Community Group Study Notes
- Interact with this statement: our character is tied to the vision of our future in Christ. Based on what you heard in Sunday’s message, what does this mean? How do we apply it to our lives?
- Why is it important for there to be healthy boundaries with those who have a corrosive influence? How can we maintain a Christlike connection to their lives without allowing a corrupting influence to come our way? Why is this important?
- What action step can you take with what you heard in Sunday’s message?
Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:34)
Almost exactly four weeks after I was born, a television show for children debuted, called 'Sesame Street'. Some of you remember 'Sesame Street'. It's still around, of course. Some of you that are older may remember when it was first coming on the air. Now, I don't know how 'Sesame Street' impacted you, but let me tell you what 'Sesame Street' did to me.
It was my first introduction to vampires. I don't know if you remember this guy, but his name was Count von Count, or affectionately known as just 'The Count'. You may remember him. Under the guys of teaching me how to count, 'Sesame Street' introduced me to a vampire. You remember him, right?
My English was not very good as a little kid because I was a little kid and was from Georgia. The combination of those two things made it a little challenging for my English, but I was apparently very good with the Romanian accent because The Count would count, and he would say, "One, two, three." Right? That's how I started learning how to count. Now, side note, if you never knew this and you just want a little fun fact for the next party that you attend, why in the world would they have chosen, like a count, why would they have chosen like this vampire based on the 1931 Bela Lugosi Count Dracula character? Why would they have chosen for this Muppet who's going to teach me how to count, why would they have chosen a vampire?
It's because of the folklore around vampires. See, the folklore was such that one of the ways to ward off a vampire or to get away from a vampire is to take advantage of their arithmomania. Here's what that means. It means that they have an obsession with counting, and this was the folklore around them, so in other words, if you are running away from a vampire, then you were supposed to have like carried salt with you so that you could just start dropping gobs of salt because their arithmomania would have caused them to have to stop and to count every granule of salt so that you could run away from them. Apparently, 'Sesame Street' had done their folklore homework on vampires, and they chose a vampire to teach little kids how to count.
I am convinced that I am scarred to this day as a result of that, and it is the singular reason I hate math. I'm fully blaming that on The Count. Now, as I got older, I learned some different things about vampires. In fact, I learned some more sinister things about vampires, like for instance, they want to suck your blood. That was not introduced to me on 'Sesame Street'.
My man was just a Muppet who was like a vampire who was counting, and that was cool. That was pretty easy, but once I started realizing that they want to suck my blood, I was like, "No, that's not so good." Now side note, for any children that are in here, if you missed out on going to King's World today, and you somehow showed up in here, vampires aren't real. Just wanted to make sure that you know that. No one's going to come around trying to suck your blood as a vampire. Right?
They're not real, but even though vampires aren't real and they're not going to suck your blood, here's what I've known to be true in my life, that there are relational vampires in our lives that want to suck other things out of us. You know some of them. You know some of them by name in fact. Some of you are thinking, "I don't know anybody by a name." You know your own name.
It could be you, but I'm saying, we know who these kinds of relational vampires are, like Doug and Debbie Downer. What they're trying to do every time that they're around, everything is awful, everything is critical, everything is bad, everything is ... Right? You know them. What they're doing is they're trying to suck the joy out of you. Right?
That's what these relational vampires do, or you might know others. You might know Marcus and Maggie Manipulator. Right? You may be have been around them before, and what they're doing is they're sucking the energy out of you, because you always know they're angling for something, and it's something selfish, and blah, blah, blah, and they're trying to suck the energy right out of you. Right?
Some of you know Curtis and Connie Controller. They're literally trying to suck the life out of you because they're trying to control everything about who you are and everything that you do. It's crazy, or you might know Trey and Tania Tempter. They're trying to suck the character out of you. Right?
They just want you to join them in their stuff, and they're all the time kind of bombarding you along these lines, so we all know that there are such things as relational vampires, and some of those are a little less sinister than others. I totally get that, but I learned something else about vampires that made it even worse. You say, "Worse than sucking my blood?" Yes. Worse. Not only do vampires want to suck your blood.
Vampires want to make you like them. Now, I don't know how real vampires ... By the way, vampires aren't real, but I don't know how real vampires actually do that, like they suck your blood, and then they give you some vampire juice, and you turn into a vampire. I have no idea what they do, and if you know, don't tell me because you've just crossed the nerd threshold that nobody really wants to hear about, so, but they try and make you like them. That's what they do, and the truth is, sometimes, relational vampires, they're trying to do the same thing.
Even though they may be trying to suck some stuff out of you, they're actually trying to make you like them. Have you ever hung around negative Nelly long enough where you become negative Nelly or negative Ned, or negative Nick? That would be more appropriate for a buffalo. Right? You've done that.
You've hung around them so long. You've hung around Curtis Controller for so long, and your life has been controlled for so long, that what you've done now is even though your life is feeling like it's controlled, you start controlling other people because now, you've just been in it for so long. It's like the more that you hang around, the more you start becoming like the thing that you don't like it seems like. I can't say that again if I tried. It almost gives life to the old proverbial phrase that Benjamin Franklin way back a couple hundred years ago ended up writing in 'Poor Richard's Almanack' when he put this little proverbial phrase there.
It says this. "He that lies down with dogs will rise up with fleas." That's pretty true, isn't it? In the south, we just say, "If you hang out with dogs, you get fleas", right? That's what we use to say, but that's very true. Now, the sentiment of that is when you're hanging around in the wrong places, if you lie down with dogs, you're destined to get fleas, right? The same thing is true when we're hanging around people that are of those influences, we're destined to start acting and being like them.
Now, that sentiment that Benjamin Franklin had, this little proverbial statement that he had about, "He who lies down with dogs will rise up with fleas", that's not a new sentiment. Right? Even though that's from a couple hundred years ago or whatever, that's not a brand new sentiment. That's been around a long time. In fact, if I could back you up into the time between the testaments, or what we call the 'Intertestimental period', and go all the way back to 300 B.C., you see, the time between the finish of what we call the 'Old Testament' and the beginning of what we call the 'New Testament', there was about a 400-year window there, and there, a lot happened in that timeframe, but around 300 B.C., there was a Greek poet named Menander.
You probably haven't heard of him. That's okay. Not many people have, but he was pretty popular in Athens, Greece. He wrote plays like dramas, comedies, that kind of stuff, and interestingly enough, most of his writing has been lost to antiquity, along with everybody else who wrote in 300 B.C., but there are some fragments still available of some of the things that he wrote. There was this one play that he wrote that was kind of a drama/comedy.
It was called 'Thais'. T-H-A-I-S, and it was about a real woman, a real, historical woman lived in that kind of timeframe who was reported to have been involved maybe a bit with Alexander the Great, who was living during that timeframe, and was also reported to be a bit manipulative, and maybe selfish, and those kinds of things, and so Menander wrote this play about her. One of the fragments that we have from this play, which we don't have the whole thing, so I don't really know the full context of what he's actually trying to say, but you might find something somewhat interesting and somewhat familiar when you read it. Here's what it says. Again, don't ...
I have no idea of the context. Right? I don't know why he's using the term 'Loose-bridled', but nonetheless. "Loose-bridled, pest, methinks", which I love that word by the way, "Though I have suffered this, that none the less, I'd now be glad to have her. Sing to me, goddess, sing of such a one as she, audacious, beautiful, and plausible withal. She does you wrongs, she locks her door, she keeps asking you for gifts, she loveth none, but ever makes pretense."
She didn't sound like a great gal, does she? "Communion with the bad corrupts good character", or company with the bad corrupts good character. This is from Menander in about 300 B.C.. Now, if that last phrase sounds somewhat familiar to you, it's because you have some familiarity with the New Testament. Specifically, you've got familiarity with the apostle Paul when he is writing to the church in Corinth, and when's writing to the church in Corinth, he gets to chapter 15, and in chapter 15, what Paul does, writing to the church in Corinth, that is a Greek-influenced church. is he quotes from a Greek playwright and uses the same phrase from Menander's work 'Thais' to quote to the people of Corinth.
Here's what he says in 1 Corinthians 15:33. "Do not be misled or do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character." Did you see it? "Do not be misled, do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character."
It's interesting, isn't it, that Paul is quoting from one of the writers and playwrights of a time, maybe 300 plus, 350 years prior to his living, and he's quoting him to a church that's Greek-influenced, who may have some affiliation with a writer like Menander, and Paul pulls one statement out of there and sets it right in the middle of a conversation that he's having in 1 Corinthians 15. "Don't be deceived. Don't be misled. Bad company corrupts good character." What's he saying there?
I mean, if we look at that statement, you probably are thinking to yourself, "If I look at that statement, that that seems pretty easy to me." Paul is saying that we shouldn't be corrupted by the influences of the world, and we shouldn't be corrupted by being too closely connected to unbelievers who don't really care anything about God and all that kind of stuff. Even though that's not exactly what Paul is talking about in that context, what we're talking about now is certainly true. There's no question that if we are too influenced by the world that we live in or we're too influenced by people who don't even believe in God, that that can be a corrupting influence on our lives. That's no doubt true.
It's not exactly what Paul is referencing right here, but that's no doubt true. In fact, if you were to fast-forward to his second letter, Paul wrote, this one is his first letter to the church at Corinth, but he wrote a second letter to the church at Corinth, and when he wrote that letter, he actually made that truth very clear about what it means if you get too close to people who aren't believers, who don't think the same way you think, Paul's warning the church about that very idea. Notice what he says in 2 Corinthians 6. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." Pause right there. Just leave that up.
You remember what we're talking about when we talk about the idea of yoking? It's not like a you bust an egg open, and that's Y-O-L-K or whatever, however you spell it. I think that's right. This is about like what they would use for oxen, for animals. Okay?
You would put this wooden kind of yoke over their necks, and you would put them together so that they would plow straight lines, they would work together. If you put an ox and a cat in a yoke, not working. Right? Not going to work. In fact, if you put a cat and a cat in a yoke, it's not working. Right?
Cats have their own mind, their identity. They don't care what you say. They just look at you like, "I'm a cat. You're stupid." That's what they do, right?
What you had to do with oxen is you had to yoke them together so that they would be able to operate together, go in the same direction, they're on the same mission, they're following a same line, so if you unequally yoke something, it's going to make a mess, it's going to be terrible, it's going to not be good, so Paul says, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common, or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? A false god. What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and the idols?" Sometimes it just freezes up on me, and I have to do that. "For we are the temple of the living God, and as God has said, 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their god, and they will be my people.
Therefore, come out from them and be separate', says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you, and I will be a Father to you and you will be my sons and daughters', says the Lord Almighty'. Therefore, since we have these promises, Paul says, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." If we take this phrase, "Bad company corrupts good character", and we say, "Does that mean that if we hang out and we're too closely associated with unbelievers, then it can be a corrupting influence?" Of course that's true.
Paul makes that case in his second letter. He says it very carefully, not to be yoked together with unbelievers. What is he talking about there? He doesn't flush it out for us in 2 Corinthians 6, but in 1 Corinthians, he gives us some ideas of those kinds of things, for instance, about if we're too closely associated in kind of work relationships where you got a believer and an unbeliever in the ownership of the business, that could be a little funky. That could get a little bit wonky, particularly if one says, "You know what? I want to make money so I can invest in the kingdom." The other guy is like, "No, man. I want to invest in my boat, like I'm going to invest in myself", and then that gets a little bit messy.
How about marriage? Paul is super clear about that related to marriage. There was a whole lot of problems in Corinth because what happened was you've got these people who were worshipping pagan gods, and false gods, and then all of a sudden, the gospel comes to Corinth, and then maybe what happens is some of them come to faith in Christ, but maybe the husband came to faith in Christ, but the wife didn't, or maybe the wife came to faith in Christ, and she believer in Jesus, but the husband didn't, and so Paul's having to get them all kinds of instruction about, "Look, stay with him. God knew what was going on when the gospel came here. Stay with him."
"Try and win the Christ, and try and show him the love of Christ", but then, he talks about, "What happens if one of them dies, and then are you free to remarry, and if so, what does that look like?" Listen to what he says. He says, "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she's free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord." In other words, you have your pick, but they better know and love Jesus, so if you're single and you're confused, let me bottom line it. Don't marry an unbeliever.
Marry someone who knows and loves Jesus. This is what God's design is for your life because He wants your marriage to demonstrate the glory of Christ. This is what He's getting at, so that's why Paul tells us, "Don't be yoked together so closely." In other words, if your closest friend group in your entire life, the closest people that you're to, they don't share a belief in Jesus and following after Jesus, you're way too closely yoked at that point, and I don't know that it's going to be a good thing for you. You're saying, "Oh, man, but they're nice."
That's cool. That's better than mean. I'm for nice. In fact, that's how some people try and pick their mates. "You know, he's nice."
Good. I'm glad he's nice as opposed to mean, but at the end of the day, he needs to be saved and know Jesus because ultimately, that's going to set you together with him on the course that God has designed for you. Right? All of that is certainly true, but that's not specifically what Paul is saying in this passage. Now, let me tell you what Paul is not saying.
Paul is not saying when he says, "Don't be deceived. Don't be misled. Bad company corrupts good character." He's not saying, "Don't ever hang out with an unbeliever ever." Paul knows what the commission of the gospel is, right? He knows what Jesus taught.
There's a reason Paul is going to all of these cities, and he is sharing the gospel with these people both Jew and Gentile alike. It's not because he can't be around these people. It's because he wants these people to know Christ, so it's not that. Paul is real familiar with the teaching of Jesus. He's real familiar with Jesus teaching 'The Sermon on the Mount' in Matthew 5 when Jesus says, "You're the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?"
It's no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot. You're the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Paul knew this teaching. He knew that we're going to have to be lights in the world that we live in, that we're cities on a hill, that we're light of the world, that we are salt of the earth, but the question we have to ask ourselves is in those relationships that we have with people who don't know Jesus, we have to ask ourselves the question, "Who's influencing who?" Have you lost your saltiness in that relationship? Has that relationship caused you to compromise your character?"
These are all the kinds of questions you have to ask when you think about bad company corrupting good character when it comes to affiliating and closely aligning with people who don't know Christ and a world who doesn't know Christ. You have to think about those things, but we still need to have relationships, and friendships, and show the love of Christ. Of course, we do all of that. Jesus taught us that, right? Paul is not saying, "You can't like no unbelievers ever in your life."
He's not saying that, right? That's crazy, but what is he saying when he says, "Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character."? Who's he talking to? Listen to this.
He's actually talking to the church. That's what makes this so interesting. He's actually talking to those that are in the church. Let me explain what I mean by that. You see, Paul has set this exact statement right here in the midst of chapter 15.
Chapter 15 is an entire chapter about the resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and subsequently, those who put their faith in Him, at His coming, the resurrection of the righteous. That's what this whole chapter is about, and right in the middle of the chapter, Paul puts a quote in there and says, "Don't be deceived. Don't be misled. Bad company corrupts good character." All right.
He's talking to the church at Corinth, but what's the bad company that he's referencing? Listen carefully. There were those that were in the church of Corinth that said that they knew Jesus, that said that they were Christians, that said that they were a part of the church, but were spreading teaching that said that there was no resurrection. That's what was going on in Corinth. People who were within the church were saying to others in the church that there's no resurrection.
Now, you can see where that becomes an inherent problem because Paul is saying tot he church at Corinth, "Don't be deceived. Don't be misled. Bad company ..." In other words, hanging out with these folks who continue to talk to you about there being no resurrection, it's going to affect your character. It's going to reshape the way you make decisions, and it's not a good outcome.
Are you seeing this? This is a yes. All right. Good. Here's why this is important for us, because what Paul is actually showing to us when he says, "Do not be deceived", he's using a phrase that he uses multiple times in 1 Corinthians.
Many scholars actually argue for the fact that what Paul is doing in chapter 15 when he includes this comment here and says, "Do not be deceived. Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character", that he's actually talking about those people who don't believe in the resurrection are part of the problem in Corinth, and you can see it in the choices that they're making. Because they have a bad understanding and untrue understanding of the resurrection, they actually are making choices that are inconsistent with the nature of who God is. In fact, let me show it to you a couple of different times.
In 1 Corinthians 3, here's the phrase, "Do not deceive yourself." Same phrase that he uses in chapter 15. He says, "If any of you think you're wise by the standards of this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise." Now, he's just not talking in general.
He knows there's a backstory here, right? There's some people that think that they're just so much smarter than everybody else in their life, "You know what? I've thought about this, and there's actually no resurrection. I'm learned, I'm studied, and there's no resurrection, and I just want you guys to know that." Paul is saying, "If you think you're smart by the standards of the world, you better become a fool."
I mean, we're talking about Paul who has seen and talked to the resurrected Jesus, who's saying to these people, "Hey, these folks that think that they're smarter than everybody else, because they don't believe in the resurrection, man, that's not going to take you where you need to go." Then, in 1 Corinthians 5, he says, "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that?" Then, he uses a Jewish proverb, "A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough." That sounds very similar to.
"Bad company corrupts good character", doesn't it? "Bad company corrupts good character" is the Greek version of this Jewish proverb. He says, "I wrote in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people, not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy, and the swindlers, or the idolaters. In that case, you'd have to leave this world." In other words, he's saying, "I'm not talking to you about not being able to connect with unbelievers.
I know that that's like you'd have to be taken out of the world if you were going to not connect with unbelievers." He says, "I'm actually writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or a sister, but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater, or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people." You see, here's what Paul is saying. He's saying that that bad company, the people who claim to know Jesus and looked nothing like Him, because they don't believe in a resurrection, he said, "That bad company, that's who you need to stay away from." I know that you're going to interface with people who are unbelieving in the world.
That's life, right? Only way you could not do that is to be taken out of the world, but I'm talking about people in the church. They say that they know Jesus. They don't look anything like him. They're living like they want to. They're living like this is all there is because they believe maybe this is all there is because they don't believe in a resurrection.
1 Corinthians 6, then goes on to say this, "Do you not know that wrong doers will not inherit the Kingdom of God?" Then, he says this, "Do not be deceived." Same phrase. "Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God", and that is what some of you were. What a great testimony that is, but are a washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
In other words, here's what I'm trying to help you understand. It's really serious that there are people in the church, in Corinth who don't believe in the resurrection because it's resulting in all kinds of behavior inconsistent with the nature of God, and so, Paul is saying, "Don't be deceived, church at Corinth. Bad company like that corrupts good character." You see, this is really instructive for us, and I don't want you to miss this. This principle is really instructive because we see it all throughout the New Testament.
We just don't know we see it, and here's the principle. I'm just going to say it in my own terms. Our character is tied to the vision of our future in Christ. Our character is tied to the vision of our future in Christ. In other words, listen to this.
People who don't believe in the resurrection in Corinth live like they don't believe in the resurrection, but people who know that they are resurrected people, who have been lifted out of the mud, and mire, and put their feet upon a rock, who've been rescued from the dominion of darkness, and placed into the kingdom of life, people who know that they have a future, that because Jesus has risen, they too will be risen, and they will be immortal now along with Jesus made like Him, to rule and reign alongside of Him in the future kingdom that is to come, living as kingdom citizens in this world, that kind of person, they live a different kind of way. Somebody who doesn't believe in that, they live differently than somebody who does. You see, our character is actually tied to our vision of the future in Christ. If somebody doesn't ... Listen to this.
Somebody who in the church doesn't believe in the judgment of God, they're going to live like they don't. Somebody who doesn't believe in new creation are going to live like they don't. Somebody who doesn't believe in the resurrection are going to live like they don't, but those who really believe it, they live differently as a result of it. It's similar to when Paul said, "Set your mind on things above." We talked about that last week, right?
"Set your mind on things above." Why? Because ... Listen to this. When you think eternally, you make different decisions than when you think temporally.
They have different decisions. In fact, Paul's not the only one to show us this principle. Peter says, "The way you think about how everything's going to go, ought to affect the way that you live as well." Listen to what Peter says, 2 Peter 3, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare."
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God, and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat, but in keeping with his promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." Do you see it there in Pete as well, that the way that we view our future in Christ affects the nature of our choices, our character, our decisions, our actions right now?
You see, this principle is obvious in the New Testament, but sometimes, we just can't discover it, but when we do discover it, it will help us because what it also gives us an opportunity to do is it helps us understand how we deal with the relational vampires in our lives. It starts to help frame how are we supposed to deal with the relational vampires. Now, I'm not just talking about the manipulators and the controllers. I'm not talking about that. What I'm talking about is those people who are within the church who have now eroded an idea that the Word of God talks about, about our future in Christ, whether that in Paul's case, was the resurrection, or whether that's the judgment of God, or whatever that might be, the new creation, all of those things, right?
Somebody who's eroding that in our lives. What they're trying to do ... Listen, what they're trying to do is not just such the character out of us, they're trying to make us like them, and when you get to that spot, they're going to make certain decisions based on their lack of belief, and I'm telling you, they exist, so how do you deal with those kind of relational vampires like Paul was teaching Corinth to deal with? Thankfully, after verse 33 comes verse 34, and we can learn some stuff out of it, because when he says, "Do not be misled. DO not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character", he didn't just stop there.
He gives us some tools to how to handle relational vampires. Here's the first tool. We've got to come to our senses. You say, "Jerry, what exactly are you talking about?" I'm talking about what Paul talked about, because I want you to see what Paul said in verse 34. Here's what he said.
Right after he said, "Bad company corrupts good character", he said, "Come back to your senses as you ought." Now, here's what that phrase means, "Come back to your senses." It means to sober up. To be sober. Stop thinking like a drunk.
In other words, you need to be crystal clear about what that kind of thinking. In this case, he's talking about those who don't believe in the resurrection. You better be crystal clear as to where that kind of thinking is going to take you. You need to sober up, you need to smell the coffee, and you need to think about exactly where thinking like that is going to take you in your life. You see, when we really start thinking about it, here's what we know. Paul shows us in 1 Corinthians 15, a whole chapter that's about resurrection, he actually shows us what sober thinking looks like in that chapter, so when he says, "Come to your senses", he's basically helping them unpack.
"You better think about this, and by the way, I've already helped you think about it." In fact, look at the verse just prior to verse 33. Verse 32, he says, "If the dead are not raised ..." In other words, "If they're right, but there's no resurrection, let us eat and drink for tomorrow, we die." In other words, he said, "If there's no resurrection, man, it's Katy, bar the door", right? Throw all.
Throw all of the shackles off, man, and do whatever you want to do." Right? "If you want to indulge in whatever it is, you want to indulge in strong drink, you want to indulge sexually, knock yourself out, man because this is it. There's no resurrection. This is it. Do your thing, but you better think about it before you start down that path."
In fact, listen to how Paul unpacked that argument. He said, "If it's preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there's no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He has raised Christ from the dead, but he did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised, for if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not be raised either, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is feudal, and you are still in your sins. Then, those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."
You see, you know what he's doing? He's thinking soberly. He's saying, "Church, you need to come to your senses. There are people telling you that there's no resurrection." Of course, Paul tells you at the very beginning of chapter 15 a lot of people have seen Jesus rose from the dead, including me. That's why I'm testifying to you about this, and you got people telling you there's no resurrection for the dead, so play that out for a second.
Just play that out. Sober up. Think. Come to your senses. Here's what that means. Have at it.
Knock yourself out. Go crazy. Indulge. Do whatever you do. Just eat and drink, because tomorrow, you die, and this is it, but just remember that while you're doing that, if there is no resurrection, here's what that means.
It means that Jesus has not been resurrected either, and that's been the foundation for which we have been preaching everything we've been preaching to you. The entirety of what we're saying hinges on the fact that Jesus has gotten up from the dead, because had He not gotten up from the dead, here's your problem. Your faith is a waste. My preaching, it is useless, and you are still stuck in your sins, and by the way, all your friends and family who put their faith in Jesus and they died, they're lost, because Jesus never got up from the dead. He never sufficiently paid for and dealt with the sins of humankind, so you better sober up. You better come to your senses because when you unwind that, you're unwinding everything, so just know that.
You see, the first thing that He says to the church, when you get face-to-face with these relational vampires that are trying to cut away our future in Christ, the destiny that God has for us, when you start cutting all of that away, here's what He says. "You better come to your senses or you better think soberly, because there are implications for what you're talking about." The second thing that he says is this. "Create some boundaries." With these relational vampires, you're going to have to create some boundaries.
Let me explain what I mean. Again, look at verse number 34. Paul says, "Come back to your senses as you ought and stop sinning." I love how subtle Paul is. "Stop sinning."
What's he talking about? Here's the sin that the church had coined to as embracing. They were embracing hanging out and letting affect otherwise believing people because there were people who didn't believe in the resurrection that were now infecting them, and they were going along with them, and you know what was happening to them? They laid down with dogs, and now all of a sudden, they've got fleas. They're starting to live the same kind of lifestyle.
They're starting to do some of the same things because it's natural for them to do. If there is no resurrection, then why wouldn't we be involved in all of these kinds of practices? Paul says, "If you want to come out of this, you better come to your senses and you better set some boundaries because the only way out of this sin is to be able to distance yourself from this kind of thinking." That's the only way it's going to happen for you, and these were people even within the context of the church. Now, the thing is is that different relational vampires at different times require different boundaries.
If you've got a relational vampire who is literally trying to undercut the resurrection, the judgment of God, the idea of new creation, all of that, so they're trying to undercut that, the best I can do ... They're in the church, man. These people are in the church, and it happens. Here's what I would recommend you do as a boundary. Build a wall.
Build a wall, because at the end of the day, you just got to keep those people out. That's such a corrupting influence and will have such a bad outcome. You got to keep them out, but there's others who aren't as corrupting, but they're kind of ... This is what their life looks like. It's always this.
It's like, "I don't really know about the resurrection", and then the next week, it's like, "Okay. Yeah. I think so", and it's like, "I don't really know", so it's this all the time. With them, build a fence. Not a wall.
You don't keep them out. A fence. You can still talk to them as neighbors. Right? Remember that?
"Hey, what's going on? What's happening?" "Hey, it's good to see you, Wilson", right? Some of you remember 'Home Improvement'. You got an opportunity, man to still be engaged in their life, but on some terms that aren't like ...
You can't just let them in the yard and run around. Right? You got to set some boundaries. Then, there's others who they mean well. They're generally speaking in the right world. Generally speaking, but they're obtrusive.
They don't know, and it's always about them. Like everything's on their time table of when they want to bring up all of this stuff, and you want to be a friend to them, but sometimes, you just are like, "Dude, I need to ... I got to be ready for you. I got to take two baby aspirin, do a couple of push-ups before I can have this conversation", right? For them, you don't need a wall. You don't need a fence, but you do need a door because they at least owe you the respect and the boundary of having to knock.
In other words, they just can't walk in your house and start eating out of your refrigerator. They've got to be able to at least knock so that you can look to the peep hole and go, "Yeah. No. I'm not home", or you look to the peep hole and go, "Okay. Open the door. We'll have this conversation, right?"
All I'm saying is this, is that you have to make choices when you've got relational vampires. You have to make choices, and some of those are you have to say, "No, I'm not doing this anymore because I know where this is going to lead me." Others are like, "Okay, but there has to be some distance here. We have to have a fence in place. We can still talk and that kind of thing, but it can't be like this."
"That's not where we're going, because your life is too inconsistent, and it's not about I'm perfect and it's not about you're imperfect. It's not about that, but it's about the things that you're believing are causing the actions that you're taking, and as a result, they're harmful to the testimony of Jesus, and I don't want my testimony kind of bundled up in that. I love you, but you claim to know Christ, and we got to have a fence relationship", or maybe it's somebody that you know and that you love, and you're trying to help them out, but they just don't have any sense of boundaries at all, you just got to put a door there to say, "Hey, look. I need you to at least give me the respect of ... I want to have these conversations with you and questions are okay, and sometimes, doubts occur.
We get it. This is ... We get it. Everybody has that, but we need to do that in a time when I'm ready for that, I've got the energy for that because it's always, always, always you trying to bring this into every conversation. I just need a door, so just ring the doorbell", because this is what's going to keep us from falling down that path, so you've got to come to your senses, you got to create some boundaries.
Let me give you the last thing. You got to walk with the godly. You got to talk with the godly. This ought to be the practice of our lives. Look at what Paul says in verse 34. "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning for there are some who are ignorant of God, and I say this to your shame."
In other words, here's what Paul is saying. There are some that are in the church that are calling themselves, 'Brothers' and 'Sisters'. They're ignorant of God. To say that there's no resurrection is an ignorance of God. They're not thinking straight.
What he's saying is this, is that instead of locking yourself into hanging out with that all of the time, what you need to do is you need to learn how to walk with the godly, and in fact, there's another ... Even though this is kind of a proverbial statement, there's another proverb in the Book of Proverbs that actually tells us this exact same thing. Listen to what it says in Proverbs 13. "Walk with the wise, and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." Listen to this.
While at the same time, it's exactly true that bad company corrupts good character, the inverse of that is also true, that good, godly company enhances godly character. You see, there's the negative side, "Bad company corrupts good character", and the flip side is just as true. Wise, godly company promotes wise, godly character. That's why we walk with the wise, that we don't hang out in the counsel of the wicked like Psalm 1 says, but we hang out in the counsel of the godly, that the closest people in your life ought to be people who know and love Jesus Christ. You've got lots of relationships, and that's perfectly acceptable, but the people who are most influencing you ought to be believers in Jesus.
Here's why. Because only iron sharpens iron. That's why, because you need that sharpening to happen in your life where you are mutually holding one another up, mutually helping one another live for the glory of God. You see, here's what wise people do. Wise people have an understanding of their future in Christ. They know that they are a resurrected people, and as a result, they live like a resurrected people, who are being shaped more into the image of Jesus, because they are preparing for a kingdom citizenship in the now, and a kingdom citizenship that is forever, where we will live, and think, and act, and walk like Jesus did.
That's what we're preparing for, and we make choices in the now that are consistent with that. That's what wise people do. You walk with the wise, you will grow wise. I heard one guy say, "You hang with dogs, you get fleas. You hang with eagles, and you learn to fly."
It's the same kind of idea, that this is where we have to buttress ourself against these kind of relational vampires, so what am I saying to you? I'm saying to you don't let these vampires suck anything out of you. Jesus is true. God is true. Let every man be a liar.
That's what the Word of God teaches us. Let God be true, and every man be a liar. God knows what He's saying and how He has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, who has risen from the dead, who has promised us an inheritance, who has promised us our own resurrection because He has resurrected. There is more than just this life, and people need to hear the truth of the gospel, so don't let anybody steal from you the idea and the reality of the truth of our future in Christ because it is a corrupting influence, and it will lead to decisions, and behaviors, and bad character, just like it did in Corinth, because your character is tied to the vision of your future in Christ. Don't let a vampire suck that out of you.
Let's bow our heads together. Before we leave, if you're here, and you've never before come into relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, I hope that you'll let one of our pastors, one of our prayer partners talk to you about what that means. Life in Christ is not just some morality, self-improvement course. That's not what this is. This isn't about just making bad people good.
This is about making dead people come to life. That's the heartbeat of Christianity. That is the heartbeat of the message of the resurrection of Jesus, that we are dead in our sins, and we can only be brought to life because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, through His death on a cross, through His resurrection from the dead, and so if you've never come to that place, I hope that when we dismiss in just a moment, you'll come by the far side [room 00:47:12], and we'd love to talk to you at that place. Father, You've said much to us today in your word, even from this very short, little proverbial statement that Paul tucks away right in the middle of this massive chapter on resurrection, but boy, does it speak to us so clearly, that our character is tied to our vision of our future in Christ, and that when we surround ourselves with bad company that don't embrace that kind of thinking as you've revealed it in your word, and they don't embrace that kind of belief, even if they're in the church, we know that that leads to a corruption of character. Father, I pray You'd help give us wisdom, that we might know what it means to walk with the godly, walk with the wise, that we might become wise, because the world needs to see not the corrupting influence of the world and unbelief in our hearts, but they need to see people who genuinely believe God and take Him at His word, and see the life of Christ lived out for a world that needs to know Jesus.
We pray You'd give us wisdom to do that in Jesus' name. Amen.