According To God's Word

There was a young Marine who had just become a Christian. He was struggling with sexually impure thoughts. Whenever he tried reading his Bible or praying he was assaulted with these wicked thoughts. He was grieved, but couldn't finger the cause. He figured since he'd become a Christian, these types of thoughts should cease. The leader of the Sunday School class he was in suggested the cause of his problem was in the music he listened to. He gave him a scriptural warning:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

Listening to the preaching of godless ways in his music was spoiling him. This young man's teacher suggested putting away the ungodly music and listening to Christian music, to see if this would bring about the change in his thought life. It didn't take long. Within a few short weeks, the pattern changed. His faith began growing and he began looking at things God's way. He became joyful in the Lord and his mind was cleared up. He began feeding more on the Lord in studying the Word, prayer and Christian fellowship. All of the factors worked to create a strong, godly young Christian. The young Marine went on to become a pastor of a growing church.
This testimony provides powerful food for thought. For many, this same pattern is obvious. Most people don't equate their conversion to Christ with a change in their viewing and listening habits. They just don't think about it. The problem is, though they may watch or listen to evil in a certain degree of ignorance, the consequences remain the same. They're indoctrinated to the world's value system and maybe, worst of all, they don't learn to have God's value system. They don't hate evil and love good. This isn't a minor flaw. Without this healthy development of hating evil and loving good we'll be wasted spiritually, like the young Marine. What's more, when we come to a trial, we'll struggle through without God's strength. We may look to Him, in one way, and turn around and drive Him far from us in our entertainment. His Spirit is grieved and nauseated while we watch and listen to evil. It doesn't offend our spirit, but it certainly does His!
We need to discerningly choose what we listen to and watch. What are our guides for entertainment? For the Christian, the guides are the scriptures (II Timothy 3:15-17). I fear we've become accustomed to things we should keep at a good distance.

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world: Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.Philippians 2:13-16

Scriptural guidelines can be established and followed. Scriptural principals serve as a warning, whether we're actually walking in the Spirit, or not. The previous verse tells us God will put the right desires in us, which would include the right dislikes as well. Life in the Spirit will bring the responses discussed here, but legalism can imitate. Always watch for this. In this line of thought, look at the title of this paper. We can correct our viewing and listening habits and not be reformed, but when our hearts are reformed, our viewing and listening habits will be corrected. The condition of our hearts: good, bad or rocky soil, will display themselves in this. Our choices here serve as an incredibly good diagnostic in helping us see our heart's condition before God.

We need to take care. There are some good shows and songs. There are, at the same time, even more horrendous things.

Evil As A Possibility
We should steer clear of shows where the stars commit obvious evil, and the show doesn't reprove. The program shows approval of the evil. The stars represent the side which is either right or that you're to cheer for. (Dealing with issues of sin is different from having them as part of your entertainment.)
For example: a policeman, who's supposed to be the hero, breaks the law to enable him to capture the criminal (I Peter 2:13 - this applies to police as well).
Lack of Shame & Modesty
Shows that use obscenity should be avoided. The characters, whether on the good side or the bad, are actually sinning.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.;    
Ephesians 4:29

I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.       
Psalm 39:1

It's one thing to play the bad guy and act the committal of a crime, it's another to actually commit the crime. Some say this is necessary for realism, but sinning isn't necessary to gain believability. Look at Star Trek. In the original series, in the late 1960's, Dr. McCoy was a "Class A" grumbler. You'll note he never swore to make his character realistic, and yet he portrayed the character well. In the later movies he swore. Also, you'll notice, in the earlier days of T.V., the husbands and wives were always in different beds. Viewers didn't used to say, 'Oh, how corny, do they expect me to buy this?' Decency was understood. Now, they show people in bed with nothing on, the sheets barely covering them, (for 'added realism' or to create lust), and they make the point of saying they're not married.
Overlooking Evil
Many watch evil uplifted and say they 'overlook' the evil. The scripture tells us to do otherwise:

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
    Romans 12:9

Prove all things: hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.    
I Thessalonians 5:21,22

Ye that love the LORD, hate evil:. . .    
Psalms 97:10a

In view of these scripture, how can we justifiably "overlook" the evil in what we choose to watch and listen to?
Those who disregard the above passages, let me put it this way: Do you feel free to watch shows where people are fornicating, or having affairs? What's your guide as to how much can be committed before you say, "Too much!"? Is using God's name in vain permissible? If so, what you allow carried with it the death penalty in the Old Testament (Leviticus 24:10-16; Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12). If the heroes use the horoscope, or other occultic stuff, is this all right? These things also carried with them the death penalty in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Galatians 5:19-21).

If you're a Christian, these things should grieve you. You should hate them! To hate is to put it from you.

Looking back at my questions, what's your guide as to how much is tolerable? If you have any limit, what's its base? If it's the scriptures, you must follow them exclusively. If it's your ethical reasoning, then the line is never stable. It will constantly change as your heart is slowly reconditioned. Don't start on the Word and then reason away from it. Stick strongly and clearly to the Word. For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. . .

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.   
Proverbs 8:7,13
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes; I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.   
Psalms 101:3         (Psalms 101:7)

He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil: He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.   
Isaiah 33:15,16

Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.   
Psalms 119:104
    (Psalms 36:1-4 - a converse showing the same thing)

So how can you overlook it? Don't forget, what you watch on T.V. is your choice. You turn the dial or put in the video tape, no one is making you sit and watch iniquity.

Take a look at Lot:

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)  
 II Peter 2:7,8

Lot is a powerful scriptural application to this issue. Lot lived in Sodom. Daily he saw and heard evil around him. II Peter says he was vexed with what he saw and heard. The word translated "vexed" in verse 8 comes from a Greek word meaning, "to torment". The passage shows a righteous person, as all Christians are in Christ, is naturally tormented by evil around him. Now think for a moment. The reason you watch most programs or listen to songs is for entertainment. To RELAX and for PLEASURE. If you're righteous, and if there's evil present, it should VEX you! This is the opposite of RELAXATION and PLEASURE. You wouldn't want to watch or listen to it!

What an idiotic statement to say, "I can hardly wait to get home, prop up my legs, sit back, enjoy a coffee and torment myself enduring things I hate on the TV!" If the evil doesn't VEX you, then the conclusion is biblically obvious, "You're not a righteous person". II Peter 2:7,8 must demand this conclusion. It leaves no other option. It serves as a great warning though. If you think you're righteous, i.e. a Christian, yet don't have this vexation, it serves as a red flag. You need to fall on your knees before God. Seek His face to put in you His righteous heart and attitude. He wants to do this. If the attitude isn't there, don't give up saying, "It's no use". Only God makes us righteous and only He can truly give us His attitude towards sin.

Lot also gives another warning. We're told he was righteous and vexed, but if it wasn't for II Peter 2:7,8 this wouldn't be easy to conclude. Looking in Genesis chapter 19 we see Lot committed drunkenness and incest following his escape from Sodom. Even though he was vexed in Sodom, it's obvious he was still influenced by Sodom. This is a warning! How much more should this warn us if we're not vexed with the evil in our entertainment? Are you vexed or not? (A little corruption totally corrupts, Haggai 2:10-14; Luke 16:10.)

Call to Holiness & Reproof of Wickedness
We're told we should walk in godliness and holiness:

For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  
 I Thessalonians 4:7

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
    Ephesians 5:8-11
    (Galatians 5:19-26 showing the works of darkness verses light.)

This being the case, how can we justify before God, our watching things we should rather reprove?

Sadistic Behavior
Other shows Christians should avoid, are those lifting up sadistic behavior. This isn't the spirit a Christian should savor (Matthew 7:12 and Ephesians 5:29; Luke 6:35,36 - mercy is the opposite of sadism). Some shows have the bad guy be sadistic and the good guy be good, but the emotion the show tries to evoke is revenge. We shouldn't be part of this (I Peter 3:9; I Thessalonians 5:15; Matthew 5:39; Proverbs 20:22; 24:29; Romans 12:17-21; Luke 6:27-36; Titus 3:1,2).

Horror for Pleasure
Horror is also popular, yet the scripture says:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.   
II Timothy 1:7
(Psalms 91:5; 118:6; Proverbs 3:24; Isaiah 12:2; 26:3; Psalms 29:11; John 14:27; 16:33; Psalms 34:14)

Seeing we're not of the spirit of fear, why would we watch shows to provoke fear? This isn't after a sound mind or peace. Can you see Jesus, who came to heal the sick, save the lost and loves mankind, enjoying terror and suffering?

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
    Colossians 3:15

 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.  
 I Peter 3:11

Knowledge Indicates Where Heart Is

Our focus should be on growing in the Lord, seeking to know more about Him and His ways. Many know more about TV, movies and music than they do the Bible. The Scripture states:

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.          
 Colossians 4:5,6

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.   
Romans 12:2

Many Christians don't know how to share the gospel, or give an answer as to why or what they believe. Play TV trivia or music trivia and the answers will abound.

Relaxation To Be Found In God
The early Christians were quite different from most modern Christians. They continued studying the Word, fellowshipping together and praising God, continually.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. . . And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people, And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.   
Acts 2:42,46,47

We, on the other hand, tend to seek entertainment more. Entertainment isn't bad, but when we believe it's essential to living, our heart's in the wrong place. Entertainment is a plus, not an essential. God should be totally sufficient to us for all our needs:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
           Colossians 3:1,2

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
    I Timothy 6:6-10 (Psalms 65:4; 17:15)

Back in the New Testament times, the rich were the ones who could afford to see plays and other costly entertainment.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  
 II Timothy 3:2-4

Dangerous Self-Confidence
There's a grave danger in seeking entertainment, apart from leaving us ignorant of God's Word. Since most entertainment follows wickedness and most don't discern their entertainment, the righteous will be corrupted from the pure way of Christ. If you say, "Not me!" you essentially call God a liar. The Bible says:

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.        
I Corinthians 15:33

They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works.   
Psalms 106:34,35

Having confidence you'd never fall, even though you watch things with wickedness in them, is a false confidence. Some have this false confidence because of a misconception. They believe there are people who are naturally good and others naturally wicked (Proverbs 21:2). This is far from the truth:

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  
 I Corinthians 10:12

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?   
Proverbs 20:9

A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.
   Proverbs 14:16

A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.   
Proverbs 22:3

The scriptures warn us to "take heed" when we think we stand lest we fall. If we say, "It won't corrupt us", we show a confidence the scriptures warn against. The fact we can overlook the profanity shows we've already been adversely effected. We've been hardened to the point that we don't really hate it. We may not swear at the moment, but we don't hate it. Saying that we don't notice it, because we're always around it, is a feeble excuse. Unless you disappear from society, everyone's around it. It also warns of that cold, conditioned heart. We don't hate it because we're around it. If we're around the Bible and our heart's in God's Word, then our heart will condition to His Word. A cold and uncaring heart shows where our heart's abode is.
You say you don't curse and won't. I seek the Lord continually yet I constantly pray God will keep my heart and mind clean so a profanity or blasphemy will not come from me in a moment of anguish or torment. I realize habits of the subconscious are picked up from our environment. We use expressions everyone else does. If we hear it a 1,000 times we may find ourselves unexpectedly using it in a moment of panic or turmoil.

Lot even hated the filthy conversation of the wicked, was called righteous, yet he was influenced by Sodom. Shouldn't that be a warning to walk humbly and fearfully before our God, realizing the corruptness in our nature? Only by God's mercy and His Spirit will we come through this world unscathed.

There's a hideous evil to beware of: Thinking yourself righteous while living wickedly. In this case, you naturally believe that God's like you. I've even heard people say, "Yea, I think Jesus would do that" in reference to their evil living. How dangerous such confidence in ourselves can be! The following Psalm pictures this exactly:

But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentest with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sitest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver. Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.   
Psalm 50:16-23

Scriptural Admonishments That Relate to Entertainment
Remember this in your viewing and listening:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
     II Peter 3:10,11

The earth and its works are listed in I John:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  
 I John 2:15-17

Seeing how the world is, like the question put forth, "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" Pay heed to the obviously implied answer.
Another guideline of scripture is found in Colossians:

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.            
Colossians 3:4-8

This shows what's evil and to be fled from: the ways of the world which will be burnt up at the day of the Lord.

Now I would encourage you:

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 (Colossians 3:1,2)

Amen. Think on these things. Put away the wicked things and you'll indeed be pleasing before the Lord.
Does your entertainment meet the criteria outlined in Colossians 3:1,2?

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.            
Colossians 3:17

"Do all" this verse says. As a representative of Christ, which all Christians are, what would He declare to the world is appropriate to relax with? Does it meet with the approval of God? Some might be thinking, "This is so different from the way everyone else seems to be!" To this I would say to remember what Paul said to Titus:

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.   
Titus 2:14

And the call of II Corinthians:

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,   
II Corinthians 6:17

Christians should be different! You must choose who you're going to serve: compromisation and the world or God.

In my family, as in most, I was raised watching a lot of television. The lesson God had for me, concerning entertainment, was a shock to my life-style. I heard a radio preacher talking about listening to music with ungodly lyrics. He used the scripture to back him up. What he said was interesting but I thought, "That's taking things a bit far". I began praying for God to show me what was right and wrong in my entertainment. At this same time, I began searching to see if there was any area I'd heard a scriptural argument concerning, but put lamely aside to the future pondering files. The Spirit pointed out my viewing. Since I love God and want to please Him, I was very concerned about this. I was uncertain about my viewing, yet had heard a scriptural message concerning it. I was in spiritual agony for a number of days. I pleaded for guidance and enlightenment concerning this issue. When I determined I was going to live by what I'd seen in the scriptures, and not go on feelings, the peace of God flowed over me. At the moment of surrender, the Lord gave me spiritual insight and understanding. Giving up my worldly entertainment was no longer difficult, it was then done by the Spirit.

I can look from the vantage point of approximately a decade and a half without regular TV viewing now. In talking with Christians, who haven't weaned themselves off TV, my wife and I came to the conclusion this was one of the most important decisions we ever made. Next to becoming Christians and marrying each other, this decision has had the greatest impact on our lives. The impact on our children's rearing and on our biblical world-view, has shown us the absolute necessity for this decision.

 I've seen a teaching that goes, "Christians should go to all kinds of entertainment, even with ungodliness in it." The doctrine goes, "God's creativity is in man. To not go to see movies because of evil things in them is both narrow minded and simple." I found this teaching in a book by a well known minister.

The teaching called Christians such as I, "simple" because of not enjoying everything in the arts. It assumed those who take my stand aren't even aware of the creativity of God in man all around us. Before I took the stand that I do, I did see the arts found among many different cultures, countries and backgrounds. A very important part of my life is, in fact, in the arts. I'm an artist. I've examined the arts (and still do). The accusation of "simple" is very unfair, and as I noted, he fit my definition of "simple". The "simple" are those who don't know what the scripture says. Throughout his argument, he put down those who take my stand, but supplied no scripture to show what he was saying was honest by the Word of God. I must stand by my narrow mindedness with scripture rather than with broad mindedness and great receptivity that is void of scripture. I hope you'll be able to say the same.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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