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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)

TITLE: Guilty By Association


Especially in ancient times, to dine with others meant that you accepted and were accepted by those with whom you broke bread. When Jesus ate with the “undesirables” of His day, the Pharisees raised their criticism.

“The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners (Luke 5: 30 NASB)?”

The Pharisees were the “spiritual policemen” of His day. They considered their role in life to be both the preservers and the enforcers of “The Law”.

“The Law” consisted of the precepts primarily found in the first few books of the Old Testament. In addition to these standards that were often misinterpreted or misapplied, there were man made additions, which over a period of time, were elevated to a position of equality with The Law itself.

This seems to be the inevitable course that the legalists of every generation enjoy doing while trampling all over the fundamental prohibitions of such passages as Deut.4: 2 and Romans 14:4 in the process.

According to New Testament Scripture (1Cor. 5: 9-11), the ones that believers are to disassociate with are those who live ungodly lifestyles while claiming to be Christians! In light of the morally declining society in which many of us live, this can be a real challenge.

We have little, if any, control over who we will sit beside in the classroom or labor with in the workplace, yet even in such controlled environments as these, subgroups inevitably form based on similarities that individuals share.

There are other times when we make choices about where we go. It is then that we reveal our personal norms and standards when we choose to engage or avoid the behaviors that various places promote.

Our willingness to compromise our personal standards and norms in order to either be accepted or in fear of offending others reveals the degree that we have surrendered control over certain areas of our lives to the norms and standards of others. Peer pressure does not begin or end in adolescence.

Tolerance, and allowing others to exercise their own free will is Biblically sanctioned and necessary in order to promote harmonious interactions in a diverse society. At the same time, we are also called to be lights in a world of darkness. It takes spiritual discernment to maintain a Biblical balance (Eccl. 3: 7b).

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals (1Cor. 15: 33 NASB).” Where we go and with whom we spend our time reveals our true priorities in life.

Scripture teaches that our lives are under divine, human, and angelic observation that is either glorifying God or the god of this world at any given time. If you are born again, you can’t go anywhere or do anything with anyone without taking the Lord along with you (1Cor.3: 16).

We can avoid being pressured into making many poor decisions by simply choosing not to place ourselves in an environment that promotes negative behavior.

Our Lord associated with all kinds of individuals, raising the eyebrows of many, but it was always He who was influencing others and never the other way around.

If it is God’s will that we are the one that He wants to use to reach out to any other specific individual, He will provide the means the opportunity without compromising the unspoken testimony of our daily lives.

We are to avoid sin, but not sinners. We are to guard against developing a false sense of spiritual superiority, as we are no more than sinners saved by the grace of God ourselves.

As heroic as jumping into the water to save a drowning person may be, trained rescuers know that entering the water or close physical contact is the last resort when attempting a water rescue, as the rescuer may be pulled down by person he/she was trying to save. This can be true in the spiritual realm as well.

Whether or not the conclusions that others make are accurate or not, where we go and with whom we go there is a part of the self-portrait that we paint in the minds of others.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/07/08
Very good Bible study that really illustrates the proverb well.

I'd suggest that you open with your "drowning" illustration--you want to hook your readers with something active and interesting, to get them to want to read on.
Patty Wysong02/08/08
Lots of good teaching here. I especially liked this one: "It takes spiritual discernment to maintain a Biblical balance." So true.