Introduction: Peer pressure can be good or evil. One of the reasons we are instructed of the Lord to be communal in our faith…to have fellowship in religion and not be a solo act or lone wolf, is the benefit of good peer pressure. We need to be joined in a body of saints so as to help spur us to love and good works. That famous assembly passage in Hebrews 10, where it says do not fail to assemble with other Christians, is based on the need to continually to be mutually stirred up to faithfulness and greater love. I have heard said in this congregation, I need the responsibilities of church to keep me doing right. That is good peer pressure.
But, in this short message I wish to talk about overcoming evil peer pressure. And this is warned about in the bible, too. God told the Hebrews of old do not follow a crowd or multitude to do evil. Exodus 23:2…You shall not follow a multitude to do evil. Now why say that…why not just say don’t do evil? Or don’t follow another person to do evil? Because there is power of persuasion to do wrong with everyone is doing it…or lots of people do it.
When we were children, we would drop that on our parents…”Mom, Dad, everyone is going…or everyone is doing it. So, how’d that work? Did that make it ok? Didn’t work with my mom and dad…”If everyone is jumping off a cliff…you gonna jump?” or “Not everyone is doing it, because YOU aren’t.” We so easily can be lemmings… just blindly following the blind…and what did Jesus say about that? BOTH shall fall into the ditch.
And let me insert something right here, something I think needs to be said loud and clear…peer pressure is not just a teenage problem…it is any age. It is the peer pressure grown ups feel on the job…to fit in with the group…cussing like the fellas do…going to the tavern after work to unwind. Its peer pressure for 40 and 50 year olds! Or in their social functions…to go along with the world. To party likes its 2099…to forsake the Lord for the sake of entertainment. Whether 30, 50, 70…it makes not a lick of difference. We are known of God to be easily persuaded to do do evil by those around us.
That well known verse in I Cor. 15:33…Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals…warns of the danger of peer pressure…and let me say it once again, this verse is not addressed to teens only…and isn’t primarily speaking about the classic peer pressures of sex before marriage, or drinking alcohol, or doing drugs. It is warning about how worldly unbelieving friends can wear down our convictions of the truth…in this case the belief of life beyond the grave. And look at how the verse starts…Don’t be fooled. This is something we are so susceptible to… being deceived into thinking the truth isn’t really the truth. Eve was deceived by the serpent…and we have been following in her footsteps ever since. — And let us not fool ourselves either…convincing ourselves we won’t compromise our beliefs… rather I will rub off for good on them. God says it works both ways. And we must heed the Lord’s wisdom…sinful peers will defile your beliefs in God’s ways.
So how to overcome peer pressure…
1. Better choose your friends – Psalm 1:1…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. – Avoid close companionship with unbelievers as much as you can. I know complete avoidance is impossible and what’s more…it is not pleasing to the Lord… but we can and are commanded of the Lord to avoid certain people…even certain Christians that are behaving badly. So you want to avoid negative peer pressure? Avoid hanging out with them.
2. Solidify your faith – I John 5:4…For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. – This has to be made the key to overcoming everything of the world… including peer pressure of the negative kind. So, the best defense against negative peer pressure is going on the offense by building yourself up in your most holy faith.
3. Hang out lots with good peers. — As mentioned already, this is one of the Lord’s reasons for telling His disciples…you need to come together often and eat together often and work together often. It helps us endure the onslaughts of the world. Solomon says in Eccl. 4…two are better than one and three better than two and one of the reasons he gives is that these companions can withstand pressure from others. So there you go, close companionship with good peers helps withstand negative peer pressure.
4. Believe what God says about companions – Proverbs 13:20…Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. — Now, this is just the truth of the matter, and so are we going to take it to heart or not? You can be wise by being wise about influences of others on us…and when that is not for good…then stop walking with that crowd…and get you some better friends.
Conclusion: Peer pressure can be hard to overcome..but it can be overcome. Say it with me…Help me, dear Lord to overcome the pressures of the world around me to sin. Amen.