Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Gospel Influence

When we influence someone we are pushing them in a direction. Whether it’s a celebrity trying to use their sway to push someone toward a particular product or brand, or a spouse trying to influence their mate toward a particular decision – our influence is used to push another person in a specific direction. As Christians, then, we need to understand what our primary influence should be. It should be to direct people to the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ has come to be the sacrifice for our offenses to God. Even more, the Gospel is the fact that God has called us and enables us to love Him more than we love our sin.

Mark 9:42-50 (ESV)
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Because of His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, God has made Jesus Christ the One that can offer forgiveness and life. Repentance of sin is our asking Jesus to forgive us of our sins, the acceptance of His substitutionary death for us, and the living of a new life in Him that is lived for His glory while we turn away from sin. When we trust Jesus, the punishment of death for our offensiveness toward God, that we rightly deserve, is fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have now been freed to live a new life that honors God and shows that our greatest delight is in Him.

This is where our influence comes into play. Our lives are to influence people so that they see our greatest hope, dependence and joy is in Jesus Christ. Since He has restored us, the Christian life is one of turning away from sin and turning to Him. This should be very influential as it should be reflected in anything and everything we do. Our turning away from sin and turning to Christ should be seen in the way we talk, how we work, in the way we treat people, how we plan for the future, how we spend our money, and on and on. Being a follower of Jesus soaks into every part of our life because we love Him and long to obey Him and honor Him.

The other component of this life and our influence in it is what we won’t do. We are called to hate our sin and to do everything within our power to resist it. That is new life! We don’t live this way because we are trying to jump-through-the-hoops and earn our salvation; we turn from our sin because we know there is something sweeter and better – Jesus.

Now, Christian, perhaps you should make some plans for today. How will you influence people with your life? The greatest way is to live in a way that proves you love Jesus Christ more than you love sin (or anything else for that matter).

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