The Enemy of Souls Is at Work
Satan is warring against God’s people. His purpose is to destroy the very essence of their spirituality. The enemy is crafty and aware of every weakness. While temptation to sin is a reality, the greatest danger often lies in the influences that are exerting themselves over time against the children of God.
All Are Susceptible to Influence
Influence is the power to change the behavior or character of someone. As long as man is in this mortal flesh, he will be subject to the power of influence. Paul and Barnabas declared that they were “men of like passions with you” (Acts 14:15). Hence, Jesus warned His disciples to “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”
(Matthew 26:41). Be not ignorant of the power of evil influences. Many Christians are participants of worldly activities and entertainments which are polluted with the corruption of sin. They wonder why they don’t have victory and power with God. “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27).
The scripture holds many examples of mighty men who fell to the power of evil influence. In the beginning, Adam and Eve lost their purity and integrity with God because they listened to the subtle lies and deception of the serpent (Genesis 3:1-8). Samson flirted with Delilah, never intending to tell her the secret of his great strength (Judges 16:18-20). There are influences at work in life that will slowly tear down the resistance to evil until, in weakness, sin is committed. Solomon turned away from God in his old age because of the influence of his wives (1 Kings 11:4). The disciple Peter denied the Lord because of the pressure of the crowd (Luke 22:55-62). Many have deviated from a life of holiness by being open to the influences of the world and not taking a firm stand against them.
The Power of Small Things
There is great power in little influences. “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). It is often the “little foxes, that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). It is not always a large sinful thing that causes Christians to lose their salvation. It is the subtle, little influence that begins to affect one’s thinking and perspective of holiness and truth. “But it is not sin,” you say. “I can go there. I can listen to that music. I can watch that movie. I am saved and I won’t do anything wrong.” Those words have preceded the spiritual downfall of many a person. Consider the influence of these things in the life. How does it affect you spiritually? Do you feel pressure to do things that are not right? Are you feeding your mind with things that are not pure or holy? Be wise and know the power of little things.
Evil Influences Abound
The works of the flesh—adultery, fornication, uncleanness, idolatry, witchcraft, envyings, drunkenness, etc. (Galatians 5:19-21)—are rampant in the world. They have infiltrated music, entertainment, sports, etc. A child of God cannot voluntarily bring evil influences into his life without great spiritual repercussions. The scripture teaches that “evil communications [companionship] corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33). If someone stays in the company of unholy people, he will over time be weakened spiritually and his faith and holiness will be corrupted. A warning is given against being “yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). How careful one must be in choosing close friends and especially a marriage companion.
The scripture gives instruction to completely reject and distance oneself from the influences of sin. “Enter not into the path of the wicked…avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:14-15). Reprove the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). So many people try to justify things in life that are less than holy. The child of God who will be faithful to the end will be that Christian who takes a firm stand against all unrighteous influences and who gives no place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). The further one gets from wrong influences, the less power they exert on the flesh. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Guard the Mind and Heart
Guard the mind and heart from the power of sin and do not even entertain those things which feed unrighteousness. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). As David, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” (Psalms 101:3). Keep your life and your home a fit temple for the Holy Spirit. If there is something that is a negative influence spiritually, get rid of it even if other Christians are doing it. “If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee…” (Matthew 5:29-30). It is not always an issue of being sin. Consider the power of the influence. As Paul said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Rather than be in a dangerous place under the influences of this world, follow after holiness (Hebrews 12:13-15) and those things which will edify and be a positive influence. Be diligent and faithful to fellowship with God’s people regularly (Hebrews 10:24-25). Fill your life with activities and service which promote spiritual growth. Be influenced by holy people and most of all by the Word of God. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).
The Choice is Yours
There are great powers of influence surrounding every Christian, but every child of God has a choice as to what he will allow in his life. Choose the positive and holy influences. “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).