This is just some encouragement to those struggling to break the ties with people in your life that are outside the will of God, before it is too late. It comes on the heels of another post which was a warning against marrying unbelievers. But while that is very important, something also should be said in warning of ungodly relationships to begin with. This includes those who may not be declared atheists. They could be carnal, loose professors of the gospel. Many an ungodly person goes about under the banner of Christianity.
A quick word before we get started, everything I say here I say to myself just as much as to anyone else. I am not on a high horse in the least in respect of this topic. I wish I could say I’m not or never have been temped in this area. I just want to pass on some of the lessons I’ve had to learn (many the hard way) in hopes of sparing someone else unnecessary pain and distress.
One other quick word: this post is primarily written from a preventative perspective. It applies to friendships of both genders, but primarily applies to male/female relationships. I recognize there may be those here where that is not the case. If you are already in a marriage where you are married to an ungodly man, unless your physical safety is in danger, your biblical duty is to stick by him and be faithful.
“And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:13-16)
Several years ago I heard one charismatic woman preacher (don’t get me started on that) say that God does not recognize marriages between believers and unbelievers as legitimate. She cited Mark 10:9 as backup, arguing that God must be the one to join couples together, and He would not join together an unbeliever and a believer, therefore divorce was lawful on those grounds. This is to grossly add on to the Scriptures. Nowhere does that verse imply that what man may join together man can put asunder. Though God may not have joined together such couples directly, God still honours the institution of marriage as marriage. And the passage above in Corinthians clearly is directed to them that were converted after their marriages to unbelievers; else why would there be so many verses forbidding unequally yoked marriages to begin with? I just wanted to clear that up so nothing I say further be misconstrued. Some encouragement: the godly believing wife is a powerful witness to her husband. Her chaste conversation, her prayers, her tears, her Christ-likeness are all incredible forces that, coupled with the influence of the Holy Spirit, can cause a man to be convicted and turn to God and away from sin.
Now, to continue on to our subject.
Beware of Compromise
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
This is true even of them that are brethren. How much more of them that are not!
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15)
Beware of the one who is godly in words only.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
How much fellowship is permitted? This verse smote me very powerfully and clearly at one time in the crossroads of my life.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
Them that follow not the truth will taint you if you aren’t careful.
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:10, 11)
We are to judge righteous judgment without blurring the lines.
“And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;” (Leviticus 10:10)
As Christians, who ought we to avoid closeness with?
“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)
John Bunyan said it well that “the bird in the air knows not the notes of the bird in the snare until she comes thither herself.” There is much truth in that statement. We often don’t seek the perspective of one who has gone before and done what we are about to do, or if we do we may dismiss it or assume things will work out better for us than for them. That’s a big one and is based on presumption. But the sad truth of the matter is it rarely does and the odds are very much stacked against you when you knowingly go into a relationship that is ungodly. Maybe you want to hold out that God will perform some great act of grace and change that person’s heart for you and everything will be hunky-dory. But it tempts God, because by doing so you are essentially declaring that God is obligated to make everything work out just swimmingly while you are willfully disobeying His Word, which is certainly not the case. It invokes His judgment on such a relationship more than His mercy, which most will find to be the sad case. If you think you will rub off on the other person, don’t kid yourself because it will work the other way around – you are starting off without God on your side. They will rub off on you and you will be the one to become carnal and calloused. Without the blessing of God on your relationship the flesh will bear rule in both of your lives. You will only compromise further than you already have because one compromise leads to another. Next thing you know you will end up spiritual roadkill.
God does not honour those who compromise with the truth He has given them. His truth and wisdom are very precious gifts. To whom much is given much also shall be required. If you are not faithful in that which is least, to obey the light of the truth you know, not only will you not be trusted with more, but you will lose what you have been given as well, to your great shame. It shows you do not value such things. It is a sober warning.
Be Not Unequally Yoked
Things that seem like small issues now will most likely become much bigger issues later. If you can see it coming a mile away in the early stages of the relationship, it is probably huge, and it will become a huge problem in your relationship when you finally see that thing life-size. I’m not talking about petty things like weird habits or irksome mannerisms. I’m talking specifically about spiritual discrepancies and differences that can lead to massive rifts and sorrow in your relationship.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10)
In a godly relationship, there is mutual advantage on this pilgrimage of life. This is true in godly friendships as well as marriages. There is the helping one another along on the path to glory. But,
“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Sometimes it helps me to picture two people handcuffed together. One wants to go left and the other wants to go right. How does that work? Both end up tugging each other and hurting each other. They fight and argue but can never come to a decision together. They each long to break free so they can go the way they are inclined to go. You know what happens? As long as they are together, they can’t go anywhere. They can’t do anything. They are perpetually stuck in tug-of-war. Spiritually what happens is they can’t make progress. They can’t press toward the kingdom together, helping each other and building each other up. Instead of being a team, they are bogged down by the other person. That is what it is to walk without agreement. It hinders the work of the Lord, not to mention makes yourself miserable. How many have woken up one day with such grief of mind to find themselves in such a relationship, a relationship that they are now bound to. And what usually ends up happening is this spiritual tug-of-war doesn’t last forever. One person ultimately wears out. And it is a very sad thing when the Christian bends. They realize that they can never escape and start making more and more compromises. It is a sad thing indeed.
“A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3)
Unless you are already married and it is too late, the time to escape is sooner than later. The sooner the better and the sooner the easier. Don’t linger, don’t look back, RUN. Flee for your life, lest you become as Lot’s wife. I’m telling you, nip it in the bud, don’t let it grow. The more it grows the harder it will be to kill it, like a cancer. Make the decision to exit and stick with it no matter what comes, by the grace and strength of the Lord through prayer and study. Don’t listen to the whispers of temptation. Don’t even worry about being polite so much as preserving your own soul. I think that’s a big one, especially for me, I don’t like to seem rude or inconsiderate or cause pain to other people. Politeness is very important, don’t get me wrong. We should strive to be as polite as we can be in most cases for sure. But there comes a time and a place when you may need to worry about your own spiritual safety more than being polite, which is especially the case when you are feeling the pull of LUST. We tell children not to talk to strangers. Ordinarily that would seem rude, but we know there is danger in that. I do want to balance things, and I think if there is absolutely no “pull” on your end of things it might give you some more room for civility and additional words. We don’t want to take it to the extreme either way, of being unnecessarily rude or unnecessarily chatty. But by all means, if you are feeling emotionally drawn to a bad relationship, it is much safer to err on the side of being cold. That said, there may be a time and place for a firm “no,” which can help give closure and prevent you from keeping that door open. But do so prayerfully and carefully, and take care not to slide back into further conversations.
There is a time to cast away as though you are casting away fire from your bosom, to which ungodly lusts are compared in Scripture (Proverbs 6:27). If someone handed you a flaming ball of fire, how long would it take you to get rid of it? days? weeks? months? Would you try to reason with them, to explain things, to ask questions or make a list of points? God forbid – once you knew what you were dealing with, you would throw that thing so fast away from you. Why? Because if you don’t do that and do it fast it could burn you. The longer you hold it the easier it could catch fire to your clothes and spread until your entire body is burning up in short order. That’s how fast you need to get rid of the ungodly out of your life while you still can, while it is still lawful. If you are facing serious temptation from someone (or yourself) to enter into an ungodly relationship you are in the danger zone. When you are in the danger zone the ordinary rules of conversation and consideration change. You are having a flaming ball of fire thrust at you and you only have a limited time to react before you get hurt and eventually consumed. It can be so tempting to want to “test the waters.” Well, what does it hurt to talk a little bit, to do a bit of casual flirting, to allow myself to be flattered a bit, to seek a thrill here or there… but one thing leads to the next. And the further you go the more difficult it will be to find your way back.
(Beware of the flatteries of the ungodly – Psalm 5:9, 12:2, 3, Proverbs 7:21 & etc. The ungodly will often say many great swelling things to you, things they only say because they know how it will affect you and make you like them more. Many a steadfast heart was finally made to yield by the flattering tongue.)
Some Traps to Avoid
1. “I’ll just casually converse a little with them in a friendly way.”
It is sound advice generally that you should not confide deeply in a man who is not your husband or father and tell them about things that are important to you, but keep thy words few. But when it comes to the ungodly trying to form a relationship with you, I have learned by experience that it is not wise to talk to them, period. SHUN them like they have the plague and do so from the very beginning. (I did not want to hear that myself when I was in that situation. I thought it was being too harsh, but I soon learned that though harsh it is right counsel.) Yes, this means not replying/rejecting them if they email you, call you, text you or message you on social media! Yes people will say you are rude, but whatever. (O, and don’t accept their friend requests.) You will end up being “rude” sooner or later because if the ball keeps rolling they will probably eventually ask for more and you will eventually be forced to draw the line (unless you let them carry you off altogether and then your goose is cooked). If you know that person is ungodly from the beginning, whether they are trying to form a friendship with you or a deeper relationship, it doesn’t matter. There is a time to cast away those messages. Otherwise you will open up a nasty, stinky can of worms and you will be the one to regret it. And the blame will fall on your shoulders alone because, while you didn’t invite the trouble, you opened the door when it came knocking.
2. “But only God knows the hearts, so maybe they are saved and I’m being too harsh.”
One trap that is easy to fall into is guessing about their salvation. If they are obviously carnal but profess Christ you can be tempted to wishfully think they are saved and slow to mature in the Lord or some other excuse. I am totally guilty of this one. The hard but biblical reality is most of the time those who openly act/appear ungodly are LOST, so the odds are stacked against you. And regardless of whether they are saved or not, that is really not the point, if they are ungodly. You can’t go by some hypothetical and hope it all works out when it is obvious that’s not what they are. If they are carnal or ungodly, saved or not, you do not want to get near them at all! You can be just about as miserable as someone married to a lost man if you are married to a carnal, backslidden saved man – or worse! Some lost men behave better than some carnal Christians. If they are truly saved they will get right with God eventually, but is that the life you want? a life of dealing with all that sin and sorrow and heartbreak? It’s a dangerous game to play. You will jeopardize everything you ever wished or planned or hoped for in life to do for the Lord and to find rest and happiness that comes from a godly marriage. You will jeopardize your testimony. You will jeopardize the souls you are trying to win for Christ. And ultimately you will jeopardize your salvation. It’s that serious.
Don’t get caught in the trap of guessing about their salvation. It is wise advice, when dealing with the backslider, to avoid these two mistakes: “don’t assume they are lost, but don’t assume they are saved.” Don’t cave in because they called themselves a Christian. You know what is the sad truth? In today’s society, the name “Christian” means NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Are they a godly Christian is far more important to worry about, and one that is plain to the eye and ear.
See, men may speak many fair words, yet their heart may be far from God. Words are only worth their weight in the life that is behind them. Men can tell you more about what they truly believe by the words they don’t say than the ones they do. Many times their true beliefs are declared in the places they go, the friends they choose, the clothes they wear and the ways they spend their time more than anything they ever say.
3. “But I truly feel like I love them in my heart.”
Let not the flesh and the designs of Satan bear sway to your destruction when choosing to be with someone. Don’t hazard your eternal destination for a short window of temporal pleasure. And whatever you do, do NOT go by your emotions or give them the power to be a deciding factor. This is the opposite of what the world tells us, but the world is a terrible source for relationship advice. No, go by what you know to be truth or you will end up regretting it. Your flesh is a liar and will lead you down the wrong path using the deceitful lusts of concupiscence.
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. True love is not built on emotions. True love is when you love the person for who they are; your unity of beliefs, your respect of their character, your admiration for the things that can’t be seen about them such as virtue and godliness, your harmony of passions in all spiritual things. That is the love that weathers time. Love that ignores these things is sensual, base love that dies very soon after it is planted.
4. “I’ll just be friends for a while and see how it goes.”
There is a word to be said here for making friends as well. Do not let the ungodly enter into your circle of friends under any guise, ESPECIALLY if they are a man. Please do not make friends with men, period. It is an open invitation for a broken heart. An ungodly man is probably one of the worst “friends” you could have for a plethora of reasons. If you know one, get them out of your life sooner than later and you will do yourself a big favour.
5. “I’ll win them to my opinions in time.”
Here’s another big trap, which is thinking you can win them over to your own persuasions or respect of your person, especially if they seem open to hearing you. This is a very big trap which many have fallen into on many important issues that causes major problems later. When someone has made up their mind about something, just because they seem open to hearing your opposing side of things with an affirming smile and air of respect does NOT mean they are even close to agreeing with you or ever will. What they are probably trying to do is temporarily smother their own thoughts to avoid ruffling any feathers, especially if they seem interested in you. And really, if someone was that wishy-washy to bend in their opinions on important things just because they want to have a relationship with you… they are most likely a very easily swayed person, which is not a good trait when it comes to important matters anyway. You want them to believe what they believe because they love God more than you, not because they are fickle enough to appear to come over to your side for your sake. I know that deals a blow to our ego. But if they don’t do it for God, whatever they do to please you will be founded on shaky ground.
And they could swing the other way later on; don’t think that’s never happened to any lady. How many facades have the ungodly put up to get what they are after, to the unassuming girl. How many times have women been lulled into believing that they have persuaded a man into spiritual concord with themselves, when he only played along because it suited his motives. Only after the deal is sealed does he show his true colours. At the end of that road is the sad realization that you have entered into a binding relationship with someone who is not on the same page as you at all. That is why it is so, so important to walk circumspectly in this.
Honestly, if something is important to you, you want it to be sincerely important to them as well – not just them apathetically acquiescing to you having your set of beliefs while they have theirs. We need to be united in our relationships in spirit as well as in other areas, even more importantly than other areas of common ground. If we don’t have that, we have a superficial relationship that is built upon the sand; a divided house.
This is war, sister. We are in a WAR against the devil. Our goal is to do as much damage to his kingdom as possible, within lawful limits. How can we be an effective force for the kingdom of God if we allow ourselves to be unequally yoked? It’s the devil’s ultimate scheme to curtail the effectiveness of our lives against him, to render us fruitless, carnal and only descending. It is easy to forget that we are in a war. We live in America, where pleasure is the most revered god. It’s easy to want to seek rest, to seek happiness, to seek our own. But we can’t do that if we are Christians. We have to take up our cross. Not everyone who is sent across our path is a gift from God. Some are landmines of the devil he wants us to step on.
This idea of winning them to our opinions in time is the same thing that some professing Christians do when they date unbelievers. If you compromise, you are already being won, not them. It was a lost cause (in many ways). This will ultimately set the precedent for the relationship, and not in a good way. When it comes to flesh vs. spirit, the flesh will win every time in such a case. That’s just the way that works.
For that person to sincerely change, God has to be the one to change them. But do you think he is obligated to honour the way you disobeyed Him, by intervening to fix the mess you made of everything? Is God to be blatantly ignored, His Word forsaken, then intreated when things go sour? Can you expect Him to answer such prayers? It is a sad thing, sister, to leave off following God, to disregard His warnings and commandments, and then be forced to face the music we composed. I’m not saying God can’t do such a thing, but it would be a rare thing. Therefore it is better to leave off contention before it be meddled with, and I think this applies also to the contention that comes from unequally yoked relationships with the ungodly.
And what if he doesn’t change? What if you spend all this time investing into a relationship and he doesn’t budge? You will then find it much harder to cut the ties, for one, and you will have wasted your time and emotions for another. There is only damage to gain by meddling with the ungodly. Again, Proverbs 22:3.
6. “But I am so lonely and finally have someone who wants me.”
I know what I’m talking about here. Being lonely can really make ungodly companionship much more enticing than it would be otherwise. Lack of godly friends or family members or fellowship really makes the burden heavier. But I think we, if we cave in and form an ungodly relationship, will find ourselves in the end more lonely than ever, as we have burned nearly every chance we had of finding a godly spouse. Ultimately, I think spiritual unity is where true fellowship is to be found. Anything else becomes more and more loathsome in time.
Be content to be alone. Let the Lord be your strength. Really, in the big picture, the Lord is the only constant. Times and seasons come and go. When all is said and done, even man returneth to his earth. Our relationships with people are only temporary, but the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. That needs to be our foundation. If you can’t be content with only Him, you won’t be content with someone else no matter how great they are.
Finally, again, don’t go by your emotions. Emotions change. Many of the lonely have become unequally yoked and long to be “lonely” again and would give anything to get away from that person, but are forced to be the companion of a reprobate for the rest of their lives. My advice is use this season now to draw near to the Lord and develop a deeper walk with Him. It will pay dividends.
How to Cast Away
1. Face the situation resolutely
Even when you KNOW the relationship is not good, it may be extremely painful to cut the ties, especially if they have formed prematurely (which is something that should be prevented as well for this reason). But it is better to weep now for a little season than weep for the rest of your life, to go to your grave with heartache, sorrow and regret, to mourn before God daily for your own headstrong foolishness that lead you into the web you can’t escape. It is better to rip the band-aid off and be done with it than to live a living death because you were afraid of a moment of pain that comes from crucifying the affections of the flesh. For what it’s worth, God ultimately showed me that He would rather me weep over my own carnality and shortcomings and propensity to sin in even being willing to compromise with the ungodly than to weep over breaking the ties with an ungodly man I ought not have a relationship with in the first place. And again, if you find you have to weep in such a situation, remember who is really at fault, because it most likely is not them. The lost have not right knowledge like the saved, so far more responsibility was on you to do the right thing and distance yourself. It can be a very hard lesson. The good news is if you deal with things in time, humbly and stick to the truth, you can experience some significant spiritual growth and victory in this area that can make it much easier to avoid temptation in the future. Cut the ties quickly and fully and don’t leave a bridge to go back over.
2. Seek godly counsel before entering a relationship
Don’t trust your own judgment or feelings. Don’t go by what appears to be right. Don’t be hasty or rash with your words or decisions. Walk circumspectly. I think one of the worst things you can do as a woman entering a relationship is look at things only through your eyes. Going at things alone is treading on thin ice, even if you are a godly person. If your parents walk with God, those are the first who should give the direction and call the shots. They are there to protect you. Having godly parents is a HUGE advantage in this situation as they know you best. If you are under the authority of godly parents you can end up skating by this all together and they can really guide your marriage or friendship. You can confide in them when you feel tempted. In the multitude of counsellers there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). But if you don’t have godly parents, inquire at the mouth of the godly and be open about the situation. Go to them that are strong in the Lord. Put down your pride and be willing to hear and to accept counsel, even if it goes against your flesh.
3. Be exceedingly careful
Don’t think yourself too spiritual to be taken in the pitfalls of carnal reasoning. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Because your flesh will make heavy use of carnal reasoning to get you to accept an ungodly relationship. If carnal emotions won’t do it, carnal reasoning will throw things at you that even seem like spiritual answers, which are incredibly deceiving. And that’s how the godly will fall, 9 times out of 10. They will fall by embracing answers that seem spiritual but are just cloaked carnality. Take heed, sister! Them that are spiritual in their counsel can go a long way in keeping you on the right path. Don’t look at things like an opportunity of the Lord if it is a clearly mixed bag. It is far more likely an attack of the devil trying to get you to fall if some ungodly person is approaching you. When it is the will of the Lord, things will be plain.
“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
This verse was a great help to me in one situation. If you find yourself flooded with a bunch of sorrow and a deeply disturbed conscience when that person is trying to come into your life in a deeper way, I would be very hesitant to assume it is of God. God gave you a conscience, and if you’re saved, the Holy Spirit. If you find yourself with a ton of conflicting thoughts and feelings that could be a very good indication that the relationship is not good and ought not be pursued. Don’t blow past it. Don’t stop your ears to that disquiet in your soul. Pay attention to those red flags. Take heed to those warnings; they are there to protect you. Save yourself the heartache and regret.
The end of the matter
My prayer for you, reader, is that you will soberly consider this matter and the great and permanent danger that comes of erring in it. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation, and beware of praying for God to bless something He already declared in His word that He would not bless, or to reveal something to you that you already have been taught.
If you are especially tempted because of loneliness, wait on the Lord. Jumping the gun is not the way. Trust in Him at all times ye people, pour out your heart before Him, and He shall direct thy paths. If you honour God in this matter, He will honour you. It might not look like the way you thought it would be when the time comes, but it will be worth the wait. God is able to orchestrate your life in the way that is best for His glory and for your temporal and eternal benefit if you submit to His will. He giveth grace unto the lowly; unto them that are willing to walk the lonely path for the sake of obeying Him. Be content with such things as ye have and where He has seen fit to place you in life. Use the time you have alone to grow in His Word and in grace.
Blessings in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ.