Who do you name as your closest friends? Believe it or not, this question is a matter of great concern to the Lord. And thats because your friendships speak loudly both to God and to the world about the condition of your heart.
Have you ever thought to pray, Lord, what do you think of my friendships? Are they pleasing to you or do they displease you? The fact is, a righteous friend can provide a link to the blessing and favor of God, because he encourages you toward a godly lifestyle. On the other hand, an unrighteous friend can be a binding chain to every kind of evil, leading you into terrible bondages.
As I use the word friend throughout this message, Im not referring to immediate family members, such as a spouse, parent or child. My definition of a friend here is someone with whom you are closely associated one in whom you naturally confide. In short, a friend is someone with whom you walk, talk and bare your soul.
Of course, you probably have various circles of friends. You have a business circle, which includes your coworkers, partners or clients. And you have a social circle, including those people you associate with on a surface level. You may also have contact with ungodly acquaintances. The apostle Paul says its impossible for us to avoid these kinds of contacts otherwise, wed have to leave the world altogether!
Yet the circle of friends God cares about most is your intimate circle your bosom pals. These are the people you love most, and who have an influence in your life. Youre naturally attracted to one another, and you agree on most things so you feel safe opening your heart to each other. In short, you have an affinity with one another.
Our hearts are constantly sending out signals messages that attract in others what is deepest in us. Ive seen this truth powerfully illustrated in our congregation at Times Square Church. For instance a lustful, sensual woman may walk into a service for the first time and look around the sanctuary. Within minutes, shell make a connection with every man in the congregation who has a roving eye. Her very character sends out signals that attract like hearts.
During one service, I watched in amazement as a connection was made between two young drug addicts. One of them had dropped out of our rehab program, never having let go of his cocaine habit. As he sat in our congregation, he studied every face and soon he made a connection with another struggling addict. After the service, I saw the two young men walking down the street together, talking secretively. There had been an unholy attraction and their spirits connected!
On the other hand, I once observed with interest a godly seminary student who was attending our services. I wondered whom this young man might find as a friend. Then one night after a service, I saw him talking with two other very devoted believers. Something about this young man had attracted those godly people and the signal was caught!
Now, the Bible tells us we are not to be ignorant concerning Satans seductions. And one of the devils most common attacks against us is to bring into our inner circle of friends someone whos under deception an agent of hell whos on a mission to destroy us. Satan uses this ploy especially with lonely or compassionate Christians. He tries to turn an undiscerning persons kindness into an affinity with an evil spirit!
I once had a minister friend whod been delivered from a drinking problem years earlier. Somehow he developed a close friendship with a pastor who lived hundreds of miles away a man who had never been delivered from his own alcoholism. The two began conducting revival meetings together and sharing each others burdens. And soon this other preacher convinced my friend there was no evil in drinking moderately. He seduced my friend back to drinking and within a short while, both men became alcoholics, lost their churches and ended up on the streets of New Orleans.
I believe the devil sent this drinking man into my friends life. Satan knew he couldnt get to him any other way so he brought into his life a supposed friend, to destroy him!
Let Me Show You From the
Scriptures What Happens When a Godly Person
Joins an Affinity With an Unrighteous Friend!
King Jehoshaphat was a righteous man who ruled over Judah when the kingdom of Israel was divided. This mans heart was fully set on God, and he was blessed and honored above all others in his generation: And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David... (2 Chronicles 17:3).
Yet, scripture says, Jehoshaphat joined an affinity with evil King Ahab, who ruled the northern kingdom of Israel: Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab (18:1). The Bible says of Ahab, ...(he) did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him (1 Kings 16:33).
You may wonder how could a righteous king like Jehoshaphat end up joined in affinity with such an ungodly man? I believe there is only one reason for this unholy alliance: It was part of a satanic plot to destroy the righteous Jehoshaphat!
You see, Jehoshaphat had purged the land, driving out all the idols of Baal and slaying the idolatrous prophets. Yet Ahabs wicked wife, Jezebel, worshiped Baal and she knew what Jehoshaphat had done to her idols. So she set her sights to bring down this godly man!
Jezebel devised a plot with her wicked daughter, Athaliah, to infiltrate Jehoshaphats godly c/urt. Soon young Athaliah met Jehoshaphats son, Jehoram and she used all her feminine charms to win his heart. The plan worked: Jehoram decided to marry Athaliah and he went to his father to ask for his blessing. Foolishly, Jehoshaphat granted it.
When scripture says Jehoshaphat joined an affinity with Ahab, it means they were joined by marriage. The devil must have danced with glee at this union! Now Jehoshaphat would have constant contact with the wicked Ahab and be subjected to the charms of his wicked daughter. Simply put, evil had entered Jehoshaphats inner circle!
Eventually, when Jehoshaphat died, Jehoram took the throne and Jezebel began calling the shots. The nation quickly returned to idolatry. And Jehoram even ended up killing his six brothers. Yet, this was only the beginning of the bloodshed spilled throughout Judah.
And it all happened because Jehoshaphat allowed himself to join an affinity with an ungodly man. The tragedy is, he didnt have to. You see, it would have been impossible for Jehoram to marry Athaliah without his approval. Why didnt Jehoshaphat tell his son, This woman you love is full of idolatry shes in rebellion against the Lord! Shell only give you evil counsel and turn you away from God. Im telling you, Jehoram drop this relationship right now, before it destroys you! Instead, Jehoshaphat never said anything.
In addition, Jehoshaphat had the scriptures available to him, in which David stated very clearly: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1). I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts (119:63). Jehoshaphat knew all this yet still he wouldnt take a stand!
Jehoram and Athaliahs marriage produced a son named Ahaziah, who took the throne at age forty-two. The Bible says of this man, He also walked in the ways of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly (2 Chronicles 22:2-3). Suddenly, Athaliah was the court counselor in Judah. And scripture says this evil woman ...destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah (verse 10).
Im convinced this had been Satans plan all along to destroy the godly seed of Judah! You see, this was the lineage of David and the scriptures prophesied that from this lineage the messiah would come.
Beloved, you can be sure the devil would try everything he could to cut off the seed of Christ. Likewise, if youre a follower of Jesus if youre now in the blood lineage of Christ Satan will try to bring into your life someone to destroy everything godly in you!
Let Me Tell You How You
Can Know Whether Satan
Has Planted One of His
Agents as a Friend to You!
Right now, you may be thinking, Wait a minute I dont want to start doubting my friends. I dont want to suddenly become suspicious of them. My answer to you is, if theyre true friends if theyre knit to your heart in the Spirit of Christ you have nothing to fear in examining your relationships with them. And youd better look at all your friendships in the light of scripture or you could lose your very soul!
Its easy to determine whether your close friendships are of God, or if theyve been planted by the enemy to destroy you. Simply think of your best friend, and then answer these questions:
- Does your friend gossip, backbite or speak evil of others?
- Is he argumentative about scripture, a continual debater, never coming to truth?
- Does he call godly people pharisees?
- Do you detect in his words a spirit of disobedience, envy or suspicion?
- Does he spew out poisonous words against his (or her) spouse?
- Has he succeeded in planting unkind thoughts in your mind about others?
- Have you begun to join him in spewing out bitterness?
If your friend fits this description and youre being drawn farther away from Jesus because of this friendship you can know the devil has planted that person in your life. He has the spirit of Ahab and hes been sent to destroy the work of Christ in you!
On the other hand, a true, godly friend will always take the side of Gods word in any matter, and not just your side because youre friends. Such a friend wont counsel you in the bitterness of sin. Instead, hell love you enough to tell you the truth.
Let me show you what happens to every child of God who joins an affinity with a bitter, unrighteous person. There are three awful consequences:
1. Youll Be Drawn Into
Somebody Elses War or
Problems to Your
The Bible tells us Jehoshaphats kingdom had been peaceful up to this point: The fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:10). Judah was blessed and prospered abundantly, and nobody dared come against them.
But after Jehoshaphat joined an affinity with Ahab, scripture says, ...Ahab... persuaded (Jehoshaphat) to go up with him to Ramoth-gilead...and he answered him, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people; and we will be with thee in the war (18:2-3). Jehoshaphat willingly got sucked into a hopeless war one that God had no part in!
The Hebrew word for persuaded in this passage means a soothing seduction. Jehoshaphat allowed himself to be seduced into war by Ahab, answering, I am as you are. In other words: Im your friend, so Im with you all the way. I wont let you down. You can count on me!
Is your close friend full of bitterness, hatred, anger and pursuing a war of some kind? Is he involved in a marriage war, a family war, a personal war? And are you like a Jehoshaphat to him, offering help and encouragement? If so, look out youre about to be seduced into it all!
Thats right very soon youll find yourself smack in the middle of your friends mess and youll be asked to take a stand. If your friend is in a troubled marriage, for example, youre going to be forced to take a side. And youll end up sympathizing with him all the way through his divorce!
Beware, Christian whenever you extend comfort or encouragement to someone whos in rebellion, you take sides against the Holy Ghost. And that makes you a partaker in that persons sin. Tragically, when Jehoshaphat joined Ahabs war, he only hastened his friend along the path of destruction!
2. Youll End Up Ignoring
All Prophetic Warnings and
Recently, a woman came to me after leaving her husband. She looked me straight in the eye and said, God spoke clearly to me. He told me I had to leave my husband, because he had something better for me than this marriage. Tragically, this womans best friend received the same word from the Lord and encouraged her to divorce!
If you have an ungodly friend in your inner circle, hell give you all the reassurances you want, even if youre in error. In fact, Satan will fill your head with the voices of false prophets, all claiming to speak truth. Theyll say, Go ahead everythings all right. God is behind you. But theyll lead you to very the brink of destruction!
Im sure Jehoshaphat was convinced he was acting righteously when he pledged to join Ahab in war. In fact, scripture says, Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the Lord today (2 Chronicles 18:4). He said, Lets ask the Lord for his word on the matter. We wont act until we hear from him!
So Ahab called on his four hundred false prophets: ...And they said, Go up; for God will deliver it into the kings hand (verse 5). All four hundred voices agreed: Its okay to go to war. God is with you!
But Jehoshaphat wasnt convinced. He asked Ahab, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might enquire of him? (verse 6). Jehoshaphat wanted a man he knew was holy. So Ahab sent for the prophet Micaiah, who had been jailed for speaking truth.
When Micaiah showed up on the scene, this fearless man mocked everything that had taken place. He even prophesied Ahabs death, saying, ...I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd... (verse 16). He was saying, Youre going to die in battle, Ahab. And Gods people will be scattered over the hills!
God made his word to Jehoshaphat and Ahab clear, leaving no doubt as to what he thought about the whole affair: Its doomed! Go at your own risk. Nothing but death and defeat await you on the battlefield!
At this point, Jehoshaphat seemed willing to obey a true prophetic word. He appeared to want to do everything God told him. Yet, for centuries, theologians have marveled at what happened next: When the clear word came, Jehoshaphat ignored it!
Micaiah seemed to sense Jehoshaphats reluctance to obey. And he ended his warning with these words: ...Hearken, all ye people (verse 27). I believe Micaiah was looking directly at King Jehoshaphat and saying, You, sir heed my word! This is all a demonic deception. It can only end in destruction! Cant you see your friendship with Ahab is all wrong? Hes an idolater! Please, dont listen to all these lying voices.
Yet, incredibly, the very next verse reads: So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead (verse 28). Jehoshaphat marched off to war with Ahab totally ignoring Gods warning!
Beloved, you can boast all you want about loving Gods word and wanting to obey it. But if you dont break away from the deception of ungodly friends and seek Holy Ghost discernment, youll end up ignoring Gods word!
You may accompany your friend in his war but when the chips are down, hell hand you over to the enemy. Thats just what happened to Jehoshaphat, when he went to war with Ahab. The evil king set up Jehoshaphat to be killed: He told him to dress in his kingly robes, while Ahab himself dressed as a soldier. That way, Ahab reasoned, the Assyrians would go after Jehoshaphat instead of himself.
Ironically, Ahab was killed by an arrow that pierced him through a tiny slot in his armor. And suddenly, Jehoshaphat was surrounded by enemy soldiers, who were ready to cut him to pieces. The king knew he was facing death and he cried out to God for help. Scripture tells us, ...and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him (verse 31).
The war was a disaster, just as Micaiah had prophesied. Israels army fled in disarray, like sheep without a shepherd. And Jehoshaphat retreated to Jerusalem, his friend Ahab dead and his armies defeated. It was only by Gods grace he escaped death!
I can imagine the thoughts that must have raced through Jehoshaphats mind as he hurried back to Jerusalem: Oh, God thank you for delivering me! Now I see the danger of walking with an ungodly companion. Never again, Lord! I wont be a part of that worldly system anymore. Its all over now!
But it wasnt all over. God still had a controversy with this man!
3. The Last and Most Tragic
Consequence of Affinity With
An Evil Friend Is Gods
Wrath Upon You!
As Jehoshaphat was on his way home, the Lord sent a prophet out to meet him, with these strong words: Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord (2 Chronicles 19:2).
God was saying to Jehoshaphat, You dont know the danger and consequences of what youve done. You may think its a light thing to join an affinity with someone whos against me. Ahab was my enemy an idolater and you made friends with him. You listened to his wicked talk and indulged his filth. Yet you didnt take a stand against any of it, Jehoshaphat. I have a controversy with you about this!
At this point, you may be thinking. I understand that Ahab was evil. But as I consider my own friends, theres no way I can think of them as Gods enemies. Yet, consider these passages from scripture:
- He that is not with me is against me... (Luke 11:23). Does your friend take the Lords side in all things?
- "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft... (1 Samuel 15:23). Is your friends counsel full of rebellion?
- ...he that condemneth the just...(is an) abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 17:15). Does your friend speak evil of godly people?
This is not a game! Your friends are a serious matter to God because their actions have serious consequences: Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest... Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces... (Psalm 50:19-22).
Listen to the prophet Isaiah: For he said, Surely they are my people...in his love and in his pity he redeemed them... But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them (Isaiah 63:8-10). God actually turns against those who ignore his word!
In Jehoshaphats case, God brought war and trouble to Judah: It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle (2 Chronicles 20:1). Up to this time, Judah had enjoyed great peace. But now Jehoshaphat saw enemies coming at him from every side, threatening to destroy his kingdom!
Paul writes, The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). The apostle is speaking here of people who know the truth yet ignore it, pretending it doesnt exist. Simply put, Gods wrath is upon all who suppress the truth, doing nothing about it like King Jehoshaphat!
Thank God, scripture says, Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah (2 Chronicles 20:3). The king humbled himself and repented: Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord (verse 18).
God responded to Jehoshaphats brokenness by giving Judah total victory against the Moabites. Finally, the Bible says, ...the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about (verse 30).
Let Me Close With This
This matter of choosing friends wisely and cautiously is a lifelong concern. The fact is, you may escape from one unwise relationship but you can jump right into another!
Scripture tells us Jehoshaphats story ended tragically: After this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly (verse 35). Jehoshaphat did the same thing again! He joined an affinity with evil Ahaziah, just as hed done with Ahab.
This time God sent a prophet to Jehoshaphat saying, ...Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the Lord hath broken thy works... (verse 37). Gods Spirit left this once-righteous man because he wouldnt obey!
Beloved, the Bible is very clear on this matter of friendships: Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul (Proverbs 22:24-25). As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity... (Psalm 125:5).
Take a stand today. If you have ungodly friends in your inner circle, break them off! God in his mercy will deliver you from the bonds of the enemy, as he did Jehoshaphat. But the fact is, you can never stop being alert to Satans attempts to put someone in your life to destroy Christs work in you.
Pray, Lord, open my eyes to all my friendships! Help me to see them clearly, whether good or bad, pleasing or not pleasing to you. May all my friendships bring glory to you!
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This data file is the sole property of World Challenge. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice [i.e., "Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge"]. This data file may not be used without the permission World Challenge for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge, Lindale, Texas, USA.
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