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Foundation Truth, Number 20 (Spring 2008) | Timeless Truths Publications

The Spirit of Influence

Charles E. Orr

The spirit of influence is one of the most wiley, yet most destructive, spirits by which the devil is deceiving souls in these last days. It comes so beautifully clothed, having the appearance of just what every saint wants—the power to win souls—and its awful Spirit-quenching power is so completely hidden that thousands of souls have been deceived by it, have embraced it, and are being bound for eternal night.

This influential spirit brings up his arguments so logically, shrewdly, and scripturally (the devil knows the scriptures) that the unsuspecting but zealous soul is completely captivated. He begins his reasonings about this way….

“You know the true way is so far different from what most people know that you must be very careful in giving them the truth. Don’t give them too much at once; feed them on milk; lead them gradually.” This is very good. Next he says, “Use much tact and wisdom, for he that winneth souls is wise. Be careful not to say anything that will offend. Pad well the hard hailstones of truth. Teach first on the truths that don’t touch their pride and worldliness, and get them to admiring these truths; then when you must come to things that will touch and hurt them, be sure they are in the right mood to receive it. Be very certain that it is the right time and occasion and pray for much wisdom and tact to present it in the right way. Be careful to lead up to it in an easy way from step to step, and if you find they are resenting it, stop; for there is no use to offend unnecessarily. If they become offended, it is sure you never can win them,” reminds this influential spirit.

This spirit also gets you to using much human influence in your effort to win souls more rapidly. “Pat them on the back,” says he. “Make them feel quite at home; show them how pleased you are to have their presence; talk very nice to them; avoid anything unpleasant or personal. Also, let them have a little part in the meeting; it will please them, and it can’t do any harm. If they testify, say amen boldly, even though you know they are not saved. If they are sectarian ministers, let them take the service now and then and lead in prayer.

“Then, when you are in their company, don’t be in a strait-jacket about your talking, for there are plenty of good things to talk about besides salvation. If they are witty and inclined to jest, you can laugh with them and put in a little now and then yourself, so they won’t feel peculiar and uncomfortable in your presence. Should they invite you to go any place that might be questionable to the old-fogey saints, go, asking no questions for conscience’s sake. Then, when there, don’t be a spectacle and make the company uncomfortable by your peculiarity or manner of dress. You never can win people if you don’t ease up on some of those cranky, fanatical notions of former days,” continues this influence spirit.

“Then you must not dress so peculiar; you must seek to be unnoticeable in your dress. So you must narrow (and shorten) your skirt considerably. Don’t be worldly—oh, no, never—but don’t wear any out-of-date hat, and make your clothes neat and plain, but try to get that smart, band-box air about all your apparel, and then its lack of trimmings won’t be noticed so much. In fact, there is no use in being so cranky. The Bible says modest, and it is modest and plain to have a little lace or embroidery around the neck and sleeves and such necessary places.

“Then you know, those people who are getting somewhat interested are of the better class, and many of the saints are of the common class, so you must be very careful how you speak to and associate with them in public places where this better class might see, for if you make yourself so friendly with the common people, the better class will have nothing to do with you and you never can win them.”

Thus this deceiving spirit of influence leads you on step by step. You follow on, never suspecting in your zeal and delight in winning souls, how far, far away you have gotten from the Bible method and the Bible highway. When questioned, you vehemently declare that you are not compromising, that it is an awful thing to be fanatical, and that these methods are perfectly lawful. The Bible says nothing against them, and they are a mighty power in winning souls, “For see how many souls are getting saved since we began to use common sense, wisdom, and tact in winning them.”

Ah, dear deluded soul, entrapped and being dragged down to hell while trying to win souls, know you not that souls can never be won to Christ but by lifting up Christ? Do you not know that doing evil that good may abound will never bring souls to Christ? Do you not know that using the devil’s methods to do Christ’s work will not be accepted of Him? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). Doing things for Christ that are contrary to Christ will never win souls. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”* (John 12:32) If you really want to win souls for Christ, shun not the offense of the cross (Galatians 5:11). Lift Him—in all His humility and world-hated virtues—up to the gaze of sinful men. “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.”* (John 6:44) It is the Father, not some great human influence, who draws souls to Christ. All who are drawn by the influence are drawn, not to Christ, but to men.

The fruits of this spirit of influencing people to accept the gospel are many:

1. Respect of persons; “But if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin.”* (James 2:9)

2. Pride, which slips in along with respect of person, as you exercise extreme carefulness in your attitude toward the different classes.

3. Worldliness, as you put on this little extra in your apparel.

4. Deceit, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in your putting on false appearances, in flattery, in pretending to live and behave in certain ways in accordance to the opinions of the one you wish to win.

5. Idle words and foolish talking, but for “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”* (Matthew 12:36) (See Ephesians 5:4.)

6. Fear of men. God says, “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.”* (Isaiah 51:7) “Be not ye the servants of men.”* (1 Corinthians 7:23)

7. Quenching the Holy Spirit. This is done by substituting human wisdom and worldly influence for the divine wisdom and leadings of the Holy Spirit. God’s ways are not man’s ways; neither are his thoughts, our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

8. Withholding God’s truth when He said, “Preach the word; reprove, rebuke, exhort.”* (2 Timothy 4:2)

May God help all who would really be His servants to “renounce the hidden things of dishonesty,”* (2 Corinthians 4:2) to rebuke and resist the spirit of influence in their lives, and to live and work for God in God’s way.

The spirit of influence is a compromising spirit whose face is toward the world, and who steadily lowers the gospel standard so that people can get on easier without having to forsake so much—not to die so completely to self. Instead of seeking God for more of His power and for His confirmation of the Word through signs and wonders, as did the apostles, this worldly spirit goes down to Egypt for help and depends on the arm of flesh, on the wisdom and influence of men, for its power to win souls. “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt, your confusion.”* (Isaiah 30:3)

It is absolutely useless, yea, terribly dangerous, to lower the standard to get people on it, and then try to lift it up to where it ought to be. The people will get on, all right, when the standard is lowered, but when the lifting begins, notice what happens. The raising of the standard is resented, rebuked, fought against, and either you must yield and let it back down and repent for having tried to lift it up, or else you must get off and get back yourself to where you belong. But if you persist in trying to lift it up with all those people on it, you will find, as it is raised, that they were tied to the world and to self by cords of pride, covetousness, love of adornment, amusement, preeminence, etc., and they will be pulled off of the standard and hurled back into the world. This you cannot endure unless you are consecrated to do a work for God, even if there are only two or three who measure to God’s holy standard.