Overcoming Adverse Influence
A New Teaching Article On Overcoming
When we think of overcoming problems in our life, we usually focus on things like depression, anger, addictions, impulsiveness, hate, unforgiveness, loneliness, lust, anxiety, etc. And if nothing major stands out, we assume everything is all right.
For instance, when is the last time you thought to yourself that you should be more loving to others? The tendency is to assume that we’re always loving as long as we aren’t unloving or have blatant hatred in our hearts. Or when have you decided to ask forgiveness for those things you haven’t done? Again, our fallen way is to assume we don’t need to express humility unless we have wrongfully hurt someone.
However, a more subtle deception slowly leaks into our lives; and before we know it, we have to call for help because there is a flood. Culture can be a leaky faucet that slowly trickles into our lives which may end up causing a flood of misconceptions about reality. Culture can also be a good thing. Culture can enrich our lives, giving us heritage and colorful tradition that allows us to take pleasure in what others and ourselves have made up. The way that we “dress” our environment is the culture in which we live. People dress the environment around them, stating what is popular, stylish, funny, rich, dull, meaningful, and even enjoyable.
The negative aspect of culture comes to us when we allow it to influence us contrary to what the Bible says should be influential in our lives. The idea that if Christians don’t accept the milieu around them in order to be persuasive to win others in that environment for the gospel is a common misconception. Christians should transform culture, not vice versa.
When is the last time you thought to yourself that you need to overcome the influence of others? “Well,” you might say, “I know my identity is in Christ, no one will control that. Besides, I’m a leader, not a follower. I’m original. I am my own person.” This may very well be true. And praise God! But there remains a major problem in each redeemed person who is in Christ. The power of sin prohibits us from living free of adverse influence.
We all have made conclusions about certain things that influence the way we understand other things. Our presuppositions about what we already know shape what we are trying to learn or understand. If a person has the presupposition that God does not exist, then they will try and explain the origin of life through some other process than having God as the originator. Or someone who is agnostic—i.e. is not sure—about God’s existence might have the presupposition, based on unknowability, that truth therefore cannot be known because you cannot know anything truly. Our culture forces presuppositions about all kinds of things that greatly influence the way in which we understand our beliefs and ideas, which then make up our reality—the way in which we view the world around us (a worldview). No one can escape this.
The Christian already has the belief that God exists. Therefore when he/she is searching for truth, the solidity of absolute truth is already embedded in their mind. Our culture tries to rob this from us. And this could have serious effects on our Christian walk and maturity if believed.
A common argument that truth cannot be known comes from a certain perspective concerning language. Since we all interpret things differently, how can one know what someone is truly saying? Where does this carry over to our walk with Christ? With this presupposition, one will look at the Bible as an outdated story book with no relevance for today, because no one can really understand its meaning. And for some well-meaning Christians who don’t necessarily take this view, it may affect them to where they believe a part of it, and this will impede on their growth in their understanding of God’s will for their life.
For instance, if Jake believes the Bible is God’s Word, that it’s inspired by God, but doesn’t believe it’s totally true because language cannot communicate truth accurately, then he will arbitrarily pick and choose what to believe in the Bible. This can be a very subjective experience that causes us to miss the deeper things in the Word that are given for our edification and growth in Christ.
It’s true sin has corrupted language, and we therefore misinterpret what is said, but it’s also true that God is the originator of language and has given us this gift so that we can communicate (and relate) to Him and those around us. And it’s true the biblical authors were under the influence of the Holy Spirit so that they would not misunderstand (2 Tim. 3:16). Language is a gift to man that reveals God, His ways, and His will for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
The Bible as a whole is Christ-centered. The redemptive unity of the Bible states that God is accomplishing His purpose for a people who have fallen from His grace. The common thread of grace is realized by a covenant relationship that has been ratified by blood. Its historical character shows that truth transcends culture which has just as much relevance to today as it did then. The Bible is a unified whole that brings purpose, meaning, and truth to life. The Bible as a whole must govern, direct, and redirect our presuppositions that we bring to the table when we sit down to get fed by its food.
What are we overcoming and how does it help me today? Influence can have either a positive or negative affect on our lives. We all know this, because both good and bad influence exist. The world around us can have a huge impact on how we are influenced. If we are encouraged with something that is wrong and believe it, that could have a spiraling collapse on other beliefs and ideas. And more than anything, we don’t like to be wrong, especially in matters of faith and doctrine.
Suppose you knew that there were two roads you could take, but one road had a large detour that led to unnecessary circumstances. The problem is you don’t know which road has the long way around. So you take advice from someone you think you know or someone you think knows the two roads well. They send you off believing that the way you are going is the right choice, until you realize it’s not.
What we know from past experiences, knowledge, relationships, ideas, and assumptions build our presuppositional framework by which we see life. The problem comes when these presuppositions are wrong. The issue with you taking the wrong road was that you presupposed your source was a credible foundation for which you would base your information. You were wrong, as well as your source, therefore the road you took led you down all kinds of places you didn’t want to go and that were unnecessary.
In our American culture, which is not altogether wrong, we have built presuppositions in our mind that cause us to blur the God revealed in Scripture. Let me give you three, and then three things we blur about God because we have believed them.
Americans (not all) believe that they are individuals where life revolves around. Another way to say this is to say Americans our very, very, very individualistic. It’s my life; I will do what I want. I make up my own existence. I perceive what is true. God is concerned with me and those around me. I choose my salvation. I choose my destiny.
But what is wrong with this? What do we miss? We miss God’s sovereignty. We miss God governing and ruling all things for His glory because He created all things for His glory. We miss His everyday protection as we think we guard ourselves from all things. And we miss His unconditional love to choose a people for Himself to love and serve Him.
Americans (not all) believe that what is true for one person is not true for another. This is related to being individualistic people. What do we miss? We miss God’s absolute truth given to lay a foundation of stability in our lives. We miss the grander of God’s knowability as He has graciously given us language to be able to communicate with each other and Him. We miss the definite absolute meaning to life.
Americans (not all) believe that personal experience is more reliable that God’s objective truth. We look for certain experiences to prove or disprove God’s love for us. We think that if we have a subjective special personalized revelation, then God really, really, really is taking notice of us. We think that a supernatural experience must happen in order for me to believe in God. One might ask, “Why don’t you believe in God?” and get the reply, “What evidence do you have that there is a God? Why doesn’t He reveal Himself to me?”
What’s wrong? A lot! But for starters, we miss God’s way of revealing Himself in history. God has given His Word to teach us about Him, His ways, and His will. We miss the blessing of joyous guidance. Why would we look for something we already have? Why should we be mysteriously looking around every corner for God to speak and reveal His will to us when we already have it in His Word?
The Bible is God’s perfect revelation of Himself given to man to know how to relate, serve, worship, and love Him. This could be summed up by saying God’s Word reveals how we must glorify Him. Thus the Bible should build are presuppositions. We should go to the Holy Spirit asking Him to reveal the areas where we have been negatively influenced. The Holy Spirit is our guide to overcoming adverse influence.
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