The Principle of Influence

1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Webster says that “influence” is the power of persons to affect others. It is to have an effect on the nature or behavior of others, either for good or bad.

The word “example” is closely related to this. It means to behave so as to be a pattern or model for others to imitate. Our life is a principle of influence and example. The poet has said, “My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done. Leave countless marks of good or ill. E’er sets the evening sun. this is the hope I always hope. The prayer I always pray. Lord, make my life help other lives. It touches by the way.”

In this chapter the Spirit of God deals in a remarkable way with the great theme of Christian liberty and brotherly care.

The Spirit also says through Paul in the chapter that love is superior to all knowledge. He expounds on this thought in chapter 13.

Note the difference between Christian liberty and unbridled license. Liberty is the limits within which a certain amount of freedom may be exercised.

License is excessive, undisciplined freedom, constituting an abuse of liberty.

Within the framework of the chapter it is the question of how for a believer was at liberty to eat meats which at this killing had been dedicated to idols.

Many of these Corinthian brethren were just saved from all the practices of heathenism, and were afraid that if they ate meat of this character that they would bring dishonor upon the name of the Lord Jesus. Therefore they would not eat. The believers at Corinth were having a problem. This problem was causing some new believers to stumble.

On the one hand there was complete indiscretion by some knowing brethren. These liberal brethren were indiscriminately eating this meat using their Christian liberty as a license to satisfy their fleshly appetites. They did not consider the feelings of other brethren in this matter.

On the other hand there were some believers who were jealous of the good name of the Lord Jesus who were being stumbled by their undisciplined conduct.

v. 11—Suggests that because of the influence and example of these fleshly brethren that some younger believers for whom Christ had died, had been stumbled and gone back to their heathen practices.

v. 12—This conduct is sin against the brethren concerned, and it is sin against Christ. From verse 9 to the end of the chapter the apostle dwells on the importance of concern for the consciences of others.

We may not have the same food problems as the Corinthians but we do need to be reminded that our life affects the spiritual status of others.

Many a weaker brother, a young believer, has gone back into the world because of the bad example and unchristian conduct of carnal brethren. This is a grievous sin against the brother and Christ.

Young people are particularly vulnerable in this aspect. Places are frequented, activities are engaged in, tongues are loosened…with devastating results on the spiritual life of some, and the shipwreck of others.

Then the evil is compounded when those who engaged in nefarious activities take their place at the Lord’s table. Several conditions are the result of this. There is barrenness, coldness, no real worship, going through the motions. For this there will be judgment. We influence people consciously or unconsciously in every phase of life—at business, at school, at play, in the church, in the world, in the home.

We influence others by our general behavior, manners, speech. Ephesians 5:4.

The spectrum of our life is either an influence for good or evil.

The example we show is either Christ exalting or Christ dishonoring. Our influence is either entirely negative and helps no one, or it brings our fellow believers close to the Lord.

Let us look now at some lives whose example and influence changed the lives of others.

Influence of evil. Ahab was one of the most wicked kings of Israel. “There was none like Ahab.” He was the product of his wife’s influence. Ahasiah, Ahab’s son, walked in the ways of his father and mother. Israel as a nation suffered the judgment of God for several generations by following a bad example. 1 Kings 22:51.

Influence of good. Azariah, the son of Amaziah, reigned for fifty-two years. He did what was right in the sight of God, as his father Amaziah had done.

It was to the example and influence of grandmother Lois and mother Eunice that Paul credits Timothy’s unfeigned faith.

Christ as an example—Mark 10:45, John 13, 1 Peter 2:21.

The victorious Christian life. If we lived victoriously in Christ, we would not need the world. What the believer has to do with the world is crucify it.

The abundant life leads to victorious Christian living.

The yielded life, the life of service, separation, a Spirit-filled life, these all lead to a mature, fulfilled life in Christ. A life that is filled with unspeakable joy and full of glory.