Scripture: Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians, chapters 15-16
1 Corinthians 15:20-34 (NASB):
But the fact is, Christ has been raised form the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man death came, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at his coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to our God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and all power. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, ‘All things are put in subjection,’ it is clear that this excludes the Father who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. For otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why are we also in danger every hour?
I affirm, brothers and sisters, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, that I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what good is it to me? If the dead are not raised, LET’S EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE.
Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Sober up morally and stop sinning, for some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
Bad company corrupts good morals. Paul is obviously quoting something that he expects the Corinthians to recognize. It is apparently not a direct quote from the Old Testament; the NASB does not capitalize it (as in other parts of this passage). The idea is certainly Biblical, but the question is: how far do we take it? We need to remember what Paul has said previously. For example, in a passage we read last week, Paul talks about not associating with immoral people. His comment referred to people in the church, not outside. “For then you would have to leave the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10).
But we do need to pay attention to how much the world influences us, because the world is opposed to God and His kingdom. We are part of the world, to be sure. Jesus prayed (John 17) not that God would take us out of the world, but that he would protect us while we are in the world. But we have to do our part by paying attention to the ways that the world seeks to influence us, and acting intentionally to counteract that influence.
We can see this in the way that the Church has accepted the world’s standards in contrast to the truth of Scripture. I’m not talking about things that are “convictions,” where some groups of believers choose to avoid certain behaviors which are otherwise acceptable. I’m talking about clear Biblical teaching – for instance, in matters of sexuality and marriage. Segments of the Church have pretty much ignored what Scripture teaches in this area, and adopted the “anything goes” attitude of the world. Bad company corrupts good morals.
One way that I believe good morals have been corrupted has been in the name of “compassion.” Now, don’t misunderstand; we should be compassionate to people, no matter what their issues may be. But there is a difference between being compassionate and approving sinful behavior. Some people may argue that it is hard to walk this line, but it’s not – Jesus showed us how to do it. We see it best in the instances where Jesus said something like this: “your sins are forgiven; go and leave your life of sin.” God is ready to forgive, and to begin the work of restoring people to what He created them to be. He calls us to join Him in that work. But that process of forgiveness and restoration has to begin with an acknowledgment of our sinfulness. Any “compassion” that claims that sinful behavior is acceptable and even “good” makes a mockery of Scripture and the promise of transformation that God offers to all of us.
What that means for us, I believe, is clear: bad morals are those which accept and applaud sinful behavior – even in the name of “compassion.” Real compassion sees brokenness and tries to point people toward God’s answer – forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ.
Father, thank You for the promise of forgiveness and new life in Jesus. Thank You for making that forgiveness and new life available to all who believe. Help us to walk in Your ways, that the new life may be evident in us. Guard us against any worldly “compassion” that would accept sin in the name of kindness. Any “compassion” that does not point people toward You is simply greasing the rails toward destruction. Help us to avoid bad ideas that corrupt good morals, no matter where those ideas may originate. Sanctify us by the truth; Your word is truth. Amen.