You open your Bible, seeking wisdom and guidance on an issue that has concerned you lately – what does God say about avoiding and staying away from evil influences and evil doers? This is an important question for every sincere follower of Jesus Christ who wants to walk in holiness and truth.
As you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 16:13), some key passages stand out that speak directly to this issue. Pay attention, as the Word of God highlights solid biblical principles about avoiding entanglement with wickedness and separating from sinful influences.
- God calls His people to separate from evil influences and rebuke evildoers
- Bad company corrupts good character – avoid friendships with ungodly people
- Boundaries with evildoers are necessary and biblical
- Loving correction and rebuke has its place when dealing with wayward brethren
- Withdraw fellowship from unrepentant professing believers living in sin
- When unbelievers reject gospel truth, shake dust from feet and move on
- Trust God’s judgement upon the wicked instead of compromising or obsessing over what they do
As you examine what Scripture says concerning relating to evildoers, keep these principles in mind. Then you can apply God’s truth wisely in your own life situations.
God Instructs His People to Turn Away from Wickedness
One thing becomes clear in your study – God uncompromisingly instructs His people to reject evil in all its forms and separate from wicked influences. Consider His plain command through the prophet Isaiah:
“Depart, depart, go out from there, touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.” (Isaiah 52:11 NKJV)
Wow – what a high call to true holiness! As believers, you and I carry God’s very Presence within through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thus we are to jealously guard against ANY defilement from the sin around us.
The Apostle Paul echoes this, commanding:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a NKJV)
Here the application goes beyond just avoiding outright wickedness – Paul says we must not link up closely with non-believers either. Their worldly lifestyle and love of sin will corrupt our walk with God if we are not careful.
Avoid Close Friendship with Ungodly Companions
But with ungodliness being so widespread in society, don’t we still have to relate regularly with unsaved acquaintances, family members, coworkers and neighbors? Of course, yet Scripture warns about going beyond this to close soul-ties with people ensnared in an unrighteous lifestyle.
The psalmist observes:
“Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1 NKJV)
Note how this progression moves from occasional encounters with evil, to standing continuously in its presence, to finally sitting down in companionship with those practicing wickedness. The third stage is the most dangerous and must be avoided.
Likewise Proverbs gives this stark caution:
“He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20 NKJV)
Here is another somber warning:
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.” (Proverbs 4:14 NKJV)
So God makes it quite clear – we cannot allow ourselves or our families to become joined in close relationship with those ensnared in lifestyles of overt, unrepentant sin. Their corrupt values and conversations WILL contaminate our hearts if we let down our guard.
Set Healthy Boundaries with Wayward People
Does this mean we should altogether avoid interacting with anyone stuck in addiction, immorality and deceitful living? No, not entirely – but wisdom is needed to set appropriate boundaries that limit damage to our spiritual walk.
Jesus engaged with prostitutes, corrupt tax collectors and extreme political zealots of His day – yet without compromising His perfect integrity or holiness. His love and purity actually exposed and highlighted how depraved their ways were, confronting their hearts with their need for repentance.
We too must reach out to troubled souls trapped in destructive life patterns, being led astray by the wicked one. But we should not continue casting our pearls before swine indefinitely (Matthew 7:6). At some point holy Spirit may prompt us to shift focus when people remain obstinate in rebellion against God.
The Apostle Paul models this, warning Titus:
“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 NKJV)
So earnest yet gentle confrontation, rebuke and correction has its place in dealing with deception or willful sin. But ultimately we must withdraw when no repentance follows.
Ongoing fellowship requires evidence of genuine life-change through God’s grace. Even among believers, willful patterns of hidden sin if not repented of can necessitate correction and distancing for the good of one’s soul:
“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person.” (1 Corinthians 5:11 NKJV)
The key here applies to “anyone named a brother” – meaning those claiming to follow Christ yet indulging the flesh. Our spiritual instincts rightly recoil at accommodating or excusing open rebellion among professing believers, when God demands holiness in His house.
Of course such correction must aim toward hopeful restoration, just as God Himself disciplines those He loves. But unrepentance necessitates withdrawing close association as Scripture consistently demonstrates.
When The Wicked Reject Truth, Move On
A final category involves relating to those with no professed faith – unbelievers hostile to the gospel. Jesus modeled wise boundaries here as well, instructing His disciples:
“And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matthew 10:14-15 NKJV)
Wow, stunning – after a town rejected these followers of Christ, they were to visibly shake dust from their feet as a symbolic warning. Sodom and Gomorrah were notoriously wicked cities destroyed by God’s judgement. Jesus foretold that those rejecting His messengers would face worse eternal consequences.
So the principle appears that when unbelievers adamantly spurn the gospel, we simply move on in obedience to Christ’s commission. The responsibility rests with THEM then for their response. Of course sometimes the Holy Spirit may lead us to try again with certain souls, but generally we leave final outcomes to God.
Shaking dust from the feet also protects our own spirits from bitterness or debating those hostile to biblical truth. We simply commit them to God for their reckoning one day before His throne, as Scripture says:
“‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19 NKJV)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV)
Trust God’s Justice and Mercy
This brings us to a crucial perspective for relating to evil men and women according to Scripture. One trap believers can fall into is an unhealthy obsession over wickedness and evildoers.
Entire ministries and movements go astray when focused predominantly upon denouncing sin in society, railing against corrupt leaders, and doom-saying over wayward trends. Such things certainly deserve godly sorrow and intercession.
BUT the Lord calls you and I as His people to minister primarily by DEMONSTRATING His redeeming grace and Kingdom here and now to hurting people. That empowers transformation from within by the Holy Spirit – rather than just externally protesting symptoms of evil.
Too much negative focus distorts the truth that God remains fully sovereign over the affairs of humanity, no matter how far societies stray from biblical morality at times. He vigilantly oversees both justice for the unrepentant AND mercy to save those who turn to Him:
“‘For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting [punishing] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5-6 NKJV)
Note the beautiful tension here between righteous punishment of wickedness through the generations, yet abundant mercy on those who turn to walk in love and holiness by God’s enablement. This reveals the Lord’s heart perfectly balanced in unconditional grace and uncompromising justice.
As believers marked by the inner presence of the Holy Spirit, we simply live as lamps bearing His light in a dark world (Philippians 2:15). The Lord Himself separates precious from vile in His time. Our main mission remains proclaiming redemption through the cross, not just condemning evil.
Walk in Wisdom Toward Those Ensnared in Sin
So in summary friend, you desire to remain untainted by sinful influences while still reaching out in Christian love to those trapped in deception. This requires prayerful wisdom and discernment through the Holy Spirit from conversation to conversation and relationship to relationship.
Set healthy boundaries yet stay approachable. Speak truth yet listen sincerely. Rebuke yet restore when possible. Limit exposure yet extend hope. Leave room for repentance yet protect your spirit. Deal gently yet stand uncompromisingly. Pray without ceasing.
And remember that only God’s empowering grace can enable such delicate balances in relating with broken humanity while avoiding entanglement with forces of wickedness.
The Lord keeps you as the apple of His eye if you take refuge in Him. He faithfully leads us in pathways of righteousness when we fix our gaze upon Jesus day by day. Just remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings when engaging people and situations.
May the Lord grant you discernment and keep you from every form of evil as you walk with Him!