Revelation 18 Lesson

Do Our Friends Impact Our Faith?

Does it matter to God who our friends are?  

Can they influence our behavior?  

Can our friends keep us from getting to heaven?

Consider the following scripture:

Our friends absolutely have an influence over our behaviors and our relationship with God. They can lift us up, but they can also drag us down.

PEER PRESSURE

According to study.com:

  • Thirty-eight percent of individuals between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four report that they have been pressured by peers to drink beer or alcohol,
  • Thirty-two percent reported being pressured into having sex,
  • Twenty-seven percent reported being pressured to do drugs,
  • And twenty-four percent reported being pressured to smoke cigarettes.

Peer pressure is alive and well, and If we do not heed the warnings in the Bible, we can easily succumb to it!

A WARNING FROM GOD

In Revelation 18, God issues the following warning to all believers to flee from Babylon and its sinful ways:  

  • “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” – Revelation 18:4-5.


As humans, we are all affected by the company that we keep.   If our friends prioritize faith in their lives, they can be an encouragementto us to grow our own faith and become more like Jesus.

Conversely, if we associate with sinners, we are more likely to participate in sinful activities ourselves. If our friends live sinful lives, we can get drawn into these behaviors and desensitized to sin.  This is a dangerous position to be in.  We may find ourselves trying to rationalize our behavior and saying things like, “Everyone else is doing it so it must be ok.”

We do this at the peril of our very souls!

Such excuses will not carry any weight with God on The Day Of Judgment.   Sometimes, the smartest decision we can make is to leave a bad situation before we are tempted to sin. There is wisdom in removing ourselves from people and events that put our souls at risk.

AVOIDING TEMPTATION

Life gets difficult!  Without a good support system, we can easily succumb to the many temptations that Satan will try to destroy us with.

Fortunately for us, Jesus understands our temptations because He was tempted by Satan Himself.  The Hebrew writer reminds us of this in the following scripture:   

  • “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin.   Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16.

Jesus understands our temptations and He will advocate for His disciples when they sin and fall short.

  • “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 2:1.

CONCLUSION

Throughout history, there have been cities known for their sinful lifestyles, such as:

  • Sodom,
  • Gomorrah,
  • Corinth,
  • Babylon,
  • Las Vegas.

Just as God warned His followers to flee from Babylon during the Great Tribulation, we need to heed His warning that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33) and choose our friends wisely.

When we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, the best decision that we can make is to simply walk away.

Throughout our lives, we are going to encounter adversity. That is all part of God’s plan for us. He allows us to experience hardships for three reasons:

  1. Todisciplineus,
  2. To teach us,
  3. To shape us into the people He created us to be.

Through all of life's challenges, the friends that we have will either bring us closer to God or they will separate us from Him.

There is a wise saying that it takes a village to raise a child. But why limit that type of support to just children?   One could argue that as we become adults with adult problems, we need the support of others more than ever!

The following three scriptures remind us that God wants us to support and help one another, especially when it comes to matters of faith.  He wants us to have good friends, and to be good friends:

  1. “And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” - Hebrews 13:16,  
  2. “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” - Philippians 2:4,
  3. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:2.

We will end today’s lesson with the following words spoken by Jesus:

  • “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.”Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?And when did we see You as a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”And the King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of Mine, you did it for Me.” – Mathew 25:35-40.

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Does anyone have a testimony about their friends impacting their faith?

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JB

I will share part of my testimony. Years ago, I moved across the country for work. My childhood friends and I kept in touch. One of these childhood friends was a NYC police officer. He had been through 9/11 and had seen some horrific things.

This friend would call me a couple of times per year. Each phone call began with the same two questions: 1) Are you still going to church? 2) Are you drinking? He asked me these questions because he was used to the way I was in my childhood where we drank a lot and seldom went to church.

As I started attending church three times per week and stopped drinking like I used to, he noticed. Years later, this same friend called me up and said that he was having a hard time believing in God, but not before he asked me his usual two questions. If I had not answered "correctly", as to my church attendance and drinking habits, I do not believe our conversation would have gone much further.

My friend talked about all of the horrible things he sees, and how horrible people are to one another. That is why he said he had trouble having faith. Because of all the sin that he sees.

That led to a discussion about Philippians 4:8 and the thoughts that God tells us to focus on. I suggested that he needed to offset the horrible things he sees, by getting involved with people who are living Christian lives. People who volunteer, attend church and put others' needs ahead of their own.

How did this friend impact my faith? In a good way. . .

If I ever became tempted to return to the sins of my youth, I would think of my friend and the damage I would be doing to him. It held me accountable to do the right thing.

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Virtual Bible Study

Does anyone have a testimony about their friends impacting their faith?

Reply