The books of Joshua and Judges record a number of incidences where God commanded Israel to kill the people of Canaan. Cynics have pointed to this as evidence that the God of the Christian faith is either mean and vindictive or does not actually exist. In reality, these people were godless and would have a detrimental influence on God’s people if allowed to remain in the land. (Ex. 23:31-33; Num. 33:50-56; Deut. 7; Judges 2:11-15) They had every opportunity to know God and seek Him out, but chose to follow their own desires. (Rom. 1:18-25; Acts 17:26-28) As it turned out, Israel did not drive out the people of the land and eventually adopted their idolatrous ways.

We live in a world that is steeped in sin. We can scarcely go through the day without some influence being exerted upon us from advertisers, the field of entertainment, print media, etc. We cannot avoid all contact with sin, but it is important for us to reduce the sinful influences we face. Under the new covenant, killing and/or destroying these influences is not an option. That is

not the way of Jesus.

     Instead, we are to turn away from these things. One area in which we should exercise caution involves our associations. We cannot avoid sinful people altogether. As Paul said, then we would have to go out of the world. (1 Cor. 5:9,10) How would we bring anyone to Jesus? How could we let our light shine? What would be the net effect of distancing ourselves so far from the world?

     Paul wrote, “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor. 15:33, ESV) It is good to note that Paul is not urging us to avoid others around us, but to be careful in our associations with those that might otherwise influence us to sin. A constant exposure to sinful practices may eventually lead us to soften our attitude toward sin and accept it as a feature of daily life. It goes without saying that it is easier to fall prey to the ways of the world than it is to bring the world to Jesus. Israel had the blessings of God, His di- vine protection, His word, and great spiritual leaders. But, they still gave in to idolatry and fornication. (Ex. 32; Num. 25)

     Hopefully, we are more enlightened than they were and less likely to give in to such temptations. But, in the presence of some friends and under the  right circumstances, we may do things we would not have considered, previously. Is it not better for us to be the better influence and lead others to Christ instead of letting them lead us away from him?


            Gary Knuckles preaches for the Briensburg Church of Christ in Benton, KY