There are certain people whom it is best not to befriend. Proverbs 13:20 warns, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
Pick your close friends carefully, because you will become like them.
Paul had just described the foolish nature of the end–time generation: “Men will be lovers of themselves [self–centered, narcissistic], lovers of money, boasters, proud [arrogant], blasphemers [slanderers, verbally abusive], disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving [heartless], unforgiving, slanderers, without self–control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors [disposed toward betrayal], headstrong [disposed toward recklessness], haughty [‘puffed up’], lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim 3:2–-4).
The standing order for true believers is to “continually avoid people like these.” The verb continually avoid means to “turn away from or shun,” and not only is this to be a constant action, but it is in the middle form, which means to “make yourself avoid” these people. The implication is that this is not an easy decision to practice, so we have to make ourselves obey it.
The context is dealing with liberal or false teachers whose teachings can take the form of sacramentalism, ecumenism, scientism, subjectivism, experientialism, mysticism, pragmatism, rationalism, or philosophies that sound reasonable and pious.
Since their beliefs do not come from the Scripture, they inevitably contradict the written word of God, playing it down as less important than their “fresh” revelation. All believers must be taught to recognize and avoid such teachings.
The harshness of this command must be balanced with the earlier command: “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, . . . correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim 2:24).
Our enemy is astute and loves to create error and division among the family of God. Lord, keep us true to Your word.
“Dear Father, thank You for giving us such clear teachings about the kinds of people we should avoid as we live to give You glory. Help me not to be blindsided by those who reject You.”