But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
In view of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I look at my standards for entertainment and find them incomplete. Tonight I was at the campus theater for one of the university’s productions. I did all that I could do in order to keep my previous commitment to avoiding entertainment (even if it be for class credit) that is spiritually harmful; I read reviews and summaries, making sure the play was decent.
By the time we made it to intermission, my conscience was suffering. The subject matter on stage was not spiritually healthy. I closed my eyes and refused to look on stage for one entire scene, avoiding the worst and trying to appease my conscience. Still, by the end of the production, my heart felt as heavy and sick as the story-line of the play itself. The intake of my heart tonight was undeniably unhealthy.
It is not enough to simply avoid spiritually destructive entertainment as much as possible. We must go further: It is never too late to cease what should never have been started. I should avoid sinful entertainment, and if any entertainment I thought was clean turns out to be unclean, I should leave it the moment I know it to be unclean. If I would have avoided the entertainment if I had known its content beforehand, then I should abandon that entertainment the moment I know it is harmful. Another way to say it: Leave the moment you know that you should not have come.
Evil is evil, and the price is no less if it is paid on accident. There is no excuse for polluting the mind, and ceasing its intake is a clear statement of the validity and vitality of our faith. My entertainment standards were incomplete because though they strive to keep me from STARTING sinful entertainment, they did not commit me to ENDING entertainment that seemed fine before turning ugly. I am fixing these standards after tonight’s events, to God’s glory and my good.
What entertainment is spiritually harmful? Here are some questions (from a previous post):
1. Does it make me want to commit immoral action with a woman/man? (Does it make me want to see too much, do too much, etc)
2. Does it present evil in a favorable or laughable light, making me see it as harmless?
3. Is this entertainment media cause me to desire to do any sin? (Jesus put desiring and doing on the same moral ground)
4. Does this entertainment come at the expense of someone else? (Does it create a derogative view of women, does it produce critical thoughts of others in me, does it creative a sinful attitude of pride or insensitivity in me? I am thinking of music especially here, but internet and movies as well. Guys, do you want to give your girl something for Valentine’s that will change both of you forever? Permanently log out of porn, stop watching trash on TV that gives your mind to another woman, and request that your girl dress modestly. Feeding the immoral appetite says nothing but “I love me.” Saving yourself for her, and caring enough about her walk with God to support her in dressing modestly and acting morally, is a loud, “I love you.”)
5. Does this entertainment help or hinder the renewing of my mind?
6. Will I likely walk away from this entertainment having sinned? (I say “likely”, because sometimes we say that we can control our thoughts in the face of temptation, but likely we want. Be realistic. Know what will likely happen to your thought life, not what should or could happen)
7. Does this entertainment cause me to walk the line as bring me closer to paying a cost I do not want to pay? (Is this entertainment bringing me to a place where I am in the iffy, gray-area zone, likely pushing limits and not honestly admitting that I am dangerously playing with temptation, not fleeing from it? It is better to walk away that risk paying a moral cost)
Why do I worry so much about entertainment? Here’s why:
1. If I am amused by evil, I am probably not aware of it’s influence on me.
2. If I laugh at it now, I’ll do it eventually.
3. Continued exposure to evil deadens the conscience to its poison, making it “a slow fade, where black and white turn to grey.”
4. Continued exposure to evil deadens the heart to God’s voice, making me less sensitive spiritually to God’s voice in His word as I read.
5. If I fill my mind with evil, evil will come out of my heart, as I reap what I sow and the heart speaks from what is put in it.
Thus the price for exposure to evil is too great. I will lose my spiritual ability to discern good and evil if I do not practice it in life (Hebrew 5:14). I must count it all as loss in order to gain Christ (Philipians 3:8). Sin is serious.
Here is what I am not advocating:
1. Isolationism. I am not assuming or advocating that Christians can or should be completely isolated from the world. We are to be in the world, but not of the world. However, I cease to simply be in the world when I cease to be able to be separated from it. As Paul E. Little writes, there is a difference between separation and isolation. We are to be in the world (not isolated), yet separate from the world (for we are not of the world). When I feed on entertainment that is spiritually harmful, I am no longer separate from the world because I am not participating in the same evil thoughts/delights as world does.
2. Legalism. I am not attempting to follow a list of rules to walk holy. However, I am desiring to live holy and know that the only way to do so is to live strategically. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and motivated by love, I can discern what is spiritually harmful so that I avoid it and become more holy, as He is holy.
Father, please give me Your hatred of sin. Give me clarity of vision, so that I can be further rid of sin and gaze at You, seated on Your throne, high and lifted up. My heart is tempted at times to downplay sin’s horrors, yet that is only when I do not see the nails it drove in Christ’s hands and feet. Let me hate sin with a passion so that I chase after You all the more. I will never truly repent until I hate the sin I want to abandon. Let me glorify you in the entertainment I choose. For Your namesake, give Your child the strength and grace to live as You have commanded.