“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor 15:33)
In order to properly understand this verse, we need to translate two words into our modern vocabulary. First of all, consider the word ‘COMMUNICATIONS.’ “…evil communications corrupt good manners.” We think of communication simply as talking with others. While this is true, the Greek word that is used here also has an additional meaning. It also refers to our ‘companions.’ “Evil companions corrupt good manners.”
Secondly, consider the word ‘MANNERS.’ “…evil communications corrupt good manners.” It is the Greek word ‘ethos’ from which we get the English word – ethics. “Evil companions can corrupt good ethics.” Ethics, as many of you know, is a system of moral principles that help to guide our life. Our ethics not only influence our morals; they also influence our emotions and behavior. Though we may not realize it, we all have a personal system of ethics. We all have a standard of what we believe is right and wrong and more often than not, we think and live according to our system of ethics.
Now, go back with me to our verse. Paul is telling us that evil companions can defile our system of ethics. This truth can be seen in the story of a young man named Amnon and his evil friend Jonadab. (read 2 Samuel 13:1-14)
As many of you know, David had many wives. Because he had more than one wife, he had many children who were ‘half’ brothers and sisters. One of his sons named Amnon lusted after his half-sister Tamar.
At first, Amnon was convicted by his ethics and resisted his sinful feelings towards Tamar. But then the Bible says –“But Amnon had a friend who name was Jonadab.” (2 Samuel 13:3) One day as the two young men were hanging out, Amnon revealed to Jonadab his lust for Tamar. Jonadab responded by giving Amnon an evil plot whereby he could take advantage of Tamar. Jonadab’s sinful words fueled Amnon’s lust and so he did as his friend suggested. Even though Tamar tried to resist Amnon’s advancement, he forced himself upon her and raped her.
Consider Solomon’s words of warning to his son about choosing the wrong kind of friends.
Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11 If they say , Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
It’s been many years since I first heard the story of Amnon and Jonadab, but I have never forgotten it. “Amnon had a friend” the Bible says. Perhaps it should say – “Amnon had the wrong friend.”