Proverbs 1:16

For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

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Fools cannot quit folly. Sinners cannot stop sinning. They run with haste to more wickedness rather than walk. They greedily rush to satisfy their evil lusts (Eph 4:17-19). Because of this trait, young men should stay as far from fools and sinners as possible.

After introducing the book of Proverbs (Pr 1:1-9), Solomon wrote a parable warning his son about the grave danger of evil associations (Pr 1:10-19). Foolish friends destroy more young men than any other factor. The parable describes a band of cutthroats seeking to entice a young man to join them, and Solomon told his son where such fools are headed.

Being asked to join a band of cutthroats is extreme, but consider the temptation for young men to join gangs in high schools or city ghettos, immoral college fraternities, subversive military or political organizations, the KKK, the Masonic Lodge, the Communist Party, labor unions, and other societies of men pursuing a wide variety of equally evil goals.

The danger of association with wicked men is their mad rush to more and more evil. No matter your desire to avoid sin and wickedness, their enticing invitations and the power of peer pressure will be too much to resist. You will go down with them, and go down they certainly will. Solomon made this clear before ending the parable (Pr 1:17-19).

Sin does not know contentment. One sin is not enough. After breaking a command of God and tasting the fruit of forbidden pleasures, it must have more. The heart becomes hardened, the conscience is seared, the lusts are inflamed, and the mind cannot forget the stolen thrills. The downhill rush to destruction has begun. What will stop the sinner?

You cannot reform wicked friends. Instead, the wicked friends will corrupt your good manners (I Cor 15:33). The safety of wisdom is simple: do not even start friendships with fools (Pr 1:10; 4:14-17; Ps 1:1-3). If you have foolish friends, forsake them immediately (Pr 9:6; 13:20; 14:7). This rule is crucial for survival and success (Pr 2:10-22).

Only God can change fools, which he did gloriously in the case of Saul of Tarsus (Titus 3:3-5). If you think you can change them, you are gravely mistaken. Be not deceived (I Cor 15:33). Another proverb concludes, “Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him” (Pr 27:22). Even Paul avoided those without faith and the fear of God (II Thess 3:1-2; II Tim 3:1-5).

The lesson is simple and weighty. Foolish friends will destroy any man. Therefore, reject all worldly friends for the friends of the king of Zion (Ps 101:1-8; 119:63,79; 144:11-15; Tit 1:8). You can find them in a local church that exalts apostolic doctrine and practice, where you can exhort and help each other to greater faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.