My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
A wise man will avoid fools. A righteous man will avoid sinners. Cheating here will cost you dearly; evil communications corrupt good manners (I Cor 15:33). These rules are especially true for youth, so Solomon taught his son to avoid the evil influences and the sinful lifestyles of fools and rebels. Peer pressure is a powerful force. A wise father will protect his children from it, and he will teach his children about it and against it.
Consider the context. Solomon first introduced the purpose for Proverbs: instruction in wisdom (Pr 1:1-6). He then stated the key axioms of fearing God and obeying parents to achieve this goal (Pr 1:7-9). After that he gave a lengthy description of the temptations and dangers of fools (Pr 1:10-19). And he closed with a personification of wisdom as a woman appealing to young men to heed her advice and warnings, or else (Pr 1:20-33).
The section begins, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Pr 1:10). It is not “if” sinners will entice a young man, but rather “when.” They will solicit him. They will offer advantages, if he will join them (Pr 1:11-14). But the consequences will be fatal to his desire and need to be wise and successful (Pr 1:15-19). My son, consent thou not!
Fools always seek others to join in their wickedness (Pr 1:10-19; 2:10-15). Whores entice men to enjoy sinful sexual pleasures (Pr 2:16-19; 5:3-21; 7:6-21; 9:13-18). A wise young man will reject both. He will keep friendships only with wise and righteous men (Pr 2:20-21), knowing the judgment that is certain to come on fools and wicked men (Pr 2:22).
God wants Christians to be separated people. The reason is simple – the world hates God, truth, wisdom, and righteousness. Take a strong Bible stand on any subject, and you will soon know this by experience. Almighty God wants His people to love only Him and live only for Him. The world will do everything it can to keep you from this objective. Friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas 4:4; I John 2:15-17).
There is grave danger you are deceived. You either think you can survive a few worldly friendships, or you will not examine your life to see where you are allowing the world to entice you. Paul wrote forcefully, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Cor 15:33). You will be corrupted; or more likely, you already are.
Friends with a worldly philosophy or lifestyle will destroy you. They will influence you to reject a holy God, to believe you are a product of evolution, that religious formalities are sufficient, that love makes everything acceptable, that you should follow your own heart, that you should accept those differing from you, that no one has all the truth, that confidence in a position is arrogant and divisive, or that God does not mind your sins.
The proverb warns against two dangers – walking in friendship with sinners, or choosing their lifestyle. In order to learn wisdom and follow righteousness, you must first avoid friendly relationships with compromisers, fools, or sinners. This is the basic requirement. You must also reject their lifestyles, for choosing their activities, attitudes, philosophies, and goals is just as corrupting and damning. Get away from them and their ways.
Where is the world enticing you or your children? Here are a few tools or institutions that will corrupt your love of God and righteousness: television, movies, music, public schools, contemporary churches, colleagues, public opinion, friendly neighbors, bestseller books, lifestyles of the rich and famous, advertising, fashion trends, and so on.
How is the world enticing you or your children? Here are its top arguments to convince you that worldly friendships are acceptable: they won’t really hurt you; they are such nice people; you need to be moderate; we can agree to disagree on certain things; I need them for professional success; I need them for social success; limiting myself to church friends is too restrictive; it is the only way I can win them to the truth; they are better than many others; and God loves us all equally just as we are. These are ten lies to destroy you.
If wisdom and success are goals, you must avoid foolish persons, for they will destroy you (Pr 13:20; 14:7; 28:7). This is not a suggestion; this is a commandment. How far should you get away? Solomon wrote, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Pr 4:14-15).
If wisdom and success are dear to you, then you must associate with wise and successful persons. Who are these people? They are good men by God’s definitions that fear Him and live wise and holy lives (Pr 13:20; Ps 119:63; Titus 1:8). Such friends can provide invaluable counsel and correction when you need them (Pr 15:22; 27:5-6,9-10,17). They will help you toward wisdom and righteousness, not away from it like worldly friends.
This proverb also applies to religious associations. You must mark and avoid anyone differing from Paul’s gospel (Rom 16:17-18). And you may justifiably curse any that preach a different gospel (Gal 1:6-9). You are to withdraw from those that violate his apostolic tradition (II Thess 3:6; I Tim 6:3-5). And you are to turn away from contemporary Christians (II Tim 3:1-5), for most of them gladly compromise (II Tim 4:3-4). It is the duty of every believer to earnestly contend for the apostolic faith (Jude 1:3).
Friends are good, if they are good friends. But good friends are only measured by their fear of God and righteous living. Where can you find such friends? In a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ, where the world and all its compromises and inventions are rejected. There the pure truth and wisdom of the apostolic gospel and the inspired scriptures are exalted, defended, and taught boldly and clearly. How do you stand regarding this rule?