Under the influence
Driving under the influence will likely get one to lose their license. And living under the influence of the devil might get you to lose your life. Rather than merely being influenced by the world, God is calling us to be influencers with the Gospel, the most powerful message in the world that changes hearts and minds.
Bible Reading of the Day: 1 Timothy 4-6
Demonic is one of those words that people might dismiss as words from a zealot. But friends, the devil is real. Evil is real. And the influence of evil is pervasive, all around us. Paul warns us that people will depart from faith because they listen to deceitful, demonic spirits.
1 Timothy 4:1-5
“1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.”
Under the influence—Which Influence Do You Follow?
Several notable things are in these verses.
First, there are two influences—The Holy Spirit and the evil one. The Holy Spirit leads us into truth. The demonic spirit leads us to lies. And it leads us astray by degrees.
The enemy of our souls attacks our belief system, friends. It is enough for us if he can cause conflict in our churches over disputable, trivial matters. Anything to get people off-mission and off of the relationship with God and into religion, instead.
Second, look at the source of the demonic influence—it is within religion—in the church!
Under the influence—Seared Consciences
These people who are influenced by the devil have seared consciences. They forbid and demand things apart from God’s word and truth. These things might even look like good things. This calls for discernment.
The Easy English Bible Commentary defines a seared conscience in this way: “It happens when believers should have known the truth but they chose to deny it. They have allowed the demons to persuade them that the truth is not right. They have decided to follow and to teach what is false. This has damaged their consciences. It is as if they have burned them with a hot iron. They can no longer know what is right or what is wrong.”
When the church tries to be politically correct, it is no longer spiritually correct. There is even a religious correctness that tries to persuade men to a false Gospel.
God’s word has the answer to the social woes, but in many cases the church has sought the answer from the social causes. Only the truth will set people free.
How do we discern between the influences all around us?
- Be aware of what is influencing you. You might have an impulse to do or believe a certain way. Why?
- Examine the influence through Scripture.
Scripture of the Day: 1 Timothy 4:7-10
“7 Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. 8 “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.”
So much time is wasted arguing over godless ideas. All of our thoughts, all of our ideas—we are to lay at His feet and submit them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What I think doesn’t matter—what God’s word says gets the final say. This is a life characterized by influence from the Holy Spirit.
And we need to train ourselves to be godly. It doesn’t just happen the moment we say we believe. The mind is a battlefield and we have to make it yield to submission to the truth from our living God and His precious word.
Under the influence—Influencing Ourselves
So how do we train ourselves to be godly? Paul continues in verses
- 11 Command and teach these things.
Don’t just say we believe. Live it out. And teach others.
- 12 Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
How we live out what we say we believe will influence others. Whether we are young or old, we set an example. It is not enough to just say we believe – the Bible says that even demons believe and shudder. (James 2:19). Honestly, Christians who don’t live out the truth have done more to influence people away from God than toward God. Let us not be deceived by lying spirits and let us listen only to the Holy Spirit. Let’s live this message out.
Under the influence—Spiritual Correctness
- 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching.
This means don’t stop influencing ourselves by listening to Scripture and reading it—in public. Exhorting one another. Teaching one another. This is not politically correct! Have you ever read a Bible in public? Oh, you will be shamed for that! Why? It convicts those around us. Do it anyway. This world needs the truth! Let us influence in a radical, Holy Spirit-filled lifestyle that is not ashamed of the Gospel.
Romans 1:16 (ESV), “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
We who believe have the Gospel, friends. The Gospel is powerful enough to change minds and hearts. Let us not bow our knee to influences that pull us away from the simplicity of the Gospel.
- 14 Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
Let’s use our spiritual gifts to influence others. Don’t say you don’t have spiritual gifts. We all do. Don’t sit on your duff on the sidelines just soaking in other’s influence and teaching. What are you doing to share the Gospel? We will be held accountable for every idle word and influence, friends. Oh, this humbles me.
Under the influence—Practice Godliness
- 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
Practice is such an encouraging word to me. Practice makes perfect. We will not arrive down here, but the progress we make by practicing God’s word in our lives. By living it out and influencing others with the Gospel. And when people notice our progress, may we not receive any of the glory, for it is only the influence of the Holy Spirit operating in our lives. To God be all the glory!
- 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Don’t fall away, friends. It happens by degrees. It is subtle. Lies subtly woo us away. We have to protect what we believe by paying attention to what we are allowing in. We need to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. And this happens as we pray to God and live grateful lives as it says in Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Under the influence—Calling Out Influences in Our Lives
So what influences are there that breakthrough into our lives? *Spoiler alert and a warning* This might step on our toes this morning. We don’t recognize how we can be influenced.
- Self-indulgence – We see this in the example of the widow who just wants to be comfortable. “5 The widow who is truly in need and left all alone has put her hope in God and continues night and day in her petitions and prayers; 6 however, she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.”
- Gossip or accusations – these influence us toward harming the church by speaking against any believer, especially elders. 1 Tim 5:19 “19 Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.” Don’t let anyone influence you to judge another. Just pray for others and go directly to someone if you have a problem.
- False doctrine – 1 Timothy 6:3
- Loving wealth and the ways of this world
Under the influence—The Impact of False Doctrine
1 Timothy 6:3-10
“If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Godliness WITH contentment. Our joy cannot come from this world or its influence.
How do we guard influence in our lives?
Discipline – 1 Timothy 5:20, “20 Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will be afraid.” We need to call out the negative influences in our lives and sin in our own life.
Belief – Believe in correct, sound doctrine – We need to examine ourselves and not stray from the word of God. Man’s opinion does not get the final word.
- But godliness with contentment is great gain.
- Influence is all around us. Be aware of the influences operating in your life and choose to be an influencer for the Gospel.
7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan
Day #238: 1 Timothy 4-6
Scripture of the Day: 1 Timothy 4:7-10
Join me live at 8:30 am ET: www.facebook.com/deniseduboispass
Bible Reading Plan: https://denisepass.com/bible-reading-plan/