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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.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Strange Fire 2013

Having now listened to all the messages Strange Fire 2013, I give it my high recommendation, and I encourage you to listen to at least some of the messages.

Grace To You has graciously put all the messages on their web site, in both audio and video form.

I've listed them below, and links are included.

In particular, I recommending listening to these:

#2. This may be especially interesting to the ladies, or those who suffer with physical problems and challenges.
#4.  Dr. Lawson does an excellent job of addressing what John Calvin said about this issue.
#7.  Tom Pennington talks about why we are cessationists, from the Bible.
#14.  This is a superb message that shows just how weak and counterfeit current Charismatic claims are, compared to the real sign gifts as found in the Bible.

The main link is here.

Here are the individual messages:

Strange Fire
John MacArthur
A Deeper Healing
Joni Eareckson Tada
Undervaluing Pentecost
RC Sproul
Calvin’s Critique of Charismatic Calvinists
Steve Lawson
The African Import of Charismatic Chaos
Conrad Mbewe
Testing the Spirits
John MacArthur
A Case for Cessationism
Tom Pennington
A Word from the Lord? Evaluating the Modern Gift of Prophecy
Nathan Busenitz
Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?
Phil Johnson
The Devilish Puppet Master of the Word-Faith Movement
Justin Peters
Strange Fire Panel Question and Answer, Session 1
The Puritan Commitment to Sola Scriptura
Steve Lawson
Are We Preachers or Witch Doctors?
Conrad Mbewe
Charismatic Counterfeits: Do the Modern Gifts Meet the Biblical Standard?
Nathan Busenitz
Providence Is Remarkable
Phil Johnson
Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word-Faith Movement
Justin Peters
Strange Fire Panel Question and Answer, Session 2
An Appeal to Charismatic Friends
John MacArthur
An Appeal to Charismatic Pretenders
John MacArthur