Serious About God’s Words 1 – Avoiding Ungodly Influences
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighbouring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” (Ezra 9:1-2)
When the exiles first returned to Judea under Sheshbazzar, they were determined to rebuild the Temple and the country, and start anew. They resisted mingling with the Samaritans.
But by the time Ezra led a new group of exiles back to Jerusalem eight decades later, the people have intermarried with other races and adopted their detestable practices. Sadly, the priests and Levites, the religious leaders of the people, were doing that too. Ezra was shocked to discover what happened.
When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. (Ezra 9:3-4)
If we are serious about God’s words, we will be appalled by how ungodly influences can corrupt God’s people. How are we corrupted?
Corrupted By The World
We live in a world that is rife with sin. In fact, the world celebrates some sins as though they are virtues. People who attain wealth or popularity, regardless of how they do it, are put up on pedestals and idolised. Sexual promiscuity is disguised as liberation, while purity is laughed at. The pursuit of the physical overtakes over our search for the spiritual.
In a world without God, greed is good, perverseness is progressive and materialism is mainstream. Sin is normalised while God is marginalised.
Because it is so easy to be corrupted by the world, the Bible warns us, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) We are called to avoid intimate relationships and deep partnerships with non-believers.
That doesn’t mean we ought to self-righteously avoid all non-believers, for Jesus often spent time with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:9-11). Instead, we need to remember WHY he did so. Jesus replied to the Pharisees’ accusations, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13)
Like Jesus, we must avoid the corruption of the world, and influence it instead. As disciples of Christ, we must not be changed by the world, we must change the world.
Corrupted By The Leaders
The Jews intermarried with the other races and “the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
Leaders have tremendous impact on their followers. That’s why Jesus taught that the blind cannot lead the blind, or both will fall into a pit (Matthew 15:14). James warned that a teacher is judged more strictly (James 3:1).
Everyone makes mistakes; but when leaders do, the repercussions are bigger. Everyone needs to repent; and when leaders do, the change is immensely powerful.
Many of us are leaders in some capacity. Some lead groups, some play shepherding roles, some mentor the young, some teach lessons, some lead in worship, and some do all of the above and more. Are we careful with our own walk with God so that we don’t stray away from Him? If we are not careful, we will not only harm ourselves, but others as well.
And how should we behave towards our leaders? We have to be humble in seeking advice and learning from people who lead us in the Lord. At the same time, we need to always examine the scriptures, just as the Bereans did to see if what Paul taught them was true (Acts 17:11). This certainly did not reflect any lack of respect for Paul, but a deep desire to seek the Truth.
Ungodly influences can come from anywhere. Let’s avoid all corrupting influences by growing more serious about God’s words, and we can become good influences instead.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.