Jackson Drive Church Of Christ
Preacher: Scott Richardson
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"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
Entertained to Death
This issue will begin a series dedicated to exploring the influences of modern media and entertainment. Please read the whole paper, and research these things for yourself. View them in light of the scriptures and consider them through God's eyes.
We live in an entertainment crazed society. Movies, internet, social networking, sports, television shows, news, video games, cell phones, and the list goes on. Even worship services; after all we are entertained everywhere else, why shouldn't worship be entertaining?
In case you are unaware, we have been “programed” to expect entertainment and instant gratification in every facet of our lives. It is no accident that our society is what it is. There is a concerted effort by many to shorten our attention spans and to feed our minds with certain ideas and messages. But that does not mean that we have to allow this to continue to happen to us.
Most every household has a television and many have one in every room. Most people go to the movies, most people have computers with internet access and most people now have cell phones (many of which are smart phones with internet access). What would we do without them!? It has become almost impossible to function in our modern society without them. There are many good uses for computers, cell phones and televisions (although I have yet to find a good use for the movie theater in this modern era), but what has happened to Bible study, prayer, good conversation and patience as our gadgets grow? The evil associated with some of these things, can, and many times does, far outweigh the good of having our modern forms of entertainment.
We want to look closely at some of these things that we spend so much time with. Entertainment in itself is not wrong, but the wrong entertainment is wrong. Unwise use of time is also wrong, and without a fair amount of discipline, we can waste a lot of time.
It is my fear that we are being entertained to death, spiritually speaking. Some of the things that we will discuss in the following articles are not popular. Some people will even say it is fanatical and ridiculous. As you consider this information, please do so realizing that “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
The wise use of time is imperative to fending off the evil devices of Satan. Likewise, the unwise use of time will give place to the devil to influence our minds. The things that we do in the time that is allotted to us in this life develops our character or lack thereof.
In keeping with the theme of these writings, we want to consider how our entertainment affects our use of time. We have already noted that entertainment is not wrong; there are many good and profitable ways in which one can be entertained. But the wrong entertainment and the unwise use of our time is wrong. The apostle Paul, by inspiration, said in Ephesians 5, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12) (refer to verses 3-5 for examples of those things that we should not fellowship). Continuing in verse 15, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). The works of darkness under consideration in this passage are promoted continually in our modern entertainment, and we are not immune to the terrible effects of a continual diet of filthy communication, fornication, covetousness, idolatry, etc. Why do we seek such entertainment?
We realize that we grow closer to God as we feed ourselves with His word and spend time in prayer. Logical reasoning will tell us that a steady diet of filthy entertainment will not result in spiritual growth, but will bring us closer to the devil. In the same way that we feed our physical bodies to keep them healthy, we must feed our spiritual bodies. Failure to do so, in either case, will result in a decline in health and ultimately in death. Of course, the consequenses of spiritual death are much greater.
There is much to be done in the kingdom of God. It is an urgent task, and there is no time to be wasted. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). That means you and me! Don't just pray that He will send someone else. There is work to be done where you live and among your piers. Heaven is for the eternal rest of the faithful, but while here on earth there is work to be done. Don't waste the time that God has given you feasting on ungodliness.
It might be good if we kept a personal record of how we use the time God has given to us. You can be assured that God is keeping a record. There are twenty-four hours in a day. The general rule is that we spend eight hours sleeping and eight hours at work or school. That leaves eight more hours in each day that we must choose how to use. Is the majority of that time used drawing close to God, studying His word and praying? Is half of that remaining eight hours used studying God's word and praying? Is one hour of that time used for these spiritual purposes? We are spiritual beings and Christians are to walk in the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). The good stewards of God's blessings will receive the eternal reward. Make wise use of your time while you have time. ~D.S.
Who Controls Your Mind?
My Dad used to say that there is a battle going on for our minds. God wants your mind, and the devil wants your mind. It is up to you who gets it.
As followers of Christ, we should continually keep in mind what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own; for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20 ASV).
The scriptures show to us the need to guard our minds against the devices of Satan. The apostle Peter writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith...” (I Peter 5:8-9a). Sober denotes of sound mind, self-controlled, soberminded. Vigilant means watchful, spiritual alertness, to stay awake, to be sleepless (Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Why be sober and vigilant; sound in mind and spiritually awake? Because your adversary is seeking to devour you! The devil does not have our best interests in mind, and he is sleepless in his efforts to have control of your mind. His only purpose is to see to it that you dwell in eternity with him in hell. Are you sleepless in resisting him?
For many years the church has had a problem with the influences of the world. That has been the case since the first century, and I am confident of that being one reason the Bible contains so much teaching concerning our need for purety and sober thinking. While the influences are the same, we face a unique situation with the constant and incessent attack on our minds by the entertainment industry. Many of the things that we readily resist when they are presented to us in lecture form, we will sit and soak in with little resistance when they are entertained into our minds. Those in control of the entertainment industry know this fact.
Ted Turner is one of the most powerful men in entertainment. He is involved in movies, television, news, sports and political activism among other things. In 1990, Turner was voted Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. He is certainly not the only one with wealth and influence, but as a leader in this industry, let us look at some things he has said. While speaking to a group of broadcasters, Turner emphasized to them that they are the ones who determine attitudes. He said, “Your delegates to the United Nations are not as important as the people in this room (broadcasters). We are the ones that determine what the people's attitudes are. It's in our hands.” Since these folks do control the attitudes of the people, let's see what attitudes they are promoting. Turner has called those who oppose abortion “bozos” and said they “look like idiots.” It has always been interesting to me that a doctor can kill your baby at anytime during the pregnancy and it is legal, just so he kills it before it is born naturally. But, as seen in the Peterson case in Modesto, California, a person can be convicted of double murder for killing a woman and her unborn child. Are we supposed to believe that one instance is murder, but the other is not, just because the mother who was killed did not have the opportunity to choose to have her child killed? I digress; that is for another discussion. In regards to Christianity, Turner had this to say, “Christianity is a religion for losers.” He eventually had to apologize for that statement, but to my knowledge, he has not changed his opinions. Keep in mind, we are not concerned with being called names, but we are concerned with the influence that he and his piers have upon society and upon Christians. Furthermore, speaking of the death of Christ (which was for him as well as all of us) he said, “I don't want anybody to die for me. I've had a few drinks and a few girlfriends and if that's gonna put me in hell, then so be it.” His beliefs are not isolated.
In America Mr. Turner has the freedom to say these things, and I am thankful for the freedoms we have. If he chooses not to believe in Jesus that is a choice he is free to make, but it does not change the fact that Jesus did die for the sins of mankind. The point here is not freedom of speech. The point rather is that we who do believe in Jesus and appreciate the fact that He died to save us, are we going to allow ourselves to be influenced by people who teach these attitudes? You see, we can make that choice. We do not have to be entertained by ungodliness.
The people who write the movie scripts and who promote many of the modern forms of entertainment show by their lifestyles and by their very words that they have an agenda. Their god is their belly and without the mention of the true God they are free to feed their fleshly lusts. Yet they are held up on a pedestal as though they were gods. You may think these things will not affect you because you know the truth. Even if you were that strong, your children may not be, and you will not know until it is to late. I wish we were all that strong, but according to the scriptures that is just not the case. “Be not deceived: evil companionships corrupt good morals” (I Corinthians 15:33). Our Creator says that evil associations will have a corrupting influence, and I believe that applies to everyone. Our companions may be on the screen in front of us as much as in the chair beside us.
It seems that in our world today, people live in two worlds. One is reality and the other is virtual reality. Folks seem to think they have rules to abide by in reality, but in virtual reality there are different rules or no rules at all. They feel free to live their fantasies. Christians seem to be buying into this mentality. If it occurs on a screen, it is not so bad. Let's bring the virtual into reality for a moment. If you invited guests to your house and they cursed every other sentence, would you let them stay or invite them back for another visit? If your married guests came with partners that were not their spouses would you let them in? If your guests disrobed and engaged in promiscuous acts in your living room would you just overlook it? Would you go to an establishment where you were the companions of these type of people? If we avoid this type of activity in real life, why would it be okay to be entertained with it in virtual reality (movies, television, internet, video games, etc.)?
Television and movies are not what they were forty or fifty years ago. It is very hard to find wholesome entertainment from either of those outlets today. Yet Christians are still going in droves to watch the filth that Hollywood is pumping into the minds of the masses. The standards of the entertainment industry have continuously digressed to more and more immorality, disrespectful behavior, filthy communication, violence, witchcraft and many other things of which the Bible says “that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32). Are you having pleasure in ungodliness? The standards of many Christians have followed this digression. If that were not the case we would have left that stuff behind long ago.
So, back to the original question; who controls your mind? Do you float with the world, allowing it to set the ever changing mark of acceptable entertainment, behavior and style. Or do you stick with the unchangeable God of Heaven and earth for the standard?
We will do well to set our minds on things above, on things that are spiritual. Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven...For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
We are taught in Phillipians 2 about the mind of Christ, which is described as that of a servant, humble and obedient. The purpose of Christ as He lived on earth was to glorify the Father. We are admonished to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). In chapter 4 Paul is very clear about what should occupy our minds. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The choice is ours. We can fill our minds with things that are pure, lovely and of good report, or we can fill our minds with immorality, filthy communication, violence, witchcraft and disrespect; things which are an abomination to God. There can be no doubt after an honest study of the word of God that He expects His people to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). ~D.S.
For Your ConsiderationFor years it has been said among Christians that we should not watch R rated movies, and that would seem to be wise advice. Yet it is a widely accepted practice to watch PG and PG-13 rated movies. Is this because PG and PG-13 rated movies contain less sinful content? Does less sin make it acceptable entertainment?
To avoid speaking in ignorance, information has been taken from a website called screenit.com which provides movie content in great detail. The following movies were selected at random, simply looking at the first PG and the first PG-13 rated movie reviews that were available. The first review was for Alice in Wonderland (PG), released in 2010. The “At-a-Glance Content Summary” is as follows:
Blood/Gross Stuff: Moderate
Disrespectful/Bad Attitude: Extreme
Frightening/Tense Scenes: Heavy
Imitative Behavior: Heavy
Jump Scenes: None
Music (Scary/Tense): Extreme
Music (Inappropriate): None
Tense Family Scenes: Moderate
Topics to Talk About: Moderate
The second movie review was for The Rite (PG-13) released in 2011. The “At-a-Glance Content Summary” is as follows:
Blood/Gross Stuff: Extreme
Disrespectful/Bad Attitude: Extreme
Frightening/Tense Scenes: Extreme
Imitative Behavior: Heavy
Jump Scenes: Heavy
Music (Scary/Tense): Extreme
Music (Inappropriate): None
Tense Family Scenes: Extreme
Topics to Talk About: Extreme
A review for an R rated movie had Heavy or Extreme content in virtually every category.
Again, we raise the questions, do we abstain from R rated movies, and yet find PG and PG-13 ratings to be acceptable because they contain less sinful content? Does less sin make it acceptable entertainment? Or in this modern era, have we digressed to the point that all movies are okay? Have we convinced ourselves that “it won't affect me because I know what is right?” Do you believe that God expects us to keep a good balance in our lives between good and evil influences, as long as we keep more good influence than evil?
Consider what God says. As Moses prepared the Israelites to enter the land of Canaan he admonished them with these words. “When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee...nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee...thou shalt make no covenant (agreement) with them, nor show mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them...for they will turn away thy son from following me...so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 7:1-6a). He goes on to say, “The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing” (Deut. 7:25-26). Please carefully consider what is being said in that passage! It would be good at this point to study the life of Solomon as he went from one who loved the Lord, sought the wisdom of God and built the temple of God, to one who, because of the evil influences around him, turned away from God (study I Kings 2:1-3; 3:1-14; 9:1-9; 11:1-10). If Solomon had heeded the commands of God recorded in Deuteronomy 7, his heart would have likely remained with God.
As we look in the New Testament, the apostle Peter by inspiration says, “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober...As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (I Peter 1:13-15). Paul says in (I Thessalonians 5:22), “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” In writing to the church at Corinth he says, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (I Corinthians 15:33).
I urge you to think soberly. Your adversary, the devil, is seeking to devour (I Peter 5:8). ~D.S.
Contributions & Associations
Christians give as we have prospered on the first day of the week. Mention is occasionally made of some specific good that has been accomplished of which each giver had a part in. It is good for us to see the work that is being accomplished by the help that we provide in spreading the gospel of Christ or in helping needy saints.
In the same way that we should be encouraged by a good work, we should be ashamed to contribute to ungodly works. In the preceeding articles we have already noted many of the ungodly works that are promoted in today's movies.
Movie goers are paying the huge salaries of the entertainers everytime they go to a movie, and by doing so they are paying Hollywood to produce something just a little bit worse than the one they just paid to watch. It is the movie goer that enables the entertainer to have their wealth and their influence over the masses. You may think your small contribution is insignificant. It might help to keep our perspective by noticing that the actions of one person led to legalized abortion in America and the death of millions of innocent babies. A small contribution but great and terrible consequenses.
The significance of a contribution lies not in the amount given, but in the association of the giver and the receiver. Christians are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22). We are to “cast off the works of darkness” and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh...” (Romans 13:12,14). There are plenty of people to promote evil. They do not need the help of Christians. Christians are commanded to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness, not participate in them (Ephesians 5:11). ~D.S.
The Opposing Agenda
The Humanist Magazine (Jan./Feb., 1983, p.26) published an article by humanist author John Dunphy. He said, “...a viable alternative to Christianity must be sought. That alternative is humanism. I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a New Faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the sparks of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit in conveying humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the education level... The classrooms must and will become an area of conflict between the old and the new...”
This excerpt may be in regards to education, but you recall that one of the most influential men in the entertainment field, Ted Turner, was the Humanist of the Year in 1990. I have mentioned the concerted effort that is ongoing to promote ungodly ideas and messages into the minds of the masses. This further reenforces that fact. In their own words, this is a battle, and we are presently living in the thick of it! ~D.S.
More to come on this subject...