Bad company corrupts good character

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Key verse

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”


In first Corinthians, the Apostle Paul addresses a number of issues related to both life and doctrine. Some subjects included divisions and quarrels, sexual immorality, lawsuits among believers, marriage and singleness, freedom in Christ, order in worship, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and the correct use of spiritual gifts, and a profound teaching on the resurrection.

All these topics emphasise Christian conduct in the local church. The context of our key passage today seems to be in response to false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth teaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not true. The Apostle Paul responds to this in 1 Corinthians 15:32 saying “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Paul is teaching us that in associating with false teachers, we will be adversely influenced by them. The truth is that false teachers do not lead to holiness and it is critical we are careful who we build relationships with. This is true especially to those outside the church. Unbelievers can cause even the strongest Christians to waiver in their faith and adversely affect their walk with Christ and their witness to the world. Paul is warning us not to be misled.


So how can you apply this to your life? Firstly, you need to recognise, that the most detrimental deception is “self-deception” even more than your association with bad company. Deception can enter through a corrupt heart and a polluted imagination. On the other hand, bad company also brings deception. The King James Version (KJV) phrases this verse saying “evil communications corrupt good manners”. Evil communications mean associating with evil men.

This evil communication can lead to a corruption of the mind and taint your conduct. You can easily verify this statement by looking at your past experience or even your past life. Can you recollect how many times your conduct and views have been influenced by the example of those who you associated with?

You see, corruption is a gradual change. Silently, but surely, evil communication corrupts good manners. Only a fool thinks they have the ability to resist the influence of evil or bad morals using their own ability. This is usually a tactic of the devil to tempt you. Just like he tempted Jesus in Matthew 4:6 saying ““If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”” Remember that this protection is for those who walk along the paths that the Lord requires them to walk.

The problem with bad company is that:

  • They corrupt the heart
  • Pervert character
  • Destroy reputation
  • Spoil happiness
  • Ruin the soul.

How do you resist the deception of evil communications that surrounds you daily.  Firstly avoid them. I don’t mean avoid them altogether because then you wouldn’t be able to live in this world. 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.” What this means is not to spend such a time with them that will impact your own moral standards and walk with Christ.

Instead, cultivate the company of the good. Spend time with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Hebrews 10:25 says “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This will ensure that you are consistently being encouraged and at the same time watchful over your walk with the Lord. As you do this, there is a process of correction if you are not walking properly and encourage one another to be more like Christ every day.

Next, study the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”. The Bible is helpful to all areas of our Christian walk. It teaches us, corrects us and reproves us. The scripture will help you in every area of your life. This is why we must study the word of God. This is what will be beneficial to us and also in finding the joy promised through our faith in Christ.

Finally, be watchful in prayer. Colossians 4:2 says “Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving;”. When you are not watchful in prayer, you can easily fall into temptation and you can lose sight of the truth. Matthew 26:41 says “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Rather than allowing your physical weakness to take you down in every way, pray! Pray, just like Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. When he sweat drops of blood, he did not falter but pressed on in earnest prayer to God our Father.


In conclusion, do not allow bad company or bad communication to corrupt you. Know your limits and boundaries. Run from any situation you know is taking you down, far from the behaviours that the Lord requires of you. Instead, continue to have fellowship with the family of God, spend time in reading the word of God and allow it to make you into the person God wants you to be. Finally, be watchful in prayer. Do not allow the flesh to rule instead, know that through prayer you can overcome the weaknesses of your flesh; through the power and work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

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