The Disciples Interactions With Unbelievers

‘Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?’ ~ James 4:4

Just as we learned our new relationship with Disciples of Jesus, so also we must understand our relationship with unbelievers.

The Bible speaks much to what a Disciples interaction should be with those who are not Sons of the Kingdom.

Should we make friends with unbelievers? Whom does God befriend? What should we do about our current worldly friendships? How should we interact with the ungodly and show God’s love?

1.1        Friendships With Unbelievers Will Corrupt & Destroy

1 Corinthians 15:33-34 ~ Be not deceived: evil communications [homilia: companionship] corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

  • The first message is do not be deceived. Why? Because there are many out there who mistakenly teach that Jesus was the friend of sinners and that we too should be friends with the wicked in order to win them.
  • These people do not have the true knowledge of God or they would know that as Paul said, befriending sinful people will only bring corruption to your good character.

Proverbs 13:20 ~ He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

  • It is the simple wisdom of God that if you want to be wise and holy then befriend wise and holy men.
  • If you choose to be a companion and friend of sinful fools, you will surely be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4 ~ Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

  • The most powerful friendship someone can create is the friendship of a lifelong marriage.
  • God strictly commands us not to marry those who are not Disciples because they will turn our hearts away from following God.
  • God does not tell the people that the sinful spouses may possibly turn them but he tells them that they absolutely will turn them from God. Let us be warned!

Nehemiah 13:26 ~ Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.

  • Now if we think that somehow, because of our spiritual attainments, we could never be persuaded to turn away from God, then hopefully the story of Solomon will put that foolishness to rest and cause us rightfully to fear apostasy.
  • Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived on this earth and yet the Scriptures testify that in his later years, the unbelieving wives he had married turned his heart from God and he died in a state of sin and wickedness with no hope! Let us be warned!

1.2        God Only Befriends & Walks With The Righteous

The scriptures teach that we are to follow or imitate God in our conduct [Ephesians 5:1] and God himself has very clear standards in regards to who he chooses to allow to hang out with him.

Psalms 15:1-2 ~ Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

  • There are particular people who are allowed to be close to God, sharing space with him, and dwelling with him in his holy hill. If this is not communion and friendship then what is?
  • Clearly it is only those who walk in a pure upright way, do the works of righteousness, and are lovers of Truth that are invited to this special friendship with God!

Genesis 6:9 ~ Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

  • We see this play out when God destroyed the entire world because of its wickedness but chose to walk with one man, Noah.
  • Why did God walk with Noah? Because he was a just man and perfect or blameless living in his day and age.

James 2:21&23 ~ Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? And he was called the Friend of God.

  • Lastly, the scripture plainly uses the words Friend of God in regards to Abraham and shows us why he entered into this awesome realm.
  • It all came down to obedience. Abraham was obedient and faithful to keep the commands of God regardless of the consequences and this is why God chose to be his Friend.

1.3        David & Jesus Only Counted The Godly As Friends & Family

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

  • Those who were filled with God’s Spirit imitated God in their choice of friends and companions.
  • David, a man after God’s own heart, was not a companion of evil or foolish people but only of them that feared God and kept his commands.

John 15:14 ~ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

  • Jesus himself, the Son of God, made it very clear that he would only be friends with people who followed his teachings and kept his commands.
  • This is in direct contradiction to the false ‘Jesus was the friend of sinners’ Let us be faithful to follow the simple example of our Lord and not men’s twisted perversions!

Matthew 12:49-50 ~ He stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

  • Jesus went even further and said that no one was his true family other than those who do the will of God.
  • It was these and these alone that Jesus held in close communion and fellowship. These were not sinners but holy men!

1.4        God Is Furious With Those Who Befriend Wicked

This understanding of whether we should befriend sinners is not a moot point. Our beliefs and actions on this topic are extremely relevant and will most surely affect our eternal salvation.

James 4:4 ~ Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

  • James likens our relationship with God as with a marriage to him and his people. When you become a Disciple your loyalties change over to Christ and his kingdom. You are not to be flirting with the enemy!
  • If anyone chooses to be a friend of sinners they make themselves an enemy of God. Why? Because sinners are the enemies of God. They defiantly choose to rebel against him and when we become their friends we silently say ‘we approve’. By doing so, God says we defy him, actually commit spiritual adultery against him, and become his enemies. God forbid we make the wrong choice in friends!

2 Chronicles 19:2 ~ And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.

  • Long ago, there was a wicked king named Ahab. He asked the righteous king Jehoshaphat to form an alliance [union or friendship] with him in order to obtain a particular goal [see 2 Chronicles ch. 18]. Jehoshaphat foolishly chose to make that alliance and assist him.
  • What is the result of simply forming an alliance with a wicked person to offer assistance?
  • God rebukes Jehoshaphat and tells him that he should not help the wicked people and love those who hate the Lord! He states that because Jehoshaphat has made this choice the wrath of God is now upon him. It is serious business to form alliances with those who hate God.

1 Corinthians 10:21-22 ~ Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

  • The scriptures say that the unbelievers are led by devils and that we absolutely must choose a side. We cannot be friends of the world and friends with God!
  • Choosing to do this would certainly provoke the Lord to jealousy and we will be destroyed. Let us show that we are 100% devoted to him and his people alone!

1.5        God Expects Us To Sever Our Ties With The Wicked

When we become a Disciple we are not only to throw our porn and wicked music CD’s into the fire but we also are to sever our friendships with wicked people.

Ezr 10:11 ~ Now Therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land…

  • When the Israelites in Ezra’s day had joined themselves to the wicked women of the nation’s there came a time when they needed to repent.
  • This repentance meant more than just confession of their sins. There was to be works that proved their repentance and these works were that the people were to separate themselves from the sinners!
  • [Note that concerning marriages in the New Covenant it is not God’s will for us, who are currently married to unbelievers that are content to live with us, to leave them. See 1 Corinthians 7:12-13.]

2 Corinthians 6:14&17 ~ Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

  • Friendships are bonds that occur between people based on common interests, goals, or objectives. In this passage, God says that as followers of Truth and Sons of the Kingdom you should now have nothing in common with the wicked.
  • For this reason, God commands us to not be yoked together in any kind of union or friendship with those who are unrighteous or do not believe and walk in the truth.
  • Also, note that if we have already gotten ourselves into these relationships we are now strictly commanded to get out of them. It is only when we come out from among sinners and become separate that the Lord promises to receive us.

Revelation 18:4-5 ~ I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

  • In the book of Revelations, the voice of God from heaven cried out to his people that they should come out from among the sinners.
  • The reason God gives is that by being joined with them you actually become partakers of their sins and because of this, you will receive the same judgments as they do if you do not sever your union with them!

Hopefully you realize how important this is. We absolutely must sever these ties with wicked people or we will not be received by God and ultimately will face the same end as they! God forbid!

1.6        Worldly People Should Not Desire To Be Our Friends

John 7:7 ~ The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

  • The principles we have learned should not be something that we need to forcefully incorporate into our lives.
  • If you are a true Disciple, the world will hate you because you are a preacher of righteousness and your life and your message reveals that they are evil. What worldly man or woman wants to be friends with such a person?

John 15:19 ~ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

  • In fact, if the people of the world want to be friends with us then we should seriously question whether or not we are Sons of the Kingdom or whether we still belong to the world.
  • Jesus emphatically declared that worldly people would only love you if you are one of their own and that if you are not of their world then they will hate you.

1.7        Disciples Must In Love & Gentleness Serve Sinners

Here we come to a very critical part in this lesson. God forbid we simply separate ourselves from unbelievers and have nothing to do with them. Remember we are called to win the world! We must have the whole council of God on this subject.

Romans 5:8 ~ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

  • Oh, thank God that when we were sinful wicked people he chose not to just alienate himself from us but rather he chose the opposite. He chose to exhibit great love for us in sending us his own Son to live among and even to die for us sinners and thereby atone for our sins!
  • Remember that we are to imitate God and to imitate God means that we are to have a deep benevolent love for sinners and a desire to see them not perish but gain eternal life in the coming Kingdom.

1 Timothy 1:15 ~ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

  • Jesus did not come to this world to die for the righteous but for sinners. The entire gospel plan and message is good news for sinners!
  • In our own personal desire to stay holy and pure, we cannot forget that the prime reason we are still alive, is simply to interact with, show great love to, and save sinners from the wrath to come.

Mark 2:16-17 ~ And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

  • There is a very good reason why Jesus was criticized by his enemies as being a friend of sinners. The reason was that he actually went to dinners with and often put himself around sinful people.
  • But wait, didn’t we just say that we are not to be friends with sinners and that we are to be separate? How can this be?
  • Jesus clears this up when he says ‘I came to call sinners to repentance’. You see Jesus was not with these people to just hang out because they had things in common. Rather he was with these sinful people strictly because he loved them greatly and wanted an opportunity to call them to repentance that they might be saved!
  • As Jesus we must see ourselves as compassionate Doctors who have the ability to heal the sick. We cannot heal the sick unless we engage with them. As Jesus, we must get up beside the sick and do everything we can to help them to acknowledge their sickness and be healed from it.

Isaiah 65:3&5 ~ A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face… Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

  • It is true that God will not receive those who yoke themselves with sinners but it is also true that he absolutely abhors those who get a holier than thou attitude and choose not to interact with sinners because they fear they will be tainted.
  • People who act like this are a stench in God’s nostrils and God forbid that we ever have an attitude like this. Rather let our attitude be like Jesus who came to serve sinners and lay his life down for them!

Titus 3:2-3 ~ Speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

  • There are many who when they come to the truths we have learned in this lesson develop the holier than thou attitude. In this attitude, they mock sinners and laugh at their calamity. [You can view many of these self-appointed preachers on YouTube and quickly see that they have not the spirit of humility and love but rather they see themselves as superior and look down on sinners.]
  • God tells us that we are never to take this attitude but rather when we interact with sinners, we are to be gentle and meek. We are to be very kind and loving and never say anything degrading about anyone, even the worst of sinners!
  • The reason why God tells us to act like this is that we ourselves were once bound in sin. How can we who ourselves were once just like these sinners now act superior to them? Was it not the grace of God in our lives that brought salvation? And if it was grace and mercy shown from God towards us, should we not show that same grace and mercy towards sinners?

2 Timothy 2:24-26 ~ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

  • When we interact with sinners it must not be to start arguments and prove how smart or holy we are and how sinful and ignorant they are. Rather we are to be gentle, meek, and patient with all people.
  • Here is the great call of God in our lives. We are to get around sinners just as Jesus did for the express purpose of instructing those who are damning their own souls. Our hearts are to pour out in love for these sinners that they may be set free from slavery to sin and the devil and be made children of God with a great inheritance!

Jude 1:22-23 ~ And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

  • Jude sums all these truths up wonderfully when he says that on one hand, we must hate and abhor all sin and wickedness in people and surely have a healthy fear of being corrupted by them.
  • On the other hand, we must have great compassion on sinners and desire to make a difference in their lives! In this great compassion, we must reach out in the love of God and pull sinners out of the fire!

In conclusion, we see, as with many truths, that the truth about companionship and interactions with sinners is narrow and being narrow there is potential to fall into a ditch on both sides.

On one side, we can fall into the ditch of being too buddy-buddy with sinners and on the other side we can fall into the ditch of exhibiting a self-righteous holier than thou attitude which prevents us from laying down our lives in a meek holy love for sinners.

Let us be faithful to avoid both ditches that we might not be a stench but rather a beautiful fragrance in the nostrils of God.