Be not deceived - Do not impose on yourselves, and permit not others to do it.
Evil communications corrupt good manners - There are many sayings like this among the Greek poets; but this of the apostle, and which according to the best MSS. makes an Iambic verse, is generally supposed to have been taken from Menander's lost comedy of Thais.
Φθειρουσιν ηθη χρησθ 'ὁμιλιαι κακαι·
Bad company good morals doth corrupt.
There is a proverb much like this among the rabbins:
לרטיכא יכישי אוקרן רטיכא ותר יכישי אורי תרי
"There were two dry logs of wood, and one green log; but the dry logs burnt up the green log."
There is no difficulty in this saying; he who frequents the company of bad or corrupt men will soon be as they are. He may be sound in the faith, and have the life and power of godliness, and at first frequent their company only for the sake of their pleasing conversation, or their literary accomplishments: and he may think his faith proof against their infidelity; but he will soon find, by means of their glozing speeches, his faith weakened; and when once he gets under the empire of doubt, unbelief will soon prevail; his bad company will corrupt his morals; and the two dry logs will soon burn up the green one.
The same sentiment in nearly the same words is found in several of the Greek writers; Aeschylus, Sept. Theb. ver. 605: Εν παντι πραγει δ ' εσθ 'ὁμιλιας κακης κακιον ουδεν· "In every matter there is nothing more deleterious than evil communication." - Diodorus Siculus, lib. xvi. cap. 54: Ταις πονηραις ὁμιλιαις διεφθειρε τα ηθη των ανθρωπων· "With these evil communications he corrupted the morals of men."
Ταυτα μεν οὑτως ισθι· κακοισι δε μη προσομιλοπ
Ανδρασιν, αλλ ' αιει των αγαθων εχεο·
Και μετα τοισιν πινε και εσθιε, και μετα τοισιν
Ἱζε, και ἁνδανε τοις, ὡν μεγαλη δυναμις.
Εσθλων μεν γαρ απ 'εσθλα μαθησεαι· ην δε κακοισι
Συμμιχθῃς, απολεις και τον εοντα νοον.
Theogn. Sent., ver. 31-36.
Know this: Thou must not keep company with the wicked, but converse always with good men. With such eat, drink, and associate. Please those who have the greatest virtue. From good men thou mayest learn good things; but if thou keep company with the wicked, thou wilt lose even the intelligence which thou now possessest.
Be not deceived - By your false teachers, and by their smooth and plausible arguments. This is an exhortation. He had thus far been engaged in an argument on the subject. He now entreats them to beware lest they be deceived - a danger to which they were very liable from their circumstances. There was, doubtless, much that was plausible in the objections to the doctrine of the resurrection; there was much subtilty and art in their teachers, who denied this doctrine; perhaps, there was something in the character of their own minds, accustomed to subtle and abstruse inquiry rather than to an examination of simple facts, that exposed them to this danger.
Evil communications - The word rendered “communications” means, properly, a being together; companionship; close contact; converse. It refers not to discourse only, but to contact, or companionship. Paul quotes these words from Menander (in Sentent. Comicor. Greek p. 248, ed. Steph.), a Greek poet. He thus shows that he was, in some degree at least, familiar with the Greek writers; compare the note on Acts 17:28. Menander was a celebrated comic poet of Athens, educated under Theophrastus. His writings were replete with elegance, refined wit, and judicious observations. Of one hundred and eight comedies which he wrote, nothing remains but a few fragments. He is said to have drowned himself, in the 52nd year of his age, 293 b.c., because the compositions of his rival Philemon obtained more applause than his own. Patti quoted this sentiment from a Greek poet, perhaps, because it might be supposed to have weight with the Greeks. It was a sentiment of one of their own writers, and here was an occasion in which it was exactly applicable. It is implied in this, that there were some persons who were endeavoring to corrupt their minds from the simplicity of the gospel. The sentiment of the passage is, that the contact of evil-minded men, or that the close friendship and conversation of those who hold erroneous opinions, or who are impure in their lives, tends to corrupt the morals, the heart, the sentiments of others. The particular thing to which Paul here applies it is the subject of the resurrection. Such contact would tend to corrupt the simplicity of their faith, and pervert their views of the truth of the gospel, and thus corrupt their lives. It is always true that such contact has a pernicious effect on the mind and the heart. It is done:
(1) By their direct effort to corrupt the opinions, and to lead others into sin.
(2) by the secret, silent influence of their words, and conversation, and example. We have less horror at vice by becoming familiar with it; we look with less alarm on error when we hear it often expressed; we become less watchful and cautious when we are constantly with the frivilous, the worldly, the unprincipled, and the vicious. Hence, Christ sought that there should be a pure society, and that his people should principally seek the friendship and conversation of each other, and withdraw from the world. It is in the way that Paul here refers to, that Christians embrace false doctrines; that they lose their spirituality, love of prayer, fervor of piety, and devotion to God. It is in this way that the simple are beguiled, the young corrupted, and that vice, and crime, and infidelity spread over the world.
The susceptible, expanding mind of the child longs for knowledge. Parents should keep themselves well informed, that they may give the minds of their children proper food. Like the body, the mind derives its strength from the food it receives. It is broadened and elevated by pure, strengthening thoughts; but it is narrowed and debased by thoughts that are of the earth earthy. CT 121.1
Parents, you are the ones to decide whether the minds of your children shall be filled with ennobling thoughts or with vicious sentiments. You cannot keep their active minds unoccupied, neither can you frown away evil. Only by the inculcation of right principles can you exclude wrong thoughts. Unless parents plant the seeds of truth in the hearts of their children, the enemy will sow tares. Good, sound instruction is the only preventive of the evil communications that corrupt good manners. Truth will protect the soul from the endless temptations that must be encountered. CT 121.2
Let the youth be taught to give close study to the word of God. Received into the soul, it will prove a mighty barricade against temptation. “Thy word,” the psalmist declares, “have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.” Psalm 119:11; 17:4. CT 121.3Read in context »
When men are not under the control of the Word and the Spirit of God, they are captives of Satan, and we know not to what lengths he may lead them in sin. The patriarch Jacob beheld those who take pleasure in wickedness. He saw what would be the result of association with them, and in the Spirit he exclaimed, “O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united” (Genesis 49:6). He lifts up the danger signal, to warn every soul against such associations. The apostle Paul echoes the warning: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11). “Be not deceived: Evil company doth corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33, R.V.). 2SM 129.1
The soul is deceived when it trusts to worldly policy and human inventions instead of trusting in the Lord God of Israel. Can man find a better guide than the Lord Jesus? a better counselor in doubt and trial? a better defense in danger? To set aside the wisdom of God for human wisdom is a soul-destroying delusion. 2SM 129.2
If you would see what man will do when he rejects the influence of the grace of God, look to that scene in the judgment hall, when the infuriated mob, headed by Jewish priests and elders, clamored for the life of the Son of God. See the divine Sufferer standing by the side of Barabbas, and Pilate asking which he should release unto them. The hoarse cry, swelled by hundreds of passionate, Satan- inspired voices, is, “Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas” (Luke 23:18)! And when Pilate asked what was to be done with Jesus they cried, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Luke 23:21)! 2SM 129.3Read in context »
The literature that proceeds from corrupted intellects poisons the minds of thousands in our world. Sin does not appear exceeding sinful. They hear and read so much of debasing crime and vileness that the once tender conscience which would have recoiled with horror becomes so blunted that it can dwell upon the low and vile sayings and actions of men with greedy interest. 3T 472.1
“As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” God will have a people zealous of good works, standing firm amid the pollutions of this degenerate age. There will be a people who hold so fast to the divine strength that they will be proof against every temptation. Evil communications in flaming handbills may seek to speak to their senses and corrupt their minds; yet they will be so united to God and angels that they will be as those who see not and hear not. They have a work to do which no one can do for them, which is to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. They will not be self-confident and self-sufficient. Knowing their weakness, they will unite their ignorance to Christ's wisdom, their weakness to His strength. 3T 472.2
The youth may have principles so firm that the most powerful temptations of Satan will not draw them away from their allegiance. Samuel was a child surrounded by the most corrupting influences. He saw and heard things that grieved his soul. The sons of Eli, who ministered in holy office, were controlled by Satan. These men polluted the whole atmosphere which surrounded them. Men and women were daily fascinated with sin and wrong, yet Samuel walked untainted. His robes of character were spotless. He did not fellowship, or have the least delight in, the sins which filled all Israel with fearful reports. Samuel loved God; he kept his soul in such close connection with heaven that an angel was sent to talk with him in reference to the sins of Eli's sons, which were corrupting Israel. 3T 472.3Read in context »
I was shown that the two younger sons of Brother X were naturally goodhearted, conscientious young men, but that Satan had blinded their perception. Their companions were not all of that class which would strengthen and improve their morals or increase their understanding and love for the truth and heavenly things. “One sinner destroyeth much good.” The ridicule and corrupt conversation of these companions had had its effect to dispel serious and religious impressions. 3T 125.1
It is wrong for Christians to associate with those whose morals are loose. An intimate, daily intercourse which occupies time without contributing in any degree to the strength of the intellect or morals is dangerous. If the moral atmosphere surrounding persons is not pure and sanctified, but is tainted with corruption, those who breathe this atmosphere will find that it operates almost insensibly upon the intellect and heart to poison and to ruin. It is dangerous to be conversant with those whose minds naturally take a low level. Gradually and imperceptibly those who are naturally conscientious and love purity will come to the same level and partake of and sympathize with the imbecility and moral barrenness with which they are so constantly brought in contact. 3T 125.2
It was important that the associations of these young men should change. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” Satan has worked through agents to ruin these young men. Nothing can more effectually prevent or banish serious impressions and good desires than association with vain, careless, and corrupt-minded persons. Whatever attractions such persons may possess by their wit, sarcasm, and fun, the fact that they treat religion with levity and indifference is sufficient reason why they should not be associated with. The more engaging they are in other respects, the more should their influence be dreaded as companions, because they throw around an irreligious life so many dangerous attractions. 3T 125.3Read in context »