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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

the very sad reason I just left my church

This is a very sad story, but it is also true.  I’ve endeavored to be as accurate and objective as possible. 
It is a story I never could have imagined would happen.  I hope it is educational, and most of all, I hope it spurs and encourages holiness in your life, in my life, and in the body of Christ.  (Certain details are being left out, for reasons that will become rather obvious, but it doesn’t affect the heart of the story or the lessons to be learned.)
It began, of all places, on Facebook.  I was simply reading the “feed”, not looking for anything in particular or at any person’s page.  Then I saw it, and I immediately got a sick feeling in my gut.  Moments later, I had a heavy heart.
A fellow church member had posted a short blurb lauding and linking to HBO’s infamous and popular series called “Game of Thrones”.  It was grievous to see.
I didn’t know a lot about the show, but it makes the news often enough that I knew that it was filthy and entirely inappropriate for someone naming the name of Christ.  Why?  Because the Bible says so.
What is a Christian supposed to do when he sees a brother (or
sister) in sin?  Go blab to everyone except the person?  No!  (That would be gossip.)  We are to go to that person, and gently attempt restoration, so that the sin will cease (Gal. 6:1, Matt. 18:15).
I did this, however imperfectly, in person, very gently, mainly asking questions if this person really thought it an appropriate show to watch.  The conversation was cordial, and it ended with my thinking that it might spur some evaluation by the person, and I said I’d ask about it again at a later time.  I had hoped there would be realization that it was not something acceptable to Christ.
I tried several times to follow-up, but because of various circumstances (and partly fear on my part), the second conversation did not take place, and looking back, I don’t think the second conversation would have taken place in any meaningful way.  So I wrote an email.  I believe it was gracious and loving, and gave biblical reasons why watching such garbage is sinful, and I called for repentance.
Let’s just say it wasn’t well-received, to my sorrow.  The response was cordial, and assumed right motives on my part, but I was told that what I did was wrong, that “Christian liberty” allowed such viewing, and that in multiple discussions with the pastor, he was told that beer and smoking and R-rated movies are "not expressly prohibited and within the realm of an individual Christian's choice".  (Whether or not that is an accurate representation of those meetings, I do not know, but that was the claim.)  His response to me also said that nothing sinful had taken place, and – get this – that there wouldn’t be any more discussion of the matter.  (By the way, that last part was almost more disturbing than the issue itself.)
So what’s supposed to happen next, according to God’s Word?  Matthew 18:16 says “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED."  In my opinion, that step of the process does not necessarily require elder oversight.  However, in some or most circumstances, including this situation, I decided to get one or two elders to follow through on it with me.
I emailed them, describing the situation but NOT giving the person’s name or the particular TV show in question, and asking for direction -- not IF it needed to be done, but the best way of doing it, and getting one or two of them to go with me, as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.
During the next 12 days, I was told a couple of times that they were working on it.  I became rather concerned, as it wasn’t that complicated and shouldn’t take that long.  I finally met with one in person, and had a good conversation, except that the bottom line was shocking and disturbing, namely, that they had all agreed it was not a church discipline situation.  None of them watched the show, and none of them wanted to, but they researched it, and certainly didn’t recommend the show, but they had agreed that it didn’t warrant church discipline.
So that you’re aware, this is a conservative, Bible-believing, gospel-preaching church (reformed and credo-baptist), one that subscribes to the “9 Marks of a Healthy Church” (#7 of which is church discipline). It is a church with many excellent and commendable attributes, and I would rate the theological education of the congregation as WAY above average.
I was dumbfounded.  Flabbergasted.  This wasn’t a difficult issue to discern.  It was really a no-brainer.  An easy decision.  After all, what Bible-believing church says that pornographic material isn’t a sin issue?
Being quite disturbed about this whole situation, I decided to ask four men – inside and outside of this church – men that I respect and trust – for advice.  I did NOT give names, but carefully and accurately described the situation, and all four, like me, were concerned that such wickedness would be tolerated in the church. 
I was advised to make sure there wasn’t some type of miscommunication, so I described (again) the content in Game of Thrones to the elders, asking if there was some misunderstanding.  The response was brief and clear:  yes, they understand the contents of the show, but that it was not a church discipline issue.
I didn’t want to react, or to act rashly, so I ended up taking a Sunday away (we went to church elsewhere), though I didn’t see any other resolution except leaving the church.

Let me pause for a bit, and make some comments, before I get to the conclusion of the story.
Since when did it become OK for a Christian to watch pornographic shows/movies?  (Answer: it hasn’t.)  Kevin DeYoung says there shouldn't even be a hint of that in our lives.
Since when do Bible-believing churches “allow” a church member to watch that garbage without doing something about it, or more specifically, doing what Jesus commanded in dealing with it?  After all, to quote Phil Johnson, “The church is supposed to be an army, waging war against
worldly values, not Hollywood's welcome wagon”   (from "The Backslidden Church", Shepherd's Conference 2010, general session 7, around the 10-minute mark).

I’ve been trying to figure out the theological underpinnings of what causes a Christian to watch such filth – as well as what makes a church fail to deal with such blatant and obvious sin.  Here are some possibilities – note I said possibilities – I am in no way accusing any one person of any of these things, because I don’t know what the root of this specific situation is – so these are just some possibilities for situations like this:
  • Antinomianism – lawlessness, against the law – the cry of “we’re not under law” is sometimes misused (horribly) to justify that which God’s law truly does prohibit.  This is a growing problem in our day, and was addressed very well by Jerry Wragg at Shepherds’ Conference 2014 (mp3).
  • A gross misunderstanding of Christian liberty – yes, we do have liberty, but not liberty to sin.  Watching smut and calling it “liberty” is a gargantuan distortion of true biblical liberty.
  • A misunderstanding of sin itself – what constitutes sin, and maybe even a mentality that says “The Bible doesn’t talk about TV shows, so anything goes”, which is really a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
  • A “YRR” (young, restless, and reformed) attitude where some younger Calvinists join the culture supposedly to win the culture, which sometimes includes bars, drinking, watching nasty stuff, and just a general worldliness.  It can include any or all of the 3 points mentioned above.
  • Simply, a love of sin.  Specifically, that is a church-going person that isn’t regenerate, isn’t saved, doesn’t know and love the Lord Jesus Christ, which, very sadly, is extremely common in our day (Matt. 7:21-23).  He loves sin, and makes excuses for it, or calls it “not sin”.
  • It can be tempting for church leaders to show favoritism.  This would make them “respecters of persons” (James 2:1-4).  Perhaps the offender is a good friend, or a big $$$ giver, or has sway in the church.  Maybe his kid might marry an elder’s kid.  Maybe he knows things, that if brought out, would bring harm to the church.  Whatever the cause, some church leaders wouldn’t pursue certain individuals because of who they are.  That is, of course, both shameful and sinful.
  • Some churches don’t understand church discipline, or what I tend to call “Christian restoration”.  They think it is a dirty chore to be avoided, instead of seeing it as the gospel in action.  They think of it as mean, when in fact it is very loving.  Some so-called churches don’t practice discipline at all, which is a gross error and clear disobedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Sometimes church leaders are afraid others will leave the church, thinking “if so-and-so is disciplined, then others will walk out the door”.  It is true that it could happen.  (I’ve seen it happen in a big way.)  But if the discipline is right, then we must do it, and the consequences are up to the Lord.
The bottom line, before I get back to finishing the story, is if YOU watch Game of Thrones or other shows or movies like it, then I urge you – repent.  Turn away from such wickedness.  Call it what it is, namely, sin.  Flee from it!  Run in the other direction!  Make no provision for it.  Unsubscribe from HBO and Showtime.  Chop the cable in half if needed.  And then flee to Christ.  Confess your foolishness, your hardness of heart, your sin, and ask Jesus to forgive and to help you turn away from evil.  Ask the Lord to cleanse you and set you on the straight and narrow.  Get and use some of these resources.  See Titus 2:11-12, Colossians 3:1-4, 1 John 1:9, as well as this list of relevant passages.
If you don’t watch it, but know of professed believers that do, then you must take action.  You must.  Lovingly and graciously ask about it, expose the evil for what it is, get the person to stop because it dishonors Christ, and if that doesn’t work, take 1 or 2 with you, because that is what has been commanded by our great God and Savior, our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Back to the very sad story, I emailed the elders again, with about 20 Scripture passages (very similar to this post), asking them to change their minds.
It was with grief that I received the response, namely, that they had not changed their minds.
In other words – in my view – even though Game of Thrones is porn and sinful, they’re not going to love the person(s) enough to do what Jesus has said we must do in confronting sin.  That is an egregious error.
My analysis of the results of that is this:
  • The offender would be left in his sin.
  • The purity of the church would be infected by someone who not only watches it, but says that watching such rubbish is within the bounds of liberty.  The damage is compounded since the person(s) involved remains in some sort of leadership position.
  • The name of Christ would be dishonored, by allowing such sin, and by not heeding His commands on how to deal with it (Matt. 18).
I don’t believe a person should leave a church easily or quickly, unless there is outright heresy.  But there are times when it is right to leave.
When should a person leave a church? A very short but very helpful GTY.org blog post makes it plain:  ...there are times when it becomes necessary to leave a church for the sake of one's own conscience, or out of a duty to obey God rather than men.  When is that?  When discipline is obviously needed but not practiced, and when unholy living is tolerated in the church, then it’s time to go.  That precisely describes the situation I was in. 
The morning after receiving the “final answer” – now several weeks ago as I write this – I emailed my resignation (as a deacon, and as a member) to the elders.  I’m very saddened and exceedingly disappointed.  If I had been an elder, I would have left.  If I had been a vocational (paid) elder (pastor), I would have left.  It is a hill I’ll stand on, without apology.  It is a hill that, if necessary, I would die on.
Don’t misunderstand – this isn’t a forgiveness issue.  I’m happy to embrace the man who has seen inappropriate things, but hates the sin, fights temptation, has repented, and strives to walk the straight and narrow.  With that man I gladly walk together as a fellow pilgrim and forgiven sinner.  In reality, this isn’t even a porn issue – it could have been any sin.  But when blatant and obvious sin is called “not sin”, and isn’t dealt with biblically, and excuses are made and Scripture set aside, then that’s simply unacceptable.
When a church won’t stand up to pornography (or anything else that is clearly sinful), when they won’t call sin “sin” and deal with it as Jesus has commanded, then it’s time to leave.  From what I can tell, my decision may not have been popular, but A.W. Tozer said, "I claim the holy right to disappoint men in order to avoid disappointing God."

There are many wonderful, dear saints at the church.  I will still love them, and count them as dear brethren.  I hope the best for them, individually, and as a church body.  I have no animosity toward them.
My prayer is that a great work will be done there, including a recognition of obvious sin, doing what Jesus has commanded regarding it, loving people enough to call them to specific repentance, and an increased measure of holiness and purity – all that Christ may be duly honored and obeyed and worshipped.

Lessons for me:
  1. a reminder of the odiousness of my own sin
  2. an evaluation of TV shows that I might watch (obviously nothing like GoT, but it is good to evaluate periodically)
  3. a renewed commitment to biblical standards and holiness
  4. now I know to ask any potential church about their views on media & holiness, and how Christian liberty applies
  5. thankful for discussion (and future chats) about this topic with my kids
  6. thankful that the Lord has helped me in taking a difficult stand and doing what is right in a difficult matter
  7. saddened that sound doctrine did not result in holy standards and holy living in this instance

P.S. Quote from Spurgeon:

Monday, October 5, 2015

what is in Game of Thrones

Early in 2015, I didn’t know very much about “Game of Thrones” (abbreviated “GoT” below), but it makes the news regularly so I knew enough to be aware that it was filthy and entirely inappropriate for someone naming the name of Christ.
Because of a recent grievous church situation, I’ve done more research – without watching it, of course – and here is a summary of what is in the show.  Warning: this is rather graphic.
Perhaps the longest content review can be found at the IMDB.com review here.  It is very frank, and I’ve only read less than one-third of it.  Just skimming random parts of it (which was more than enough), here is how I’d summarize it:
Game of Thrones has brutal, graphic, and grotesque violence, and is also sexually explicit, including full complete nudity (front and back, male and female), depictions of fornication, rape, rape and incest in the same act, and homosexual sex scenes.  These are not rare events in the show – on the contrary, they are infamously commonplace.  To describe it with just two words, I’d simply call it “violent porn”.
Common Sense Media described it, in part, with this (emphasis added by me):
Parents need to know that Game of Thrones... frequently depicts brutal battles and graphic, detailed acts of violence (including those against children and women), as well as lots of nudity and no-holds-barred sexuality. The latter is portrayed in an especially iffy manner, with explicit discussion and depiction of incest, adultery, and rape. Strong language, including "f--k," is frequent.
If that doesn’t confirm for you that GoT has no place in the Christian’s viewing habits (because the Bible says so!), then I fear for your soul.
This is distasteful and shouldn’t be necessary, but I think a few definitions are in order.  The wording is mine, and you can argue if you wish.  The definitions use the female example, which is most common, but it certainly applies to male as well.
1.       Soft-porn:  very skimpy or barely-clad women, can include topless if the arm or hand or some other object is covering the breasts, a hint or partial see-through, sheer, but not naked;  includes things like Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, Victoria’s Secret shows, many movies, etc
2.       Porn:  topless, breasts visible, nakedness, can include view of genitals, scenes of fornication or adultery, but stopping short of #3 below;  includes things like Playboy, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black (and other TV shows, especially on HBO & Showtime), quite a few R-rated movies (and a few PG-13 as well)
3.       Hard-core porn:  sexual contact showing actual (not feigned) sexual activity, and who-knows-what other manner of vile and gross immorality
Using those definitions, Game of Thrones is pornography.  Yes, porn.  Not soft, not hard, just plain old porn-porn.  One Hollywood director called it “soft porn”, though his standards are way lower than the Bible’s.  Numerous articles by unregenerate commentators have called it porn and said how the show goes too far in gratuitous sex scenes, and even some feminists are critical of it as objectifying women (and they’re right, in this case).  Even if you want to argue semantics and call it “soft porn” – fine – it is still porn, and it is blatantly and obviously sinful to watch it.
You have to get this, too:  the non-porn parts of GoT don’t make the pornographic parts non-porn.  No one is saying ALL of GoT is porn – but some parts of it most certainly are – and the artsy/theatrical parts don’t negate or un-do the pornographic parts.
John Piper jumped into the mix a year ago, and gave a pretty good list of 12 reasons to not watch it.  I think he left some things out, but what he wrote is certainly worth reading.

The bottom line, my friend, is if YOU watch Game of Thrones or other shows or movies like it, then I urge you – repent.  Turn away from such wickedness.  Call it what it is, namely, sin.  Flee from it!  Run in the other direction!  Make no provision for it.  Unsubscribe from HBO and Showtime.  Chop the cable in half if needed.  And then flee to Christ.  Confess your foolishness, your hardness of heart, your sin, and ask Jesus to forgive and to help you turn away from evil.  Ask the Lord to cleanse you and set you on the straight and narrow.  See Titus 2:11-12, Colossians 3:1-4, 1 John 1:9, as well as this list of relevant passages.  And GET and USE some of these resources.

resources dealing with porn

It's a nasty subject.  But it is a very real (and huge) problem in our day.  It affects the church more than what we might care to think.

Looking at porn is sinful.  Watching it is sinful, whether regular old internet porn, or movies that have porn, or TV shows (like Game of Thrones) that have porn in them.

Thanks be to Christ, though, it isn't unforgivable.  If you've indulged, I urge you, repent.  See the sinfulness of sin.  Make use of some of these resources.  Do whatever it takes!

Links / helpful resources about pornography:
(Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse everything written by each of the writers or everything on the web sites listed.)
·         Tim Challies’ wife’s plea to men to turn away from filth like this – really good short article
·         Apparently David Platt thinks the church should actually battle porn
·         GTY article on what Christian liberty is and isn’t
·         A quote from one of Dr. MacArthur’s sermons:
o   “You see, when people fall into traps of sin, either despair, discouragement, depression, fornication, adultery, pornography, you name it, the healing community is the church.  And the brethren who are spiritual have the responsibility to deal with people.  That's the only way the Bible knows to deal with those kinds of issues.”
·         Another of Dr. MacArthur’s sermons makes it clear his stance on a church allowing such immorality:
o   “In spite of all of this information and in spite of all of what they knew by the witness of the Holy Spirit in their lives, certainly a convicting enough agency, they continued to allow immorality in the church. And the fact that they had had a low style of life before they became Christians and that their life was so saturated with sexual immorality became a problem because they couldn't seem to shed that lifestyle once they became believers. And so they were very lax in dealing with this problem. And yet if the church was to be pure, they had to say goodbye to immorality. In I Corinthians 6:18 Paul puts it very simply. He says "Flee fornication." The word is porneia from which we get pornography and it means immorality. Run from immorality. Have absolutely nothing to do with immorality. He said to Timothy in I Timothy 5:22, Timothy, "keep thyself pure." It is basic to any kind of effectiveness in the ministry of Christ and the church of Christ that there be moral purity.”
·         No Compromise Radio – 3-minute segment on porn, and what you should do
·         Reaping the Whirlwind of Sexual Idolatry – short article by brother Denny Burk
·         Kevin DeYoung offers 15 ways to fight lust, including the topic of porn
·         Spec Faith attempts to persuade readers to avoid Game of Thrones because it is porn
·         This link is a 3-minute video interview with a big-time user of porn, who became very infamous – and what he now thinks of it
·         Matt Walsh makes a case against watching "Game of Thrones", and so do I
·         Consider a women’s perspective on “women & porn” – at least read the few paragraphs starting with “Even if the actual crime…”, which talks specifically about “50 Shades” though it applies to things like GoT
·         The dangers of porn in your marriage – and yes, they are real dangers

Books that are helpful:
·         Slaying the Dragon, by David Powlison
·         The Purity Principle, by Randy Alcorn
·         Delivered by Desire, by Daryl Wingerd (hardcopy here)
·         Finally Free, by Heath Lambert
·         Sexual Detox, by Tim Challies
·         Sex is Not the Problem (Lust Is), by Joshua Harris
·         Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave, by Edward Welch
·         Women Counseling Women, by Elyse Fitzpatrick (chapter 22 is on women & porn)
·         The Way of Purity, by Mike Cleveland
·         More books on the topic, as recommend by Tim Challies
·         AUDIO download: Slaying the Dragon and Finally Free, by Todd Friel

church discipline

We might not like those words: "church discipline".  They sound uncaring, unkind, unloving, and even mean-spirited.  But a right understanding of what Jesus meant shows that rather than being unloving, it is one of the most loving things a Christian can do.

One of the most neglected commands in the New Testament is church discipline (or “Christian restoration”).  Jesus taught this for the purity of the church body and for the good of each individual. We don’t let a member wander off in sin – we love him enough to go to him and try to bring him back.  Correction in the Christian life is a good thing.  Church discipline includes all 4 steps (Matt. 18), and only rarely ever makes it to the 4th step – but when necessary, we must be committed to follow the Lord’s command in that area, because it is the loving and right thing to do, just as Jesus said.
My point with this little blog entry isn't to describe it fully (which would take a book), or even to make an apologetic for practicing it.  Rather, it is to link to some resources on this important subject.
Links / helpful resources about church discipline:
·         From GTY:  we, as church members, have responsibilities as related to church discipline:
o   “Too many Christians regard discipline as the exclusive domain of church elders, but that is simply not the case. The purity of the church is every Christian’s concern. The responsibility to confront sin that defiles the church lies with the first person to become aware of the sin. Don’t defer it to someone else. Don’t spread the circle of knowledge further than necessary. Furthermore, prayer for the sinning brother should never be used as an alternative to obeying Christ’s clear command to confront.”
o   “If you observe a Christian brother in a morally compromising situation, you should confront him.”
o   Church discipline is the necessary response to any offense that cannot be safely overlooked without harm to the offender or to the body of Christ.
·         Also GTY, when should church discipline be used, and what happens when it isn’t?
o   “Second, biblical discipline is not about micromanaging people’s lives. The kind of offenses that require confrontation and biblical discipline are not unintentional transgressions, petty annoyances, or matters of simple preference. They are serious violations of clear biblical principles—sins that hurt other believers, destroy the unity of the flock, and sully the purity of the church. In such cases, sin must be dealt with. Such sins cannot be covered up. They are like leaven, and left alone their evil effects will eventually permeate the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6).”
o   “The permissiveness that results when discipline is neglected inevitably leads to chaos. This is as true in the church as it is in a family. No adult enjoys being around children who are never disciplined. In the same way, a church that is lax on dealing with sin in the body ultimately becomes intolerable to all but the most immature believers. Failing to practice church discipline therefore ensures that the flock will be spiritually stunted. It is also a sure way to incur God’s displeasure (Revelation 2:14, 20).”
o   “Jesus’ instructions about church discipline in Matthew 18 are clear and unequivocal. This issue is therefore a good test of whether a church is serious about obedience to Christ. People often ask me what to look for in a church. Consistent, proper discipline is near the top of my list. One thing is certain: A church that does not discipline sinning members is going to have perpetual and serious problems.
·         From Pure Life Ministries – church discipline and porn (by someone on the receiving end)

Monday, September 7, 2015

what the Bible says about filthy entertainment

To state the obvious, the Bible doesn’t say to avoid certain types of TV shows or movies.  The technology simply didn’t exist 2000+ years ago.  However, Scripture is still authoritative and sufficient, and the principles we find therein most certainly address the question of what is acceptable to watch and what isn’t.

Game of Thrones (abbreviated “GoT” below) is being addressed specifically in the comments below, but it also applies to other similar types of filthy entertainment.

Let us submit ourselves to the Word of the living God.  Quotes below are mostly from the NASB, and the comments are mine:

Ps. 101:3a (ESV)  I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.
NKJV uses the word "wicked" .  GoT is both spiritually worthless and wicked.
Ps. 101:4  A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.
GoT is perverse and evil, and is not something we should be intimately familiar with.
Gal. 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
GoT (from what I have read) seems to revel in those fleshly and worldly things; it flourishes in the depiction of most or all of these types of evil.
Eph. 5:11-12  Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;  for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
GoT is darkness, evil, and disgraceful.
Eph. 4:17-20  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!
GoT is exactly what heathen Gentiles give themselves to.  It is darkness, anti-God, sensual, and impure.  GoT is not for the Christian.
Matt. 5:28  I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
How many men have lusted over the partially or fully nude women in GoT?  I suspect the answer would be “nearly every single one of them”.  Some women struggle with that as well.  In the following verses, Jesus said to pluck out your eye and cut off your hand (go to extremes) to avoid such things.  If this were the only verse in the Bible on the subject, it would be sufficient to tell us that pornographic shows like GoT are completely unacceptable.  And if you’re a Christian that thinks he can watch it without violating Christ’s words, you’re lying to yourself and are self-deceived.  Period.
1 Thess. 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
GoT is so popular, no doubt, in part because of its depictions of exactly that.  What normal red-blooded man isn’t tempted by watching attractive young women get naked, and sometimes act out fornication?  That is sexual immorality, and it often leads to full-fledged fornication and adultery in real life.
Phil. 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
GoT is exactly the opposite of the things in that list.  It is impure, dishonorable, violent, filthy, and to be condemned.
Rom. 12:1-2  Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
With an all-encompassing passage like this, how can a true and honest Christian justify filthy entertainment?  Repent, and turn from this wickedness!
Eph. 4:17-19  So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Christians are not supposed to be like the people of the world!  How can we be entertained by sensuality and impurity?
Eph. 5:3-5  But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;  and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
To be entertained by these things places a person in a very bad situation.

Are we to be entertained by immorality?  By filthiness?  By impurity?  May it never be.  God forbid!
1 Thess. 5:21-22  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;  abstain from every form of evil.                   
GoT is filled with all sorts of wickedness.  Is it good?  No.  It is evil.
1 Peter 2:11-12  Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.  Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Christians are exiles, aliens, pilgrims, strangers on the earth.  Fleshly lusts are at WAR with the soul.  Watching filthy entertainment is like asking for forces of evil to attack your own soul.  If you’re justifying this filth in your own mind, then you’re losing the battle to sin and the powers of darkness.
1 Peter 2:16  Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
People cry “Christian liberty” or “freedom” to justify filth.  This ought not to be.  Freedom in Christ is freedom to do what is right, not freedom to sin.
Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
There’s more of that “freedom” terminology.  Paul was aware of how it could be misunderstood and misused, so he clarified.  No, you do NOT have freedom to watch sensual, fleshly, perverted shows, which includes GoT.
2 Tim. 2:19  Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”       
Abstain from wicked entertainment, abstain from all forms of evil.  That includes not watching wickedness on TV and in the movie theatre.
2 Cor. 7:1  Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Pornographic entertainment, like GoT and others, is defiling and fleshly, and above all, unholy.
Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?
Job didn’t know anything about TV screens or movie screens, but it’s pretty obvious what his response to them would have been if they displayed naked females.
Hab. 1:13a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
God doesn’t approve, but somehow it’s OK for a Christian to look favorably on shows like GoT?
Job 28:28  “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.’”
You think you have wisdom?  Then fear the Lord enough to turn away from that which is plainly evil.
Jude 4  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness (NASB, or “sensuality” in the ESV) and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Watch out for people that turn grace into sensuality and licentiousness!
1 Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”"
Let’s be blunt:  GoT does not help a person become holy.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  It promotes lust and ungodliness.  Above all else, it is wholly unholy.
Repent, and ask God to cleanse you, and to set you on the path of holiness.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Simeon on self-esteem

What does your church teach about SELF-ESTEEM???  Hopefully, the following won't be completely new to you!

The subject is poverty of spirit and mourning, as Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:3-4, and how that compares to the self-esteem movement of our day.
After being a Christian for 40 years, including over 30 years as a pastor, Charles Simeon wrote these words (in the early 1800s):

"With this sweet hope of ultimate acceptance with God, I have always enjoyed much cheerfulness before men;  but I have at the same time labored incessantly to cultivate the deepest humiliation before God.  I have never thought that the circumstance of God’s having forgiven me, was any reason why I should forgive myself;  on the contrary, I have always judged it better to loathe myself the more, in proportion as I was assured that God was pacified towards me…  There are but two objects that I have ever desired for these forty years to behold; the one, is my own vileness; and the other is, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

John Piper wrote of Simeon’s attitude:  “If Simeon is right, vast portions of contemporary Christianity are wrong.”  And just to be clear, my friend, Simeon is right.

That wasn’t a one-time statement of Charles Simeon – it was his life.  He fled to the place of refuge, the place that so many today try to flee from.  He wrote:

"Repentance is in every view so desirable, so necessary, so suited to honor God, that I seek that above all.  The tender heart, the broken and contrite spirit, are to me far above all the joys that I could ever hope for in this vale of tears.  I long to be in my proper place, my hand on my mouth, and my mouth in the dust… I feel this to be safe ground.  Here I cannot err…  I am sure that whatever God may despise… He will not despise the broken and contrite heart”

After Simeon had served at Trinity Church for 50 whole years and contemplating the success he had had in ministry, he wrote “I love the valley of humiliation.  I there feel that I am in my proper place.”

What a stark contrast to so much of Christianity in our society, which is boastful, proud, and very much pleased with itself!  Many churches of today are more interested in promoting good feelings and self-fulfillment rather than encouraging poverty of spirit.

Dr. John MacArthur put it this way:

"Yet in the church today there is little emphasis on humility, little mention of self-emptying.  We see many Christian books on how to be happy, how to be successful, how to overcome problems, and on and on.  But we see very few books on how to empty ourselves, how to deny ourselves, and how to take up our crosses and follow Jesus – in the way that He tells us to follow Him."

Does this reflect your heart?  Your desire?  You may not "be there" yet, but is that the direction you're headed?  The direction you want to head?  If so, then you're on your way to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:3-4.

One helpful resource related to this is to read the prayers of the Puritans.  If you don't have one, get a copy of The Valley of Vision (Arthur Bennett, editor), which you can find in paperback form, or even in a bonded leather for less than $20.  It is one of the most important little books that the Christian can have.