“I have made a covenant with my eyes;
How then could I gaze at a virgin?
…. for that would be a fire that consumes….
and it would burn to the root all my increase.” -Job 31.1, 12
I understand that many would brand my faith antique and my convictions archaic for approaching this subject, but that is a minuscule risk for me to take. God is too glorious, His Gospel too precious, and the fate of our sons and daughters too much at stake for me to worry about the consequences that these themes bring. I am convinced that we have woefully underestimated the damage that is done to the world and to the Church, particularly with regard to the issue of so-called entertainment.
The Church is largely bored with the Scriptures, unwilling to sacrifice for eternal things, unacquainted with the Spirit of prayer, and is harboring such distorted views of God that it is often difficult to tell if the One she is proclaiming is the same Lord that the apostles and prophets set forth. There may be a litany of reasons for this decrease of majesty, but I believe that one of the greatest of these is that Hollywood has a stranglehold on the hearts and imaginations of God’s children.
The pornography epidemic could be driven home here, and to sound the trumpet against that demonic system will require the emergence of a true prophetic voice indeed. Almost 40% of American pastors admit to a current struggle with internet porn, and the numbers are even greater amongst men within our congregations. This is beyond tragic, and we are in need of a massive overhaul of repentance and mercy. Now more than ever are we in need of awakening, and if you are in this category there is deliverance and freedom from this deathtrap. The Gospel of Jesus sets us free “from all sin,” and He will give you grace to slam the door once and for all on this terribly besetting sin, when you repent and turn to Him with a whole heart, clinging to the Son of God.
Yet as horrific as the pornography phenomenon is, that is not the primary burden of my heart in this writing.
I am convinced that the Church of America, as a majority, has been removed from, or has never known, the kind of trepidation and tenderness of heart that Job was expressing when he declared, “I have made a covenant with my eyes….”
It was part and parcel with the faith of all the saints of old, that what they allowed to pass through the eye-gate, and what they permitted willingly to go into their ears, would taint their souls at best, and find residence in their lives at the worst. I am suspicious of modern “prophetic” men who commonly cite movies and shows that contain illicit sex, profane lingo and themes, glorified violence, immoral innuendo, or other defiling examples as points in their messages. The only reason these points hit home with so many church members is that they themselves are given over to the same powers and influences.
Our hearts are too taken up with this world, saints, and there has never been a generation wherein the spirit of this age strikes the soul with such color, such special effects, and such mesmerizing power as the one we find ourselves in. Yet we are called to an ultimate holiness nonetheless, and it may be said that one of the distinguishing factors between those who will bear the testimony of Jesus at the end of the age and those who will take the mark of the beast during tribulational times will be this radical consecration of the eyes to God Himself.
In Eph. 5, Paul declares that there should not even be a “hint of immorality” in the lives of God’s people. Dear believer, I ask you pointedly, what constitutes a hint? How many of Hollywood’s characters, themes and plots can we drink in without receiving a “hint” of darkness?
There is something sleazy about many of our lives, charismatic or not, and while it might not be overtly recognized, I believe there is a residue of immorality resting upon those who have freely given themselves to morally compromised entertainment. There is something flimsy about our religion, and the bright burning of holiness that marked John the Baptist, the prophets of old, and Jesus Himself is conspicuously absent in the sanctuary, where His name is declared “holy” in verbal exercise, but the sense of His holiness has become foreign.
“…. it would burn to the root of all my increase.”
While we have boasted in “liberty,” and spoken poetically of our spiritual interpretations of Hollywood flicks (interpretations that Hollywood would largely reject and ridicule), we have too often condoned the spiritual pollution of our hearts.
Would the porn epidemic be so far-reaching and deeply-rooted if the Church hadn’t dropped the ball in areas of more subtle compromise? We have become arrogant in our boasting. And we wonder why our kids are prayerless and numb to eternal reality, buying into agnosticism and atheism when they graduate high-school and make it to their respective Universities. We wonder why thousands of “evangelical” teens are converting to Islam or diving headlong into the “party” life when they get out from under the wing of a youth group, and into the reality of college life. This may not be the only issue, but it is much more prevalent than we know. It’s a battle of ideologies, and hell has no greater method than to slowly dull our hearts to the God of righteousness through cute, subtle, and entertaining displays of hellish ideas. As a friend of mine so rightly wrote:
We have so saturated our minds and imaginations with man-created images that we are bound to those images and therefore subject to the agenda of the men creating them.
It has burned to the root of our “increase” in Christ. It has dulled and blurred the “inner-man” of the Church. We have lost the hunger and thirst for righteousness that Jesus encouraged, for we have given our hearts, minds, and pocketbooks to the broken cisterns of carnal entertainment.
It’s staggering to me that when the subject is raised to most believers, the tag of legalism is immediately raised. While there are legalistic souls who lack an understanding of mercy, and who often place heavy yokes upon others, the vehemence and rage of those who dish out accusations that men like myself are “legalistic” is far more widespread, at least in my own experience. I’ve never heard more warnings against “the religious spirit,” “self-righteousness,” and “legalism” than I have in the last few years.
In the area of entertainment they say, “Paul said we had liberty in Christ, and we’re walking in that freedom.” But these modern examples are usually employed in a context that is far different from the situation with the Judaizers in the churches of Galatia. There is not an iota of Scripture that would encourage me to set my eyes, ears and emotions on themes that make light of sin.
The apostles, quite contrary to the liberal ideas of today, addressed issues of righteousness with remarkable frequency and intensity in the New Testament, and I believe they would weep over the Church in our day, that we would be delivered from the murky waters that have tainted and dulled our spirits in the realm of entertainment. Gospel liberty is not license, but rather freedom from the death grip of this dying age. It is a liberty to come into the wonderful reality of communion with the Living God, and to taste of the “powers of the age to come.”
This is not about judging our movies based on their ratings. A thousand “PG” movies could be just as detrimental as one “R” movie. Addictions to political news or social networking must also be challenged if they burn up our time and keep us from the place of prayer and worship, diminish our passion for the Scriptures, and fog our awareness of the lostness of humanity. This is about a total consecration of our eyes and hearts unto Him, that we might gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, tremble before His majesty, remain in the loving counsel of His voice, and set Him forth in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
Our eyes have been too opened to the lying glimmers of this age. The time is here for an ultimate consecration of the eyes to the Lord, that we would see the increase of Christ Himself in our lives. We haven’t got room even for a “hint,” friends.
Let us return to Him with weeping and mourning, that so many of us have preferred the fading lights of this age to the glorious light of God Himself. We need not buy into the lie any longer. He longs to pour out mercy upon us, to purify us down to the marrow of our bones, to make us a tender-hearted people, enjoying deep communion with Him, and walking in meekness and holiness unto the day of His return.
Oh God, cleanse and purify our hearts with the fire of Your holiness and love. Catch us up in the Spirit of prayer and the glory of worship, quicken our souls to love the Scriptures, awaken us from fantasy and bring us into eternal reality. For Jesus’ sake.
, John the Baptist
, New Testament
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