

 

I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but this lockdown has drawn me into some areas of study, in the general areas (common sense) of life…

 

(Poem)

 

All the water in the world - however hard it tried, could never, never sink a ship…   unless it got inside.

 

All the temptations of this world might wear you pretty thin, but they won't hurt you, one least bit... unless you let them in.”

 

It’s a repeated theme of Scripture - you should not let temptation rule your life.

 

Don’t let sin get inside because it will sink your ship…

 

Of course, the question is - how does sin get inside? What could we possibly do that would allow temptation to take us down?

 

One of the answers (though not the only one) is sin gets inside because of who we hang out with.

 

We’re warned in I Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

 

And Proverbs 13:20 tells us “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

 

I. DON’T DO THAT!!!

 

 A. Seems pretty straight forward (common sense again)… Don’t spend your time with folks who are wicked, who enjoy sin, and who mock righteousness.

 

    1. Why? Because the people we hang out with have an effect on us.

 

a. Folks who allow this influence remind of the story of a little boy had a large shaggy

    dog on a leash.

 

b. Someone asked, Where are you taking him?" “I don't know yet,” the boy replied, “but

    when he makes up his mind where he wants to go, I'm gonna take him there.

 

c. People around us can tend to drag us where THEY want to go… In our culture it’s

    often referred to as “Peer Pressure.”

 

    2. Several years ago, Dr. James Dobson told of an experiment they studied the ways in which

        group pressure influences young people.

 

a. They gathered 10 teens in a room and told them they were going to evaluate their

  “depth perception” and see how well each student could “see” to the front of the room.

 

b. At the front of the room, an instructor held up cards with lines on them Line A, Line B

    and Line C – each of a different length.

 

c. The teens were then instructed to raise their hand when the instructor pointed to the

    line on that card which was LONGER than the others.

 

    3. What one of the students didn’t know was that the other 9 had been secretly told to vote for

          the SECOND longest line.

 

a. In other words, those 9 teens were told to vote WRONGLY.

 

b. When the instructor held up the first card and pointed to Line A (which was clearly

    shorter than line B) all 9 students raised their hands.

 

c. The 10th young man who wasn’t in on the joke looked around in disbelief.

 

    4. It was obvious that Line B was the longest line, but everybody seemed to think Line A was

        longer.

 

a. He later said that he thought, “I must not have been listening during the directions.

 

b. Somehow, I missed the point, and I’d better do what everybody else is doing or they’ll

    laugh at me.” So he timidly raised his hand with the rest of the group.

 

c. Then the researchers explained the directions again: “Vote for the longest line; raise

    your hand when we point to the longest line.” It couldn’t have been more simple!

 

 B. Then they held up the 2nd card… And again, 9 people voted for the wrong line.

 

    1. By now, the young man was totally confused, frustrated and stressed out.

 

a. If he didn’t vote with the others he might be ridiculed - So eventually he raised his

    hand with the rest of the group again.

 

b. Over and over he voted with the group even though he knew they were wrong

    And that young man was not unusual.

 

c. The experiment was repeated over and over again with different groups of teens.

 

 

    2. More than 75 percent of the young people tested behaved that same way… Time after time,

        they’d say that the shorter line was longer than the long line.

 

a. They simply didn’t have the courage to say, “Everybody else is wrong.” AND this is

    what peer pressure does to folks.

 

b. We tend to think that peer pressure as something unique to the young. But it’s not!!!

 

c. Several years ago, a movie reviewer and talk show host Michael Medved was puzzled

    about the # of R-Rated movies there were on the market.

 

    3. He said, you’d think R-Rated movies were highly profitable because the movie companies

        were making so many of them compared to G and PG rated films.

 

a. BUT, (in reality) they rarely made much of a profit.

 

b. By contrast, G and PG movies made far more money because families would take their

    kids to more family friendly shows.

 

c. So, why would Film Studies produce so many R-Rated movies? His Answer: PEER

    PRESSURE.

 

    4. He noted Awards like the Golden Globe and the Oscars rarely if ever went to the family

        friendly movies.

 

a. Those awards overwhelmingly went to R and X rated fare… Movie producers wanted

    to please their peers… so they made raunchier movies.

 

b. No matter how old you are, or how powerful and wealthy you may be peer pressure

    can have a substantial influence on you.

 

c. And God warns us that we must be careful not to allow worldly thinking to influence

    our lives.

 

 C. There is a story about a woman who was preparing a salad for dinner.

 

    1. Her daughter came into the kitchen and casually asked for permission to go to an arcade

        that had a particularly bad reputation.

 

a. When her mom refused, the girl got upset and said: "Well, all the girls are going to be

    there... "

 

b. After a short silence the mother began to reach into the sink and pulled out some of the

    wilted lettuce & scrapings from the vegetables and sprinkled them on the salad.

 

c. Her daughter was shocked asked her mother what she was doing.

 

    2. Her mother replied: "I just thought that if you didn't mind putting garbage into your heart

          and mind, you wouldn't mind a little garbage in your salad."

 

a. When you hang out with people who mock righteousness, and laugh about immorality,

    and live like the devil, that’s what you end up with – Garbage in your heart and mind.

 

b. It can’t help but influence you. And God says: DON’T GO THERE… DON’T DO

    THAT!! And yet… far too many Christians do.

 

II. The Balance.

 

 A. Now… how many of you agree – we shouldn’t hang out with ungodly people? That

      bad company ruins good morals?

 

    1. There’s a problem here. As Christians this command confronts us with a conflict we have

          to figure out.

 

a. You see - God has told us not to hang out with nasty people - the immoral… the

    scorners of righteousness… the SINNERS.

 

b. And yet, one of the complaints of the Pharisees had about Jesus was that “This man

  receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

 

c. Jesus ate with sinners!!! What’s going on here???

 

    2. Well, in order to know the answer to THAT question, we need to answer another question:

 

a. Why DID Jesus do that? Why did He spend time with sinners? The answer is found

    in Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to SEEK and to SAVE the lost.”

 

b. So, IS that what God wants us to do? Does God want us to seek and save the lost? Of

    course He does.

 

c. Does that mean - like Jesus - we need to spend time with sinners? Well…

 

    3. But now… wait a minute here. If I’m NOT supposed to be a “companion” of sinners; if I’m

          NOT supposed to “hang out” with the immoral and the unrighteous…

 

a. It is a huge “question mark” for a lot of Christians, and so – to err on the side of

    caution – lots of Christians just don’t.

 

b. They don’t seek the lost. They don’t build relationships with the immoral… They just

    let the sinners to go to hell…

 

 B. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And WE were saved so that we (in turn) might seek and

      save other lost people as well! That’s our mandate.

 

Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus commanded “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

 

    1. But now, how do I do that without getting my hands dirty? How do I do this so that their

        “bad company” doesn’t spoil my “good morals.”

 

a. Yes, Jesus hung out with prostitutes, and drunkards, and outcasts.

 

b. Here’s the thing though – by the time Jesus was finished with these people they

    weren’t prostitutes, and drunkards and outcasts anymore.

 

c. Jesus came to transform people, NOT indulge them… Christianity is about surrender,

    NOT comfort.

 

III. We are to align ourselves to His standard, NOT the other way around.

 

 A. In other words, the reason Jesus spent time with SINNERS was to CHANGE them – to

      INFLUENCE their destiny.

 

    1. He came to GO into their specific setting and to bring them to God… But Jesus did not go

        to spend time with them TO indulge their behavior.

 

a. E.g. Jesus didn’t get drunk with drunkards... He never spent time drinking a few

    whiskeys with the boys down at the bar.

 

b. JESUS NEVER COMPROMISED HIS PURITY IN ORDER TO REACH THE

    LOST!

 

c. But He went to the lost with the specific goal of changing their lives… Now, the

    question is, do we do that?

 

    2. When you spend time in non-Christian settings with non-Christian people do you think

          about how you can bring them to Christ?

 

a. When you are with Non-Christians, and you know they’re not Christians - why are you

    there?

 

b. Think about it this way: Why do you go to a restaurant? To EAT a meal... Why do you

    go to the grocery store? To buy groceries!

 

c. Now, do you go to the restaurant to buy groceries? No! Do you go to the grocery store

    to watch a movie? Of course not.

 

    3. We go to specific settings --- to accomplish specific goals.

 

a. So, if I go as a Christian to spend time with people who are lost, I should NOT go to

    ENGAGE in sinful behavior.

 

b. I should NOT go to surround myself with their entertainment.

 

c. I should go where I go… to bring folks to Christ.

 

 B. When you go to the restaurant, give the waitress a church flier (and a generous tip)…

 

    1. There’s a fairly large congregation in Las Vegas who has a huge attendance.

 

a. Find people who are lost, and make it your goal to reach them for Christ.

 

b. There’s the true story of an atheist who once told an evangelist,

 

    "If I believed what you Christians say you believe about a coming judgment and that

      impenitent rejecters of Christ will be lost…

 

    I would crawl on my bare knees on crushed glass all over London, warning men, night

      and day, to flee for refuge from the coming day of wrath!"

 

    2. Do you believe that? Do you believe that there’s a coming judgment? Do you believe that

         people will go to hell? Then we’ve GOT to take this seriously.

 

a. We have a mandate to reach the lost… so do it.

 

b. In closing: An evangelist once approached man asking him to help reach people for

    Christ.

 

c. The man replied “I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve. My religion is personal, and I

    don’t want to talk about it.

 

    3. The evangelist was a bit startled. So he asked him, “You are a Christian aren’t you?” The

          man replied “Yes, but I’m not a religious fanatic.”

 

a. The evangelist paused for a moment and then said this: “Did it ever occur to you that it

    cost Jesus Christ His life so you could call yourself a Christian?

 

b. It cost the disciples their lives too, and millions of Christian throughout the centuries

    have suffered or died as martyrs…

 

c. All this to get the message of God’s love and forgiveness to you.

 

    4. Now do you really believe that your faith in Christ is personal and private and that

        shouldn’t talk about it?”

 

            a. The other man bowed his head, “No sir, I’m wrong. Tell me what I can do about it.”