Bad Company & Bad Doctrine = Corrupt Living

5.26.23 Devo Image

“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.”—1 Corinthians 15:33–34 (NIV)

What and who is Paul talking about? Well, where do you think the Corinthian Christians got their incorrect ideas regarding the resurrection of the dead? Where do you think the Church got the wrong idea about slavery in the 1500–1800s? Where do you think believers today get the wrong ideas about the Holy Spirit, the whole name-it and claim-it movement, gender and sexuality? 

Like today, the Corinthians got their wrong ideas from people who influenced them. In their case, it was likely groups of false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth teaching that there was no resurrection from the dead. Perhaps they were a group of Judaizers who came from a Sadducee tradition or those who had merged Christian ideas with pagan Greek philosophy—similar to how there is a lot of New Age influence in sections of the modern church.  

This brings us to two vitally important ideas:

  1. In 1 John 4:1 (MSG), the apostle John shares this incredible advice: “My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.” This is why it’s so necessary that we as believers spend consistent, intentional time in the Word, mining the depths of Scripture, understanding the context, and discerning the purpose and practical application of it. When we’re not hiding the Word in our hearts, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth and to be deceived into embracing lies, which cuts us off from the power of the gospel and may even cause us to perpetuate a false gospel.

  2.  We must be careful about who we choose to do life with. One Bible commentator wrote, “This speaks to the vital need described in Romans 12:2: ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ By keeping evil company, the Corinthian Christians were being conformed to this world.”

Like in 1 Corinthians 5 where the people were failing to address unrepentant sin and who they kept company with, when we do life with and essentially bind ourselves in friendships and close relationships with people who claim to be believers and yet espouse and seek to influence you with unbiblical, heretical, damaging, anti-Christian ideology, it’s very easy for us to become influenced and corrupted in our thinking. This is why Paul says, “Come back to your senses.”

Does this mean to completely cut these people out of your life? Perhaps or perhaps not. It could be that you approach them in truth and love and help them work through the falsehoods if they’re open to it. But it could be that you have to pull back partially or even entirely from associating with them.

Those who are out there spreading lies in the Church must be confronted according to the principles outlined in Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 5—for the good of the person caught up in false doctrine and for the health of the Church. 

I pray these words are received with the right heart, not legalistically, for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of the Church! 

Pause: How does bad company corrupt good character?

Practice: Pray for those who are caught up in lies that, as Paul says in Galatians 1:6 (NIV), are “turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all.” Ask the Lord to reveal the truth of the pure gospel of Jesus to them, and ask Him to protect you from “fine-sounding arguments that are hollow and deceptive philosophy and depend on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:4–8 NIV).

Pray: Father, protect me from the lies that seek to alienate me from Christ and cause me to fall away from grace (Galatians 5:4). By the power of the Holy Spirit, I pray I would not be conformed “to the pattern of this world,” but instead I would “be transformed by the renewing” of my mind so that, as I become more and more conformed to the image of Christ, I would be “able to test and approve” Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.