Index by Subject

A.O.P.P.S.

Peer pressure is a subject that is always talked about but is often dismissed as outdated and useless in real world applications.  Whenever we talk about peer pressure we inevitably bring up alcohol, pre-marital sex, or drugs.  These are the top three in no particular order.  Additionally we tend to only make an application of peer pressure to those who are younger.  Teenagers seem to be our prime target of peer pressure lessons.  Well guess what, peer pressure doesn’t end at twenty but will only increase as we continue to age.

Adult On-Set Peer Pressure Syndrome is a condition that affects all adults. It will manifest itself in different ways, but it should be noted that we are all susceptible to A.O.P.P.S.  This is not something that is limited to the young as they go through school, but is in fact a pressure that builds as we grow older and can severely affect our spiritual and physical lives.

Let’s be clear from the beginning, peer pressure in and of itself is not a sin, but it is our response to this pressure.  Also, our response to peer pressure may not be sinful.  We can respond to peer pressure in a beneficial way, a way that is not sinful, but that is not the point of any discussion of giving in to the influence exerted on us by others.

In his epistle James writes, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:12-16).  This is the essential passage that describes the result of peer pressure.  While the influence of others is not distinctly stated here we should be able to see the proper application of peer pressure.

James exhorts us to endure temptation remembering that God is the giver of good things and will not tempt us.  Temptation does come though and it can be through the peer pressure of others.  We are presented with things that draw our attention.  Our friends and acquaintances give us their opinions and interactions with the thing under consideration.  We pay attention to their experiences and encouragements and give in to the desire.  If the thing under consideration is sinful then we are under the penalty of death because we have sinned against God.

James closes out this exhortation and warning with, Do not be deceived.  Peer pressure is very deceptive because we see so many do the thing with no tangible consequences.

Satan is the source of all peer pressure.  In Genesis 3 the serpent deceived Eve and Adam gave in to the pressure exerted upon him.

We often preach this type of lesson to those who are younger and we might go to the book of Proverbs for the teaching form Solomon.  In Proverbs 1:10-19 he warns his son about the peer pressure that he will encounter.  This peer pressure is sinful and leads to many sinful actions.  Theft, murder, and all kinds of evil are under consideration here and the warning is, Keep your foot from their path (verse 15).

But peer pressure comes upon all at different ages.  In 1 Samuel 15 we can read the account of King Saul’s mission to utterly destroy the Amalekites.  The command was simple and clear yet Saul disobeyed.  He and the people decided to bring King Agag and the best of the flocks and herds back to Israel.  Saul blames this on the people while trying to defend his actions and decisions.  This is an example of peer pressure that affects even the leader of many people.

We go forward to King Rehoboam and see another king who falls to the pressure of his peers, 1 Kings 12:8, instead of listening to the wisdom of the elders.  If we turn to 1 Kings 14:21 we find out that Rehoboam was 41 years old when he became king.  This is not a young man but he was still susceptible to heeding the bad advice of his peers.

With an understanding that peer pressure can affect us at any age, what types of things are we affected by?  The quick and ready answers are alcohol, drugs, and fornication.  We have heard these over and over throughout the years and maybe, just maybe we are beyond these things and other things need to be looked at.

One of the next things may be gambling.  Many try to justify gambling as completely amoral.  They will say that the Bible is completely indifferent about gambling and specifically that Jesus in His covenant says nothing of gambling.  Simply put gambling is based on greed, the desire to get money by means other than working for it.  In Jude 11 the greediness of Balaam is used as a warning for us.  In Ephesians 4:19 Paul writes, who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  He is speaking of those who walk according to their own will.  Peer pressure leads many to gamble justifying their actions by saying they are hurting no one.  These same will play the state lottery with the same justification.  I only have one question to ask, “If you were not going to win anything would you still play craps, blackjack, roulette, or play the lottery?”

Peer pressure also comes into play in the way we dress.  This is about modesty.  The pressure put upon us from the fashion industry, media outlets, and entertainment industry is everywhere and continually foists an image of immodesty as fashionable and chic.  Whether it is too short or too tight, too see-thru or too loose the fashions of the world should not be adopted by Christian men and women.  There is no justification for it except from the minds of men and we hear over and over, “everyone is wearing it.”  Peer pressure says show off your thighs, your abs, and your curvaceous figure because everyone wants to see.  Flaunt what you have because you worked hard for it and you deserve the admiration of others.  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  By what we wear are we causing others to look at us and lust?  This is the desire and conceiving of desire that James writes about.

What about our jobs?  The peer pressure of the world is demanding more and more of our time in work.  We know that we are to provide for our family.  Paul wrote to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus, “Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me” (Acts 20:34).  He worked to provide for himself and those with him.  We are to work to provide for our families, but some have taken this to the extreme due to the peer pressure of the world.  Whether they realize it or not there is the pressure that the dollar exerts on all of us.  Some have fallen to that pressure as they work more and more to support their lifestyle.  They say they are not rich, and that may be but they spend all of their money on their house and the things that occupy their life.  They begin to work overtime.  Overtime turns into Saturdays.  Saturdays turn into the occasional Sunday.  What was once a job has turned into the end all be all of your life.  The husband works to feed the habits of the family and the wife encourages him so that they can maintain their lifestyle.  The children do not see their father and mother and what is taught is that work is more important than all else.  When the children are old enough they take on jobs that remove them from the regular worship service, just like their parents.  The wise man wrote, “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!  Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:4-5).  The excuse that is used though is, “I am not rich, and we just get by.”  It is too bad that we can’t see the irony in our own words!

Peer pressure is most evident in our friends.  Too often we can convince ourselves that our worldly friends will not be a big influence on us.  In fact we can convince ourselves that we can be a bigger influence on them than they on us.  To be perfectly honest we can be a better influence on those around us but most of the time that influence will be ignored by those of the world.  Worldly friends are just that, they are of the world.  We must look beyond this world when we develop our friendships.

Several passages speak of the influence of worldly friends and we should recall these passages when we choose to spend time with them.  Paul wrote, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.’  Therefore ‘Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty'” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  James wrote, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).  Paul also wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits'” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  From these we should be able to determine that friendship with the world and having worldly friends is only a detriment to our spiritual state.  Paul quoted the prophet Isaiah when he wrote that we are to come out from among them.  How can we come out from among them when we continue to bring them into our circle?

The contrast to this is simple a clear; we are to be a friend of Jesus.  Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15).  How can we call Jesus our friend if we continue to have friendship with the world?  The peer pressure that we should be influenced by is the pressure from Jesus to work His righteousness.

A.O.P.P.S. is not a fluky thing that we can afford to ignore; remember what happened to Peter and Barnabas as recorded in Galatians 2.  If we do not pay close attention to the Gospel of Christ and the application thereof we present ourselves as ripe candidates for the peer pressure that Satan has planned for us.