1 Corinthians 15:33
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Of all species of deception, self-deception is the most detrimental; it is like having a traitor in the fortress who betrays his country to an enemy. Be not deceived —
I. BY A CORRUPT HEART. An eminent man said once, "Paris is France"; it is more correct to say, "The heart is the man"; "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The seed contains the future flower, the small acorn the majestic oak, the egg the poisonous viper; so also the heart contains the germ of the future glorified saint or doomed spirit (Matthew 15:19). Every healthy man can easily see that consumptives are gradually approaching the great change; but they tell you they are improving in health, and persist in deceiving themselves to the last. We have people that are morally consumptive, "whose end is destruction." They do not believe it. "The heart is deceitful above all things," etc. These obstinately refuse the aid of the Great Physician, until their moral nature falls into the second death. "Create in me a clean heart, O God," etc.
II. BY A POLLUTED IMAGINATION. Imagination —
1. Is like a merchant's ship, she bringeth her food from afar. The poet mounts upon the wings of this imperial faculty, and brings back rich treasures from fairy land, and presents them to us in the form of poems and dramas. In ancient mythology spring is pictured as a young maiden whose lap is full of flowers, and all the paths she walks are strewn with them.
2. Is a beautiful maiden, whose voice is enchanting as the song of the nightingale. But, alas! she is not always chaste. When celebrating the inhumanities of the hero, her skirts drop human blood. When she ministers to the lusts and passions of men her crown is tarnished: she becomes a wanton coquette at the bidding of Horace, Ovid, and Byron; but at the bidding of Job, Isaiah, and Milton she becomes "a woman clothed with the sun," etc. The reason why imagination sometimes wanders to forbidden paths is because she is the slave of the heart. The influence of the moon upon the tide is not more regular and absolute than that of the heart over the imagination.
III. BY THE HABITS OF SOCIETY. The phrase "good manners" is not used now in the sense in which it is used here. We mean etiquette; but Paul meant virtue — all that is noble and heroic. Be not deceived. One may have the beauty of Venus and the charms of Cleopatra; and another the figure of Adonis and the polish of Chesterfield, and still be void of "good" manners, What are the genteel habits without religion? Apples of Sodom, having a charming outside, but an inside of dust; a dead body dressed in a white winding. sheet and decked with flowers which only hide a mass of putrefaction. So refinement, polish, and accomplishments are often only the adornments of one "dead in trespasses and sins" (1 Samuel 16:7).
(W. A. Griffiths.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
WEB: Don't be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupt good morals."