Who we associate with in this world, and who we keep company with is very important to the Lord. We’re not talking about things you do, but your reputation in the world (although a person who keeps the company of a sinner will eventually become one himself). Paul addresses who our friends and companions are in verses 9 through 11 of 1 Corinthians chapter 5.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”
A couple things came to me as I was studying these verses. First of all, it is impossible to live in this world without ever having contact with the lost world. When we go to the store, we are bound to encounter people who no doubt fall into the categories which Paul mentions. When we work, those people will work there, too. When we go to a restaurant, or whatever we do, we will encounter people who are no Christian who live in sin. Paul says that you would have to go out of the world to avoid these people altogether. Since that is the case, it made me reflect upon the rapture of the church. The Bible says that in the last days, the deeds of man will be constantly evil. In Hebrews 6, there will be a falling away from the faith. In Revelations, the church during the rapture will be lukewarm — it will have some Christianity and some sin. This verse in 1 Corinthians is a confirmation of that. When the church comes to the point where it allows sinners openly in it’s midst, and there is poison mixed in with the pure water, the rapture will occur. That is not Paul’s main point, but something that stuck out to me.
Paul drives home a point he had made in an earlier letter to the Corinthians. He had told them not to be known in the lost world as one of them; doing the things they do, saying the things they say, going the places they go, and so forth. Not that we can avoid them altogether, but we are to be in the world without doing the things of the world.
Now Paul clarifies further about associating with people who profess to be Christian but live in sin. Paul refers to them as “brother”. Who calls himself a brother but lives in sin is a danger to you, and you are not to be associated with that person. Your reputation as a Christian is very important to the Lord. We are to maintain not only our purity in the eyes of the Lord, but also the appearance of purity to the lost world.
So let’s be careful of the company we keep. Let’s maintain a good testimony for the Lord.