You probably do not have to think too hard to recall that phrase. Parents say it and teachers say it. Maybe you have said it.
Maybe an easier phrase for you goes like this, “It all started when he began hanging out with the wrong crowd.”
The NIV translation of the Bible puts it like this: “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33–NIV)
Ungodliness is a magnet for impurity
Look next at the first three verses of Revelation 18 to see how this works in Babylon.
1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice,
“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.
3 For all nations have drunk
the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality,
and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.” (Revelation 18:1-3–ESV)
Revelation 18 is like 1 Corinthians 15:33 and like the title of this lesson because of the first word of verse 3. Look at the passage. What is that word? It is “For.” So the words of this angel in verse 2 are the result of what follows in verse 3.
This city of Babylon is a great prostitute in the world. The manner and style of Babylon has fostered wickedness the world over. Babylon’s passion, her excessive luxury, her offering of herself to the world rather than to God, these are the things the great angel spoke as her sins.
As a result of that this city has become infested with evil, with uncleanliness, with the representations of ungodliness as painted out by unclean spirit, unclean bird, unclean beast. Those tie tightly to things in the Jewish culture that represented wickedness. The Jewish people were to be separate from certain things earthly and spiritual.
The separateness of the Jewish nation was not just for Jews. It was to represent to all people that God has certain standards that are to be kept. All people everywhere are to in some manner stay separate. Babylon is fallen into great wickedness and from that cesspool has offered it, dangled it before the rest of the world. All have plunged into that septic tank of sin. They wallow there, but my, the smell is tough.
By offering ourselves to God…by being obedient to his principles we deny evil a foothold and a haunt.
Evil deeds may draw you as well
Think of that bumper sticker which says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” Christians are people no matter their religious label and people have the same interests and drives. While one person may vary from the next in the big scheme of things, though, our hungers are broken. When broken hungers are coupled with devil designed deceits there is an interest that is there. We must be careful with our own individual hungers.
Babylon drew the kings of the world and those kings were not careful. They gobbled up the offerings of that place. There are Babylons around us that whistle and hoot. Their subtle signals are enticing, but the result is terrible. The first results are not as terrible as the last, but like cobblestones through a yard they lead down to the haunts of the dead. Uncleanness is the result; a haunt for demons is the abode of these things.
We must remain Bible readers and prayers, men and women with our gaze tied to Jesus anchored inside his way of life and living. Then there is hope to walk past the enchantments daily dangled before us.
God isn’t the only one who sees evil for what it is
Who is speaking in this passage? An angel. This angel came down from heaven and by his demeanor it was clear that he was of an exalted rank. His rank was of such a nature that he could illuminate the world. The good manners, the godliness of the place he was from had impacted him. That glory was the brightness that shone upon the earth, lighting it as a spotlight would.
From the good place of God this angel came down and he spoke of the state of affairs in Babylon. There was no mystery to it. Evil is a thing that we get and not merely a thing that angers God. It is a deviation from God’s intentions and harmful in all places and times.
God is not alone in recognition of evil. That angel, steeped in God’s presence, knows its influence as well. God’s heaven fostered outlook helps the angel see the devil fostered rot.