The Corruption of Good Habits

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The Corruption of Good Habits

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We humans are designed to be social creatures. We need one another and our lives are only complete when we are with others. One problem we all face is exposure to the many people who have not lived in a way that is a credit to them personally or to their families and nation. There are people who have terrible habits that often lead to immoral lives and a depth of unhappiness that is hard to describe.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:33 1 Corinthians 15:33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
American King James Version×
: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” It is not easy for us to believe that. We tend to think that with our good habits we should reach out to those with bad habits and help them. Jesus was criticized by the Jews for socializing with sinners, but we are not Jesus. While it is a good thing to help others, it is not a good idea to spend a lot of time with them. We tend not to believe that we will be changed for the worse by those we wish to help.

I have observed some marriages where quite wonderful and caring young women marry men who have terrible habits. The wife seems to think that the husband will change. Some very sad lives have resulted from this erroneous thinking. God says evil company corrupts the good—not that the good should seek out and change the evil.

Youth can be easily ensnared by bad habits if they do not have guidance

Our young people have many opportunities. Education, travel, and material wealth are all attainable. When a person has high standards of behavior, his or her success is almost guaranteed. It has long been the responsibility of parents, teachers, and churches to teach standards of behavior to the young. When the adult generation falters in this area, the young suffer.

Discipline, self-esteem, honesty, the love of the truth, and respecting others are all principles that need to be taught. We are not born with them. Many young people are often left to fend for themselves and learn by experience. That can be terribly painful, and it can be fatal. One of the major causes of death among youth is suicide. Accidents are the greatest cause and many are caused by irresponsible actions. Driving at breakneck speeds, taking risks, and “living on the edge” are all hard at work in the young, especially when bad habits rub off on friends.

No generation has been perfect, but each generation has had some remarkable people. The current generation of young people is also developing some wonderful human beings. But it is facing a growing number of broken families and a great loss of the values that develop good habits. People avoid being “too religious” and our nation proclaims that we are not a Christian nation. The way of life, which at one time was emphasized in our land, is fading away. A few decades ago, school classes began with prayer. Churches and clergy were respected. Teachers were thought to be important. Family honor was a strong factor in the actions of the young. The thought of bringing shame to one’s family helped focus a person on the right path. Right and wrong were taught.

The world grows more corrupt each day

Many things have changed. We constantly read of corruption and graft and immorality among the leading businessmen and politicians these days. Surely, none of us are so naïve as to think that evil did not exist before, but the degree of corruption has escalated. Good habits have given way to the satisfaction of the “needs” of the self. That mindset is what the Bible warns about for the last days, as people become “lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:1-7 2 Timothy 3:1-7 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×
). Self-gratification has become an imperative in the last decade or so. The days have become dangerous because the focus is on the self. “Lovers of pleasure” is a label that applies to far too many people. In verse 6, Paul states that these “creep into households,” and one has the impression that evil seeps into a society, a home, or a personal life.

We have often said, “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (attributed to Lord Acton).These words, too, reflect a seeping in of wrong values that undermine good habits. People who are good leaders with high standards and values can be caught up in this degeneration. God was displeased with the teachers who had the responsibility to teach His way in Israel and failed. Ezekiel 44:23 Ezekiel 44:23And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
American King James Version×
states, “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy...”

God inspired Malachi to point out the faults of the priesthood who had the responsibility to teach “good habits” (God’s way of living). Malachi 2:8-9 Malachi 2:8-9 [8] But you are departed out of the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, said the LORD of hosts. [9] Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as you have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
American King James Version×
states that people have departed from “the way” and stumbled at “the law.” He goes on to say that they had become “contemptible and base.” Verses 13-14 and 17 show that people talk to God and wonder why He is angry with them. The distance they have put between themselves and God is reflected in the corruption of good habits, which are based upon the laws and directions from God.

In this new century we can see how many values have been corrupted. Men and women “shack up” and accept dishonor rather than marrying with dignity, respect, and commitment. The feminist movement in its radical form has taken the position of the father in the home and blurred the roles of men and women. Adultery was considered shameful years ago, but now if a man’s wife leaves her husband and runs off with another man, she is still entitled to half of the marriage assets and more. The adulterous situation is supported financially by the hard work of the first husband. The shoe also can be on the other foot in the sense of the man running off in adultery and not supporting his family. Both evils are huge contributors to the corruption and undermining of the good habits that were once promoted. Same sex marriages are openly celebrated as is homosexuality and the huge “gay parades” that are ever more evident. To disagree is to be seen as intolerant.

Many years ago I was trained as a driving instructor. One of the first points that was taught was that even very good drivers constantly need reminders and “tune ups” in their driving habits. With time and growing confidence, good drivers can develop bad habits. As a matter of fact everybody does—unless they consistently review their habits and make sure nothing unwanted has crept in.

Corruption often comes a little at a time. When not checked, it can soon change a person and blur the good habits. Accepting lower standards can be the beginning of the slide. In driving, an accident or close call will sometimes be a wake-up call. In living, the results can be devastating but not so quickly evident. Take the Bible in your hands, study it and apply its teaching. Examine yourself in the light of the instruction God gives, and refresh the good habits that bring a long and happy life. Treasure good habits—they are worth keeping.

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