I heard this on the Desiring God Pod-Cast. Episode 597 (May 15, 2015) was a question/answer session with Trip Lee, a Reformed Christian Rapper, addressing the issue of believers watching on-screen nudity. I have posted a link to it here, as a follow up to my previous post, “How Can A Believer Not Be Grieved By Watching Sin?”.
A brother in the Lord recently posted the following commentary about a movie that is in the theaters right now (I am not going to mention the name of the movie- it is irrelevant to the point of my post). It left me wondering how can a believer not be grieved by watching immoral entertainment- sin.
“We saw the new _____________ movie as a family for Mother’s Day. It really bothered me. You could see the producers anti-God world-view through the whole movie. It was dark and sometimes evil. There were comments against Jesus multiple times. The women actors wanted to be sexually immoral with ______…and on and on.”
What astonished me about this brother’s commentary of the movie wasn’t so much that the movie was full of that stuff, but some of the responses that other professing Christians had to his post. One person disagreed with the post outright and another accused him of undue criticism. That was interesting to me, because if you re-read what he wrote, you will see that he did not criticize the movie at all. He stated three things: 1st- that he saw the movie, 2nd- that the movie bothered him, and 3rd- he explained – point by point – why the movie bothered him. Logically, (and I do mean ‘logically’ in a ‘logical syllogism’ sort of way- not just the expression), it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to disagree with him, or to say that he was being critical. After all, he only shared, how he felt about the movie and why he felt that way about the movie. If what he wrote about the movie is true (and I am assuming that it is, since I have not seen it, but I know this person well enough to know that he is not lying), he was neither being critical, nor did he write anything that can be logically disagreed with.
Now, the point of me sharing this is that I do not understand how any Christian could see a movie which intentionally presents an anti-God world view, has a ‘dark and evil’ undercurrent, misuses and abuses of the name of Jesus Christ, contains multiple scenes of crude sexual immorality, and enjoy it, calling it ‘entertainment’. Something seems ‘off’ to me about that. Our friend felt as I’d think all believers would feel after being exposed to those sins, after watching immoral entertainment that depicts those sins.
Of course, I understand that all true Christians desire to avoid being legalistic. We should avoid legalism- at all costs- for legalism (pharisaism) puts people in hell, just as much as gross immorality does (maybe even more so). And, Jesus Himself warned, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (Matthew 23:15). But, we need to be honest with ourselves, being entertained by sin is not what the Lord had in mind when He said that. We know that because, in another place, the Word commands that Christians, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord“ (Hebrews 12:14). To me, that is a terrifying thought – not seeing the Lord, for not being holy. I know that in some theological constructs the ‘once saved always saved’ paradigm frees people from taking the necessity of the pursuit of holiness seriously, but it shouldn’t, since people that are really saved (i.e., the regenerate) pursue holiness. So, setting the issue of legalism aside, I still ask, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
I use to think that some believers just had more liberty for stuff like that than I did. I reasoned that since the Lord saved me out of sin, movies that depict my former lifestyle bother me more than they bother other believers that have no personal history with deep immorality. I use to think to myself, “Self, you know what this issue is really all about? It is about Christian Liberty. I am the Proverbial weaker brother- in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. Other Christians can watch pornographic scenes, and not be bothered, because they were probably never exposed to real pornography and they probably never saw the devastating effects that porn has on a home, or on a person. Other Christians can pay money to listen to people use the Lord’s name being used as a vulgarity with out it bothering them. After all, they were probably not raised as godless as I was…” When I was a girl, I heard the Lord’s name used as a swear all the time. I had no idea that it was a sin to say His name in vain. So, when I started to grow in my faith and I saw older believers watching and listening to immoral things, I just assumed that they had more liberty than I did. But, now I know the Word well enough to know that enjoying immoral entertainment and enjoying an occasional glass of wine is not the same thing. (Although, for the record I do not, personally, have the liberty to drink alcoholic beverages.) So, I still do not get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
I have known quite a few very sincere people who think that they have an edge on evangelism, because they can use what ever movie or questionable activity they are involved in as a platform for the Gospel (with the unsaved). They can be especially critical of Christians, like me, that question whether we should enjoy those types of movies and entertainment. I can understand that mentality. I would only say that the Lord taught that the Holy Spirit was going to come to earth to “…convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment” (John 16:8). Therefore, if our lives are not useful to that end- we are probably not as evangelistic as we think that we are. Besides, when I was in the world- I thought lukewarm Christians were hypocrites, not culturally relevant. So I still do not get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
Jesus Christ was tortured and crucified for sin. We, who are saved, are being spared the awful eternal consequences of our sin because of that torturous crucifixion. As Christians we are saying that we have turned away from our lives of sin and turned towards God in a pursuit of His holiness for His glory and His purposes. Immoral entertainment glorifies sin and death- it glorifies the opposite of what we are suppose to glorify- namely, Jesus, the conqueror of sin and death. Immoral entertainment also feeds our sin-appetites, and gratifies our debased desires vicariously. The people that make immoral movies will go to hell if they do not repent. And, the people that enjoy the depravity depicted in immoral entertainment are also going to hell, unless they repent. And since there is nothing entertaining about hell, sin, immorality, or Christ’s death, I don’t get it, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
Doesn’t Ephesians 4:17-24 seem to address this issue of immoral entertainment? Isn’t this the type of thing that Paul could have been talking about when he wrote, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This passage of Scripture is one of the reasons that I ask, how can a believer not be grieved by watching sin?
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (NIV)
As we experience more and more of the goodness of God in our relationship with Him, we are naturally led into deeper and deeper levels of holiness. For, the kindness that we experience in our relationship with God produces in His children a godly grief in our souls, which leads us to confess and repent of more and more of our sin. As we do this we become holier; thus we begin to live in the joyful freedom of walking in newness of life.
Another way to say the same thing is to say that the kindness of God causes us to feel a good-guilt over our wrongdoing. Good-guilt is rooted in an awareness of the goodness and love that God has shown to His children. Good-guilt is good because it makes us want to turn away from the things in our lives that displease God (i.e., our sin) and turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation that He died to give us. That is why the Scripture says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4, NLT).
When we say that we repent of our sin we mean that we have a change of mind about our sin; and for that reason, we turn away from our sin and towards God in the desire to live a God-glorifying life. In other words, to repent of sin is to turn around and go in the opposite direction when we realize that we are heading the wrong way on the path of life. Repentance is the authenticating mark of our profession of faith in Christ. It is the first outward proof that we possess true saving faith. If we agree with God that our sin is wrong, we will do everything that we can to turn away from it and turn towards the righteousness that is ours because of the cross-work of Jesus Christ. It is in this way that repentance leads to salvation. As Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (NIV).
“All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
Each year my husband chooses a Bible reading plan for my family. He prayerfully reviews different plans with me and our five children in mind- seeking to find the right pathway to take on our yearly walk through the Scriptures. On New Year’s Eve he introduces the plan to our kids, and on the following day we all start our annual track through the Word of God on the same page, but in different Bibles.
Having a unified reading plan for the whole family has been a blessing. We have seen our children’s love for God, faith in His Word, and general spiritual health grow as they have gotten into the Word on a consistent bases themselves. Its also been a great help to Dan in shepherding our family, as well. At dinner he answers questions that the kids may have about something in the day’s reading, helps them (and me) see important truths in the text, and chooses a specific portion of the daily reading to read together- and then we all talk about it. It’s been a blessing to have all read the same passages of Scripture earlier in the day, and then come together at night and share how the Lord used it differently in our individual lives and walks.
This year my husband and I were praying about using a plan that is set up around the different Biblical genres. We wanted a plan that would meet all of the children’s different spiritual needs, and also work-well for their different reading levels. We couldn’t find just the right one, so my husband put one together that I think will be just right. It is three chapters a day during the typical school year- four chapters a day June, July, and August, and it is divided by literary genre (Pentateuch, Wisdom literature, Historical, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles, etc. etc. ). I figured I would post it to share with any others that have a young family with different reading abilities and spiritual needs.
Whether this plan is for your family or not, we should all read our Bibles and pray everyday in 2015, for God has said, “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
Here is a link to Bible Gateway reading plans. They have several great plans (that we have used in years past). The best thing about these plans is that you can have the daily reading emailed to you, and then have it read to you by an older gentlemen that has a really cool accent (which is a great tool for the fledgling readers in the family).
1 Peter 5, Cross-bearing, Discouragement, Emotions, Enduring in Faith, Grace, Hardship, Hebrews 12, Isaiah 52, Isaiah 53, Looking to Jesus, Obedience of faith, Practical Theology, Psalm 22, Sanctification, The Sovereignty of God, Theology, Trials
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
Jesus lived and died believing God, and so should we. Jesus lived by the truth that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). For example, it was His belief in the faithfulness of His Father to answer His prayers, that motivated Him to forego the luxury of sleep, in exchange for hours of uninterrupted prayer with God (Luke 6:12). It was also the Lord’s faith in God that sustained Him for forty days of fasting and testing in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2). It was Jesus’ trust in God’s wisdom to ordain His cross-suffering and His trust in God’s power to deliver Him through resurrection, which gave Him the ability to submit to God’s will and endure the horrors of Roman crucifixion for His people. Jesus endured all of the afflictions of His earthly life and especially the afflictions that He suffered on the cross by believing in the promises of God.
The promises that Jesus relied upon throughout His life are found in the Old Testament Scriptures. All the books from Genesis to Malachi (the Old Testament) contain promises that God specifically made to the Messiah, who was the long awaited suffering servant of God (Isaiah 52:13- 53:11). For an example in Psalm 16:10 we read, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.” In this verse, we see that God had promised Jesus He would neither abandon His soul to Sheol; that is, the grave, hell, or the pit; nor allow His Son’s physical body to decay in the grave after He died physically. It was Jesus’ belief in God’s ability and willingness to keep this promise (and other promises similar to it) that enabled Him to humble Himself in faith and become “…obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
When Jesus was on the cross He was thinking about God’s word. We know this because while on the cross, Jesus quoted from the Scriptures. Eyewitnesses of His crucifixion reported that when Jesus was being crucified, He cried out with a loud voice “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). This quote is taken from Psalm 22:1 where the death, burial, and resurrection of the Christ was foretold. From this, we learn that when the Lord felt most troubled in His Spirit, He held most tightly to His Father’s promises. We should be mindful that Jesus’ confidence in the faithful fulfillment of the promises of God did not diminish the painful realities of His crucifixion. Jesus really bled, really hurt, and really died on the cross. His trust in God to raise Him from the dead did not belittle His cross-work. Conversely, it magnified it. Christ’s reliance on the promises of God throughout His life, and especially on the cross, magnifies the truth that we also can rely on God’s Word throughout the duration of our lives, and especially in the midst of our own afflictions. Since the Son of God was enabled to endure the agonies of the cross through His faith in the promises of God; we are assured that we will be enabled to endure in the obedience of our own faith, in the midst of our lesser trials, by trusting God and by relying on His promises.
If we truly desire to see God transform our lives, we must endure in our faith in God. We need to look to Jesus “…the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2); and be strengthened in our resolve to believe God. We must choose to persevere in our belief in God’s power to transform us, regardless of the many complex difficulties- which may be present in our lives. We need to rely on God’s ability and faithfulness to do all that He has said He would do for us, in us, and through us. God has commanded His people to believe Him. In all things- throughout the trials and afflictions of our live- we must remember the promise of God that “…after you [we] have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” And, it is for this reason that we can all say, “To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen“
“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” Isaiah 7:9
“We must endure in our faith; in our belief and our trust in God. For the Scripture says, “…My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in Him” (Hebrews 10:38). We must endeavor to believe God and trust that He is always working all things (i.e., all the circumstances, all the relationships, and all the events of our lives) out for our good and His glory, even when this is difficult to do. We must trust God all the time – in the midst of seemingly overwhelming personal weaknesses, broken relationships, and even shameful pasts. We must stand on the solid rock of the promise of God: that He causes “…all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:28).
Believing that God will cause all things to work out for our good and His glory can be difficult when those all things include abandonment, abortion, abuse, addictions, betrayal, chronic pain, divorce, mental illness, the shame of sexual and physical assault, or the insecurity that results from prolonged emotional abuse. But, regardless of how difficult it may be for us to understand how God will overcome our painful realities and transform us through them; the Lord still calls us to believe that He can and that He will do all that He has said He would do for us. Only He expects that we believe in Him. For we know that He has said, “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, we must discipline ourselves to trust God and rely on His ability to work out His good will in our lives – no matter how impossible this may seem to be to us. In other words, we must be firm in our faith. For Isaiah 7:9 warns us, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”
Taken from Walking in Newness of Life: Experiencing the power of God in Resurrection by Identifying with Christ in His Death and Burial, pp. 95-96
“Sometimes, we may feel as though we cannot trust anyone except ourselves. However, we cannot even trust ourselves as much as we can trust God. After all, our hearts can deceive us. Sometimes, we believe what we want to believe because it is easier to believe a lie than it is to believe a painful truth. We often believe what we think needs to be true, depending on how we feel, and despite what we know to be true. For example, how many of us have ignored the obvious unfaithfulness of a friend, because we could not bear the thought of losing the friendship? In those cases, we ignore the truth to our own detriment; and thus prove that we cannot trust ourselves as much as we can trust God.
Furthermore, we cannot trust ourselves, as much as we can trust God because we are fallible. That we are fallible means that we can make mistakes; that we are subject to error. Sometimes we make mistakes out of blind or willful ignorance. At other times, we make an error in judgment because we, simply, do not know what is best; for, as humans we are limited in our knowledge. We frequently mistake the motives or meanings of the words and actions of other people. And, often, our past situations and relationships obscure our ability to perceive our present realities (our relationships, situations, and circumstances) accurately. This is one reason that the Bible warns us that we cannot even trust our own hearts. God’s word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Instead of trusting in our own hearts, we should learn to trust God to give us the wisdom that we need for all of the relationships, situations, and circumstances in our lives. We can trust God in all of these things because, unlike us, God is infallible (that is, God is not capable of making mistakes or being wrong).”
Taken from Walking in Newness of Life: Experiencing the power of God in Resurrection by Identifying with Christ in His Death and Burial, pp. 29-30.
“Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48
There is a sense in which all man-kind has been given a measure of grace from God- for which all man-kind will be required to give an accounting to God. All of us were created with the abilities of thought, emotion, and expression through language; so that all of us could know God, love God, and worship God. In other words, all humans were given the basic abilities needed to glorify God. Even so, Christians have been given a greater measure of God’s grace. Therefore, we will be required to give a greater accounting to God for that which He has given us. God has regenerated our mental and emotional abilities; He has given us the eyes that are necessary for recognizing the indescribable worth of God in His holiness. He has given us the renewed abilities necessary for responding to His indescribable worth in loving adoration and worship of Him. Believers have been reconciled to God, and “… have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). So you see, we (Christians) are the ones who have been given much. Therefore, with everything in us and with everything that has been entrusted to us, we should make much of God. For we know that the Day in which we will give an accounting to God for what He has given to us is fast upon us, and we also know that “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
So the crucial question is: “What would turn this imagined knowing into true knowing?” In other words, what does it mean to know as one ought to know? To think as one ought to think? The answer is in the text before and behind.
Before, Paul had said love builds up (v.1). That implies that any knowledge that does not stand in the service of love is not real knowing. It is prostituted knowing. It is as though God put surgical tools in our hands and taught us how to save the sick, but we turned them into a clever juggling act while patients died. Knowing and thinking exist for the sake of love- for the sake of building people up in faith. Thinking that produces pride instead of love is not true thinking-. We only imagine that we are thinking. God does not see it as thinking. It’s not surgery; it’s juggling.
-John Piper, Taken from Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God (pp.159-160).