Rev. Lily Lim | On 29, Aug 2017
Psalms 26:4-5 (NLT)- “I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
1 Corinthians 5:11 (Amp)- But actually, I have written to you not to associate with any so-called [Christian] brother if he is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater [devoted to anything that takes the place of God], or is a reviler [ who insults or slanders or otherwise verbally abuses others], or is a drunkard or a swindler—you must not so much as eat with such a person.
It is better to be alone than in the wrong company.
Somebody says, “Tell me who your best friends are, and I will tell you who you are. If you run with the wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate -for the good and the bad.”
What does the word “association” mean?
It means alliance; union, relationship; connection; affiliation; attachment; bond; partnership or even friendship.
There are two key texts this morning – one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament. Both are teaching us today on people we should not associate with.
This morning, I would like to share a sermon on “OUR ASSOCIATIONS”.
Our associations with others can either make or break us. It can either enhance or dehance us; enlarge or decrease us. It all depends on which type of associations you are in. There are two types of associations mentioned in the Bible.
(I) OUR EVIL ASSOCIATIONS
WHAT KIND OF EVIL ASSOCIATIONS SHOULD WE AVOID?
Psalms 26:4-5 (NLT)- “I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
Amp- I do not sit with deceitful or unethical or worthless men, nor seek companionship with pretenders (self-righteous hypocrites). I hate the company of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked.
- False person
- Deceitful, unethical and worthless people
What is God’s command for us concerning our association with liars?
“DO NOT SIT WITH THEM (AMP)” and this means:
- Do not spend time with them (NLT)
- Don’t hang out with them (MSG)
The command of God is very clear.
David declares in Psalms 101:7- No man who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no man who utters lies shall continue in my presence.
E.g. I thank God for this verse in Psalm 101:7 to dismiss one of my helpers who has been lying to me about her son and husband being injured and sick and who used these lies to con loans from me. I didn’t want to dismiss her initially because I was afraid that I might come off as being oppressive or cruel to the poor. But her presence in my house daily irritated me. There seemed to be an antagonistic vibe she gave off each time I saw her in my kitchen. There was gross darkness in her face and mind you, she called herself a born-again believer. The day I dismissed her, there was such peace in my house and suddenly these words of David came to my mind – No man who practices deceit shall dwell in my house. No man who utters lies shall continue in my presence. This is hard decision as I have to toe the line between Christian compassion and wise association.
Questions: Are you sitting with liars? Are you spending time and hanging out with liars – people who are liars and obviously very deceitful, unethical and worthless?
- Those who conceal themselves
- Pretenders (Amp)
- Self-righteous hypocrites- like what Ptr Toh Nee shared about the Pharisees last week
What is God’s command concerning our association with hypocrites?
“DO NOT SEEK COMPANIONSHIP WITH HYPOCRITES (AMP)” and this means:
- Do not go along with them (NLT)
- Do not pal around with them (MSG)
Do you go around extending your right hand of fellowship in the form of handshake to someone you know who is a hypocrite?
What is the “right hand of fellowship”? Do you even know what it signifies?
This right hand of fellowship is mentioned in Galatians 2:9 where it shows James, Cephas (Peter) and John offering the “right hand of fellowship” to Paul and Barnabas. What was the significance of this act? BY GIVING THE RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP, THESE BELIEVERS WERE AGREEING TO SERVE GOD TOGETHER. James, Cephas and John would focus on reaching the Jewish people while Paul and Barnabas would focus on reaching the Gentiles. WHEN WE OFFER SOMEONE THE RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP, WE ARE AGREEING TO SERVE GOD WITH THAT BELIEVER.
Be careful who you extend your right hand of fellowship to because there are consequences when you associate with these hypocrites.
3. COMPANY OF EVILDOERS
Company of evildoers are:
- A connivance of a group of people to do evil.
- A group of people who are perverse in their heart (Psalms 101:4- I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cleave to me. Perverseness of heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.)
A PERVERSE HEART is the opposite of a heart that consents to be corrected by the Word of God. It stems from a heart who has “fallen away” from God. The phrase “fall away” in Psalm 101:4 is a reference to sin, “missing the mark.”
- Workers of iniquity who “love to eat up my people [God’s people] as they eat bread; they have not called upon God” (Psalm 53:4).
These people do not have a prayer life.
- Workers of deceit
Psalm 101:7- No man who practices deceit shall dwell in my house.
E.g. Joel shared with our DJCG about how this evil Cebuano land grabber tried to cheat his mum of her land of half a hectare by tempering with the title deed and God was very good as to give Joel the wisdom to spot the discrepancy in the title deed, thus exposing this evil man’s deceit.
- Plotters against God’s servants
Jeremiah 11:18-19- “Then the LORD told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said, “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”
Notice the evildoers are not singular but in a company. There will be a gathering of a few wicked plotters or destabilizers to go against the servants of God
Questions: Are you congregating secretly as a small group and been plotting evil against the leaders of this church?
What is God’s command concerning our association with the company of evildoers?
“HATE THEIR COMPANY (AMP)” and this means:
- Intensely be disgusted with their gathering
- Intentionally veer away from their gathering
There is no need to give them any face to attend their meeting.
4. THE WICKED
The wicked are:
- Those with the Amalekites spirit.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (NLT)- Never forget what the Amalekites did to you as you came from Egypt. They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were struggling behind. Therefore, when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this.”
It will always be the wicked people or wicked Christians who would attack you when you are exhausted and weary and their goal is to strike you down so that you are out of God’s will.
- Those who have no fear of God- no convictions and conscience.
Psalm 10:4- In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
- The rebels – those who despise any authority -be they sacred or secular.
Proverbs 24:21-Don’t associate with rebels.
- The slanderers
Psalm 101:5- Him who slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy.
- The proud and arrogant people
Psalm 101:5- The man of haughty looks and arrogant heart I will not endure.
What is God’s command about our association with the wicked?
“DO NOT SIT WITH THEM” (AMP) which means:
Don’t join in with the wicked.
5. “Christian” Fornicator
1 Corinthians 5:11 (KJV)- 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.
Paul here instructs believers NOT TO ASSOCIATE WITH ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE A CHRISTIAN AND YET HAS A SINFUL LIFESTYLE.
The first on the list is a fornicating Christian.
A fornicator is one who indulges in sexual sin especially one before marriage.
And this is not referring to unbelievers but a Christian who makes sexual sin a habit.
6. GREEDY “CHRISTIANS”
Christians who are greedy for money, power and fame/popularity.
7. “CHRISTIAN” IDOLATERS
One who claims Jesus as His Lord and yet would devote to anything that takes the place of God.
8. “CHRISTIAN” RAILER OR REVILER
A so-called Christian who insults, or slanders or otherwise verbally abuses others (Amp).
9. “CHRISTIAN’ DRUNKARD
We have one who left who is a full-pledged born-again drunkard. He even got invited to preach in other churches, drunk. He is an alcoholic.
10. “CHRISTIAN” EXTORTIONER
These are Christians who cheat you in interest or in business like the 5-6 loan sharks. Do not be involved in 5-6. That is one of the highest form of extortion.
What are God’s command concerning our association with Christian fornicator, idolater, reviler, drunker and extortioner?
DON’T EAT WITH SUCH A PERSON (KJV)
In ancient time, “eating together” was an open display of FRIENDSHIP and ACCEPTANCE OF ONE ANOTHER.
In the name of the tidal wave of God’s love, many churches are advocating friendship and acceptance of the above when these so-called believers have not changed their lifestyle or repented of their sins.
Yet, the word of God is so crystal clear in Message about this group of Christians:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (Message)-I wrote to you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue-or-white collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house.
V13 (amp)- REMOVE THE WICKED ONE FROM AMONG YOU [EXPEL HIM FROM YOUR CHURCH].
What happens to us when we continue with our evil associations?
CONSEQUENCES OF OUR EVIL ASSOCIATIONS
- TROUBLE WILL BEFALL US
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)- Walk with the wise and become wise; ASSOCIATE WITH FOOLS AND GET IN TROUBLE.
Illustration: “Why can’t we be friends?” – Some time back in Germany, a couple of women were driving down the autobahn when they realized they were low on gas. So, they pulled over to a gas station and the driver filled her car up with gas. But then she discovered that she did not have enough money to pay the bill. So, she asked her friend to stay behind as a HUMAN DEPOSIT while she went to withdraw some extra cash. A police spokesman in the German town of Muenchberg said, “Unfortunately, the woman did not return.” Two hours after the 20-year old driver left, the gas station called the police who then questioned the stranded “human deposit” before releasing her. At last report, the Police were investigating the driver on suspicion of fraud. Now a question – How many of you would like to have a friend like that, that would leave you at the gas station? Me neither. You could say that this so-called friend HARMED the person she left behind. This woman she left behind suffered the loss of time, the embarrassment of having to talk to the police and the humiliation of knowing that her friend had abandoned her.
Proverbs tells us there are friends and associations like that. There are people who will hurt us.
Proverbs 13:20 tells us that “a companion of fools suffer harm.”
Now why did that girl stay behind as a “human deposit” at the gas station? Why allow herself to be stranded like that?
Well, she trusted her friend. She didn’t expect to be left there. She expected her friend would return and take her where she wanted to go.
The Bible repeatedly tells us we need to be careful what friends we choose because some friends won’t take us where we want to go. And we may end up being stranded someplace we don’t want to be.
Having the wrong friends or association can be a painful experience.
In Numbers 33:55, God tells Israel that “if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land (if the Israelites allowed them to stick around and become their friends), those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.”
E.g. # 1: Lot
The Bible tells us the story of Lot, the nephew of Abraham.
Genesis 13:10-13- “Lot…saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, towards Zoar (and)….Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents NEAR Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.”
Where had Lot “pitched” his tent?
Was Sodom a good place to live?
No! It was a wicked city filled with sin.
So, why did Lot want to live there?
Because it was a beautiful neighborhood. All the bushes were trimmed and the houses were nicely painted, the gardens were beautiful. It seemed like a nice place to raise a family.
Sometimes later, we are told that Lot “…..was living IN Sodom” (Genesis 14:12).
So, first he pitched his tents NEAR Sodom….and now he had moved INTO town.
Then we are told in a few chapters later that when the angels from God came to warn Lot to flee the city to avoid the coming judgment, “….Lot was SITTING IN THE GATEWAY of the city” (Genesis 19:1).
Who would ordinarily sit in the gateways of cities?
The Elders of the city. Men of prominence in the community. These were men who called upon by others in the city to settle disputes. It was kind of the COURTHOUSE of the area.
So, first Lot pitched his tents NEAR Sodom. Then he moved INTO the city. Now, he was a prominent leader in Sodom – a leader in a sin-filled and wicked city.
2 Peter 2:7 tells us that Lot was “….a righteous man…” But he had been drawn into a wicked city and after a while, the immorality and unrighteousness of his companions began to corrupt his righteousness and damage his family.
Genesis 19 tells us that when the men of the town realized Lot had male guests at his home, they surrounded his house and demanded Lot to allow them to have homosexual relations with them. But Lot tried to protect his guests and offered the crowd his daughters instead. Is this the act of a righteous man?
Then the angels convinced Lot and his family to flee the city but warned them not to turn around and look back. But Lot’s wife turned back and got turned into a pillar of salt. She had grown so attached to her home that she just couldn’t bear leaving it. And then, Lot and his daughters fled to the hills around the city. When the daughters realized their prospects for finding a husband had gone up in flames along with the burning city, they get Lot drunk and committed incest with Lot, ultimately bearing children by him.
This is one big tangled MESS.
But it happens because Lot did not choose his companions wisely and it hurt his entire family.
Our evil association will bring trouble upon ourselves.
- DISASTER WILL BEFALL US
Proverbs 24:21-22 (NLT) “My child, fear the LORD and the king. Don’t associate with rebels, for disaster will hit them suddenly. Who knows what punishment will come from the LORD and the king?
Disaster will surely come upon rebels and if we associate with them, we will also be implicated when disaster from God and earthly authority hit them.
E.g. King Jehoshaphat
King Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings of Judah. Yet, he committed three great blunders by his evil associations:
(1) The marriage of his son Jehoram with Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab – the mating of a lamb with the cub of a tigress.
(2) The war with Benhadad which he entered in to please Ahab, without thinking whether he would thereby please God.
(3) The joining of Ahaziah, Ahab’s successor, in making a fleet to go to Tarshish, or a fleet of Tarshish ships in Ezion-geber.
What were the consequences?
None of these offences were overlooked by Jehovah. The alliance of Jehoram with Athaliah avenged itself in the depravation of Jehoram’s character.
The Syrian war, besides exposing him to imminent peril, brought upon him the Moabitish invasion.
After the war, God even sent a prophet to rebuke Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 19:1-3 (NLT)- When King Jehoshaphat of Judah arrived safely home in Jerusalem, Jehu, son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him. “WHY SHOULD YOU HELP THE WICKED AND LOVE THOSE WHO HATE THE LORD?” he asked the king. “Because of what you have done, the Lord is very angry with you. Even so, there is some good in you, for you have removed the Asherah poles throughout the land, and you have committed yourself to seeking God.”
The fleet which he and Ahaziah made was wrecked in the Red Sea and never went to Tarshish. “Some time later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked. Together they built a fleet of trading ships at the port of Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “Because you have allied yourself with King Ahaziah, the LORD WILL DESTROY YOUR WORK.” So the ships met with DISASTER and never put out to sea” (2 Chronicles 20:35-37 NLT).
E.g. King Ahab
1 Kings 20:26-30 (NET)- In the spring Benhadad mustered the Syrian army and marched to Aphek to fight Israel. When the Israelites had mustered and had received their supplies, they marched out to face them in battle. When the Israelites deployed opposite them, they were like two small flocks of goats but the Syrians filled the land. The prophet visited the king of Israel and said, “This is what the LORD says, ‘Because the Syrians said, “The LORD is a god of the mountains and not a god the valleys,” I will hand over to you this entire huge army. Then you will know that I am the LORD.” The armies were deployed opposite each other for seven days. On the seventh day the battle began, and the Israelites killed 100,000 Syrians foot soldiers in one day. The remaining 27,000 ran to Aphek and went into the city, but the wall fell on them. Now Benhadad ran into the city and hid in an inner room.
The Lord helped King Ahab to defeat the enemy Benhadad despite the small size of Ahab’s army.
After the defeat, Benhadad’s advisers said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of the Israelite dynasty are kind. Allow us to put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and surrender to the king of Israel. Maybe he will spare our lives.” So they put sackcloth around their waists and ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel. They said, “Your servant BenHadad says, “Please let me live!” Ahab replied, “Is he still alive? HE IS MY BROTHER.” (1 Kings 20:31-32 NET).
The advisers of the enemy king knew the soft spot of King of Israel- his kindness and compassion and therefore decided to take advantage of that by faking their repentance. It is just like the wicked people of the world know that we Christians are compassionate people and therefore they approach us insincerely to meet their own ends.
How did Ahab respond to the “restitution” of Benhadad?
1 kings 20:33-34 (NET)- The men took this as a good omen and quickly accepted his offer, saying, “BEN HADAD IS YOUR BROTHER.” Ahab then said, “Go, get him.” So Ben Hadad came out to him, and Ahab PULLED HIM UP INTO HIS CHARIOT. Ben Hadad said, “I will return the cities my father took from your father. You may set up markets in Damascus, just as my father did in Samaria.” Ahab then said, “I want to make a treaty with you before I dismiss you.” So he made a treaty with him and then dismissed him.”
Ahab regarded Ben Hadad as his brother in the name of compassion, just like many of us do to our enemies – we regarded them as our brother-in Christ. Ahab accepted the offer of Ben Hadad to be at peace with Israel and he pulled him up into his chariot. Chariot is a vehicle used for war or for a journey. In other words, he invited him into his journey, his ministry, his sphere. It is like “fellowship”- two men in one ship. In this case, it is two men in one chariot. Both of them entered into a treaty, agreement and an alliance with each other.
What was God’s response to that partnership in the chariot as well as the treaty of peace they made with each other?
1 Kings 20:42- The prophet then said to him, “This is what the LORD says, ‘Because you released a man I had determined should die, you will pay with your life and your people will suffer instead of his people.”
The disaster that was reserved for the evil and the wicked will be transferred to us, when we associate with them. Do you want this to happen to your life?
The less you associate with some people, the MORE YOUR LIFE WILL IMPROVE. Any time you tolerate mediocrity or evil in others, it increases your mediocrity and evilness. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your ASSOCIATES will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends don’t help you CLIMB will want you to CRAWL. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.
- Never receive counsel from unproductive or unfruitful people.
- Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.
- Don’t follow anyone who is not going anywhere. With some people, you spend an evening; with others you invest it.
- Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.
(II) OUR GOOD ASSOCIATIONS
1. TRUE WORSHIPPERS
Psalms 26:12 (Amp)- My foot stands on a level place; in the congregations, I will bless the LORD.
NET- I am safe, and among the worshippers I will praise the Lord.
“My foot stands on a level place” means that you are sure-footed. The “level place” speaks of safety and security. Where is this place of safety and security? In the congregation of TRUE WORSHIPPERS. David does not want to stand with evil associates but he wants to stand with true worshippers who is established upon the Rock of Ages – Jesus Christ.
2. FAITHFUL PEOPLE WITH INTEGRITY
Psalm 101:6- I will look with favor on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.
3. PEOPLE WITH DISTINCT CALLING AND OFFICE
Matthew 10:41- He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
Grace is that which enables us to live in the Kingdom, and in part it is received by how we respond to the gifts of Christ: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We actually receive the GRACE TO FUNCTION FROM THESE GIFTS. If you hang around an evangelist, you will think evangelically. The same happens when we associate with those who are prophets or a righteous man. We will also be activated in the same grace and gifting like theirs.
4. GIANT SLAYERS
King David was known for killing Goliath in His youth. Yet there are at least four other giants killed in Scripture – all killed by the men who followed David, the giant slayer. If you want to kill giants, hang around a giant slayer. It rubs off.
Many Christians are in slippery position. Many of us are not standing on a level ground because we are playing with evil through our evil associations. We get close to people we are not supposed to; we bond with them; we pal with them; we hang out with them; we fellowship with them in the name of Christ and love. This reminds me of a little boy in the pantry. His mother heard a noise in the back of the kitchen and asked, “Willie, where are you?” The boy replied, “I am in the pantry.” She asked, “What are you doing?” He said, “I am fighting temptation.” That was not the place for Willie to fight temptation.
Many Christians flirt with sin through their evil associations. The reason a great many people fall is because they are fighting temptation in the pantry.
Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right and good associations.
Remember- our evil association will bring trouble and disaster upon ourselves. Be wise and discerning and rethink your associations today.
PREACHED AT ETAB 1ST ENG SV ON 27 AUG 2017