Summary: Why should I be careful of the company I keep? Should I avoid the company of sinners, and mockers and the immoral? And if I do this (avoid sinners) how can I carry the message of Christ to the lost?

(Poem) “All the water in the world - however hard it tried, could never, never sink a ship… unless it got inside. All the temptations of this world might wear you pretty thin, but they won't hurt you, one least bit... unless you let them in.” (I could not find the author)

It’s a repeated theme of Scripture - you should not let temptation rule your life. Don’t let sin get inside because it will sink your ship. Of course, the question is - how does sin get inside? What could we possibly do that would allow temptation to take us down?

One of the answers (though not the only one) is sin gets inside because of who we hang out with. We’re warned in I Corinthians 15:33 - Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” And Proverbs 13:20 tells us “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

And, of course, here in Psalm 1 we have the same warning: “Blessed is the man who walks NOT in the counsel of the wicked, NOR stands in the way of sinners, NOR sits in the seat of scoffers” Psalm 1:1

DON’T DO THAT!!! Don’t spend your time with folks who are wicked, who enjoy sin, who mock righteousness. Why? Because the people we hang out with have an effect on us. Folks who allow this influence remind of the story of a little boy had a large shaggy dog on a leash. Someone asked the boy "Where are you taking him?" “I don't know yet,” the boy replied, “but when he makes up his mind where he wants to go, I'm gonna take him there.”

People around us can tend to drag us where THEY want to go. In our culture it’s often referred to as “Peer Pressure.”

ILLUS: Several years ago, Dr. James Dobson told of an experiment they studied the ways in which group pressure influences young people. They gathered 10 teens in a room and told them they were going to evaluate their “depth perception” and see how well each student could “see” to the front of the room where they sat. At the front of the room, an instructor held up cards with lines on them Line A, Line B and Line C – each of a different length. The teens were then instructed to raise their hand when the instructor pointed to the line on that card which was LONGER than the others. (I created a “poster” to display on th overhead what the teens might have seen).

What one of the students didn’t know… was that the other 9 had been secretly informed to vote for the SECOND longest line. In other words, those 9 teens were told to vote WRONGLY. When the instructor held up the first card and pointed to Line A (which was clearly shorter than line B) all 9 students raised their hands.

The 10th young man who wasn’t in on the joke looked around in disbelief. It was obvious that Line B was the longest line, but everybody seemed to think Line A was longer. He later admitted that he thought, “I must not have been listening during the directions. Somehow, I missed the point, and I’d better do what everybody else is doing or they’ll laugh at me.” So he timidly raised his hand with the rest of the group.

Then the researchers explained the directions again: “Vote for the longest line; raise your hand when we point to the longest line.” It couldn’t have been more simple! Then they held up the 2nd card… and again, 9 people voted for the wrong line. By now, the young man was totally confused - and he was frustrated and stressed out. If he didn’t vote with the others he might be ridiculed - so eventually he raised his hand with the rest of the group again. Over and over he voted with the group even tho’ he knew they were wrong

And that young man was not unusual. The experiment was repeated over and over again with different groups of teens. More than 75 percent of the young people tested behaved that same way. Time after time, they’d say that the shorter line was longer than the long line. They simply didn’t have the courage to say, “Everybody else is wrong.” AND this is what peer pressure does to folks. (James Dobson Ph.D. Focus On The Family Magazine 6/00)

ILLUS: Now, we tend to think that peer pressure as something unique to the young. But it’s not!!!

Several years ago, a movie reviewer and talk show host Michael Medved was puzzled about the # of R-Rated movies there were on the market. He said, you’d think R-Rated movies were highly profitable because the movie companies were making so many of them compared to G and PG rated films. BUT, (in reality) they rarely made much of a profit. By contrast, G and PG movies made far more money because families would take their kids to more family friendly shows.

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