Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Media Choices and the Christian

A version of this article can also be found on This Gospel.

The Word of God, the Bible, is the believer’s authority. What does God's Word say about what we see and how we spend time? We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), so just as nothing unclean was allowed to enter the temple in the OT, so no unclean things should enter our hearts:

2 Chronicles 23:19 (Holman)
He stationed gatekeepers at the gates of the LORD's temple so that nothing unclean could enter for any reason.

And we are now the Lord's house! Psalm 101:1-7 can certainly be applied to TV, movies, magazines, and other worldly media outlets:

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way.
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. (NASB)

The word for “worthless” in Psalm 101 is beliyaal, which also means “wicked, good for nothing, unprofitable.” The Psalmist sets NO wicked thing before his eyes. Think of the images in so many magazines, movies and TV shows. They despise Godly ideas and practices, and they promote rebellious and licentious ones.

Nothing we do escapes the notice of God. Often a man’s life is described in the Bible as a “walk” that is “before the Lord,” meaning that God sees everything we do in our daily lives.

Prov 5:21 (NLT)
For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes.

Eph 5 shows clearly how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dabbling in the world's distractions (certain media, 'entertainment') is a foolish waste of time for a Christian. We only have a tiny bit of time here on earth; God has given us lots to do. In addition, we issue an invitation to the enemy to speak to us and influence us when we voluntarily listen to and watch wicked images or linger over writing that exalts sin.

Eph 4:27
Do not give the devil a foothold.
Don't give the Devil an opportunity. (HCSB)

"There's only one nude scene; "Just a few curse words."

The real question is: what does GOD want from the life of a disciple? We are called to reject this world's way of looking at things:

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We are to be a living SACRIFICE to our Lord; we were bought by Him (1 Corinthians 6 and 7) and we don't belong to ourselves. Discipleship calls for radical separation from the things that are of the world (and therefore are of Satan himself). We cannot afford to be deceived.

We are running a race; we are fighting a battle for our lives. How we spend our time and the choices we make about entertainment influence our character. All the little behavioral choices in your life add up to present the essence of who you are.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

The scripture below from Proverbs has, in my opinion, a spiritual connotation as well as a physical one. If we fall asleep spiritually, we'll be robbed of spiritual growth and power, and eventually of spiritual life itself. The enemy seeks to devour those who are not alert (1 Peter 5:8-9):

Proverbs 24:30-34
I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one lacking sense. I saw that it was overgrown with thorns. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.

All the scriptures below apply to a Christian’s choices regarding worldly media. Paul says that we are not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes (2 Cor 2:11), and we are to be armed against them (Eph 6:11). Since we have an enemy seeking to deceive us, we must examine our thoughts, hearts, and patterns of behavior, checking them against the Word of God.

Matthew 6:22-24 (NLT)
"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Romans 13:11-14 (NLT)
Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So don't live in darkness. Get rid of your evil deeds. Shed them like dirty clothes. Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light. We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior. Don't participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy. But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires.

2 Corinthians 6:13-18 (NLT)
I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us! Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: "I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."

Romans 2:1-16 (NLT)
You may be saying, "What terrible people you have been talking about!" But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? But no, you won't listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning - for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good - for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. God will punish the Gentiles when they sin, even though they never had God's written law. And he will punish the Jews when they sin, for they do have the law. For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God's approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God's sight. Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right. The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone's secret life. This is my message.

Romans 6: 19
I speak this way, using the illustration of slaves and masters, because it is easy to understand. Before, you let yourselves be slaves of impurity and lawlessness. Now you must choose to be slaves of righteousness so that you will become holy.

Heb 12:14 (KJV)
Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

Colossians 2:20 (GNB)
You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world?

I urge you, by the Spirit, to take inventory of your own life, particularly the things you put before your eyes. As you walk before God: Is it profitable? Is it wicked? Is it leading you away from the Lord and keeping your mind and heart focused on worldly things? Can you invite Jesus to participate? Would you feel weird or peaceful if He sat beside you while you watched that movie, TV show, or read that magazine?

Be honest with yourself and God.

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