If you have been a Christian for any length of time, I’m sure that you know somebody who was a solid, Christ-honoring, Bible-loving, faithful, church-attending Christian, but now they are not. We may know people who used to serve the Lord but are now slaves to sin. Whenever we hear of something tragic like this we tend to ask the question, “What in the world happened to them?”
My years of experience in the ministry have taught me to ask that question, but in a different way. I think a lot of the time we should ask the question, “Who happened to them?” Many times when people change, it is a result of the influences of others that they have allowed in their lives. We cannot help being influenced by those we allow to have close access in our life.
This is what happened to the Galatian church. This was a church that was very dear to Paul. To the people of the church, Paul was also very dear to them. But something started happening soon after Paul left. The church started to change in their beliefs. As what often happens when people start to change their beliefs, they also change their feelings towards those who still hold those beliefs that they once held.
Listen to the words that Paul uses to describe how these people that crept into the church adversely affected the members. Their influence “troubled,” “bewitched,” and “hindered” the believers there. And the results were devastating. Some of those who were influenced changed their beliefs, which led to a life of disobedience. Twice Paul used the phrase, “That ye should not obey the truth.”
So, what is the point? If our problem is not always a “what” but a “who,” then we need to be very careful who we are allowing to influence us. The Bible makes it clear that we are to steer away from those that would negatively affect the way we live our Christian life by their unspiritual influence. The influence of others is something that we allow in our lives; therefore, it is something we can control and reject.
Conversely, the opposite is also true. We can allow great and Godly influences into our lives as well. By choosing the people we allow to influence us, we can choose individuals who have a great walk with God and will be a Godly influence on us. One of the greatest helps in my life as a new believer seeking to live a God-honoring life were those in the church that came alongside me and encouraged me in the faith.
How can we follow through and see God do a great work in and through our lives?
As it made sense for the One who was the Word of God to follow the Word of God, so too does it make sense for His followers to do the same.