Admittedly, this one has been a while in the writing. It’s really hard to cover in one blog this subject. This is especially true today, in our society, where some of the things needing to be addressed are so “counter culture.” But, here goes an attempt anyway.
Do you recall how astounded people were at the teaching of Jesus as he spoke to them by the seaside in what we call the Sermon on the Mount? The gospels record that He “taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes and Pharisees.” The difference in His approach was that He went after the heart. Even when referring back to the original commandments, He was demonstrating that He was after the motivations of the heart. So it is with this next commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery. He is of course speaking of being morally pure in both mind and action. Obviously, being and becoming morally pure is more than just NOT committing physical adultery, as Jesus states that “if you’ve lusted in your heart, you too have committed adultery.” So, how do we apply this principle to our social media?
Exo 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
1) Do not use your body or that of another for impurity – in thought, action or habit.
Have you noticed how “loose” our society has become in our morals? You may ask, how do we define moral impurity? I would say in simple terms, that “moral impurity is improper uses of my body resulting from an improper thought life.” In other words, that which we put into our minds (through primarily the “eye gate” and the “ear gate”) finds its way down into our hearts and then comes out in our lives – through the avenue of our body – that is the physical use of our body. In other words … it goes HEAD … HEART … HABITS. That would include our senses – taste, touch, sight, smell & hearing. What are you doing with your physical body (all the members of our body – including eyes, ears, mind) and how is that demonstrated through your words (or social media avenues)?
Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So, just how important is it that we guard our heart … in order to guard our thoughts … in order to guard our communications on the internet, and of course all other avenues of social relationships as well. You’ve heard the old adage, haven’t you … GI – GO? This of course stands for … GARBAGE IN … GARBAGE OUT! In other words, we cannot feed the garbage into our minds and expect anything else to come out in our lives. So, let’s answer two questions in this commandment. 1) How do I guard what I put into my mind & heart? 2) How do I gain and maintain moral purity in my relationships & communications on a social level.
1) There is such a plethora of information available to us today through books, magazines, radio, television, internet, cell phones … not to mention, just day to day relationships with people. It is just … there! It is “in your face” … so to speak. And one way or another, your mind is going to gather information and feed it into the system. So very practically, the scriptures tell us how to guard our heart. Proverbs 4 tells us to guard our heart by guarding what we DO with the physical members of our body. Notice:
Pro 4:23-27 Keep (guard) your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from you a froward MOUTH, and perverse LIPS put far from you. Let your EYES look right on, and let your EYELIDS look straight before you. Ponder the path of your FEET, and let all your ways be established. TURN NOT to the right hand nor to the left: remove your FOOT from evil.
We see from this passage the importance of what we say, what we see, what we think about, where we go and where we steer our focus & thought life. If we keep this strictly in the physical realm of our body, we should have enough to keep us busy. But what about when we consider how the internet is constantly leading us, or at least suggesting to us “pathways” to go down. Every time we have a notice pop up on our screen, or a random e-mail inviting us to visit a site.
So, when we add to our physical world, the whole world available through media, our pathway to destruction is just “one click (of the computer mouse) away.” How do we stay on “the straight and narrow,” as verses 26 & 27 encourage us to do, when it comes to the pathway of communication and information. We must guard our eyes and our ears. I’ve often said, “You may not be able to prevent what you SEE, but you can prevent what you LOOK AT. You may not be able to prevent what you HEAR, but you can prevent what you LISTEN TO.” We are responsible for that to which we surrender our eyes and ears.
There is an interesting observation given by Peter in his second epistle in chapter 2, verses 7 & 8. He writes that even though Lot had once been a righteous man, he had ‘troubled his righteous soul’ by day after day, seeing and hearing the ungodly deeds of the ungodly people among whom he and his family were living. The more you SEE it and the more you LISTEN to it, the more it affects your own soul, and I might add in his case, also his entire family. So even in reading the daily “chatter” on the social networks, we must learn how to guard our hearts. Some things are beneficial to our souls, some are not. We must learn how (as they say when eating fresh pan-fried fish) to “eat the meat and spit out the bones”!
There is a cycle of how we form habits that is worth mentioning at this point. What we LOOK AT (or LISTEN TO) forms into a THOUGHT, what we think about forms into an ACTION, and the more consistently we repeat an action that forms into a HABIT. And what do we do with HABITS? Well of course we feed them again … so we look, then think, then act, then form habits. This can be a good practice or it can turn into something hard to break. So, let’s take the challenge to form good, Godly habits that show up in our social media avenues.
>>> LOOK >>> THOUGHTS >>> ACTIONS >>> HABITS
Now, on to point # 2.
1) How do I GAIN and MAINTAIN moral purity in my relationships & communications on a social level.
Last week, I awoke (because of a need to go to the bathroom) about 3:30 in the morning. I made an interesting spiritual discovery that morning. I found that WITHOUT TURNING ON ANY LIGHTS, I COULD FIND MY WAY IN THE DARKNESS, out the bedroom door, down the hall and into the bathroom without turning on any lights & amazingly without hurting myself! Why … because I’D BECOME USED TO MY SURROUNDINGS and my eyes had ADJUSTED TO THE DARKNESS.
Rom 13:12-14 tells us, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us CAST OFF the works of DARKNESS and PUT ON the armor of LIGHT. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
My heart is SO burdened that we who claim the name of Christ have become adjusted to the darkness & since we can find our way around in it, we convince ourselves that “it’s all right” that “it can’t be that bad, if so many ‘good’ people are doing it,” or as the song said, “it can’t be wrong, when I feels SO right.”
Dear friends, THE ENEMIES OF YOUR SOUL HAVE NOT CHANGED! Darkness (the world), the “flesh” and the devil have no need to change their tactics, as long as the “old faithful” ones are still working. We have been ensnared into the world’s system many times through the social media avenues … simply by casually accepting and even encouraging others to flaunt their independence, perhaps even their rebellion against purity on their profiles. Whether it is through pictures or comments or just through “sharing” the thoughts and opinions of others with a simple “Like” button – many of us who claim the name of Christ are tainting His reputation with our attitudes and postings. We who are followers of Jesus are SO tempted to compromise our standards, to look like, talk like, act like “the world” & it seems by looking on our profiles many times that the world has won! We seem to be SO driven to get a pat on the back from the world or from even carnal (at best) believers! Why are we SO driven to want lost people’s approval rather than the approval of THE ONE before whom we shall ALL stand one day to give an account?
When I open my tackle box to fish, I find that I tend to go back to my old favorites … the ones that reeled in the nice catch the last time out. No need to change our lures. That old “purple worm” (for Large Mouth Bass) may be chewed up a bit, may have lost some of its luster … but if the hooks are still intact & the line still solid, I’m going to pull it out and use it again! The devil has no need to change his tactics … and in reality he hasn’t in 6000 years now. His old lures are still working! The “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (I Jn.2:16) are still very alluring to us as humans, even if we are saved. We are being hooked by the darkness. Have we become “comfortable” IN THE DARKNESS? Jesus said, “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” Paul said, “make NO provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof!” (Rom.13:14)
Okay, now for some practical pointers to contemplate and hopefully implement in our lives to help with P.U.R.I.T.Y. in social avenues (hopefully the acrostic will help you remember):
Present your body as a living sacrifice. Rom.12:1
- Remember … you are “not your own!”
- Yield your members continually. Rom.6:13; II Pet.2:8,9
(If you take this step daily and even moment by moment, it should affect what you post and what you look at on the internet. From my own observations on many Facebook profiles, just taking this first step seriously will cause many to remove many of their pictures & “likes” of music, videos & “heroes” on the web. You may react to this and say, “why would I clean up my profile?” Very simply … because if you are truly a Christian, then you are NO LONGER your own! You belong to Jesus by way of His redemptive work on the cross. He purchased YOU with His own blood. Act like it!)
Utterly abandon the “catalysts” to your flesh. I Cor.9:27; Pr.4:23
- Remove the “garbage.” Rom.13:14; Col.3:5-10
- Run from the “paths” of temptation. II Ti.2:22; Gen.39:12
(If you take this one seriously, then whether someone is looking over your shoulder or checking your “History” regularly or not, more times than not, it will change what you post or view. Remember what we read earlier, we must cast off and then put on. Get rid of the junk on your site, clean up pictures of you partying & drinking with lost people! Stop posting all the pictures of you at Rock Music Concerts watching lost people [who, by the way, make a mockery by their lifestyle & value system of the Jesus you claim to love & serve] and acting as if there isn’t supposed to be a difference between your choices and those of lost people in the world. Do you really not know that you are supposed to be “strangers and pilgrims” on this earth (Heb.11:13; I Pet.2:11) and that your value system is supposed to reflect on His kingdom rather than this world which is perishing?
Girls – stop posting pictures of you with your bikinis on! I know you won’t like that I said that, but in reality, it looks like nothing more than colored underwear! If you wouldn’t go out in public with just your underwear on, then stop posting for the world to see what you are supposed to be hiding behind those clothes (and I might add, preserving for your future husband alone to behold)!
I know that as a man I take a risk by being so bold as to challenge you on your clothing … but I believe it’s about time someone got honest. If your boyfriend or husband won’t tell you what it does to his thoughts, or if your own parents won’t step up to the plate and protect you for your own good, then perhaps a “stranger” can “love you enough” to tell you the truth. You are causing men to stumble by the way you are dressing and posting on the internet! Oh yes, I do hold ‘us as men’ responsible for what we are looking at … 100% responsible … but you posted the pictures & will be held responsible as well.
The second part of this is … run! Get away from the places of temptation. Nowhere are we told to get as close to the edge of a cliff to see how risky you can be! We are told in scripture to “flee from youthful lusts” and to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against our souls,” so learn how to avoid pathways on the internet that will lead you into immorality in any form. It could be in your viewing, your music, your postings or perhaps even those you’ve chosen to “follow” online on a regular basis. There are some “friends” that I’ve had to “un-friend” because of language or philosophy that they have chosen to identify with on their public site … and I am sure there are those who have “un-friended” me because of a stand I’ve taken on a particular subject that they disagree with … that’s okay too. “He that walks with wise men will be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” So, sometime in your life you will have to choose!)
Renew your mind with the Word of God. Psa.119:9,11; Rom.12:2
- Discipline the use of your time/mind. II Tim.2:4-7
- Memorize & meditate in the scriptures daily. Jos.1:8; Ps.1
(This one certainly speaks for itself … but the only way to change our way of thinking is by the cleansing of the Word of God in our hearts and minds. This will do more to reform our value system and give us insight into what pleases God on a daily basis than perhaps any other input into our lives. It will set a safeguard over our thoughts, our words, our viewing & listening, our friends, our purpose in life.
This will be a personal discipline that will show up immediately in ways you cannot imagine. And as you realize that God is changing you from the inside out, let it begin to show itself in your language, your postings and choices in life. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”)
Invite the help of a Godly mentor. Heb.3:13, Jms.5:16
- You will have to humble yourself. Jms.4:10; I Pet.5:5-7
(This one will definitely take some initiative on your part, and frankly, with so many living out their lives online in a fantasy world, rather than developing true & meaningful relationships with others in “face to face” encounters, it may take some doing. A survey from George Barna’s Research Group a number of years ago revealed that by 2012, 70% of professing believers indicated they would be getting their spiritual nourishment from the internet. There is a problem with that. Not that there isn’t a lot of very helpful information available on the web, there is. It’s just that there are certain ingredients in the DNA of Christian growth and fellowship that can only take place in person.. One of those is called accountability. Someone has said, “Without accountability, the Christian life is optional.” They are correct. We need the help of others in order for our lives to stay consistent and clean.
Accountability will only be as good as “what you bring to the table.” In other words, if you want someone to help you in growth, they must know what your struggles are. If you are tempted to view questionable things on internet, if you have problems in relationship with your parents or other authorities in your life, if you’re tempted to really want the approval of your peers to the point where you will say & do things that you later regret – those needs must be shared with your accountability partners. If for example you’re tempted to spend too much time on the internet or too much time playing video games, etc., tell them that. Transparency is essential to deep, lasting relationships and a desire to grow spiritually. To do this, you will need to humble yourself & get truly honest.)
Take God seriously!
- Live in the fear of God. Eccl.12:13,14
- Commit to be different … for His glory. I Cor.10:31
(To make a change in your morals is a very serious matter. In a day in which everything is so “loose” in society, for you to gain and maintain moral purity is going to require that you be distinctively different from the culture. It will require a cleansing of the thought process (Phil.4:8) and such a different pattern to your life from 90% of professing believers today that many of your friends will perhaps think you’ve “gone off the deep end.” You will begin to develop Biblical convictions in your life (I’ve been doing an intense study on this subject in the last few months and believe it is essential to being a “World Changer”), BUT with all that being said … you will NEVER regret being on that road. Choosing the pathway of Daniel, the Hebrew children, Joseph, Esther, Ruth can be costly, but worth it!)
You can walk in victory! I Cor.6:11;10:13
- Follow the example of others. Dan.1:8; I Tim.4:12
(Here is the goal … victory & freedom! Freedom in conscience … freedom in your heart & mind … freedom to impact others within our society … freedom from bondage to your flesh … that is the reward promised here! In the passage identified above, Paul testifies to the Corinthian believers after going through a long list of moral sins, “and such WERE some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
Dear friends, if I could sit across the table from you right this minute, look you in the eye, and speak a word to your heart, it would be this. I want you to know, you can be FREE! There is not room here to witness of the multitudes who have been set free and stayed free when they finally came clean, agreed with God about their need, repented of the” junk” established accountability with Godly leadership and set themselves on a journey to testify to others that they too can find freedom in Jesus Christ with His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word in their lives. Jesus said, You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free! Oh, dear friend, live free & become proactive in helping others on the road to victory!)