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TEXT: II Corinthians 2:11

SUBJECT: Precious Remedies #10

Tonight we continue our study of Thomas Brooks' great work, "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices". Brooks was an English pastor in the 17th Century; his book seeks to expose the cunning ways of Satan, and to equip us to overcome them. Thus far, we've studied nine "devices" or tricks; tonight we take up a tenth. The Puritan writes,

"Satan draws the soul to sin by choosing wicked company [and] keeping wicked society".

What he means is this: Satan wants you to make friends with the ungodly and to enjoy their company. If he can get you to do this, he knows, in time, you'll become just like them.

This presents a real problem. When it comes to befriending the unsaved, the Bible seems to speak with two voices.

  1. On one side, we have verses that clearly forbid it and warn of its danger. "Make no friendships with an angry man" says Proverbs 22:24. Or, I Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits".
  2. On the other side, we have the example of our Lord Jesus. He is called "the friend of sinners". And quite properly so. He associates with publicans, harlots, demoniacs, criminals, and other lowlifes.

What do we do? We hate the sin but love the sinner. This has become a cliche'--I know--but it's true. It means we make friends with the ungodly--not because we find their ways attractive--but to do them good. It also means we "watch and pray" against their evil habits and do not join them in their sins. If you do this, one of two results must occur.

1.Either, the person will be changed for the better, hopefully converted to Christ...

2.Or, he will no longer want your company, because you're "no fun" or make him feel guilty.

Let us abhor all sin. And at the same time, love all sinners. This is hard to do, of course, not possible, even "with men". But "With God all things are possible". Let's plead with Him for the grace to do it, for Christ's sake. Amen.

When Satan tells us to make friends with the ungodly and to prefer their company to the saints', what should we do? Thomas Brooks offers four "remedies". I'll add one or two more.

His first "remedy" is

"Dwell on the commands of God that expressly require us to shun the company of the wicked".

You needn't look very hard for these verses; they're everywhere in the Bible. For example, we have

Proverbs 4:14-15: "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it, turn away from it, and pass on".

Psalm 1 pronounces a blessing on people who don't "Walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful".

But what if the person professes faith in Christ? II Thessalonians 3:6: "But we command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly..." Titus 3:10: "A man that is a heretic, after the first and second warning, reject..."

Think on these things--long and hard. Thomas Brooks sums it up well,

"God's commands are not like those that are easily reversed, but cannot be changed. If these commands are not now observed by you, they will, at the last, be a witness against you, and millstones to sink you in the day that Christ will judge you".

That's the first remedy--meditate on God's Word and let it master you and bend your desires to His will. Good advice! When the Lord was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he answered each with the Word--"It is written".

That's the first "remedy"; the second is to

"Consider that their company is very infectious and dangerous".

This is illustrated in the Old Testament. God wanted His people to be "separate". When they kept their distance from the pagan peoples all around them, they enjoyed peace and prosperity. But when the turned to them, they brought ruin upon Israel. The story of Balaam makes this clear. The prophet could not "curse" Israel, but he advised the king of Moab to destroy them--not with frightful weapons, but with beautiful women! And it nearly worked! See Numbers 25 for the details.

This is what the Book of Judges is about, too. Even a man of great wisdom could be turned to sin by the influence of his foreign wives.

Paul reminds us: "A little leaven leavens the whole lump".

Thomas Brooks counsels us to shun the ungodly as we would "a stinking carcase and a running sore"! These things are not only abhorrent, but dangerous. Would we avoid contaminated water? Of course we would. Yet water can only sicken the body; evil friends can poison the soul.

A third "device" is to

"Look at wicked men as the Scriptures describe them".

Let's face it: the wicked are, in some ways, attractive. If they weren't we would have no desire to be with them. Or like them. They may have nice-looking faces and bodies; they may have likable personalities; they may be "cool", "fresh" or "with it". It's no wonder the world thinks so highly of them.

But, as believers in Christ, we're not to think worldly thoughts, but true thoughts. "What is truth"? "Your Word is truth". How does the Bible describe the wicked?

Thomas Brooks tells us. They are "lions, bears, dragons, and dogs. They are "scorpions, vipers, thorns, briers, thistles, bramble, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, and scum".

Then to prove it, he cites a Scripture reference for each name. We needn't turn to them, of course, to recognize the truth in what he says.

These things are not attractive, are they? But the ungodly are these things--and more. Pity them? Of course! Love them for Christ's sake? Yes. But to crave their fellowship and to prefer it to the people of God? Never!

When sent to the house of Jesse to find Israel's next king, Samuel looked on the outside! How tall and handsome the older sons were! "Surely this is the LORD's anointed" he thought. But he was wrong. God looked on the heart--and chose Jesse's runt to be Israel's greatest king! We, too, must look at others as they truly are. And, when we come to the unsaved, it's not much to look at.

God give us a true vision.

The fourth "device" is to recall

"The saints of old have not enjoyed the company of the wicked".

David cried, "Depart from me, all workers of iniquity!" Jeremiah preferred a lonely cabin to the company of sinners in Jerusalem. Lot "vexed his righteous soul" with the ungodliness of Sodom. Were these men self-righteous? Or were they just "righteous"? They were good men who found the company of the wicked an odious thing.

Their lives were "written for our learning".

"Birds of a feather flock together". Maybe you like your ungodly friends best because you have become like them. If so, our Lord says, "Remember from whence you have fallen, repent, and do the first works".

These four "remedies" are from Thomas Brooks. Let me briefly add two of my own.

"Think of how much befriending the ungodly hurts them".

Unbelievers need Christ. Therefore, they need Christian friends. But, if the friends are not distinctly Christian, they do more harm than good. For compromised believers blur the difference between Christ and the world; between hope and despair; wisdom and folly; holiness and sin.

Unbelievers don't need "more of the same". They need something different--something literally "out of this world". Only believers can provide that! But we don't if we are no different than they are. Our calling is to be "in the world, but not of the world". To "sanctify the Lord God in our hearts" and be ready for "everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in us".

Be friends with the lost--of course! But not just any sort of friend. Be that friend whose words and life can show them the better way.

The last "remedy" is also the most important.

"Remember, it hurts Jesus Christ to see you befriend the world".

Peter was one of His best friends. Until the night He was betrayed. On that night, Peter quit the Lord for others; he preferred the company of the crucifiers to that of the Crucified. When he denied the Lord that third time, Luke tells us, He "turned and looked at Peter".

Was it a look of reproach? Of disgust? Of "I told you so"? I don't think so; Peter's response implies it was the look of personal hurt. Peter, sitting with the enemy and turning his back on the Savior.

That's what we do when we turn from Christ to befriend the world. When we are bored with His people and prefer the company of the lost. We hurt Jesus Christ. No believer wants to do that. Think about it the next time Satan tells you to "Choose the company of the wicked".

And God give you the grace to choose more wisely. For Christ's sake. Amen.

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