Introduction: Recently, I heard of a Christian singer who walked out
of the Grammy Awards. I said to myself, “Good for her.” I had watched
part of the show and was unhappy that instead of sticking to music,
some of the participants chose to promote evil. This past Sabbath my
pastor pointed to what this Christian singer had done and asked,
“What would Jesus have done?” I thought, “I need to reconsider my
prior attitude.” One way I decide what I should do is to ask myself,
“Will this promote evil or will this promote the Kingdom of God?”
This Christian singer took a stand by saying that she would not be a
part of the promotion of evil. On the other hand, Jesus seemed to
constantly be hanging around with evil-doers. Let’s dive into our
study of the Bible and see what lessons we can learn!

  1. Gathering Evil

    1. Read Luke 15:1-2. Would you like sinners to come to your
      church to hear the gospel?

      1. What point do you think the religious leaders were
        making? (They were concerned that Jesus was promoting
        sin by associating with sinners. Those gathering
        around were social outcasts.)

      2. Were the religious leaders concerned about status or

      3. Aside from the regular members, do sinners flock to
        your church? What about social outcasts?

      4. Do we have a problem if sinners or social outcasts do
        not gather at our church to hear the gospel? Is the
        problem that we have the attitude of the religious
        leaders in this story?

    2. Read Luke 15:3-7. Jesus tells this story to illustrate why
      it is good for sinners and tax collectors to come to hear
      the gospel. What is Jesus’ point? (The unrighteous need to
      be converted, not the righteous. How can you convert the
      unrighteous unless you seek them?)

      1. Does this answer the question about what the
        Christian singer should have done at the Grammy

        1. What if sinners held a meeting to celebrate
          sin, and a Christian came to hear them? Have
          we reversed the facts of Jesus’ sheep story?

        2. If we have, should this change our conclusion?

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 5:9-10. What does Paul say about
      associating with sinners? (If we live in the world we must
      associate with pagans.)

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 5:11. What standard does Paul apply to
      the issue of associating with sinners? (He says don’t
      associate with sinners who claim to be Christians.)

      1. Wait a minute! Everyone in my church is a sinner
        (including me)! What is Paul’s point? (Paul’s
        concern is about harming the gospel. If you make no
        pretense about God, then I can associate with you.
        But, if you say you are promoting God, but you
        promote Satan instead, then I should not associate
        with you.)

    5. Read 1 Corinthians 5:12-13. Why expel the sinner? Doesn’t
      the sinner need to be in church? Why should we expel one
      sinner when we are encouraging other sinners to attend
      church? (The only thing that makes sense to me is to ask,
      “What is this person doing to the church and to the
      gospel?” The sinners who came to Jesus wanted to learn
      something better. They wanted to change. The sinner in
      the church who promotes sin, who wants to lead people away
      from the gospel, needs to be tossed out.)

    6. Let’s revisit our Christian singer at the Grammy Awards.
      Now what do you think she should have done? (Clearly the
      Grammy Awards represent “the people of the world” and not
      the church. Paul says that we should expect them to
      promote evil.)

      1. What about the principle that we should expel from
        church those who promote evil? The idea is that
        Christians should not promote evil, and therefore
        this Christian singer could say, “My influence here
        promotes evil – because people will say I approve of

    7. I’m still uncertain about the right answer here. Let’s
      turn next to several stories about Jesus to see if we can
      sharpen our thinking!

  2. Tax Collectors Ahead

    1. Read Matthew 21:28-30. Which son did what his father

    2. Read Matthew 21:31-32. Jesus asks the same question I just
      asked you. How do you think Jesus answers this question?
      (Jesus agrees that performance is more important than

      1. How are tax collectors and prostitutes doing “what
        the father wanted?” If performance is what our Father
        in heaven wants, how can Jesus equate prostitutes
        with the son who agreed to work? (Look again at
        Matthew 21:29 and Matthew 21:32. We see that the good
        son “changed his mind.” The tax collectors and
        prostitutes “repent and believe.”)

    3. Read Matthew 21:33-39 and Matthew 21:45. The religious
      leaders know that Jesus is talking about them! What kind
      of attitude do they have towards Jesus? (They are hostile.
      They want to kill Him.)

    4. Let’s put these two stories together. What is the complete
      picture of the tax collectors, tenants, prostitutes and
      religious leaders? (The religious leaders say the right
      words, but they are hostile to Jesus. They do not believe
      or repent. The tax collectors and prostitutes used to say
      and do the wrong thing, but they change their mind, repent
      and obey God.)

    5. What kind of tax collectors and prostitutes should we
      voluntarily associate with? (Those who seek truth, who are
      not hostile to the gospel.)

    6. What kind of sinners should we not voluntarily associate
      with? (Those who say they are following the truth, but who
      are hostile to the gospel.)

    7. One more time, the Grammy Awards! Did the Christian gospel
      singer do the right thing? (Considering the texts we have
      read, I think the answer is “yes.” It is true that she was
      in the world, and not in the church, but she was in the
      middle of a program where some of the participants were
      making the argument that sin is morally right. They were
      evangelizing for sin!)

  3. Discerning Hostility

    1. Read Mark 5:1-5. Is this fellow dangerous? How would you
      like him living in your neighborhood?

    2. Read Mark 5:6. Don’t miss this, “from a distance, he ran”
      towards Jesus. How would you feel if he was running
      directly towards you?

      1. We discussed pagans who are hostile to the gospel as
        opposed to those who are coming to hear the gospel.
        Our conclusion was that we should resist those who
        are hostile. How would you classify this fellow when
        he was in the running phase? (Not just hostile, but
        incredibly dangerous! We might have to reconsider our
        prior conclusion!)

    3. Read Mark 5:7. Now that you hear what this man says, would
      consider him hostile? (He acknowledges who Jesus is, and
      asks Jesus not to hurt him!)

      1. What does the contrast between the man’s actions and
        his words teach us? (We need to be careful about who
        we classify as being hostile.)

    4. Read Mark 5:8-12. What is the problem with this fellow?
      (He is demon-possessed.)

      1. Are the enemies of the gospel demon-possessed?

    5. Read Mark 5:18-20. What does this teach us about the
      possibility for people who seem hostile to the gospel?
      (Leaving to one side the question of whether they are
      involuntarily or voluntarily in tune with Satan, this
      shows the great potential for someone who leaves Satan’s

  4. Simple Outcasts

    1. Read John 4:7-9. What was the obvious social differences
      between Jesus and this woman? (She was both a Samaritan (a
      Jew of mixed blood) and she was a woman.)

      1. Is she hostile to Jesus? (Somewhat.)

    2. Read John 4:13-18. It is odd that this woman comes to the
      well by herself. Her background tells us why – she was a
      moral outcast. She is not just a Samaritan and a woman,
      but she is even rejected by Samaritan women! What is the
      lesson for us? (The gospel is for everyone. No one is too

    3. Friend, we need to be aware of our influence, and we need
      to be alert to the adverse influence of sinners in the
      church. However, the stories of Jesus’ life show us that
      we are here to save everyone. No one is unworthy of the
      gospel. Will you put this into action in your life?

  5. Next week: With the Rich and Famous.