Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
We need to be careful who we associate with. Again, I do not mean that we should never be around anyone who ever does anything wrong, but we need to limit our time around those who do not pursue godliness. The people we are around will influence us to be like them, and it is far more likely for the “bad” to influence the “good” than the other way around. We also need to be careful that this does not lead us into judgment. Some may take this as license to put others down or reject them because they don’t live up to certain standards. First, we must judge people based on God’s word, not on our own standards. Second, we must not judge those who are not saved. We cannot expect those who do not believe in Jesus to live like Jesus. That being said, unbelievers should not be our best friends, for this reason. The Bible says elsewhere not to be unequally yoked. (2 Cor 6:14) Sure we can be friends, otherwise we would have no way to introduce them to God, but we need to be careful of how much we are influenced by them. Third, we should not put people down saying they aren’t good enough, or that we are better. The right kind of judging looks at their actions and compares them to the Bible. The wrong kind looks at the person and compares them to self. We need to have grace with others and accept that no one is perfect. We should rather look at lifestyles and compare them to Christ. The people we should be closest to should live like Christ. It should be evident to all that Christ is more important to them than anything so that they live lives of godliness and integrity. When the first part of the verse says not to be deceived, it is a staunch warning. It is so easy to think that we can keep ourselves from being influenced by others, or that what they do isn’t that bad (i.e. fools). But that is deception. God knows our hearts and our natures. We become like those we listen to, this includes what we listen to (music, radio, tv, books etc.) If we want to be godly Christians, then we need to have godly Christians as our greatest influence. We need to listen to godly music and most importantly read the Bible regularly. We cannot have God’s wisdom, guidance or influence if we are not spending time with Him, in the same way that we cannot become super athletes if we eat junk food and sit on the couch all day. It just doesn’t work. Ask God to help you in your relationships, if you are committed to living in godliness, ask Him to surround you with godly people. If you have friends that are not a good influence on you, ask Him to help you in that situation. You can’t just say “I won’t be friends anymore.” Ask Him for wisdom, grace and guidance. Above all, be the kind of friend you want to have.
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