By the will of God, we live amid unbelievers, for reasons
I'll not enumerate in this article (1 Cor. 5:9-10).
Although it's God's will, it's difficult to stay strong
while living around sinful people.
Like Lot, our souls are tormented by their lawless
deeds (2 Pet. 2:7-8).
Keep Your Heart Right
From the Old and New Testaments, we learn that our actions
reflect our hearts. If our hearts are right, our actions
will be right. But if our hearts are wrong, our actions
will be wrong.
The problem resulting in Israel's sin was in their
hearts. Through the prophet Malachi, God tells them:
- "Take heed then to your spirit, and let
no one deal treacherously against the wife of your
youth" (Mal. 2:15).
Even more to the point, Jesus tells sinful Jews:
- "Do you not understand that everything that goes
into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated?
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come
from the heart, and those defile the man. For
out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders,
adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
These are the things which defile the man . . ." (Matt.
Known By Your Fruits
Since our actions reflect our hearts, our hearts are
known by examining our actions.
In warning the people of false prophets, Jesus tells
us we know them by their fruits.
- "Beware of the false prophets, who come
to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous
wolves. You will know them by their fruits
. . . (Matt. 7:15-16).
The important point for this lesson is that you know
your heart by looking at your fruits. If you're not
acting like a Christian, your heart can't be right with
Furthermore, we can know other peoples' hearts by
looking at their fruits.
For example, if a young man tells a lady he loves
her and wants to marry her. Yet he treats her badly.
His fruits prove him to be a liar, showing he doesn't
truly love her.
Judged By Your Fruits
Since our fruits reflect our hearts, it stands to reason
we'll be judged according to our fruits.
In line with this thinking, Jesus tells us we'll be
judged by whether we practice lawlessness.
- "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,'
will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who
does the will of My Father who is in heaven will
enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord,
did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name
cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew
you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'"
There'll be people at judgment who call Jesus Lord,
but their fruits prove they didn't truly believe He's
the Lord because they practiced lawlessness. As a result,
they'll be punished for eternity in hell.
Don't Deceive Your Heart
Some people deceive their hearts, believing they're
righteous, when their fruits clearly reflect the sinfulness
of their lives.
James says these people are forgetful hearers of the
word, and delude themselves. They hear what God says
but don't change, continuing in sin while thinking they're
- "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and
not merely hearers who delude themselves. For
if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,
he is like a man who looks at his natural face in
a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone
away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person
he was" (Jas. 1:22-24).
Anyone who thinks he's righteous, but isn't a doer
of the word, deceives himself.
- "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and
yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives
his own heart, this man's religion is worthless"
How do we know whether we're doers of the word, or
we've deceived ourselves?
James gives us the acid test by which we examine
- "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and
yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives
his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. Pure
and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and
Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in
their distress, and to keep oneself unstained
by the world" (Jas. 1:26-27).
If you're a Christian and controlling your tongue,
visiting orphans and widows to relieve them in their
distress, and keeping yourself unstained by the world,
you know you're a doer of the word.
It Takes Work
It takes work to get our hearts right with God, and
keep them right!
Peter specifically addresses the need for this work,
when he commands us to prepare our minds for action.
- "Therefore, prepare your minds for action,
keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely
on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation
of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13).
It Takes Preparation
To do anything well, it takes preparation.
We must prepare ourselves to be good students, good
employees, and good parents. And certainly, we must
prepare ourselves to be faithful Christians.
Peter tells us:
- "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep
sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace
to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
As obedient children . . ." (1 Pet. 1:13-14).
If we prepare our minds as God commands, we'll succeed
in obeying Him. But if we don't prepare our minds, we'll
fail. Preparing as God commands in His word, is the
key to success.
Spend Time With God
To grow strong and stay strong, we must spend time with
God by studying his word, praying, and singing spiritual
We study God's word, meditating and thinking
upon it throughout the day.
- Rom. 1:16 The gospel is the power of God
- 2 Pet. 1:2-4 God grants us everything pertaining
to life and godliness, through knowledge of His word,
whereby we become partakers of His divine nature.
- Eph. 3:16-20 Through knowledge of God's
word, we are strengthened with power by the Spirit
in the inner man. Then we're able to do far more abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think, according to the
power that works in us.
- 1 Th. 2:13 God's word performs its work
in us, because we believe.
We pray. Some prayers may be short, offered
throughout the day while doing other things, and others
may be longer, when we pause from the day's busy activities.
- 1 Th. 5:16-18 We rejoice all the time, because
we pray all the time, in everything giving thanks
- Phil. 4:4-7 We rejoice in the Lord, not
anxious for anything, because we make our requests
known to God by prayer and supplication. As a result,
we have the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension.
- Col. 4:2 We devote ourselves to prayer,
keeping alert in it, with an attitude of thanksgiving.
Therefore we're on guard against sin, and the trickery
of the devil.
We sing spiritual songs to God. Sometimes we
sing silently in our minds, and other times we sing
orally when we're doing things like riding in a car.
- Jas. 5:13 God commands us to sing praises
when we're cheerful. Besides worship to God, this
helps us keep our minds on the right things, and motivated
to serve God.
- Col. 3:16 The word of Christ dwells richly
within us, when we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing with thankfulness in our hearts to
When we make Bible study, prayer, and singing spiritual
songs a daily part of our lives, we grow strong and
Don't Entangle Yourself in Everyday Life
To stay strong while living around sinful people, we
can't entangle ourselves with the daily affairs of everyday
Like a soldier, we have to concentrate on our mission,
not on the day-to-day, unimportant things of life.
- "No soldier in active service entangles
himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that
he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier"
(2 Tim. 2:4).
We must lay up treasure in heaven, not on earth.
- "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on
earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where
thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust
destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
for where your treasure is, there your heart will
be also" (Matt. 6:19-21).
When we're devoted to doing God's work, rather than
satisfying the flesh, we grow strong and stay strong.
Sin doesn't have the allurement it had when we were
trying to live for the flesh, because our lives have
a higher purpose. Then, when we are blessed with the
physical things of life, we can truly enjoy them as
content children of God, happy and satisfied in the
Consider these questions:
- Are you more concerned with spiritual things than
- Do you spend more free time with spiritual activities
or recreational activities?
- If you lost all your wealth and possessions today,
how would that affect you?
Avoid Sinful Situations When Possible
God's will is for us to live in the world, and not isolate
ourselves from people living in sin. Therefore, it's
impossible to avoid all contact with sin (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
At the same time, though, we're not bound together
with unbelievers. God commands us to come out of their
midst and be separate.
- "Do not be bound together with unbelievers;
for what partnership have righteousness and
lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with
darkness" (2 Cor. 6:14)?
- "'Therefore, come out from their midst and be
separate,' says the Lord . . ." (2 Cor. 6:17).
So we live around sinful people, but we don't have
sinful partnership or fellowship with them. We do not
participate in their unfruitful deeds of darkness, but
expose them (Eph. 5:11).
To live this way, and avoid sinful situations, we
must put to death our sinful desires, and avoid evil
- "I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which
I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily"
(1 Cor. 15:31).
- "Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good
morals'" (1 Cor. 15:33).
- "Therefore consider the members of your earthly
body as dead to immorality . . ." (Col. 3:5).
Avoid Sinful Language
It's not possible to avoid all sinful language in the
world, but we shouldn't expose ourselves to more than
is necessary. Nor should we use sinful language ourselves.
- "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not
even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
and there must be no filthiness and silly talk,
or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather
giving of thanks" (Eph. 5:3-4).
If we participate in sinful language, it leads to
further ungodliness that spreads like gangrene (2 Tim.
Avoid People Who Oppose the Truth
We should avoid people who oppose the truth because
they lead people astray.
- "Lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant,
revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without
self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous,
reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than
lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although
they have denied its power . . ." (2 Tim. 3:2-5).
Paul tells us to avoid such people because they oppose
the truth, leading people away from God.
- "Avoid such men as these. For among them
are those who enter into households and captivate
weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various
impulses, always learning and never able to come
to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and
Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose
the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard
to the faith" (2 Tim. 3:5-8).
We are to avoid sinful situations as much as possible,
and make a special effort to avoid people who are leading
people away from God, except to preach the word to them
(2 Tim. 4:2).
Although we're loving toward all people, we shouldn't
be companions of religious leaders who lead people into
sin through their teachings. Nor should we be companions
with people advocating sin in pop culture, such as advertising
executives advocating sin through their commercials.
As a matter of fact, when we act as Christians, exposing
darkness as lights to the world, people advocating sin
don't want to be our companions.
Avoid Factious People
A factious person causes division.
Sometimes people like to be factious to destroy friendships
for self-serving purposes. Maybe they want to gain power
over a group of people, so they cause strife resulting
In religion, the same thing happens. The best way
to destroy a congregation is to create strife resulting
in division, especially by teaching false doctrine.
Unless the congregation is strong enough to reject the
factious man, it will be divided.
God's command, through the apostle Paul, is simple
- "Reject a factious man after a first and second
warning, knowing that such a man is perverted
and is sinning, being self-condemned" (Tit. 3:10-11).
Associate with Godly People
Rather than associating with sinful people who influence
us negatively, we are to associate with godly people
who influence us positively.
- Rom. 12:16 Associate with the lowly.
- 1 Cor. 5:11 Don't associate with immoral
- Heb. 10:24-25 Assemble with the saints.
- 2 Tim. 2:22 Pursue righteousness, faith,
love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from
a pure heart.
The most important group of people to associate with
is Christians, at the assembly and in day-to-day activities.
These are the people who will help us get to heaven.
To stay strong in a sinful world, we must:
- Keep our hearts right with God.
- Spend time with God by studying and meditating
on his word, singing, and praying.
- Not entangling yourself in the affairs of everyday
- Avoiding sinful situations as much as possible.
- Associate with godly people.