He was a brand new “baby Christian” and had made a quality decision to follow Jesus. He had new desires and motivations. He wanted to please the Lord and overcome sinful habits. He was experiencing the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the renewal of his thinking (Romans 12:1-2) But he was clearly having a struggle! Old friends and associates were still hanging around and applying a lot of pressure to return to the old lifestyle!
Apostle Paul addressed this issue… He warned the Christians in Corinth, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning!” (1 Cor 15:33-34 NIV)
In another location this is what Apostle Peter said about that challenge: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. But remember that they will have to face God, who stands ready to judge everyone, both the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:3–5 NLT)
In my Bible reading this morning I read a verse that puts the issue even more directly: The psalmist said, “Depart from me, you evildoers, so that I may keep the commandments of my God!” (Psalm 119:115 ESV)
If you have “decided to follow Jesus… No turning back! No turning back!” sometimes you just have to tell those who would pressure you to go back into sin, “Get lost! I’m going to follow Jesus and live for Him!”
So here’s my advice as someone who has discipled a lot of new Christians: Of course you want to see the old friends that you ran with and caroused with (and sinned with) come to the Lord! But you can’t allow them to pressure you to return to your old way of life! How does the Bible put it? “Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:22 NIV) If your old friends will not receive your witness and testimony and try to pressure you to go back to your old lifestyle, you may have to distance yourself from them and even frankly tell them, “Get lost! I have decided to follow Jesus!” Someone else may have to be the person God uses to bring the Gospel to them.
Just say’n! You can’t afford to jeopardize your relationship with the Lord by turning your back on Him and going back into sin!