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Summary: Our minds are either under the influence of our sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

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Title: Being Under the Influence II

Text: Romans 8:1-11

The Big Idea: There are two ways to be controlled: Our minds are either under the influence of our own sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

Introduction

“Lobbyists, according to various definitions, contact, inform, communicate, try to influence, persuade, and influence government officials to pass legislation that favors them or their backers.” (Michaeal S. Rozeff, Good and Bad Lobby Groups, LewRockwell.com, 7/18/08)

Our culture is a culture of influence. Everyone is under the influence of someone or something. Advertisers vie for our spending dollars. Highway safety officials influence us with “Click It Or Ticket” admonitions to wear seatbelts. And I noticed in a television add that Direct Dish customers do not let their friends use cable… so Dish customers are urged to influence their friends to switch to Direct Dish.

The larger picture is that of political influence. In the last ten years the top spending lobbying clients include: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Assoc., General Electric, American Hospital Assoc., AARP, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, National Association of Realtors, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Freddie Mac, Boeing, General Motors, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, Verizon, and Fannie Mae. (Lobbying Top Spenders, OpenSecrets.org.)

I’m sure you recognized the names of Freddie and Fanny, who have both made national news this week as Congress acted to protect them from financial ruin. The mortgage banking industry ponies up big time and they are protected big time.

Another segment of lobbying interests is the pharmaceutical industry. A segment on CBS News posits, “If you have ever wondered why the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. are the highest in the world or why it is illegal to import cheaper drugs, you need look no further than the pharmaceutical lobby and its influence in Washington, D.C. According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, congressmen are outnumbered two to one by lobbyists for an industry that spends roughly $100 million a year in campaign contributions and lobbying expenses to protect its profits.” (Under the Influence, New York, July 29,2007, CBSNews.com)

This year our congressional leaders have split the $100 million equally across the aisle with Democrats receiving 50% and Republicans receiving 50% of the contributions from the pharmaceutical industry. However the split of oil and gas money is less evenly distributed with Democrats receiving 26% and Republicans receiving 74% of the oil and gas political contributions. (Defense: Long-Term Contribution Trends, OpenSecrets.org)

We are all under the influence of SIGs (Special Interest Groups) in general. However, there are two SIGs that are actively engaged in trying to persuade or influence you. You could say that both are lobbying for your attention, your affection… and your life.

The way we live, is determined by the dominant influence in our lives.

1. People are always under an influence.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature or flesh, think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” Romans 8:5

The idea of influence is supported by a verse in Ephesians which addresses the subject of living in the power of the Holy Spirit. “Don’t be drunk with wine, because it will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” Ephesians 5:18

The concept of being filled, is sometimes a bit confusing. It sounds like the Holy Spirit is a quantity as if being filled with the Spirit may be likened to being full of prunes or whatever. Being filled is better understood as being under the control of or influence.

While there is truth in the warning about the abuse of alcohol, the text is making a comparison / contrast point. The writer is saying that just as you may allow yourself to be under the influence of alcohol, you may allow yourself to be under the influence of God’s Holy Spirit. In fact, rather than be under the control or influence of anything else, opt to be under the control or influence of the Spirit. So the question each of us must ask is this, “What is the controlling influence in my life? Is it my sinful nature or is it the Holy Spirit of God?”

The way you can determine the dominant influence in your life is to examine what occupies your mind or what you think about. Our thoughts lead to attitudes and our attitudes lead to actions. Our attitudes and actions reflect that we are either under the influence of our sinful nature or God. If Jessie Jackson were to explore the dominant influence in his life when he made offensive, crude, and cutting remarks about Senator Obama that were overheard on an open microphone at Fox News on July 10th, I suspect he would have to admit he was not speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We can all relate…

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