“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” I Corinthians 15:33. Today we would say evil associations corrupt good habits. The Bible is explicit in the precept and also illustrative of this unalterable principle that the people we associate with will have an effect on us for good or for evil. This is one reason that the Lord told lsrael they were to live separate from idolaters. (See Numbers 23:9.)
The Lord gave them explicit instruction on this point in regard to marriage. (See Deuteronomy 7:3.)
But this instruction applies not only to marriage but to any prolonged or serious association. “The followers of Christ are to separate themselves from sinners, choosing their society only when there is opportunity to do them good. We cannot be too decided in shunning the company of those who exert an influence to draw us away from God. While we pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ (Luke 11:4), we are to shun temptation, so far as possible.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 458.
All associations have an effect on us but there are specific types of associations that are potentially much more dangerous than any others where we place ourselves in a subordinate relationship. For example:
- The teacher-student relationship—A student’s mind is open to the ideas presented, even if they are error.
- The mentor relationship—Often is seen the identical thought pattern emerge from a young person that was urged by his/her mentor.
- The counselor relationship—Marriage counselor, financial or other kind of counselor. Marriage counselors have broken up many marriages. A decision to get non-Christian marriage counseling should never be taken lightly.
- The pastor or priest relationship—Often error is taught and accepted without critical thought because of the source of the information. (For New Testament Christianity, see Acts 17:11.)
A spiritual war is being fought and is becoming more bitter and fierce. Guard the avenues to your soul. “God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go … . The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him… .” Early Writings, 125.
“Again I was shown the necessity of those who believe we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily receiving or imbibing new error. I saw that neither young nor old should attend the assemblies of those who are in error and darkness. Said the angel, ‘Let the mind cease to dwell on things of no profit.’ ” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 425.