Influence or Influenced?

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  
Influence is the affect upon others through indirect or intangible means. Some have said that the power of influence is greater than the power than position. It is not those in positions of power but those in positions of influence who actually direct the power of that position. We are either being an influence or we are being influenced. We are either bearing the image of Christ or we are imitating someone else. We are either influencing others toward Christ or we are being influenced by others toward the world. Are you transforming the people around you by your Christian influence or are you conforming to the world’s influence? It is very important that we make sure that the influences we have in our life are helping us to become more like Jesus.

As a Christian grows in their maturity in Christ, the power of this world’s influence begins to weaken.  However, for the new believer and the immature believer, setting proper boundaries for ungodly influence is very important. Many well-intended people drift away from Christ due to the ungodly influences they allow in their lives.  Influence comes in many different ways. It can come through family, friends, music, movies, video games, books, etc.  The mistake many new and immature believers make is that they fail to cut off the ungodly influences from their past. Somehow they believe that their newfound love for Christ protects them from the power of ungodly influence. That is why Paul said, “Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) The weakness of their flesh makes an immature believer unprepared to stand victoriously against the temptations that they face. How do we know when we are able to handle a worldly influence? It is when the power of Christ’s influence on the inside is greater than the influence of sin on the outside.  1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” The greater the depth of sin around you requires a greater depth of Christ inside you.

Men are unable to live at great depths in the sea due to “hydrostatic pressure”. Hydrostatic pressure is the force per unit area exerted by a liquid on an object. The deeper a person goes under the sea, the greater the pressure of the water pushing down on them. For every 33 feet a person goes down in depth, the pressure increases by 14.5 pounds per square inch (psi). Since the ocean is several miles deep in some places, it would seem that life could not exist at that depth. However, biologists have discovered sea life at depths where they thought life could not exist.  They discovered that these sea creatures were designed with an internal pressure that was equal to the hydrostatic pressure on the outside.  In the same way, deep-sea divers must have suits with internal pressure equal to the hydrostatic pressure they face below the surface.  Otherwise, the suit and the diver will be crushed under the pressure. 

The deeper the influence that sin has had in our lives, the greater the influence of Christ must be on the inside.  If we are weak in an area of temptation, we should avoid anyone and anyplace where that could influence us negatively in that area.  If the power of temptation still influences our heart, we are not yet ready to re-enter that atmosphere to reach others. If we are being influenced by evil, then we must back away until the influence of Christ within is greater than the temptations without.  Otherwise we are no better off than a deep-sea diver without his pressurized suit.

Sadly, many Christians have suffered moral shipwreck because they foolishly trusted in their own will power to resist sin. Falling into sin usually does not occur with a spontaneous encounter. It occurs over time as the influence of old friends, environments, and activities weakens our resolve and justify indulgence. We must not maintain relationships with old friends, including boyfriends or girlfriends, that have strong emotional influences on our lives.  We must not be around anyone who still participates in the old sinful behavior from which Christ has delivered us.  Instead we must come out from among them and then form strong new relationships with godly Christians who will influence us toward doing what is right.  We need true friends who will hold us accountable to God.  We need to develop a strong relationship with Christ through Bible study and prayer.  Once our hearts are established in Christ, then we can begin to be a godly influence.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me to be an influence for good rather than one who is influenced by evil.  Give me wisdom to know the difference. I choose not to trust in my own ability to resist temptation but to be accountable to spiritual leadership. Help me to avoid people and situations that make me vulnerable to temptation.  Help me to trust that You can reach those I am unprepared to reach.  I thank You for Your preserving mercy, grace, and wisdom in Jesus’ name. Amen.”