What Influences Your Life?

 

 

What Influences Your Life?

Richard Hollerman

We are all influenced by different factors in life, some of which are positive and some are negative. None of us lives in a monastery or convent, thus we have contact with other people and with numerous other inputs that cause us to live, think, speak, and do what we do. What really influences you, personally?

Recently I was watching a film that discussed why young men and women, in their twenties, do what they do. One of the speakers told of a survey that he and George Barna conducted. He gave a list of the seven (7) factors that influence people’s lives, particularly the “twenty somethings.” While the discussion was on those just past the teen years, we think that many of these factors could also describe what influences people of all ages.

As I thought of these factors, I had to think of how both God and Satan use these for their own ends. Let’s briefly notice these seven factors. I also encourage you to think of your own life.

           1.    Movies.

People watch hundreds of movies and you may be one of these. But Satan surely uses this form of media for his own purposes. Think of the anger, the dishonesty, the lust, the materialism, the covetousness or greed, the violence, the adultery, and the downright foolishness that are to be found on the movie screen. As Paul describes the life of the person before coming to Christ, we read this: “We also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Modern movies do major on disobedience to God, deception, lust, pleasure, malice, envy, and hate.

 

We must keep in mind the fact that the person coming to Christ has been exposed to all of these things. During hundreds, and probably thousands, of hours, the average person has been influenced by massive amounts of sin. His whole personality and thought structure has been formed by the thousands of hours of visuals that he has been exposed to during the course of his life. But God wants to work a sanctifying work in their lives when they are accepted by Him through Christ. Part of this would be their repenting of viewing all of this corruption and their beginning to view things differently.

 

God also can use the medium of film for His purposes. A viewer can be exposed to majestic nature visuals of animals, birds, and fish. He can see films that show the geography of the earth—the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, and the vegetation. Even though sin brought death and destruction to this world (Genesis 3; Romans 8:18-27), still there are marvels all around us. Whether we are referring to the world of the stars or the world of the microscopic, we can be reminded of God’s creative hand at work in the realm of nature (cf. Psalm 19:1-2; Romans 1:20-21).

 

            2.    Friends.

We can easily see how Satan uses friends and acquaintances to lead a person down the wrong path and keep him there! Scripture has many warnings to this effect. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Tens of millions of young people have “suffered harm” and had their morals “corrupted” by the wrong type of friends. Negative friends can lead a young person (and everyone else) down the path of destruction, by enticing him to take drugs, smoke, get drunk, drive recklessly, or covet material things.

On the other hand, God also can use the influence of others to stimulate worthy and honorable attitudes, words, and actions. The Hebrew writer says, “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13). He also wrote, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24). You can “stimulate” others to love and good works and they can “stimulate” you to the same ends. Paul writes to Timothy that he might pursue godliness in life “with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Does this describe the friends that you cultivate? Do all you can to encourage others to read their Bibles more, commit Bible verses to memory, pray more, worship more, share Christ more, and become more spiritual young men and women.

 

            3.    Internet

We all know that nearly everyone has access to the internet these days. Sadly, generally this means of accessing information is used in the most debauched and carnal ways. We’ve often read that the major use of the internet is accessing pornography. Tens of millions of people use it for this purpose, with the highest number of viewers being teenagers!  In this way, the minds and hearts of men and women are impacted in the most wicked, lustful, and debased way. And most will never be the same!

Paul well describes the unsaved people of his day but the same description may be rightly applied to young people and those in their twenties in the twenty-first century: “Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19).

Read over each of these lines again and you can see that the wretchedness of the internet is “at home” in this description. Satan uses the internet extensively to accomplish his goal of saturating the mind with filthy images that pollute and defile and thereby compromise the sanctity of the marital relationship.

However, the internet can also be used for great blessing. Maybe you have consulted the internet to download a map or get directions in your travels. You may have booked an airplane flight or checked on a train schedule. You may have looked up a medical treatment or medication. You also may have examined different Bible translations on a verse you are studying. My own website is also available (www.Truediscipleship.com). God can and does use the internet for His own purposes.

            4.    Books.

As in the case of the internet, the medium of books can be used in a good way or a bad way.  Probably 90 to 99 percent of books published each year would be negative and Satan must use this means extensively in his plan to defile the mind with useless information, with lustful indulgence, with false teachings, and with humanistic garbage. Not only books but newspapers and magazines also degrade the human mind and heart. Think of the false philosophies of evolution, humanism, scientism, and politics that come through literature. Satan uses the printed page for his own agenda in the world today. And, of course, this would include eBooks as well as books in print.

We also must observe that God also uses books and other literature to extend His own plan to spread truth on the earth. The Bible itself has gone around the world through the medium of print.  Biblical booklets, tracts, and full-length volumes can explain the Scriptures to the discerning mind and can convince the honest and searching soul. People have come to Christ through this means and have henceforth grown in the knowledge of God and His Word. I, personally, was led to the truth through tracts and have grown immensely through well-chosen “Christian” books. We might also remember that when Paul was at death’s door in a Roman prison, he wrote to Timothy, his “son” in the faith, and pleaded, “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Literature was important to the apostle—and it should also be to us.

 

            5.    Family.

One of the chief human relationships would be the family, including one’s parents, brothers and sisters, children, and especially husband or wife. It would seem that Satan especially delights in using legitimate family members to tear us down spiritually and compromise our spiritual life. This must be why again and again in Scripture we are warned of the danger of family members in regard to our Christian life. The Lord Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man gainst his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36). The Lord then warned, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (v. 37). Indeed, one or more family members can turn someone away from the Lord, can dilute his or her influence, can bring strife and temptations, and can destroy the spiritual atmosphere in a house.

Frequently we are forewarned of the persecution and suffering that a family member can bring into our life. Jesus said, “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Mark 13:12-13). He asks, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division” (Luke 12:51; cf. 21:16). Paul also said that marriage to an unbeliever can bring many trials and temptations (1 Corinthians 7:10-16; cf. 1 Peter 3:1-2).

 

On the other hand, we also know that having a faithful, loving, and God-fearing wife or husband can be a joy and blessing in the Christian life. Having a son or daughter who is walking in the Lord brings great satisfaction to the Christian parents.  A reading of Ephesians 5:22-33 shows how delightful it can be in seeing a marriage where the husband loves as Christ loves and wife respects and submits as the “church” does. This is the ideal for which we all must seek and nurture. Having loving, respectful, obedient, and God-fearing children can also bless a home in a special way (cf. Ephesians 6:1-3; Deuteronomy 6:4-9). A child is “a gift of the LORD” and “how blessed is the man” who has many of them (Psalm 127-3-5).

 

           6.    Music.

The medium of music must be one of the greatest and most effective means of spiritual corruption in the world today. We would not be surprised if some 99 percent of music is worldly, carnal, lustful, violent, and satanic. Young people listen to thousands of hours of this corrupt “music” through their teen years and into their twenties, thirties, and beyond! This constant, daily, input of Satan’s music (of the most bizarre styles) surely must pollute the mind, heart, soul, and spirit to the extent that the person has little spiritual perception remaining. Wherever the person is—in school, while driving, at home, or elsewhere—the corrupt music of the world continues to have a pervasive and vicious effect on the very makeup of a person’s thinking.

We do know that music itself can be used to draw us closer to God and instruct us in the ways of the Lord. Paul admonishes, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). Not only does God’s Word in our heart manifest itself through song, but God’s Spirit in the soul can do the same: “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18b-19). God can and does use the mediums of songs, hymns, and spiritual songs to build up other believers as well as bless and glorify God. We need to ask whether the songs we sing or listen to will have a positive effect on our spirit—or a negative effect.

            7.    Law.

This is the seventh factor that influences our life. God and Satan both use this means to accomplish respective purposes on earth. Satan has used law extensively through history, including our own day. Think of the havoc of the same-sex “marriage” ruling by five liberal and godless judges on the American Supreme Court. Think of the hundreds of judges across the land who have ruled against Christian principles and promoted wicked and godless policies. Think of the hundreds of laws that favor ungodly and worldly policies rather than righteous principles.

We do know that God also uses the principle of law for His own purposes as well. Let’s remember that God uses “governing authorities” to accomplish His will in the nation (Romans 13:1). We must remember that a civil authority is “a minister of God” to the Christian for good (vv. 2-7), thus we must obey Peter’s words: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13-14, 17; cf. Titus 3:1). Although governmental offices often (and perhaps usually) oppose God’s righteous standards, sometimes they do come down on the side of right.

Are You Influenced?

As we mentioned earlier, these seven factors are among the greatest influencers in the world today and they have a profound effect on those in their teens and twenties. Although we might wish that young people were to grow up in thoroughly Christian homes, with a Christian father and mother, and where they receive Christian schooling (perhaps in a home school atmosphere), we know that this is not true for the majority.

 

Instead, most young people of age 12, 14, 16, or 18 have been completely “indoctrinated” by Satan, the enemy of our soul, who has used movies, friends, the internet, books, family, music, and law to his diabolical ends! Other factors are also used by the devil for his extensive influence over our heart and mind, such as smart phones, I Phones, sports, computer games, worldly education, and others. We can understand how Satan can be called “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). He seeks to destroy the mind and heart of the teenager, as well as those in their twenties and beyond.

 

Now is the time for you and me to redouble our efforts to keep ourselves “unstained by the world” (James 1:27b) and unconfirmed to this world system (Romans 12:2). We must put off the negative factors we have discussed above and must put on the positive ones that lead us closer to the Lord and His will. We are in a spiritual warfare and Satan is seeking to destroy our soul by his many diabolical influences. Let’s renew our mind by the Word (Romans 12:1-2) and be “renewed in the spirit” or our mind so that the old self is put off and the new self is put on (cf. Ephesians 4:23; cf. vv. 17-24). This is the only way for you and me to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and overcome the world (1 John 2:15-17). Will you join me in this holy quest!

 

 

Comments are closed.