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Staying Strong in a Sinful World
Bible study on spiritual strength.

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. 15:7-20).

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 God.

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'" (Matt. 7:21-23).

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 righteous.

  • "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" (Jas. 1:26).

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 ourselves.

  • "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 songs.

We study God's word, meditating and thinking upon it throughout the day.

  • Rom. 1:16 The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
  • 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 to God.
  • 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 God.

When we make Bible study, prayer, and singing spiritual songs a daily part of our lives, we grow strong and stay strong.

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 life.

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 Lord.

Consider these questions:

  • Are you more concerned with spiritual things than physical things?
  • 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 companions.

  • "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. 2:16-17).

Avoid People Who Oppose the Truth
We should avoid people who oppose the truth because they lead people astray.

These are:

  • "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 division.

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 and plain.

  • "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 brethren.
  • 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 life.
  • Avoiding sinful situations as much as possible.
  • Associate with godly people.