Under the Influence

Published 8:29 am Friday, February 23, 2024

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When someone mentions the term “Under the Influence,” we immediately think of a person that is intoxicated. The official definition of the term is, “impairment, to any degree, of an individual’s ability to safely perform the activity in question as a result of the use of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.” However, I want to look at this term in a spiritual context. We are all under the influence of someone or something at all times. As Christians, we are either under the influence of the Holy Spirit or our flesh. The Bible says in Galatians 5:16-17, “16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The flesh influences us every day to do what we want instead of what we should be doing.
Decisions and our actions are part of our everyday life ranging from what to eat for dinner to how to respond to someone’s snide comment. We all face choices – big and small – every day. So, how do you decide? What drives you to choose one option over another? When you make a big decision, you most likely weigh the pros and cons or visualize the effects of each choice. On the other hand, when you make smaller, last-minute decisions, you might rely more on a hunch or gut feeling to guide you. The decision might be so small that you don’t even realize you’re making a choice. Regardless, something affects your decision. We are influenced one way or the other.
We can be influenced by all of our emotions which can be extremely destructive. Herod was influenced by his fear that Jesus would take his throne. He then went and slayed all the children that were two years old and under to prevent Jesus taking his throne. Pilate was influenced by the people and his fear they would overthrow him if he did not crucify Jesus. He allowed the people to have their way with Christ, and he washed his hands of the matter. Both of these men were influenced by their emotions. Judas was influenced by his love of money and he sold Jesus out for the thirty pieces of silver. We often act upon our anger, frustration, lust, and love of worldly things. These influences all have negative consequences.
If we are influenced by the Holy Spirit, the results are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25) Abraham, while under the influence, was able to say with assurance in Genesis.22:5 “…Abide here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” Noah was under the influence when he built an ark on dry ground. Moses, while under the influence, was able to divide the Red Sea and lead the Children of Israel across on dry ground. Joshua, while under the influence, was able to fight the battle of Jericho. David, while under the influence, was able to kill a lion, bear, and a giant. The three Hebrew boys, while under the influence, chose not to bow to the King and were able to go through the fire and come out not even smelling like smoke.
These are examples of a Godly and positive influence. Take a close look at what is influencing you daily. Intense fleshly emotions can lead to rash decisions and actions. We must choose to let nothing influence us except for the Holy Spirit of God.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton.)

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