With whom do you associate? Associations are important; probably far more important an influence for young people than most of us. The book of Proverbs speaks about harmful associations with all sorts of unsavory people, but perhaps the clearest New Testament injunction along these lines is found in I Corinthians 15:33:
Don’t be misled; “Bad companions corrupt good habits.”
The interesting assertion that this statement makes is that even after a believer has learned what J.I Packer calls “habits of holiness” (See his Keep In Step With The Spirit) it is possible for him to lose them. Compare Solomon’s youth and old age. And there are contemporary preachers of the Word who in their latter days we have seen wander from the faith. If you trace it back, you’ll frequently find that it was the influence of someone else that brought about the sad result.
Influence is a very expressive term. It pictures something flowing in. There will always be something flowing into individuals who have a close relationship. The question is what will flow, in which direction? If the believer is not influencing the unbeliever to lead him to Christ, it’s likely that he will be influencing the believer in wrong ways.
It is easy to be “mislead,” as Paul observes. We may think we are influencing the non-Christian when all the while the opposite is taking place. It is probably safe to say that, in almost any long term close relationship between a Christian and one who isn’t, the believer will be wrongly influenced.
So . . . be careful not to be misled!