Hello. I'm new around here, but I introduced myself over at the welcome so you can find out a little bit about me there. I don't know if this is the right place to do this or not, but I am posting here a lengthy article that I have just finished writing. I would appreciate any comments, critiques, suggestions etc. I'm thinking about putting it into booklet form to hand out to Believers. It's 8 pages in pt12 font in Word, so it will be long! Here goes:
Nor Did They Know How To Blush
The Lord spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah, saying:
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed; Nor did they know how to blush. (Jer. 5:15)
Earlier in chapter four verse twenty-two, the Lord said:
For my people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children,
and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil,
but to do good they have no knowledge.
This is echoed in the book of Romans when Paul exhorts the Believers there, saying:
For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil.
Something that has struck me in the past year more than ever is how many things that were once considered wrong, evil, dangerous to ones Spiritual health and sinful, have now gained neutral status within the realms of western Christianity. How did this happen? Why have we allowed the standards of the world to dictate our lifestyles rather than the Word of God? Why have we stopped asking God for His opinion on our choices? When did we stop being only in the world, and instead have become of the world? We no longer blush at immorality. We have become desensitized to what God calls evil, and we have called it good. But there are consequences for taking sin lightly. We may not see them even in this lifetime, but we can be sure your sin will find you out. (Num. 32:23)
I believe one of the main sources of our desensitization has been the secular media that we now have so readily available to us. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, there are forms of the media available to us for our entertainment, amusement, information and enjoyment. This has led to a sort of media gluttony for many people. Many people simply cannot live without having some form of media in the background. For most Christians this background media is not even from a Christian source. Many others fill virtually all of their time apart from work, school, and sleep pursuing some form of entertainment via secular media. We have filled our hearts and minds with the ways of the world and have become desensitized to the immoral and flesh-fulfilling ways of this sin-sick world.
Now, there is nothing innately wrong with a television, a VCR, a stereo, a movie screen, a computer or a pile of paper that makes up a magazine or a book. All of these things can be used to glorify God and to edify the Believer. A problem with these things is that many of us have allowed them to become a controlling factor in our lives. We have misused these elements and have become ruled by them. We not only listen to and watch what the world has to say about things, but many take it a step further imitating what they see and hear. Our lifestyles prove this by the standards we set in every area of life. The Russian Philosopher, Fydor Dostoyevsky once said:
First art would imitate life, then life would imitate art; then life would draw
Its very reason for existence from the arts.
How true this statement has become in our society today, and how frightening that it is also coming true within the Church. So many of us look to the world to set the standards for the choices we make in lifeand much of this comes from the media. Trends are set by the television, movie and music industries. As an example, just look at the way many people dress and you can often tell what kind of music they listen to based on their style of clothing. The arts set many of the standards for our surrounding culture and, sadly, many in the church have followed right along with this.
An interesting note is that there are some countries that have recently come out of communism and have fought vehemently to keep western television and music out of their countries. Even their secular governments can see the way these mediums are breeding ground for immorality, rebellion and base living, and they want no part in it. Yet because we in the west have been slowly conditioned to accept these things as normal we allow them into our hearts and homes, and we will certainly reap what we sow. Maybe its time to take a look at our hearts and to ask ourselves some questions. Who controls the standards we set for our lives? Do we look to the Word of God, and take each area of our lives to Him in prayer? Or do we simply follow the crowd and make our choices based on what our surrounding culture, or surrounding church friends, deems best?
The Lord Jesus says that no man can serve two masters. Perhaps it would be beneficial here to do a little reality check. Ask yourself how much time you have spent in the last week pursuing entertainment through the media or other recreation. Then ask yourself how much time you have spent in the pursuit of God through private worship, private prayer, private Bible study, reading and listening to great Bible teachers, and true fellowship with fellow Believers. Now, who is your Master? What and whom are the priorities of your life? Do you serve your flesh and the world? Or do you serve the Creator of this world and the Redeemer of your Soul?
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)
For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil.
I wonder how often do we take this verse from I Corinthians into account when considering our activities, actions, reactions, and the choices we make for our lifestyle throughout each day? Do we truly attempt to, do all to the glory of God? Does this concept even enter our frame of reference when we make the choices we do? If we are choosing to do all to the glory of God, can we confidently sit before a television screen and watch while people who are pretending to be married (they are actors, remember) enter into the most intimate part of a human relationship, created to be only witnessed by God and a man and his wife? What about nudity, partial or not? Or what about taking the Lords name in vain and other coarse, vulgar, profane language? What about men and women committing acts of senseless violence or murder? What about foolishness (which the Bible calls sin)? What about disrespect, rebellion, and disobedience to parents and other authority? Do we allow these things which God calls sin to entertain us? Do these things glorify God and edify us Spiritually? Obviously they do not. So, why do we excuse these things simply because they are happening in a make-believe place? How can we sit idly by and allow things that God calls sintransgression against Gods law (for which billions will suffer in everlasting fire)to entertain and amuse our flesh.
Much of the music available to us is not exempt from this with its sensual, suggestive, immoral, vulgar, and fleshly lyrics and music. We have forgotten how to blush! Oh, we may have blushed the first few times we were exposed to such things, but over the years we have allowed a steady stream of worldly, licentious, wicked behaviour into our very hearts and homes. We must remember that it is the movie and television producers who put the ratings on their product. What was only available in the back rooms of seedy shops a few years ago is now rated R, and what was rated R only a few years back is now PG-13. It is the unregenerate, lost, godless people of the world who set the standards for the media we ingest, and they are not in the business of glorifying God. Through this process we have become desensitized and allow what God calls evil and sinful to become commonplace in our lives. We have used our liberty as an occasion to the flesh, we have believed a lie and have forgotten the Truth. We have grieved the heart of God.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits,
and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their
conscience seared with a hot iron.
(I Timothy 4:1&2)
The media is full of seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. What is the bottom line of the secular medias doctrine? If it feels good, do it! The end justifies the means.
There are no absolutes. These three beliefs rule our society and the media that society produces. They are fundamentally opposed to the nature of God, and we know that in our minds. Yet how much of that secular way of thinking has made it into our own lives? After many years of repeated and intentional exposure to these doctrines, our conscience does indeed become seared. It becomes closed to the things of God. At that point absolute standards and denial of flesh and self seem like impossible standards; holiness and purity become optional lifestyle choices, and we become so dull of hearing to the voice of the Lord so that we no longer hear Him calling us away from the world and its ways. You see, the longer we ignore Gods voice, the quieter it becomesnot because He has stopped talking, but because we have stopped listening. The more often we commit sin, or are exposed to it, the less conscious we are of the Spirit of God telling us to flee!
If you have read this far I would hope that you have a sincere desire to take these matters to a serious level and to examine yourself before God. Perhaps you have realized that there are some things in your life that need to be cleaned out and replaced with Spiritual things. Maybe you are feeling guilty and are angry with the writer for suggesting the things above. It could be that you realize that you have no hunger for the things of God, and that what you do participate in as Spiritual exercise is simply formality. We all need to examine our conscience and hearts before God: Ask Him to show us where we have allowed ourselves to become defiled, and repent of those things He reveals to us. We need to cry out in honesty and sincerity of heart like the psalmist David who said,
Search me Oh 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.
But He gives a greater grace. Wherefore He says,
God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that
ye always, having all sufficiency, in all things,
may abound to every good work
II Corinthians 9:8
Grace: The dynamic quality of the life of God within me
That gives me the desire and power to live
in harmony with God and His Word.
Life Action Ministries
Gods grace is greater than any of our sin! That is great news. But how do we get a hold of this grace? The grace mentioned in the above verses goes even beyond the saving grace of God and reach into our daily lives. It is available to us every time we humble ourselves before God, admit that we need Him, and surrender our wills to Him. So how does this apply to what weve been talking about in this discourse? Well, I would hope that if you have read this far that you have a desire to repent of and forsake the areas of your life that have caused you to be stunted in your Spiritual growth. I would hope that you have a desire to be resensitized, to have your conscience tender and pure, and to have your walk with God revived. This is where Gods grace comes in.
Its pretty easy to be under conviction and make a decision to surrender your live to Christ and tell yourself that youre going to give up all those things that are hindering your walk with God. The difficulty comes in actually applying these new convictions and walking in daily obedience. Once we have confessed our sin to God, have been forgiven and have determined to walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience, we enter the battleground of our sprit against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Initial surrender to God, though crucial, will not be sufficient for daily victory. There are a number of things that will help us, though, and it begins with grace. In reality, we need Gods grace for everything. We need grace to respond in a Christ like manner to everything in our lives. Ill try to narrow it down to make particular application to what weve been discussing here. Lets say that youve been convicted that you have been listening to music that is not Christ honouring and you listen to music all the time. What is your first instinct when you get into your car? Is it to turn on the radio? This is when we need Gods grace. The temptation will be there to tune into our favourite station, so what do we do? This is where the humbling ourselves part comes in. We humble ourselves by agreeing with God that our desire to listen to that station is wrong, and we ask Him for the strength to do what is glorifying to Him. If we are being genuine with God, He will give us the strength and desire to do His will. At first, we might need to do this every 30 seconds, but there are ways to help change our first instincts too. Two things that we can do are replacement and accountability.
Firstly, replace the wrong music with Christ-honouring music, teaching tapes, the Bible on tape, or leave it off altogether and start praying outloud while you drive,(With all the cell phone gadgets out there today no-one will look twice at you when it looks like youre having a conversation with yourself, and its kind of difficult to have impatience with other drivers when youre speaking with the Lord, so youve been victorious in multiple areas here)! Secondly, get accountable. Find someone who understands your new- found convictions and ask them to help you keep going strong in them. Remember, you cant do it on your own. Thats what pride is. Pride is doing what I want to do, when I want to do it without thinking of God or others. God resists the proud. Gods grace is readily available to you the moment you choose to humble yourself before Him, acknowledge your need of Him, and accept His help, and He has given us the Body of Christ to be able to help one another grow in grace, obedience and truth.
I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God
that you offer yourselves, a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
"...walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."
1 Thess. 2:12
So, what is the daily practical application for everything that has been discussed above? No person is going to be stronger than his or her personal devotional life. It is very likely that if we are indulging ourselves in worldly entertainment, our devotional life is sporadic, disjointed, unfocused, inconsistent and shallow. Youve heard it a million times, so have I, but you have got to be in the Word of God and prayer daily. Its amazing how much more time you have once you cut out the temporal, useless activities of your life. It might be a sacrifice to begin the discipline of daily private time with the Lord. You may have to sacrifice sleep or time, but nothing is more important than this foundational part of our relationship with God. In your prayer times (I strongly urge you to spend at least some of your daily prayer in the morning before the day has overtaken you) it is important to surrender yourself to God each day, choosing to die to self, take up your cross, and giving God the areas of your life you may have a particular struggle with, and ask the Lord to give you particular sensitivity when temptation draws near, that you may heed the warning signs and flee from danger.
When we spend time in prayer in the morning, it sharpens our discernment, sensitivity, and conscience throughout the day, making us more aware of our surroundings both in terms of being sensitive to the dangers to our spirit and the blessings for the same. This initial time with the Lord in the morning also lends itself to more communication with the Lord throughout the dayand this is what fellowship with Christ looks like. So, daily, focused, determined, fervent time spent with the Lord is the first thing. Accompanying this we need to clean house so to speak. Get rid of the things that are keeping you from a deeper life with Christ. If it is music, videos or books and magazines, chuck them, burn them, and do what you must but be drastic in your actions to remove these things from your life! Cut off the cable or satellite. Stop hanging around with the people who bring you down. Get rid of the immodest clothing in your wardrobe. Get accountable with a stronger Believer. No one said it would be easy, but there is no greater joy than to know we are walking with the Saviours approval! The enemy, your flesh, the worldeven some friends or family members will do everything they can to stop this radical behaviour, but again this is where Gods grace can be shown the strongest.
Next, we need to cultivate a constant awareness of God. This could be better termed the fear of the Lord. We must live in the constant awareness that we are in the presence of a just and holy God who sees everything we do, every thought, every motive, every desire, every word, and these are being weighed and judged by Him. As we do this, and as we communicate with the Lord consistently throughout our day, we are effectively practicing the presence of God. The reality of eternity then begins to drown out the voice of the temporal as our hearts and minds begin to see life through eternity coloured lenses. Our choices then begin to reflect their impact on eternity rather than the immediate satisfaction of our flesh or the approval of the world around us.
It may seem like were a bit off track here considering the way this discussion started, but we really are not. The title Nor Did They Know How to Blush, reflects the heart condition of much of the so-called church of our agea people who have left their first love, forsaken their bridegroom and have gone a-whoring after other gods with no shame for their immoral ways; a people who have forgotten that heaven and hell are real and that our lives here have real implications on those places; a people who have allowed self and pleasure to sit upon the throne of their hearts, and a people whom God desires to return to Him with their whole heart, soul, strength and mind. We must have revival or we will have judgement. Judgement begins at the house of the Lord. But if we are willing to humble ourselves and pray, seek Gods face and turn from our wicked ways, God is willing to revive us. It is time for the Church to remember how to blush and live in the purity and holiness she was called to in Christ. Only then we can enter into the joy and peace we have been promised. God is calling His people out to be separate, peculiar, holy, blameless, pure, righteous, full of fruit and full of the Spirit. He will never force anyone into those qualities, but He will gladly do the refining work in our lives to help us become more like the Lord Jesus if we ask Him to. We are not our own, and we have been bought with a price. Let us glorify God in all that we do that the world might see, hear and know that Christ is Lord indeed.