On Christian Friends

“Do not be deceived, evil company corrupts good habits.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Most Christians appear to accept that marrying “in the Lord” is important. But observation suggests that many are not equally convinced that your friendships should be “in the Lord” as well. In fact, it seems that Christians frequently believe their close associations with unbelievers are a form of evangelism, a way of witnessing for Christ, a method for letting their light shine in the darkness. As long as their friends do not openly oppose their faith or reject their company, it seems that believers today are quite content to have some or even many unbelieving friendships. The words of the Apostle in our text may be fittingly intended for such Christians who appear to have convinced themselves they are unharmed by these ties with non-believers. Do not be deceived.

If you think that maintaining casual, continual, cordial, and close contact with those who profess no active faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is safe and sound, Paul says you are deceived. In fact, all of Scripture says so too. Consider the “blessed” man of Psalm 1. Who are his companions? Unbelievers? “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands is the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Godly people avoid such company. Rather, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:63 “I am a companion of all who fear You.”

John Calvin, commenting on this topic of Christian friendship, wrote: “Nothing is more dangerous than associating with the ungodly; because, being more prone to follow the vice than virtue, it cannot but be, that the more conversant we are with corruption, the more widely will it spread.”

If you would grow as a Christian, seek Christian friends. And if you would grow much, seek the very best Christians as your best friends. Some put more care into choosing cars or clothes than in choosing friends. This may be particularly difficult if those friendships have been long-standing. But if your friend only loves you, but does not love the Lord, you are setting yourself up for a weakened walk with Christ and in danger of a progressive backsliding into sin. Such friendships are positively harmful or corrupting according to our text.

Many Christians fail to progress much in their faith because of ungodly friendships which they will not forsake. They have yoked themselves to these unbelievers, vainly flattering themselves that they are doing them good, while they are in fact only harming their own souls. Do you want to know why there is so much nominal Christianity in many regular churchgoers? Ungodly friendships with the world and worldly friends is a likely diagnosis. But if you warn them of these things, they will object and be angered, sadly showing their allegiance is more to their unbelieving friends than to Christ. They will argue that they are in fact better Christians for these friendships. All of the Word of God argues against them, but they will not hear.

Dear Christian, do you want to please God? Listen to His counsel about choosing friends. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully (Proverbs 12:26).” Are you and I doing that? Are we being thoughtful, careful, even strategic in the way we pick our friends? We are to be friendly to all. But true friendships among Christians should be reserved for those who also love the Lord and can encourage us in our walk with Him.

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