There exists a fine line between, people not judging based on appearances and Christians leading people to believe in a false idea through their example. Christians often ponder and ask questions like, “I know gambling is wrong, but is it also wrong if I work for the gambling hall and not participate in the gambling?” “I know abortion is wrong, but what if I just work at an abortion clinic but don’t openly advocate for abortion?” “I know drunkenness is wrong, but what if I just work at the liquor store and not drink?” To examine these questions in the general idea; is it wrong to associate or work with a sinful group as long as I don’t sin while with them? The same idea is used by teenagers when they claim they just went to the drinking party, but they did not drink. Can Christians sit in the seat of the scornful without being scorned?
As much as confident Christians may not like to admit the reality, living with sin and wickedness will have a negative effect on one’s spiritual life and connection to God. Paul writes, “Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). Followers of God lie to themselves and deceive themselves if they think that Christians can bind themselves into a group of sin and evil influences, and never be corrupted. God does not say that Christians might be corrupted; God assures His children that wicked camaraderie WILL corrupt good morals. Paul further writes to the church at Corinth, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened…” (1 Cor. 5:6-7a). Paul warns the Christians in Corinth that allowing people who live in sin and teach false doctrine to go unconfronted in the church is like knowing you have cancer and ignoring it, thinking that everything will be fine. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for thinking that fellowshipping with the unrepentant wicked is “good.” How can the servants of God purge themselves of their old sins and corruption while still living in the middle of it? No one should be so arrogant to think that association and work with sin will leave one untouched and unspotted by the world (James 1:27: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”). Christians may make more money and have an easier job working for sinful organizations, but at what cost to their spiritual life? Christ asks, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
Consider a second aspect, being a stumbling block to the brethren (Rom. 14:21: “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”). If a Christian works in a place of sin and a new, impressionable, babe in Christ witnesses or hears his/her work and association with the sinful organization, the young Christian could easily mistake the Christian’s presence and work with the organization as advocating and supporting the sinful work. It is a matter of direct association (Prov. 13:20; Heb. 12:15). If a person works at a hospital where doctors abort babies, should that Christian resign? No. One does not associate every hospital with abortion. Hospitals do a million other medical services, so just being a doctor or a nurse at a hospital does not immediately associate the Christian with abortion. Should a Christian work at a supermarket where alcohol is sold? The same principle applies. Supermarkets sell thousands of things, so one would not directly associate the Christian with advocating alcohol. However, these situations would be different if the Christians worked at an abortion clinic or a shop that solely sells alcohol.
Take the biblical example of meats offered to idols in the first century (1 Cor. 8; Rom. 14). In the first century, it was common practice for idolaters to feast and eat of the meats offered to their idols as a way to honor and praise their false deities. Sometimes the pagan priest would sell the meats offered to the gods at a discount and keep the profits. New Christians who converted from paganism seeking to separate themselves from idolatry were confused and offended when mature Christians ate or bought of the meats offered to idols because the new Christians believed that their brethren endorsed the praise and worship of idol gods:
“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak” (1 Cor. 8:4-9).
Christians should never offend the weak consciences of their brethren in Christ through their liberties. Even if the Christian has the right to do something, the Christian must always take into consideration how it will be viewed by new Christians or people considering conversion (1 Cor. 6:12). What is Paul’s conclusion? “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor. 8:12,13). Better to withhold one’s liberties than offend the weak brother/sister. The church should seek to separate themselves from the sinful world, not stand as associates (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Christians are responsible for sitting a good example in the world, they should never misrepresent or cause confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. Romans 14:12,13: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”