I decided to write a not-so-long blog article that deals with the question, once again, how far our relationships with “difficult” people may go. I do not speak of our family members here since our family and relatives were God-given and, of course, you might find some very difficult persons to deal with among them, too. However, where we have a choice is the question of making friends, even more, of seeking spiritual fellowship with other people who are no relatives. Regarding our family members who have really become our enemies because of Christ in us, we know we should love them. As for me, I keep praying, often with many tears and a hurting heart, but I know it would make no sense to talk with them openly or to even share the gospel, in particular when they ridicule what I write about my experiences with God on the net. If they keep attacking and nourish their feelings of hatred continually, we can be sure that Satan has blinded their eyes. Yet I hope and pray that God finally opens their eyes to the truth which is Jesus Christ alone. May we never fall prey to Satan’s lie that we should have fellowship with such people who hate us because we think WE should save them. It is so important to know that Christ is Savior!!! If God has not given us supernatural strength to endure their attacks and doubtless faith that He wants us to stay with them (accompanied by His peace that surpasses ALL understanding!), then we have most probably listened to the devil who always wants to burden us with something that is too difficult for a simple human being, especially without God’s help.
The headline above was taken from 1 Corinthians 15, verse 33 (ESV). The apostle Paul goes on with verse 34 where he said,
“Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”
That was not “nice” by our brother Paul to tell his brethren that they were in drunken stupor. What did he mean by that? Did he refer to an overindulgence of alcohol here? I assume, rather, Paul related to a spiritual stupor in which these people had fallen by listening to the wrong persons and by opening up their hearts to them. They certainly ignored God’s small and still voice and thought it would be “unloving” if they excluded several persons. Well, that is human reason which can easily be fed by Satan unless our human will is already in constant submission to the Eternal God. I found John Gill’s explanation on these two verses above quite helpful. Since Gill explained Scripture according to King James Version, I inserted that translation before his exposition.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. (1 Cor 15:33-34 KJV)
Verse 33. Be not deceived,…. By such as deny the doctrine of the resurrection, and by their reasonings about it; or by such libertines who go into the denial of it, and argue from thence in favour of their licentious course of life:
evil communications corrupt good manners. This is a sentence taken out of Menander, a Heathen poet, showing how dangerous is the conversation of evil men, and what an influence bad principles communicated and imbibed, have on the lives and practices of men. This the apostle cites not out of ostentation, or to show his reading, learning, and acquaintance with such sort of writers; but partly to observe, that this was a truth obvious by the light of nature, and partly because such a testimony might be more regarded by the Corinthians, who might be fond of such authors, and what was said by them; just as when he was at Athens among the philosophers there, he cites a passage out of Aratus, Acts 17:28 as he does another out of Epimenides concerning the Cretans, Titus 1:12.
Verse 34. Awake to righteousness, and sin not,…. The apostle represents the Corinthians as inebriated with bad principles and notions, and as fallen asleep, and as greatly remiss, and declined in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; and therefore calls upon them to awake out of sleep, to watch and be sober, and attend to “righteousness”; to the justice of God, which requires the resurrection of the dead, and makes it necessary that men may receive the things done in the body, whether good or evil; for as it is a righteous thing with God to render tribulation to them that sin against him, and trouble his people; so it is but just, that those bodies which Christ has purchased with his blood, who have served him, and suffered for his sake, should be raised again, that, together with their souls, they may enjoy the happiness provided for them; and to the righteousness of Christ, to look unto it, lay hold on it, exercise faith upon it, desiring to be found in it living and dying; and to works of righteousness, to a holy life and conversation, a living soberly, righteously and godly; and not spend their time, and give up themselves to vain speculations and notions; which were so far from being edifying, that they were very detrimental to themselves and others.
for some have not the knowledge of God; are like the Gentiles that are without God, and know him not; they know not, or, at least, do not own the truth of God in his word, declaring and testifying the doctrine of the resurrection; they err in that point, not knowing the Scriptures, the sense of them, and this truth contained in them; nor the power or God in raising the dead, nor the justice of God, which makes it necessary that the dead should be raised:
I speak this to your shame; that there should be such ignorant persons in their community; that there were any of such bad principles as to deny the resurrection of the dead, and of such dissolute lives as to give up themselves to sensual lusts and pleasures: that such were continued in the church, kept company with, indulged and caressed; and that there was so great a corruption in doctrine, discipline, and conversation, among them.
I like particularly this part of John Gill’s exposition where he wrote,
Evil communications corrupt good manners. This is a sentence taken out of Menander, a Heathen poet, showing how dangerous is the conversation of evil men, and what an influence bad principles communicated and imbibed, have on the lives and practices of men.
It is dangerous to think that what we read, hear, see or watch (for real, on TV, or in a movie) would have NO consequences on our thinking, speaking, and behavior. Those thoughts and pictures presented to us can follow us – more or less subliminally – in our thought life, in our dream life, and if they hit a certain point in our heart, they will become our daily companions. If we have perceived good things – wonderful! 🙂 But if bad things follow or even persecute us somehow, then there must be something wrong. It is certainly not my intention to introduce a kind of “law” here that tells us what to do and what to avoid. Instead, as my readers might know, I always point back to Christ because I know there is freedom in His presence when our will and His become one. Then we know immediately what to do and what to drop. Whatever it might be, doing or not-doing, His peace is ours, for it is written,
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Is 26:3 ESV)
Oops, this article got a little bit longer than expected. Sorry… 😉