Are your Spotify playlists glorifying to God? What about your YouTube history? Has Netflix done more damage to your spiritual life than good?
Odd questions, I know. But, if we identify with Christ, these are questions that we need to be asking (and re-asking) ourselves often.
As I read through Deuteronomy recently, I was awestruck by God’s commitment to the good of His people, and especially by His absolute intolerance for sin.
In Deuteronomy 13, the Israelites were about to possess the land of Canaan; a foreign place to them, filled with foreign gods and foreign, poisonous pleasures. In that particular covenant, God knew that their hearts were easily susceptible to forsaking Him and His ways. They would be quick to plunge down to death if left to their own devices. Through Moses, God commanded His people to “purge the evil from your midst.” (Deut. 13:5b) He commanded that the people were to stone to death anyone who attempted to entice them towards the betrayal of the One, True God. “Anyone” truly meant anyone, even if it was their spouse or their child. Whoever even whispered ideas of turning toward foreign idols was as good as dead. Spiritual treason against a Holy, Just, Merciful-Yet-Wrathful God demanded a fearsome punishment.
For the sake of clarity, I want to point out that God does not relate to us now the same way that He did to the Israelites because we are part of a new and better covenant: the covenant of grace. This means that, instead of working toward righteousness by keeping the Law, we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ by grace through faith! So we do not continue in sin, but press on toward obedience out of a heart of love and devotion for our Savior (Romans 6).
However, this demonstration of God’s hatred toward sin impacted me deeply as I read it. It caused me to wonder, “How have I committed treason against God in my own life?” As believers in Christ, we are no longer in danger of being stoned for our crimes against God. But in light of what we know regarding God’s heart toward sin, should we not strive toward purity in heart as well as in action? Should we not “purge the evil from our midst” today in our own context?
In regard to this issue, theologian John Owen puts it this way:
“Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
Just as the Israelites were to remove people who would entice them away from their Lord, we ought to be diligent to remove the influences in our lives that would have the same effect. Thinking in practical terms, let’s go over a two-step game plan: Ask Questions and Memorize Scripture. Here are some questions to ask yourself regularly:
- Does the content of this song (movie, show, video, etc.) make me want to worship Christ, or hide my face from Him? Does it glorify Christ, or does it glorify sin?
- Are the people I choose to hang out with encouraging my walk with Christ, or leading me astray?
- What habits encourage my devotion to the Lord (prayer journaling, great Christian biographies, good theology resources, etc.) and how can I intentionally put them to use daily?
Finally, here are some passages to consider memorizing:
Matthew 5:29 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
Psalm 101:3 “I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.”
1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (The following verses of this chapter are equally helpful.)
Brothers and sisters, Jesus deserves nothing less than our utmost devotion. His smile is worth infinitely more than any of the stumbling blocks in our lives, whether it’s social media, Netflix, or Katy Perry. Examine yourself. If it is an anchor on the feet of your walk with Christ, cut it off completely. If its content is an abomination to Him, get it out of your life. No exceptions.
It’s time to get serious about sin. Let us always be aiming for nothing less than best.
“Take heed of secret sins. They will undo thee if loved and maintained.” – Jeremiah Burroughs