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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Our Entertainment: The Cultivating Of Holiness - Part 1

Philippians 4:8 - 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.

Think on these things! Entertainment is stimulus. It causes to us to think about things. If our entertainment is causing us to think about things that are contrary to the virtuous things in the above verse it is the wrong kind of entertainment.

While the verse before us tells us what to think on, it also is telling us what we should not be thinking on. I think you could simply insert the opposite in each slot and have a fairly accurate picture of the kind of things we should not be thinking on.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are unjust, whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hideous, whatsoever things are of evil report, if there be any vice, and if there be any reproach refuse to think on these things.

On what does you choices of entertainment cause you to think?

I am starting with entertainment because it has a direct impact on other areas of separation. Our entertainment influences the way we think and see the world. The way we think determines the way we behave. As I have closely considered the issues of separation I have become convinced that many people cannot or will not grasp the principles that come to bear on separation because of their entertainment choices. They spend hours a week watching worldly TV and movies. They spend hours more listening to the world’s music with its sensual beat and emphasis on rhythm. They spend hours on video/computer games that at bare minimum deprive them of time that could be used to cultivate virtues. And now we have the Internet to round out our diet of worldly carnal appetites. Having a couple of generations that have gorged themselves on the world’s entertainment it is no wonder that separation is becoming a relic of past generations. So, now it is not only the unbeliever who scoffs at a believer’s separation convictions the carnal, worldly believer has also taken up the mantle belittling and scoffing at any pretense to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Remember we are instructed to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit".

What we expose ourselves to in the name of entertainment and amusement is of no little consequence. It will largely determine the degree to which we are willing to pursue holiness. It will dictate our appetite for righteousness. Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness”. Not those who hunger and thirst after the latest movie, CD, or video game. In either case what we hunger and thirst after is what we will be filled with and what we are filled with will be manifested in our lives.

Here at the outset, we need to sincerely pray, Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:19-24

Is there anything you are unwilling to give up that is keeping you from pursuing holiness?

It is blindness of the first degree to think that the Bible has no principles whereby our entertainment choices are to be governed. Most people just do not care. They know what they like and they have no interest in having their choices of entertainment challenged, even on the basis of God’s word.

It is important that we examine some of the clear principles that have a direct impact in the area of entertainment. Then, after having set forth a Biblical premise for the examination, consider some of the options available to us for entertainment and see how they measure up.

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES RELATING TO ENTERTAINMENT

Romans 12:9 – Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. To abhor means to detest utterly, have a horror of. Surely this has relevance in the area of entertainment. Would anyone deny that there is evil entertainment?? Now we may disagree on what is evil but I think we can agree that there is such a thing as entertainment that is evil.

Psalms 101:3 – I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. This does not mean that we will never see a wicked thing. Surely if we live in this world we will see a plethora of evil things. This has to do with what we set before our eyes. It has to do with the choices we make. It is a truth that should have an impact on our entertainment choices.

1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 – Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. If we are to prove all things, that is test, scrutinize all things then surely we are to be testing our entertainment choices. Having tested the choices we are instructed how we are to respond. The good we are to hold fast. The evil we are to abstain from all appearance.

Romans. 16:19 – For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. The Scripture says that we should strive for simplicity concerning evil. The idea of being simple is being unmixed, innocent. We should be childlike when it comes to evil. Much of modern entertainment conditions us to accept evil. It teaches us evil. It parades as virtues everything that is a vice. Part of the problem is that we don't want to be simple concerning evil when it comes to entertainment. We don't want to think we have missed out on anything.

Psalms. 119:37 – Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Here is another verse that should give us some direction concerning entertainment. Are we beholding vanity. Is our entertainment encouraging vanity.

Job 31:1 – I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? We know that this is a good covenant that Job made because the principle is set for time and eternity in the Ten Commandments and Matthew chapter five, where both Moses and Jesus speak of adultery. Moses of the act and Jesus of the heart. Moses give the letter of the law and Jesus gives the spirit of the law. And as believers we have been freed from the letter that we might keep the spirit of the law. How much entertainment is built around sensuality. Scantily clad females. Sexually suggestive content. Outright nudity and pornographic material. I am quite convinced that all men should make the same covenant Job did.

Proverbs 17:15 – He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. How often does entertainment do this very thing. Takes the vices and turns them into virtues and the virtues and turns them into vices. Entertainment that justifies the wicked and condemns the just is abominable entertainment and the genuine believer should be very careful to guard his soul against such a perspective.

Romans 1:29-32 – Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Are these not the things that characterize much of the entertainment scene today? All of these vices are presented to us as entertainment and we sit gladly and watch and listen and derive some kind of sadistic pleasure from it. The scripture is clear that those who do such things are worthy of death and not only those who do these things but also so those who take pleasure in them that do them. This is exactly what people do when they make decisions to be entertained by these kind of themes. God help us to see the wickedness of it!

Ephesians 5:15,16 – See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. If we are not careful we can spend much time entertaining ourselves. Spending vast quantities of time that could be better spent cultivating virtues, educating ourselves in some area, ministering to the needs of others. I have observed that video games can become a major source of wasting time. In fact I read an article recently that said video games tended to be addictive just like drugs. To see some people play them you would have to agree. Children, adolescents, and even adults that can tell you every detail of several video games but have trouble finding time to read, memorize, and study the Scriptures so they can be conversant in the writings of Moses, Paul, and Peter!

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Evil communications corrupt good manners. Communications here has to do with more than just talking it is actually a word that means communion, companionship, and intercourse. If we choose entertainment choices that are evil our own character is being corrupted. Because we have failed to guard our heart, we are being transformed not into the image of Christ but into the image of the world around us. We ignore this sober exhortation at our own peril.

Romans 14:23 – And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. If in doubt don't! Don't wound your conscience by violating it. Don't sear you conscience by repeated transgression.


APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES TO ENTERTAINMENT IN GENERAL

This is an issue that must be addressed. You can refrain from owning a TV, video/DVD player, radio, video games, Internet access and a host of other media items and you will still have to address issues of entertainment. There will always be people who will want you to watch or listen to something they have found interesting, entertaining, or otherwise beneficial.

There are some basic realities that must be kept in mind concerning entertainment. Entertainment mediums impact the soul often times without arousing it. In other words we are impacted at the deepest levels of our existence without knowing it. Entertainment, especially picture-oriented entertainment, is a powerful avenue of imparting a message and altering behaviour. It impacts the sight, and hearing at least.

If you doubt what I am saying, follow the money. Consider the advertisement industry. Billions are spent every year because it is profitable. The message is effectively communicated and behaviour, buying patterns are altered. If it was not cost effective the money would not be spent. Don't think that just because we go from a commercial to programming or a DVD that behaviour is not being altered. It is! All entertainment is seeking to sale you someones idea of how the world is or how it ought to be.


All entertainment is educational. Everything you watch or listen to is educating you. There is no such thing as pure entertainment. All entertainment is theological at its core. It teaches something about God. Entertainment is the expression of a person’s view of the world. Either the way they believe it is or they way they believe it should be. It is artistic expression of their view of life.

Entertainment is often sought out as a form of amusement. The word muse means to think closely, to study in silence. The word is even used in Ps 143:5 - I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. Crabb’s English Synonyms provides the following concerning amuse, “What ever amuses serves to kill time, to lull the faculties and banish reflection.” “A” as a prefix can mean not, without. Thus, amuse means to not muse, without musing. To be amused is to not think closely, to be without studying in silence. Entertainment for amusement results in no musing.


Entertainment is a powerful tool of Satan to bring about the willingness to compromise. Why? Because we find ourselves willing to be exposed to increasing level of ungodliness just to have something to do, for entertainment sake. Entertainment should not be used to relieve boredom.
In fact it is a form of self-deception to believe that it does relieve boredom. It does not relieve boredom it only feeds it and produces a more ready spirit of compromise to relieve the boredom. In fact people get bored with their entertainment choices so what do they do? They seek out something even more outrageous be it more violent, or more sensual.

Entertainment should be used to give the kids something to do. Again they become bored with entertainment and then there is pressure to find something else entertaining and the temptation to compromise is introduced.


Entertainment should not be for purely entertainment sake. If it is the flesh will demand more vivid expressions to create the same level of entertainment and the willingness to compromise convictions becomes a very real problem.


Entertainment should not be sought out for excitement. If it is the flesh will demand more excitement, which generally requires more action, and bloodshed and gore and convictions are compromised on the altar of excitement.


Do you not see how entertainment is an especially useful tool of Satan to deceive us concerning the infiltration of evil communications that will corrupt our good manners? Consider what we allow in the name of pure entertainment. We allow characters in our home that we would never allow in person. We allow language to be used in our home that we have banned under all other circumstances. We allow immodesty in our homes that in other circumstances would cause us to blush. We allow violence in our homes (blood and gore) that would violate our sense of decency in real life. We allow immorality to be paraded before our children that we say we are against. We allow the ridicule of the things that we hold dear. We allow the atrophy of the intellectual powers of our families in contrast to our stated position that we are to be getting wisdom and with all your getting get understanding. There can be little wisdom and understanding where our intellectual capacities have been hindered by entertainment.


"Be not deceived evil communications corrupt good manners". The presentation of evil communications through media does not lessen that effect to the contrary it heightens the effect.


APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES TO TELEVISION

Consider the programming. Hollywood and Television have been at the forefront of pushing the cultural boundaries. One of the biggest lies being told is that Hollywood is just giving the people what they want. The fact is they are notorious for pushing the envelope When you examine the Seeing TV programming by the decade helps to see the trend. It is hard to argue that it is a good trend.

40’s
Hopalong Cassidy
The Lone Ranger
Candid Camera (the first one)

50’s
The Honeymooners
Father Know Best
I Love Lucy
The Ed Sullivan Show
Twilight Zone
Amos and Andy
Perry Mason
Leave It To Beaver

60’s
Andy Griffeth Show
Dick Van Dyke Show
Bewithched
Beverly Hillbillies
I Dream Of Jeannie
Adams Family
Munsters
Gilligan’s Island
Green Acres
Get Smart
Brady Bunch

70’s
All In The Family
Odd Couple
Mary Tyler Moore Show

Dukes of Hazard
Three’s Company
Happy Days
Laverne and Shirley
Mash
Mork and Mindy
Love Boat
Walton’s
Little House on the Prairie
These last two were the direct result of some people trying to reverse the trend in television.

80’s
Cheers
Married With Children
Mama’s Family
Designing Women
Family Matters
Murphy Brown
Roseanne
My Two Dads
Baywatch

90’s
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Family Guy
Judging Amy
Frasier
Touched by an Angel
Boy Meets World
Homicide: Life On The Street
Mad About You
Freaks And Geeks
Xena: Warrior Princess
Beavis and (you know who)
Two Guys and a Girl
Sabrina: The Teenage Witch
Ellen
Unhappily Ever After


We moved from Hopalong Cassidy to Freaks and Geeks in 60 years.

In comedy sin and the sacred is trivialized.
In the family dysfunctional is portrayed as normal. Weak, stupid Fathers. Strong, seductive mothers. Arrogant, rebellious children.
Soap Operas are fantasy rooted in moral upheaval.
Drama increasingly relies on violence and sensuality/sexuality.

The 24 hour news cycle is an absolute waste of time. When you find them talking days on end about Paris Hilton's Jail stay you know there is nothing news worthy. Many of the themes and reports give details that should cause us to blush.

Commercials. They are loaded with worldly music, sensuality, and vanity. They are repetitious beyond belief resulting in a major waste of time re-watching the same thing or waiting for the programming to return. The products that are advertised would have caused our great-grandparents to blush.


APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES TO MOVIES/DVD’S/VIDEO’S

Consider the evolution of Hollywood by the decade.

40’s
Casablanca
It’s A Wonderful Life
Great Expectations
Grapes Of Wrath
Sergeant York
Miracle on 34th Street

50’s
Twelve Angry Men
Singin’ In The Rain
Some Like It Hot
Ben-Hur
The African Queen

60’s
Psycho
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Great Escape
Inherit The Wind

70’s
The Godfather
Star Wars
Jaws
The Exorcist
Halloween

80’s
The Shining
Diehard
The Terminator
The Killing Fields

90’s
Saving Private Ryan
Brave Heart
Casino
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Witchcraft 8 – Salem’s Ghost

We moved from It’s A Wonderful Life to Witchcraft 8 – Salem’s Ghost in 60 years.

The evidence seems to indicate that Hollywood has not mirrored the culture but manipulated it. They only mirror the culture they have created.

Gone With The Wind was produced in 1939. There was one curse word in the whole movie and it is a lengthy movie and the curse word was mild by today's standards and there was moral outrage over this one curse word. People actually left the movie theater offended at what they had heard. Now people allow themselves to be bombarded with the vilest of language. Another thing while I am on the point. There are some Christians that would never step foot in a movie theater but as soon as the movie is released on DVD they are down at the store purchasing it so they can watch it in the privacy of their own homes! Shame!!

Hollywood has been so successful in pushing the envelope year after year that we now have a society that is drowning in sensuality, immorality, violence, and ungodliness. Everything that is the antithesis to the gospel of Jesus Christ and being a new creature in Christ.

I think another thing that is worthy of our consideration is the danger of video stores. Browsing through a video/DVD store is like walking through a moral wasteland in search of purity. The temptation to compromise one’s values is strengthened, because after all we need something to do. It becomes increasingly easy to put off the new man and put on the old which is the exact opposite of what we are to be doing. When we allow ourselves to turn to the entertainment industry for something to do we are choosing a recreation that is fraught with danger. We must be careful that we do not compromise the command to be holy for I am holy simply in order to amuse or entertain ourselves.

In our entertainment oriented society we cannot afford to just indiscriminately embrace nearly everything that comes down the pike. When I was studying for this message I looked up the movie The Patriot. I did not see the movie but I remembered that it was a big hit. Mel Gibson starred in and produced the movie. He has plundered the American people by trafficing in violence, blood, and gore. When I read the review on the movie on a sight I use to discern movies before we watch them, which is not very many, I thought to myself there is no way I could read the review in mixed company. I honestly do not see how someone who is a follower of Christ could watch the kinds of things that were detailed in that movie. Actually I do understand because we all still live in the flesh and the flesh craves that kind of thing. But it should cause us to blush.

It is important to be careful about watching something in order to see if you should watch it. In order to escape that trap I usually refer to http://www.kids-in-mind.com/ I have found that if I know before hand exactly what is in the content of the movie I am able to be more honest in my discernment and exercise greater discretion.

Some people may be thinking based upon what I have written that I am saying you can't watch anything. To be honest I am not quite prepared to go to that length. But..........if it did mean that would be we be willing to give up all entertainment in order to perfect holiness in the fear of God?

I don't think this is an issue we can afford to sweep under the rug and accept the status quo. I am convinced that much of the worldliness in present day Christianity is a direct result of our entertainment diet. I am thinking that we need to keep constant tabs on what is going in and make sure it does not violate the the spirit of Holiness!
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