Do you wish you had more hours in your day? Do you wish you were closer to Jesus on a moment-by-moment basis throughout the day? Do you feel like you aren’t getting enough done in each twenty-four hour period? Are you starting to feel a bit murky in your walk with God–almost as if you’re able to tolerate more sin and not feel bothered about it? If so, there’s a reasonably good chance you’re too immersed in visual media or gaming (or even poor reading choices), and its effect on you is working.
“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15 AMP)
Visual entertainment is a killer deal–from the pit of hell, that is. Too much–or the wrong kind–of TV, Netflix, video gaming, You Tube, even poor reading material choices–achieves two major “keep-’em-out-of-heaven” strategies.
1) The first thing it does is eat up our time–and the more engrossing it is, the more of it gets wasted, because you can’t seem to pull yourself away from it. Years ago Focus on the Family, I think it was, came out with a cute cartoon movie. Kids ended up at this magical place that had the coolest video games; they plugged in, and before they knew it, they were old and shriveled up because it sucked the life right out of them. That’s not an exact representation of what happens to us when we binge-watch a series on Netflix or play straight through the newest game out because, of course, most of us have to eventually get up and do other things, but activities like these still steal huge chunks of our time.
Fast forward to the moment we give an account to Jesus–will we really want to have to admit, “I didn’t finish (even begin?) the “…good works, which God prepared beforehand that…[I] should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10) because we were too busy pursuing entertainment and “relaxation?”
2) The second part of the double-whammy attack of passive entertainment is that it also usually brain-washes us into ungodliness–into the world’s value system, i.e. sin. Some programs and games are overt and all out there–there’s immorality of all varieties, murder, deceit, lying, stealing and pretty much anything else you can think of that’s wrong–while some are more subtle–it seems relatively acceptable until they throw an abortion at you or the main protagonists cohabitate without compunction about the fact that they aren’t actually married. Regardless, we the viewers are–whether we realize it or not–slowly and almost indiscernably–becoming desensitized to various examples of how humankind can and does fall short of the glory of God. And because the entertainment industry tends to be populated by people who do not know and love God, the characters sin with pride and we never see an honest representation of its terrible consequences.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness. They are gossips [spreading rumors], slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors [of new forms] of evil, disobedient and disrespectful to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful [without pity]. Although they know God’s righteous decree and His judgment, that those who do such things deserve death, yet they not only do them, but they even [enthusiastically] approve and tolerate others who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32 AMP)
But we know Jesus, and we know better–at least to the degree we shut off the monitor and open our Bibles. Our lives, whether the ones we actively live or the ones we vicariously do, must not look like that! Our lives are to be spent, God gives us this time, to “perfect holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) And we CANNOT perfect holiness if we are incessantly immersed in its opposite–sin. Either we saturate ourselves with holiness or with sin. Either we fill ourselves with the teaching of God or that of Satan. Either we are busy for Christ’s kingdom or we become waylaid and are off the playing field for Christ.
And that’s the plan of hell. I hesitate to speak too much about the devil, because it is frequently difficult to determine whether it was the enemy of our souls or simply my sin-nature than tempts me to fail, but in this circumstance it really almost seems like a plan. Two for the price of one? Waste of life and erase consciousness of holiness? And most of us excuse it because, let’s be honest, we like it.
Yet Jesus said something completely different. He didn’t say, “If it feels good, it must be right.” That’s sin lying to me. Jesus said:
“If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30 AMP)
Jesus meant it–“it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body“–something in your life, that you may or may not even want gone from your life, that is keeping you from the holiness God wants to work in you–“than for your whole body to go into hell.”
So, which will it be? Holiness or unholiness? Godliness or ungodliness? Christ or the sins of the world? His purposes and goals in you, or a wasted life? Remember:
“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17 AMP)
We cannot pursue godliness while immersing ourselves in ungodliness. Which will it be?
Dear Lord Jesus,
You died for me so I could be forgiven, but also so I would have an understanding of holiness, and the freedom to choose right over wrong (or even better over not necessarily bad). Help me choose You. Help me remain in You. Help me choose to “perfect holiness in the fear of God,” rather than vicariously immerse myself in the sinful lifestyles of those who reject You. Amen.