Proverbs 4:14-17 14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it; do not travel on it.
Turn from it and pass on by.
16 For they cannot sleep
unless they do evil;
they are deprived of slumber
until they make someone fall,
17 since they eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
Exodus 34:12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst.
Exodus 23:33 They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.
1 Corinthians 5:11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Psalm 1:1-3 1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
There is a way of choice. We can take the high road or the low road. You don't need to keep company with people who deliberately take the low road. These people are bad influences and can get you into trouble. They can talk you into doing things that you don't really want to do.
Peers - people your age or close to it who have experiences and interests similar to yours; a person or thing of the same rank, value, quality, ability; friends, companions, social group
Peer pressure - a feeling that one must do the same things as other people of one's age and social group in order to be liked or respected by them; social pressure by members of one's peer group to take a certain action, adopt certain values, or otherwise conform in order to be accepted. Peers might pressure you directly by asking you to do something, or they might tease you so that you cave. They may not say anything at all but treat you as an outcast and ignoring you. People are influenced by peers because they want to fit in and feel accepted.
The pressure to conform (to do what others are doing) can be powerful and hard to resist. God knows that and is why He warned us repeatedly to avoid people who can influence us to do wrong.
The Israelites were taken to the Promised Land and the Lord gave it to them if they would kill all the inhabitants. Why? Because God knew the inhabitants were godless (pagans who practised idolatry) and were so wicked as to deserve judgment. He also knew that if the Israelites allowed these people to live amongst them, it was only a matter of time before the Israelites would fall into the same wickedness, idolatry, and evil as the original inhabitants of the land.
This is one of those questions every person asks... How could a good God instruct the Israelites to waltz onto somebody else's land and kill them all: man, woman and child?
Most people like to ask that question and never want to hear an answer. They think it gives them the right to question God and reject Him. And who do you think you are to question and reject God? Do you think you are God? Yes, you evidently do. Which is the same sin satan was guilty of.
Isaiah 14:14-15 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you will be brought down to Sheol,
to the lowest depths of the Pit.
God knows what He is doing and the same can't be said of you, me, or any other created being. So humble yourself and accept God's way.
The land of Canaan was filled with tribes that are collectively called Canaanites. God had promised this land to Abraham and his descendants. Yet when they finally make it back to the Promised Land, they find it filled with people. Not just regular people but very evil, wicked people. In fact, some of the people were giants called Nephilim, who were descended through one of Noah's sons' wives (probably Ham since it was his descendent, Nimrod, who was called a "mighty hunter" not once but three times and he settled the area later known as Babylon).
God tells Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16,
13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not their own; they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. 14 But I will judge the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will depart with many possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
The inhabitants of the land of Canaan were already well on their way to judgment but God held off judgment for another 400 years! Israel was a tool of judgment in the hands of God because of their evil and wickedness. But God gave them time and every chance to repent and turn to Him. They just didn't.
Deuteronomy 9:5 It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Deuteronomy 18:9-12 9 When you enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, practices divination or conjury, interprets omens, practices sorcery, 11 casts spells, consults a medium or familiar spirit, or inquires of the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD. And because of these detestable things, the LORD your God is driving out the nations before you.
When it says "sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire" it literally means they were practising child sacrifice in idolatry. They were practising the dark arts which is satanic. They practised occult spiritualism. In fact, all of the things mentioned are humans trying to manipulate spiritual power (without God) to their own benefit and they don't care that it unleashes evil. They also worshipped fertility gods and goddesses and the practises of "worship" at these temples were sexual perversions of every ilk. They had temple prostitutes, males and females, and the people thought all this perverted sex blessed their crops?!? They openly participated in all kinds of sexual perversions as lifestyles to be celebrated (sound familiar?)! It was part of their "worship" and brought them prosperity so they thought. They could justify their sins and their debaucheries in this way. Human beings have an acute ability to justify their sins but they can't sugarcoat it enough for God to accept it! They can paint it rainbow colors, prance in parades with streamers and bands but God sees it for what it is. You may be blinded by the constant in-your-face pressure to accept and celebrate it, but God will never be blinded. That goes for every sin, not just sexual perversions.
Are you getting a better picture of these people? If you still want to question God, then ask yourself, "What about Hitler?" Hitler practised the occult, the dark arts. He stole whatever art, money and anything of value his men came across. Hitler brutally tortured and murdered millions of people with the help of his German supporters (his armies, his staff, his SS, his taxpayers, his barbarian hordes who did his every bidding his loyalists). So what do you say about the Ally Armies (including America) who destroyed his European empire? If you had seen the concentration camps and the mass graves, the starving prisoners and the ruined countries, the piles of shoes taken from the people they killed, the orphaned children who barely survived and were traumatized, the lampshades made of human skin, do you think you would question God if God said, "Kill Hitler and his armies"?
I have seen men and women who are murderers and as they are being taken to or from jail, others surround the scene and scream at the murderer, "THERE IS A SPECIAL PLACE RESERVED FOR YOU IN HELL! YOU DON'T DESERVE TO LIVE! I HOPE THEY SEND YOU TO THE ELECTRIC CHAIR!" Why? Because the murderer has done something so egregious, evil and horrible that our basic instinct is to desire punishment commensurate with the crime. And that is a person who, if he killed someone every minute of his life could only have killed a set number of people. But these Canaanites had been perverted, brutal, cruel, murderous for hundreds of years so there is no telling how many had been murdered, brutalized, tortured, subjected to sexual perversions, slavery, etc. Would not your basic instinct be one of judgment, punishment commensurate with the crime? Where would we, as human beings, get this sense of justice? If there is no right of wrong, why would we care about justice and punishment commensurate with the crime? For everyone who thinks there is no right or wrong, let someone steal from them, rape them, kill one of their loved ones and see them howl for justice! We innately recognize evil and the need for judgment.
But God even told them to kill the children? Why? Because assimilating these peoples would have led to Israelite men and women marrying them, having children with them, being influenced by them and becoming like them. If Hitler had been evil all by himself how much destruction could he have accomplished? But with a whole country behind him, how much more evil did he accomplish? God knew, because He knows all things and knows the future, assimilating these people would lead to the evil that had been practised by these pagan tribes.
Lest you still think God was a big bully, let's remember God is all seeing and all knowing. He knew every single individual in those pagan countries just like He knew every single Israelite. He knew which person(s) would be believers in Him; who would try to worship and follow the Israelite God. He isn't about to leave them to punishment and judgment. He will rescue any who call out to Him. Remember the story of Rahab?
1 Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. 2 But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
4 Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5 They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) 7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.
8 Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9 “I know the LORD has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10 For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Seab when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.
12 “Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
14 “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the LORD gives us the land.”
15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. 16 “Escape to the hill country,” she told them. “Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way.”
17 Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. 18 When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. 19 If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. 20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.”
21 “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.
22 The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success.
23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. 24 “The LORD has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”
Joshua 6:22-25 22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.”
23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.
24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the LORD’s house. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
As the first non-Israelite person, and in particular the first Canaanite woman, to ally with Israel, Rahab’s convictions led her to protect the men sent by Joshua despite her background.
Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.
James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
So just because God used obliterative language, He did not cease to recognize and save any who would turn to Him, call out to Him and believe in Him.
Now let's go back to our scripture of today. We have a choice of following God or following our friends, co-workers, schoolmates, fraternity or sorority sisters, boyfriends/girlfriends, even family. When you feel pressured to do something you know is wrong, you have a choice. Do you choose God or do you choose the world? Do you choose the world and try to justify it?
We are used to seeing peer pressure and behavioral choices in the light of teenagers. But we face peer pressure at all ages in life. We may have co-workers who try to get you to gossip or steal time and supplies. What about a worker who is approached by a criminal element to participate and aid them in stealing from the company? They may even make threats to coerce you to do something you know is wrong. What is your choice? Do you pray, ask God to handle the situation and trust Him to take care of it as you continue to do the right thing? Or do you cave, joining them in their evil and justify it by saying, "I couldn't let them harm my family? I had no choice." That's a tough one but one Rahab made and it saved her life and the lives of her family.
We may have a group at work that is constantly gossiping and backstabbing others. They try every way to get you to participate in their sin and tempt you to laugh and mock others too. When you refuse to get involved, then you become their laughingstock and they may even hold you back by saying you don't get along well with others. What will be your choice? Do you pray and trust God to protect your reputation as you continue to resist involvement with them? Do you humbly accept God's wisdom as far as promotion and advancement in the company? If you don't get the promotion do you feel like God let you down or do you realize and trust that God knows what He's doing and is working everything to your best benefit even if it means you didn't get the promotion?
Maybe you have a college group (like a club, fraternity, sorority, or just a group of friends) and they are pushing you to drink, take drugs, cheat in classes, sleep around, shoplift, smoke/vape, or other things you know are wrong. You would feel lonely without friends and you have a need to feel accepted. But to do what they do is wrong and you know it. What do you choose? Even if it means you don't have any friends and are completely alone, isn't that better than following the Pied Piper into sin and having to deal with the consequences afterwards? Can you not pray and trust God to send you good friends while you do the right thing and avoid those who would tempt you to sin? Do you not think God is a rewarder of those who follow Him?
"For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; they are deprived of slumber until they make someone fall".
People are so hardened in their hearts that evil is on their mind all day, every day. They are so driven by sin that they can't rest until they've hurt someone. They plot it, plan it, research it, prepare for it, do it, document it, take reminders of it so they can replay it in their minds and then they start all over again.
This can easily be seen as people who stalk others in order to kidnap, use, abuse and kill someone. But it can also be said of people who sit in boardrooms and politician offices. They plot, scheme and manipulate in their corruption and evil. They have no check on their lusts and they find ways to indulge them. It is a constant, every minute of every day plotting, planning and committing of every kind of evil. They cannot sleep because of the all the evil they want to commit and all the plans they have of pulling something over on someone. Whether it's for revenge, for money, for political power, for the love of the game... they are enslaved by whatever fascinates them.
I have to think of the Democrats in power now (2019). I have no illusions that Republicans are any better or somehow more righteous. But the Democrats have spent ungodly amounts of money, all their time and energy in one single direction and it wasn't for the benefit of the American people whom they were elected to serve! It's been totally about a power struggle. It proves to me that they are NOT a party of the people because it's been all about them preserving their power and their steady flow of fortune off the backs of taxpayers. If they had spent their time trying to pass laws that aided and strengthened our country and it's citizens, then great. But it hasn't been. If I was a Democrat and I saw their bizarre behavior which has been all in aid of themselves and NOT the citizens of America who pay their salaries, I would be ashamed. How many hours have they spent colluding, conferring, planning, plotting, and manipulating? They can't sleep at night until they've hammered the last nail in the coffin or sent the last dollar into their hidden foreign bank accounts. It's very possible that there have even been murders to cover up their corruption. And I don't think Republicans have much of a moral leg to stand on because no matter what party is in power, there are abuses and corruption.
God says don't take the wrong path; don't make the wrong choice; don't follow the wrong people; don't get involved with those who pressure you do do wrong things. You may think these people have it all and aren't suffering any consequences but you would be wrong. God sees, there are always consequences and, if there is no repentance, judgment. Show your faith by praying and trusting God to take your cause while you continue to obey Him.
- Out of our scripture today, what stood out to you? Had you seen it that way before? Was there any new revelation? A different perspective revealed?
- It's easy to see these verses in terms of others, but what about you? Do a spiritual inventory right now and ask yourself if you've let others influence you and pressure you into doing things you know God is not pleased with? Remember, if God is convicting you of something, it means the Holy Spirit is showing you truth and that you aren't measuring up. You have an option, you can repent and ask for forgiveness. God loves you and offers you forgiveness and cleansing through Jesus Christ. You can be set free from the sin that has entangled you. The other option is to continue trying to hide behind a very little, and very thin, fig leaf of justification and continue on in your sin and getting more and more enslaved by it. You haven't snookered God, He knows. His laser eyes can look right through whatever fig leaf you throw up. What do you choose?
- If (and we all have) you have made wrong choices because of how people influenced you, think about it. Try to remove all justifications and sugarcoatings and really see what happened. How were they able to tempt you? What lures and subterfuges did they use that worked on you? What were your weaknesses? How did you justify it? What were the consequences? Analyze it with the help of the Holy Spirit. Repent if you still need to repent. Take note of the weaknesses and pray for help in those areas. Make a plan of defense in case those weaknesses are tempted again. Although realize that you are weak and helpless without the strength of the Holy Spirit. You may make all kinds of mental defenses and good intentions all by yourself only to see them fall because they don't include the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in you and is there to help you overcome any temptation. But you have to want the help, ask for it and submit to it. If you want to sin and "don't want any lip from the Holy Spirit, just get out of the way, I'm gonna do it my way" then He will stand aside and let you go your way. But you will end up in a mess. Don't expect to stand strong with just human intentions and strength because we aren't strong enough. Don't make a resolution that depends on your own strength because we have none. The Holy Spirit in you has the strength.
- Have you seen people who are so totally obsessed and enslaved by their sins that they cannot sleep because they are so driven to commit sin? It's all they think about, all they talk about, all they plan and prepare for? They may go from one party to the next so they can keep a steady stream of alcohol, drugs and sex. They may have big plans on how to get rich and work towards it night and day. They may be so sexually addicted and perverted that they think and plan their sexual encounters constantly. They are so addicted to drugs they can't think about anything except where to get the next fix and what they have to do to get it? Have you seen someone like that in your own sphere? Not just in the movies, on a documentary, in Washington but right where you live, seen with your own eyes?
- Have you thought, "There, but for the grace of God, go I"? If it wasn't for God, you could have been in that same situation? Praise Him right now for saving you from it!
- If you find yourself in this situation, God is just a heartbeat away. He is waiting for you to turn to Him and ask His forgiveness. He loves you no matter what you've done and will forgive you if through Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life". You can choose to repent and go the right way with His help.
For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.