We are taking the first part of this year and looking at answers to questions that were asked during 1999, except for Question #6. It was asked in January of this year. We've covered the first two questions. If you missed those lessons, they are on our Web site, or the lessons that aren't there now, will be there in a week or two.

There is no detailed teaching concerning friendship in the Bible. However, there is a great deal of information about the subject. Most of that information is in relationship to some other major teaching. Therefore, we must be very careful that conclusions which we draw from this information needs to be in harmony with its context and all of Scripture.

Too many people take a small portion of Scripture out of its context, and build a doctrine on that portion. The subject of friendship is no different. To the mind that is not comparing all Scripture with all Scripture, that false doctrine might look very logical, especially if it goes along with their current thinking. Therefore, they may very well buy into it, lock stock and barrel. The use of the word friend in the Bible and its Greek and Hebrew definitions are very close to our English definitions given in the Webster dictionary.

friend (Webster)
  • One that seeks the society or welfare of another whom he holds in affection, respect or esteem or whose companionship and personality are pleasurable;
  • One who is not hostile or not an enemy;
  • One that is of the same nation, party or other group and whose friendly feelings are assumed or from whom sympathy or cooperation is expected.

Primarily, we are concentrating on the first aspect of those definitions, and its Biblical parallel. Preachers and teachers, in an effort to make friendship understandable, have given names to different degrees or stages of friendships, such as:

  • acquaintance
  • casual
  • good friends
  • serious friendship
  • comradeship
  • soul mates
  • etc.

These are manmade terms, and there are many others. Each author uses some unique term to describe the different degrees of friendship. These terms are in no way Biblical terms. Therefore, we must know what the author's or speaker's definition of these terms are before the terms can be of any value, and then that definition must be carefully compared with Scripture, before we accept it as Biblical truth.

There are different degrees of friendship. You may identify them anyway you like. You can call them friendship #1, friendship #2, and friendship #3, etc. The tags make no difference, as long as you know that all friendships are not alike.

However, you must avoid the trap of thinking that to have or be a friend, you must be in one or another stage of friendship, as described by some authors. There are books describing certain features, qualities, and actions that must be adhered to, if you are to be a Christian friend, according to the authors.

There are no such standards, actions or requirements set forth in the Bible. However, there are many guidelines and principles set forth in the Word of God. As a matter of fact, many of the actions and attitudes declared as Biblical, by some of these authors, are down right dangerous. Many do not lead to Biblical friendship, but to the domination by one party in the friendship over the other.

This is not a study of the dangers of these intense friendships, suggested by some authors. I simply want to warn you, that any action or attitude that is not consistent with the total teaching of the Word of God, as to our general behavior as a Believer, should not be a part of any friendship.

For the rest of this lesson, and most of this series we will be talking about friendships and friends that are more than just casually friendly. If you don't keep that fact in mind, you will confuse these facts, with the general run-of-the-mill friendships.


We have seen two major factors that attract people into friendships. They are sin and problems of like nature in each of the parties of that relationship. The major reason for engaging in friendships based on those negative motivations, is that each one in the friendship is hoping that the other will provide relief from the intense pressure caused by their own sin and/or problems.

The only real relief for social problems is the resolution of the problems, or the acceptance of the problems. The only relief for sin problems is accepting God's forgiveness and using His strength and grace to live above the sins. Anything less leaves the problems intact, increases frustration and usually multiplies the problems even more.

Friendships developed on expectations have a built in factor that is sure to increase the frustrations of the original sin and/or social problems, etc. If you are expecting something from someone, and you don't receive your expectation, you are disappointed!

Now, who do you blame for not receiving what you expected? You will blame the other person in the relationship from whom you were expecting some relief. When you blame someone, especially when the other person is not at fault, you develop guilt.


Guilt to the soul is somewhat like pain to the body. When pain is inflicted on your body, you try to protect yourself and divert that pain. In the soul when guilt appears, you try to divert that, also. That diversion is called bitterness.

Bitterness is seldom seen as bitterness. Instead, bitterness is a root that's continually growing under the soil of the life, and springs up or sends up shoots from the soil of life in many different forms of evil actions and attitudes. The point is that whatever form that underground bitterness takes when it springs up, it always causes trouble, according to Hebrews 12:14-16. We can't take any more time on this subject. We spent a little time on bitterness a lesson or so ago. Plus, it has been taught in detail, in the past.

Improper Friendships

For most of our lesson today, I want to look at some areas of friendship in quick little snapshots, without properly tying them together. This will allow us to see a very broad scope of Biblical friendship in a short time. Today, we'll see mostly the negative side of improper friendships. Then we will make applications from that information as we study. To do this little exercise, we will look at a number of Scriptures, and only pick out some of the key factors concerning friendship.

I've been told by some, on several occasions, that some people do not appreciate a whole bunch of Scriptures in a teaching session. I'm sorry about that, but the only thing we have that is able to make us wise in spiritual matters, is the Word of God. What I have to say or think, or what you say or think is of little significance when it comes to spiritual matters. Therefore, if you are going to hang around here, you will see a lot of Scripture.

Choosing Friends

Proverbs 12:26 The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Proverbs 12:26 (NIV) A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

This is a very difficult verse in the Hebrew to translate into English for many reasons. Therefore, if you read this verse in the KJV you will see some different words. Without going into the whys of the difficulties, it is important to see several things that will be vital to your understanding of Biblical friendship and extremely important if you ever intend to have such a friendship.

It is the righteous ones who are being addressed.

Apart from Christ, the first and foremost factor in a Biblical friendship is you, not your friend. Your life is to be in a righteous state before you enter a close friendship. You should never depend on, or look to friends to bolster your righteousness.

Some very foolish parents think that if their children can just hook-up with nice church kids, their spiritual life will blossom. Your children should try to find nice church kids, but righteousness does not come from without, it comes from within. We've been looking at this factor and will continue to look at it in our regular series in a few weeks.

You are to choose your friends. 
Friends are not a divine appointment, nor are they part of the salvation package

If you are not living righteously, then that must be your first step. You will bring damage to any friendship you're involved in, unless you are living in righteousness. Please understand that righteousness is far more than, not going to certain places or not saying certain things, etc. Those things can be unrighteous, but the doing or not doing of those things is the smaller part of being righteous.

You choose your friends. You are to choose your friends very carefully!

I've had people say, "If I am too particular about my friends, I won't have any." Who said you had to have any friends! Remember, we are talking about those who are more than just surface friends. If you don't choose your friends very carefully, you would be far better off without any friends. There are many reasons for this careful choosing process, but let's look at just one of those reasons. We'll glance at more as we move along.

Job 15:34-35 For the company (friendship) of hypocrites will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of bribery. 35 They conceive trouble and bring forth futility; their womb prepares deceit.

A hypocrite is one who not only tells lies, but also lives a lie. Their motives are false. They show one thing on the surface, but internally they are something different.

Dangerous Friendships in the church

The church today is full of hypocrites, as it has always been. As a matter of fact, it is hard to find real honest truth, anywhere. You need to be very careful making friends, even in the church, as well as outside of the church.

Many will tell you one thing, but their motive and intentions are far different. I would much rather have a friend who was unsaved, and was honest in all their living, than to have a Christian friend, who was a hypocrite.

Job 36:13 But the hypocrites in heart store up wrath; they do not cry for help when He binds them.

Christian hypocrites says such nice things, they even do nice things, but all the while, they are storing or stockpiling wrath within their soul. Believe you me, when that stockpiled wrath is poured out, there is nothing like it this side of the Lake of Fire. You've never been lied about, until you've had a Christian hypocrite lie about you. You've never been cheated, until you've had a Christian hypocrite cheat you. You've never been stabbed in the back until, you've had a Christian hypocrite do the honors.

Honesty is not telling all you know, that's just plain stupid! (It probably wouldn't take long anyway.) Honesty is being true in what your are, it's being true in what you tell, it's being true in what you do, it's being true in the reason you tell or do it, and it's being true in the motive for which you tell or do it.

1 Corinthians 15:32-36 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 35 But someone will say, "How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?" 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.

We often quote 1 Corinthians 15:33, especially to our young people, to warn them not to keep company with bad boys and girls. It is true, we should not have close ties to those of poor character. However, that is not what this verse says, in context. If we don't see and teach this in context, we will be guilty of false teaching, no matter how nice sounding it might be, or how humanly logical it may seem. For us to see the sense of this passage, I'm going to have to spend more time on it than I would like. However, I think the extra time will be time well spent!

Look where this verse is found. It's right in the middle of one of the greatest passages on the resurrection in all the Bible. Not only is it in the great resurrection chapter, this wonderful little command is sandwiched between two verses dealing with the resurrection of those who are already dead. Read it again. Notice v.32 ...If the dead do not rise... Then jump down to v.35 ...How are the dead raised up? Between these two statements comes this declaration that seems to have nothing to do with the resurrection, at all.

Paul must have been out in the sun far too long that day, and he was having a heat stroke or something. It makes absolutely no sense! There seems to be no relationship between the resurrection of those who are already dead, and evil company corrupting these dead people's good habits.

If Paul was talking about the resurrection of dead people, and he was, then it's too late for evil company to corrupts their good habits! Unless, maybe the trip to heaven is going to take longer than I thought, and while we're flying through the air, between earth and heaven, these evil companions will have time to corrupt our good habits. I jest simply to wake us up to the fact of what this passage is saying in context.

We must see what the Bible says.  
We must not use the Bible to document what we have already said!

We sure want to keep this verse around, because it is the best whip we have to keep our kids from associating with others, whom we don't like. But this verse has nothing to do with our association with those outside of Christ, but those within the Family of God - if we keep it in context, and that is a must! The truth that poor company or friendships outside of Christ can and do pose a real spiritual threat, is taught all through the Bible. We don't need this verse to support that fact, if we are systematically teaching the Word of God to our children. Sad to say, that type of teaching is not happening in very many Christian homes. Not even in the so called good Christian homes.

If you, as parents, are not regularly and systematically teaching your children the entire Word of God through comparisons don't blame the world, the flesh, the Devil or the Church for your children's bad behavior. Some people feel that all four - world, flesh, Devil, and the church fall into the same classification when it comes to their children's bad behavior.

Don't expect the church to correct bad behavior, in maybe two hours a week, that has been built into your children's lives during the other 166 hours each week. I know the church is a good scapegoat for your children's bad behavior, and I don't mind if we properly proportion the blame by time involved. That puts a lot of pressure on you who home school. It doesn't leave much time for you to blame others. Of course, if all else fails, you can always blame the mayor or the President.

We have to be careful of those who do not have this knowledge of God (v.34), especially those within the body of Christ. Paul is teaching deep spiritual truth in this passage that those at Corinth should have known, according to 1 Corinthians 15:34-36. Paul says in v.34 for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. In v.36, Paul calls these people foolish ones, because they did not know these things.

These were the ones in the church at Corinth to whom Paul was writing. If we are going to keep company, or have a serious friendship we need to do a background check on where those potential friends stand, as to their knowledge of the deeper things of God. The reason? This type of evil company corrupts good habits.

deceived (Greek)
to wander, go astray or roam from safety, truth or virtue.
evil (Greek)
to wander or go astray through lack of instruction or because of one's own deceit or lack of attention.
corrupt (Greek)
to shrivel; to wither; to spoil; to ruin. The word is associated with Autumn. The time when growth stops and the fruit, leaves and vegetation shrivels, drops and rots.

With those definitions and the context in mind, let's expand that passage to reflect those facts.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (expanded c.w.) Do not wander or roam from these deep truths of God. You must keep in mind that close association with those, who themselves are going astray because of the lack of instruction caused by their own un-attentiveness, will cause your spiritual life to cease its growth and actually shrivel and degenerate.

Yes, it is true that close association with those who have low, or no morals can have an effect on our good habits. On the other hand, just associating with and living among those who are not Christians, or do not have Christian standards, need not and should not bring corruption to our good habits.

If association with and living among those who do not have, or live by Christian principles brings spiritual failure, then we should never send missionaries to live among and associate with the heathens, whether in this country or some other country! If our motive is right, if our purpose is right and if our dedication to Christ is proper living among and associating with those who do not live by Christian standards will strengthen our good habits.

The problem is that most of us are so self-centered that our motives, purposes and dedications are only to please our selves and we are not willing to follow the Word of God as given by God. Instead we willfully twist or ignore the real and literal meaning of God's declarations to fulfill our self-seeking desires. Therefore, we live a defeated life, even when we have no association with those of the world. Israel faced this same dilemma in a similar way, even though the circumstances were different.

Mixing in Lies

Psalms 106:34-40 They did not destroy the peoples, Concerning whom the Lord had commanded them, 35 But they mingled with the Gentiles And learned their works; 36 They served their idols, Which became a snare to them. 37 They even sacrificed their sons And their daughters to demons, 38 And shed innocent blood, Even the blood of their sons and daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with blood. 39 Thus they were defiled by their own works, And played the harlot by their own deeds. 40 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, So that He abhorred His own inheritance.

This would be a good passages to study, and it would also be good to study the background. For now, let's see a lesson that is taught by this event and apply it to our subject of today. The Bible tells us that the things that happened to the Israelites were recorded for examples to us, so we would not fall into the same spiritual trap. There are many lessons here, but let's look at one, and some of its implications.

Notice where the problem began. They did not do all that the Lord had commanded them. They began to mix the truths of God with what they learned from the Gentiles. That sounds pretty up-to-date, doesn't it? We are always in trouble when we leave the pure Word of God for the wisdom of humanity. When it comes to spiritual things, it cannot be part of the commands of God, and part of the wisdom of the world. When we even allow a little of the worldly wisdom to be mixed with God's Word, we will start a downward trend, and that mixture will become a snare to us. Don't forget that little word snare, because we will see it again in a little while. You would think that if we put a lot of God's Word in with a little of the world's wisdom, the Word of God would make the world's wisdom a little better. Not so! These Israelites continued to be very religious, but now their religion was that of the world.

They began to serve the Gentile's gods. They still had a form of godliness, but they denied the very power of real godliness. That happened because they did not stick with the Word of God, nor did they follow the Word of God exactly, plus nothing!

Instead, they mixed in just a little of the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world sounded better, it felt better, there was more emotion, there was more fervor, therefore, it must be better - right? Oh, are we ever hearing that very cry today in so many fundamental churches, and from people that should know better. Oh yes, that better feeling and that better sound cost them their sons and daughters. They sacrificed their sons and daughters to the idols of Canaan. No, we would never tie up our sons and daughters, lay them on an altar, and sacrifice them to demons by fire. But we are just as surely sacrificing them to demons when we do not teach and follow the exact Word of God without the mix of the world's wisdom.

It was just a little thing! But that little thing was the factor that started the downward spin to spiritual destruction of themselves and their children. Notice, they were still worshipping, even with more fervor than ever, and they thought they were doing the right thing. Even the prophets, with the message direct from God, could not convince them that they were wrong, and that they needed to return to the old ways. But of course, we at MBF are much too sophisticated to ever fall from our steadfastness. Those who think they stand, should take heed lest they fall after the same manner, according to the Word of God.

What a shame! Christ left us on this earth to live as lights in a dark world, and be the preserving salt to a corrupt and spiritually decaying world. If those things are not taking place through your life, as a Believer, one and/or two things are wrong:

  • you are not where there is a need for salt and light
  • your salt and light is not what it should be

However, the warning here in 1 Corinthians 15:33 goes much farther than just a warning not to associate with the unsaved or the carnal Believer. The admonition is to be very careful in the company we keep, even with those who think and say that they are spiritual. Those who are not giving close attention to the deep accurate truths of the Word of God can, also, cause us to wander from the purpose and task of godly living. This truth could and should be carried further. I trust you will, and my prayer is that you will apply these things to your living where needed, but we must move on in this lesson.

Parents, I apologize for taking away one of your favorite Biblical whips found in 1 Corinthians 15:33, but if we are to be true to the study and teaching of the Word of God in accuracy and not as the Israelites in our illustration, we must see this for what the Scripture teaches. It does not bring spiritual good to use a passage of Scripture only as a proof text to document popular, but humanistic teachings held by some. However, there are many more and even better verses dealing with picking your friends than 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Motives of the Heart

James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

There! Look at that! This passage is much stronger than the one 1 Corinthians 15, anyway! So now you have another whip to use for social behavior. However, I trust you will use it for true Biblical teaching, and not as club to control social action. There is a big difference between being a policeman of social action, and teaching the Word of God to nurture spiritual growth.

James is pretty clear on this matter. Friendship with the world is enmity with God! No question about it. Therefore, it does not need a whole lot of explaining, does it? It makes my job real easy. However, it does need a little believing and applying. Notice, it goes beyond the act of friendship, to the desire for friendship with the world. Many believers, who would never think of doing as the world does, still long to have what the worldly system offers. The reason for such a longing is that they have never fully entered into living the life of holiness. The one so desiring friendship with the world becomes an enemy of God. That is not a good position for one who will have to give account to God, and be rewarded by God according to their own works.

It is in this context of friendship with the world, we have another wonderful phrase that we quote so often, and has found its way into several songs - He gives more grace. There are several passages that tell us that God gives us the grace we need for the task set before us. In this passage, God gives the grace needed, so we need not be involved in these improper friendships. God has enough grace to give us, so we don't even need to want to be a friend of the world. We must be careful and honest. This passage does not say we cannot have friends who are unsaved. It is talking about our relationship with the system of the world, etc.

Matthew 11:19 "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' But wisdom is justified by her children."
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-- not even to eat with such a person.

We must be cautious! We are to be friendly with those in the world. That is part of our ministry for God. But we are not to have a friendship with the world, itself. We could wade in that water for a long time, couldn't we? But we will have to leave it there for now.

Before we leave this subject, this week I was going over some of Pastor Trey's notes for his teaching at the youth retreat this past year. I was looking over those notes for an entirely different matter, but I was thrilled with what I saw in that material.

At this retreat, they looked at this very subject of friendship and how to be a proper friend, etc. I paused as I read those notes, and thought how wonderful it would have been if all of you could have had that training, before you were faced with decisions that have left some of you with so many scars.

As I looked over that material, I stopped and raised my heart to God, once again, in thankfulness for His grace in sending us Pastor Trey and Susan. Not once did I see in any of those notes the popular mixing of human philosophy with the Word of God, that has become the trend in so many youth programs, today. Trey's teaching was the pure Word of God.

What a heritage our young people have to receive that kind of teaching. Some, in their youthful immaturity (and sometimes their parents in the same condition) would like a more frothy sentimental type of teaching. Christ asked a question about His return to the earth, and He asked if He would really find faith on the earth when He comes again. If Christ comes back during the ministry time of Pastor Trey and Susan, there will be some faith on earth.

If you haven't taken the time lately to personally thank Trey and Susan for their unselfish ministry to our youth, don't fail to do it soon, and often!

Choosing Friends and Sin

Proverbs 16:28 A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.

We are warned to be careful of having a close relationship with people who have certain personality quirks. That is the modern way of saying some people still have character traits of Satan. Another term for those traits is sin. That term is not very popular today. So, of course, I try to avoid it when I can, because people want me to keep it positive.

How do you teach the subject of sin in a wonderful up-beat positive presentation? Sin killed the Creator of all things, the God of all gods! The Word of God is positive about the fact that if you don't accept that sacrifice as the payment for your sins, you will burn in the Lake of Fire for eternity. The Word of God is also positive about the fact that if Believers don't deal with personal sin, they will be saved as though they came through the fire of the Judgment of Seat of Christ.

However, if we are going to teach the Bible and not humanism, those words, actions, and the correction of sin will come up over and over again. I can be very positive about that. We are to avoid those of a perverse nature. But who is the Holy Spirit referring to as perverse in this passage?

perverse (Hebrew)
to turn away from what is right and good; to be a fraud or hypocrite.

One of the reasons that we should avoid such people is because they will separate the "best of friends".

best of friends (Hebrew)
has reference to an object which is familiar, gentle or tame (as an ox tamed and is accustom to the yoke); Chieftains who are like neat cattle.

Remember, Hebrew is a pictorial language, and it certainly lives up to its reputation in the definition of the phrase best of friends. You really need to be a farmer to fully appreciate this picture. Best of friends are gentle and tame with each other, yet, that friendship is powerful like an ox.

If there is no gentleness and tameness, there is no true Biblical friendship. You may do things together, But if one or both are like a bull in china shop, then there cannot be a biblical relationship of best of friends. That is also true of the relationship of marriage. It is to bad that many spouses are enemies, not best friends!

We are not only warned to be careful of some personality traits in choosing our friends, we are told to avoid some people, who have these traits. One of those prohibited traits is found in...

Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, 25 lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.

That verse is one of those three-lesson verses, but it too will have to wait for a more convenient time. The point is that an angry or a furious person should never even be on our short list of possible friends.

anger (Hebrew)
the expression of the emotion of anger and wrath by increased breathing and the flaring of the nostrils.
furious (Hebrew)
to heat; anger; wrath; rage; indignation; poison.
Proverbs 29:22 An angry man stirs up strife, and a furious man abounds in transgression.

If these negative sinful qualities are a part of your life, don't even think of trying to be a friend or to gain a friend until you have confessed those traits to God, allowed God to cleanse you of this awful sinful condition. Then take the proper Biblical steps to replace those works of the flesh, with the appropriate Fruit of the Spirit.

Then and then only should you consider becoming a friend to someone. With those things out of the way and with a proper walk with Christ, you can add quality to the lives of your friends, instead of a spiritual snare.

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2000