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?
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:5-9
The other day I posted a prayer of confession. In it I detailed some of the specific out-workings that the fear of man has had in my life. Some may wonder why I did that. Someone might ask a question like, ‘Isn’t it humiliating to publicly own such a low and cowardly sin as that of man-fearing?’ Or, someone might wonder “Doesn’t she feel any shame or embarrassment about admitting that her fear of man has given birth to a multitude of other sins in her life- sins like those of sulking, self-pity, murmuring, complaining, and gossip?” And, the answer to that question is, well, yes, actually, it is very embarrassing to publicly confess my sin- and, in large part, that is why I posted Confessions of a MAN-PLEASER.
John Owen wrote, “Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.” The public confession of my man-fearing was one of many personal attempts to kill my sin of people-pleasing. For me, embarrassment is a very effective tool in the practice of the mortification of sin. When I feel embarrassed by something- I want to get away from it. Or, to put it in Bible language, embarrassment over my sin makes me want to “…put off the old self with its practices…” and to “…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” I have also found that for me, genuine intentional self-abasement is a pre-curser to humbleness of mind; and humbleness of mind prepares my heart to receive the grace of Christ- His grace to overcome my sin; His grace to walk in the new life that He has called me to; and His grace to receive more of His grace.
Grace empowers me to “…put to death whatever is earthly…” in me (like, my fear of man), by teaching me how to “…put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” That is, grace enables me to put on the life of Christ, and be renewed by the promises of the Word of God which reveal all of the perfections of Christ; His person, His character, His image, and His glory.
The following are four verses that I am praying over in the continuing effort to put my man-pleasing tendencies to death, so that I can live in the joyful, victorious freedom of living in the fear of God. I might be battling this particular sin for the rest of my life. Although, Monday’s public confession proved to be a decisive victory in the on-going battle with this particular sin. No less, I am certain that John Owen was right. I need to “…make killing sin my daily work – I better be always at it while I live; and cease not a day from this work. I better be killing sin or it will be killing me.” So, in the end, I am okay with feeling the shame of my sin. Actually, I welcome it. If by feeling it more acutely, I can more earnestly welcome and more powerfully experience the grace of God – why wouldn’t I?
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” Psalm 18:10
“Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” Isaiah 2:22
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” Jeremiah 1:17
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
How can I escape my fear of man? Well, Witherspoon said, “It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.” So I started checking out resources on the fear of God- and I came across this 2 minute sermon clip from John Piper. In it, he explains what the fear of God is for the Christian, and what the role of fearing God is in the Christian life. Well worth the 120 seconds it took me to watch.
It has been a while since I posted anything from Wretched. The other day I came across the “Arrogance Test,” administered by Todd Friel. I found it to be wonderfully convicting, yet slightly entertaining in a Todd Friel-ish-edgy-sin-exposing sort of way (if you know what I mean). As for me, I’m glad I spent three minutes and fifty-five seconds of my life taking this test- it helped me see an area of my soul that needs a little mortification; that is, a little more sin-killing-effort. So I figured, “Why not spread the love?” If you like it, there is a link to Wretched on my blog. You can find it by scrolling down and looking to your reading left.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19
“Confession is the authenticating mark of repentance, and likewise, repentance is the authenticating mark of our confession. They are like two sides of the same coin. If we truly agree with God about our sin, we will make every effort to stop sinning. We will do everything that we can do to turn away from our sin and turn towards God in the pursuit of holiness. Confession without turning away from sin is not real confession: it is lip-service that we are making to God. Giving lip-service to God reveals either deep stupidity (for who is stupid enough to play games with God?), or it reveals a genuine lack of understanding of who the God of the Bible is and how dangerous sin is. Jesus tells people who think that they are all set with half-hearted Christian living (things like insincere confession or lives that lack the fruits of repentance): “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).”
Walking in Newness of Life: Experiencing the Power of God in Resurrection by Identifying with Christ in His Death and Burial pp. 51-52
“When we confess our sin; we should name the exact times that we have committed our pet sins, the precise places that we are more likely to indulge our sinful appetites, and the people with whom we feel the freest and most comfortable committing our sin. If we do this we will be helped in our repentance; for we will be more aware of the relationships, places, and opportunities in our lives that we must be careful to turn away from in repentance. Also, by being specific in our confession, we own more truthfully the provisions that we have made for committing our sins in the past. This level of honesty with God and ourselves will likely aid in the production of the good-guilt, i.e., the godly grief, over our sin that is appropriate for a believer to feel. Feeling godly grief will cause us to confess and repent of our sin more and more; making us holier and leading us into deeper and deeper levels of holiness. Confession and repentance of sin keeps us on the path that leads to salvation. Ongoing confession and repentance of sin will keep us on the narrow path that leads to life. That is why the Scripture says, ‘…godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation.’ “
Walking in Newness of Life: Experiencing the Power of God in Resurrection by Identifying with Christ in His Death and Burial pp. 51-52
Has God predetermined every detail in the universe, including sin?
6 minutes and 7 seconds worth of the predetermining power of God. He even addresses the question has God predetermined our sin? Well worth the time and brain power necessary to view.
The word sin means missing the mark; a fault, failure (in an ethical sense), a sinful deed (http://biblehub.com/greek/266.htm). From the Scripture, we know that sin consists of missing the mark of God’s holiness. It is anything that we say, think, or do that is not holy- as God is Holy. Sin is any way in which people, who were created to be God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:26-27), fail to reveal an accurate picture of who God is or fail to worship Him as God. In this way, sin is a suppression of the truth about God; a suppression of the truth about God’s holiness; a suppression of the truth about God’s glory. In fact, the Bible qualifies sin as a falling short of God’s glory. All people have fallen short of God’s glory. Even people that the Bible describes as ‘blameless according to the law,’ ‘righteous,’ and ‘devout’ (Luke 1:6; Philippians 3:6), are still sinners and are still in need of a Savior. The Scripture is clear, “… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Acts of sin (sinful behaviors) consist of breaking the law of God and in not keeping the law of God. But, sin is more than what we do and what we do not do. Sin is a principle of rebellion at work within our mortal bodies, as well. It is a principle that the Bible describes as an “…evil lying close at hand… …waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive…” (Romans 7:14-25). You see, sin is more than misdeeds, misdemeanors, and misconduct; it is a principle within each human being’s flesh which is at war with God.
We are all born slaves to sin because we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man that was created, Adam (Romans 5:12-14, 18-19; 6:6, 20). When Adam disobeyed God, he died spiritually. In other words, when Adam sinned He became spiritually separated from God. In the Bible, death always refers to some form of separation; physical death is the separation of the spirit; the spirit meaning the breath or the life principle in living beings (http://biblehub.com/greek/4151.htm), from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of man from God (Who is the source of all life). Every person that was born after Adam, except Jesus, comes from Adam. Adam is the father of the human race and Adam’s wife Eve is the mother of the human race. For this reason, Adam and Eve are said to be the parents’ of the entire human race (Genesis 3:20, 4: 1-2, 5:1-5). All of our family trees have their roots in the union of Adam and Eve; therefore, we all share their spiritual DNA; we are all born corrupted by sin and under the judgment of God (Genesis 2:15-17; Psalm 51:5). As Romans 5:12 says, “… Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”