“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” The context for this verse is Paul’s teaching on the resurrection. There were some in the church at Corinth who were not only being negatively influenced by incorrect teaching about the resurrection, but also by their association with people of questionable character. Paul founded the church at Corinth during his second missionary journey and ministered there for eighteen months. After his departure, he later received a report of problems within the church. Corinth was one of the largest cities in the Roman world. It was also one of the most corrupt. Instead of growing in spiritual maturity, the church was characterized by their immaturity. There were many issues Paul addressed in writing to the Corinthians, but a primary purpose of his letter was to exhort them to break away from the negative influence of the culture in which they lived.
The culture in which we live exerts great influence as well. As certain phases of life end, others begin, bringing with them new sets of influences as new relationships are formed. These influences can either be good or bad. In Corinth, just as there is today, evil influence exists. But it is also the case that, though it may not necessarily be evil, the influence of new relationships can cause us to be less than what God desires for His children. Are you mindful and on guard for this subtle influence?
As a child of God, Satan can’t impact our relationship with God. He can, however, do much to affect our fellowship with Him. It is impossible to completely avoid culture’s influence on our lives, and as Christians, we are called to engage the world in which we live with the gospel, but we must always be careful of the company we keep. We must “put on the whole armor of God” daily (Ephesians 6:11). One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to have us believe that our own strength is enough to avoid being impacted by negative influences. This is why knowledge of God’s Word is so critical; it helps us to discern His will. It is also the means by which the Holy Spirit gives us a filter with which to see the world. Our strength is the Spirit’s presence in us. Those in the church at Corinth failed to take this seriously. We must not! Our culture is challenging, but our God is greater. As you enter new phases of life, meet new people and develop new friendships, let me ask, are you pointing them to Christ or are they pointing you away from Him? Are you changing them or are they changing you? Don’t be deceived, it matters!
Father, our culture exerts great influence. We are tempted by it, and in our own strength completely incapable of standing against it. God, we know that you are the one who changes hearts. Thank you for changing mine. Help me to be a positive influence on other people by pointing them to Christ. Lord, thank you for your goodness and your grace. Let my life be lived for your glory each day. Amen!