The Influence of Association
1 Corinthians 15:33
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

When we find the heathen and Christian giving utterance to the same sentiment we ought the more to heed its importance. We are so constituted and circumstanced that none of us can live to himself, and none of us can die to himself. Each necessarily exerts a great influence on many others, and is acted on in turn by those with whom he is associated. If "evil commumications corrupt good manners," it is to be inferred that good communications work for good upon the character. Of course in each case it must be supposed that the association is both intimate and voluntary. It does not always come to pass that the child of religious parents is religious himself; neither is every one who lives with the ungodly a partaker in their ungodliness.

I. THERE IS IN ALL OF US CONSIDERABLE DESIRE OF BEING ESTEEMED OR APPROVED. This desire is morally allied to that dislike of being singular which has so mighty an operation upon men. With those with whom we are in constant intercourse, we wish, if possible, to stand well, and we feel that this cannot be, so long as there is distinct opposition in their principles and motives to our own; and it is almost a necessary consequence that we shall gradually assimilate ourselves to their tastes and tendencies, and thus seek to escape the unpleasantness of being singular, and therefore of being tacitly disapproved, by acquiring resemblance, or softening down points of difference. For instance, suppose a man, not of vicious habits himself, thrown continually into association with the dissolute. He will feel that there is no affinity between himself and his companions, and it will be very galling to feel himself thus an object of dislike, whilst his desire is to be esteemed. But what is galling he will endeavour to escape from. Then the question is as to the mode of escape. If he be possessed of great moral courage, he may break loose from the pernicious associations; but if not he will cease to be singular by becoming like. He may not form any distinct resolution of this, but the almost certainty is that his virtuous principles will be undermined, and he will gradually get rid of what was unpleasant in his situation by getting rid of what was offensive in his character.

II. OVER AND ABOVE THIS DESIRE OF APPROVAL, CONSIDER THE FORCE OF EXAMPLE. Our nature is prone to imitation, and practically seeing a thing done is more likely to move us to the doing of the same than any precept we can enforce. Undoubtedly men do feel encouraged to do evil by seeing others do it, just as though less danger were incurred by breaking God's laws in company than in breaking them alone. A man whose conscience has been active, remonstrating against a particular sin while he has not mixed with those who are in the habit of that sin — place him with such persons, and you know very well that he will be led through the mere force of example to its habitual commission. Conclusion: We think we have said enough to warrant us in urging, especially upon the young, the vast importance of taking heed with whom they make their association. We might almost dare to say on the strength of the foregoing statements, that in choosing your companions for time you choose your companions for eternity. Never, therefore, let it be thought that it can be a trivial or unimportant thing with whom you contract intimacies. Rather be assured, that such is necessarily the influence of man upon man, that to make friends with the righteous is to gain a vast assistance towards saving the soul, and to make friends with the wicked is to advance a long stage towards everlasting ruin.

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

WEB: Don't be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals."

The Evils of Bad Company
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