The bad company corrupt good moral quote is generally understood as shunning evil friends that will ruin your Good character.
Did Paul mean avoiding your bad friends or was he talking about false teachers of the gospel of Christ?
It is not surprising that having friends with bad characters will influence your choices. This is especially important for young men and women who can easily be swayed by their peers.
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”
Proverbs 13: 20
The Bible encourages us to stick with Good friends that will always be on our side.
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” Proverbs 12:26
Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals: What Did Paul Mean?
The bad company corrupts good character quote was drawn from the first letter Paul wrote to Christians at Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34, Paul said
Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character. Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (New International version)
Paul is reminding the Christians at Corinthians that they must associate with the truth of God’s word – That evil communications unquestionably affect our actions, reasoning, behaviors, and faith in Jesus.
Before verse 33, he described great unbelief among the early Christians about Christ resurrection.
They never belied christ has resurrected, and they were confused about what bodily form Christ will take after the resurrection.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15: 12
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
Because of their unbelief, Paul warned the Christians in Corinthian to stay away from them (false preachers). This is mainly because they do not speak the truth about Christ. They did not have faith in Christ resurrection and would undoubtedly corrupt the mind of other Christians preaching a false gospel.
They also did not know God. This was unlike Paul who received his teaching by direct revelations by Jesus Christ.
I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1: 11, 12
In verse 36, he called the false preachers fools for not understanding the ways of God. They were confused about the new body Christ will take after the resurrection.
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 1 Corinthians 15:35-36
Later on, he described the new body of Christ resurrection. He explains how our earthly body will be transformed into a heavenly body.
There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 1 Corinthians 15:40
Evil communications corrupt good manners: A call to action
Understanding the ways of God, and the truth of the gospel is essential for our salvation.
God is highly critical of men who deceive the gullible without a proper understanding of the scriptures. Here are three main takeaway from Paul teaching.
1. We must follow Christ truly
Since we have been called by his grace, we must follow Christ at all times. Following Christ means living a life without sin and striving for perfection.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect Matthew 5:48
However, following Christ come through faith and faith comes through hearing the word of God. The only way to know God truth is by studying the scriptures. Learning the ways of Christ and doing them is what counts.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
At all times, we must examine yourself to ensure we are following the truth of the gospel. We must check every teaching that we believe.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5
2. Keep Godly friends
The kind of friend you keep says a lot about you. Your friends are there to support you in time of need. They will also pick you up when things aren’t going well.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
However, if you keep bad company, you may find yourself isolated in times of need. A bad friend will generally flee when you need them. They are always around you because of the short term benefits they enjoy.
Therefore, the kind of friends you keep can affect your fight for salvation. We should always keep friends who are believers in christ.
3. Be steadfast in our belief in God
Jesus Christ emphasized the need for us to stay firm in the true gospel rather than believe in false prophets that perform miracles in his name.
And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. Matthew 24:11
We should not be swayed by any new doctrine that comes our way. We should always stick to the true gospel of Christ and believe in him.
Christ himself said
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. Matthew 24:4
Finally, Paul advises us to be immovable and stand firm in the belief of Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58