We live in an age of instant access. We no longer have to live at the height of Roman glory to have the indulgences of the mind. Electronics have brought entertainment to our fingertips, but most importantly to our minds. Can the rise of tolerance and acceptance of evil in the form of entertainment please our God? Does this have an affect on our minds and hearts as Christian women? I found this sermon to be both informative and also a warning to all of us who struggle with the battle for our minds in an effort to have an undivided heart towards God. Thank you Brian McGuire for bringing this sermon to the forefront of our minds. It is well worth the time to read for yourself and for your families, for God calls us to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. He does put a hedge around our hearts, but only if we keep His admonitions. I just wanted to share with you my heart on this subject through his words.
Entertainment – Satan’s Great Influence
~ Brian McGuire
“If I were to ask for a show of hands right now, and I asked the question, “How many believe this is Satan’s world?”, how many of you would raise your hands? How many look around at what we see every day and know that right now he is ruling this earth. It is being run under his ways, his laws, and his methods. We know that this is not God’s world don’t we. We see so much sadness going on every day, everywhere.
In the Middle East we have the constant threat of full out regional war because of hatred that exists between peoples. In Africa dictators rule and oppress their people, pirates rob ships that don’t belong to them. In Asia we see complete disregard for human rights, even rights that from biblical worldview are denied. In Central America drug lords rule and kill and murder at all costs those who mean to bring law and order to their countries.
Here in the United States we have it much better than most parts of the world but we still have our issues. We struggle with poverty, drugs, corruption in all aspects of our lives. Corruption in politics, corruption in business and sports. We hear stories of violence in our cities, homes and schools. You just have to watch the national news to see the big problems that this country deals with as well.
All of these things are very clear to us. We don’t look at these things and think that everything is OK, or that everything is going to BE OK. We can see Satan’s influence everywhere, right?
But what about ourselves? What about you and me, our individuals world, our individual life, our individual universe. Do we see Satan’s influence there? Do we look for it? Do we know what to look for? Can we go into our everyday life, from the moment that we wake up to the moment we fall asleep, and see the areas that Satan is involved in?
Brethren, as adults who have committed ourselves to following God and His commands, who have committed to following the example of Jesus Christ, we have responsibilities. As teens, which are starting on the path towards adulthood, who are contemplating making a commitment to God and His way of life, there are responsibilities. We have a responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to God to do what is needed to become more like Him & His Son. To act like them, to talk like them, and to think like them.
II Corinthians 10:1-5
“Every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Those are some pretty strong words! What Paul is talking about here is the war that we, as individuals, fight every single day. We see all the horrible things that are happening because Satan is the god of this world, they are obvious. But do we see, do we look for and search out, the spiritual battles that Satan is fighting against us?
It is interesting to look at the meaning of a word. We can look at various translations of the Bible, King James, New King James, New Living Translation, and New International Version, whatever it may be. They all certainly bring benefit of different wording or perspective that can help clarify. But sometimes it helps just look up what the word means.
The meaning behind the word “thought” is a thought, purpose, design; the mind; the heart, soul, feelings. This word underlines the result of the thinking, i.e. the personal verdict that comes out of using the mind. This is describing how we come to our conclusions and what those conclusions are.
As humans we reason, right? We think and comprehend, some better than others I’ll admit, but we all think and come to conclusions, we develop a verdict out of our thoughts. God has given us the ability to think independently, sometimes called free moral agency. He didn’t create us all yellow pencils who think the exact same way. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t individuals out there trying to influence our thoughts. Trying to change or direct our thoughts. There are things that aren’t as much on the surface, in fact they are below the surface.
Our enemy is Satan the Devil. How much thought do we give him? How much credit do we give him? Do we view him as some type of mythical figure who really isn’t involved in our day-to-day lives? “He really doesn’t care about me, does he?” Because that is not who he is, and trust me, he thinks about you a lot.
I Peter 5:8
Have you ever seen a lion or other large cat stalk its prey? Is it loud and obvious? Does it walk around in the open so everyone and everything can see it? Does it announce “here I am, on the prowl, looking for something to eat.” Of course not!
They hide, they crouch, they’re silent, and they’re cunning. Most times you don’t see them until it’s too late. That is what Satan is like. To put it in human terms is Satan an aircraft carrier? No, he’s a submarine. He’s doesn’t use overwhelming fire power. He is under the water, difficult to detect, but he can take down the biggest of ships. He’s not a regiment of soldiers, he is a sniper. He picks off his victims from where they can’t even see him. He is a master of being subtle.
That is how he hunts us. And believe me he is hunting us. We can’t take the approach that he has bigger fish to fry, because there is nothing he would take more pleasure in then denying one of us our eternal life. He wants to influence us!
Captivity of our thoughts depends on who the strongest influencer is.
Merriam-Webster defines influence as:
: the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen
: a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way
That is what Satan wants to do. He wants to change our way of thinking without forcing us to change. He can’t force us to change. He can’t force us to sin. He can’t make us have a particular viewpoint on something. Do you remember what we talked about earlier with the meaning of the word thought? “The personal verdict that comes out of using the mind.” That is what he wants to influence. He wants to influence our mind.
I’ll tell you a little secret. Some of you may know that I’m in sales. I sell software to large corporations, governments & healthcare institutions. I’m certainly not the most aggressive sales person but there are tactics that I have been taught that are quite effective in helping the sale go my way. One of those is something I like to call “homework assignment.” It probably has a formal name but if it does I don’t remember what it was.
You see, the goal of homework assignment is easy. If I’m working with an organization I might ask them to research something for me in order to get something in return, like a proposal for example. I could tell them that I need “x” in order to give them “y”. What I am really doing is keeping the prospect busy, busy with things for me. The thought process is, if they are spending more time with me or on things that I’ve asked them to do, the less time they are spending with the competition. Easy, right?
Do you think that would work for Satan? Do you think he could give us “homework assignments” to keep us busy? Do you think that those homework assignments would be a good way to influence us? When I assign “homework” to a prospect I certainly want them to come to a certain conclusion. Why wouldn’t that work for Satan.
Satan gives us “homework assignments.” He gives us things that distract us, that consume our time, that influence us. He does this with one thing in mind. Just like I don’t want you spending time with the competition, he doesn’t want you spending time with God. How does he do this?
We are a society that needs to be entertained. For our older audience members there was a song entitled “Let Me Entertain You”, I believe from the movie “Gypsy.” For the younger audience members there was a song by Robbie Williams called that as well. We need to be entertained don’t we? We don’t like the simple life. We don’t like not being up on the latest trends, the latest gossip and news. We want to be in the know.
But that is exactly what Satan is trying to do. He is trying to get us to spend time with the “know” and forget about those things that we should be spending our time on. Not only that, but he is also using those things that distract us to influence us. And if we are to bring every thought into captivity then we must be aware of this, and we must make the difficult decision to fight it.
What about our entertainment. Mr. Henderson covered a portion of this last week in his sermonette regarding vampires. We unfortunately are a society that is saturated with entertainment that is not godly in any way, shape or form. And yet, what do we do? Do we look at this as the evil that it is? We don’t have an issue looking at certain issues and having not a single doubt in our mind about whether it is good or not. Homosexual marriage? That’s an easy one. Murder? No problem. Adultery? Please, who would question that? All those things absolutely wrong.
But what about those exact same things only in fictional format? Does the entertainment that we watch or listen to have those things? Do they have adultery or homosexual relationships? Do they show violence or murder? Do they glamorize those things? What do we think about when we see that?
I’d like to cover some lists with you. I don’t do this to make anyone feel guilty or to pass judgment, because to be honest I’m guilty. I too have fallen prey to Satan and his sneaky homework assignments. We as a nation spend between $9-10 billion per year on movies. Either watching them in a theatre or renting them online or through DVD’s. I’m not saying that is bad, but what I want to ask is, what are you watching? And have we thought about the potential that this homework assignment is something that Satan uses to influence us.
The top ten movies for 2012 was an interesting list. This list is not those that were Academy Award winners or documentaries. This list is strictly what we watched the most, or to put it simply, what we spent the most money on. Not all of them are horrible, but think about looking at these movies from a biblical worldview and ask yourself if you should have spent your time watching them, or allowing their influence to enter your eyes, ears and ultimately mind.
First was “The Avengers” followed by “Skyfall”. “Skyfall was a 007 movie about a spy/assassin who is trying to protect his boss from being murdered by a former spy/assassin. Then is “The Dark Knight Rises”, a very dark version of the Batman series where his nemesis Bain takes over Gotham and threatens to blow it up with a nuclear bomb and encouraging anarchy against the established government. We then have “The Hobbit” followed by Ice Age. Number six is “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”, a vampire movie. Next is “The Amazing Spider-Man” followed by “Madagascar 3.” Number nine is “The Hunger Games,” a movie where
young children are sacrificed in a game to the death to entertain and appease the ultra rich. And last we have “Men in Black III”, a movie about aliens and they’re attempted assassination of a human.
Looking at these you may say that the type of stuff we need to be concerned with only happens in R rated movies. Think again. Michelle Healy, in the November 11th issue of USA TODAY, wrote:
Gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985, and now exceeds the level found in R-rated movies, a new analysis finds.
With that increase, big-budget Hollywood movies may be adding fuel to aggressive attitudes and behaviors in young moviegoers, says a new study in December’s Pediatrics, published online today.
Researchers also found that after 1984, when the PG-13 rating was introduced, gun violence declined in G- or PG-rated films; remaining flat in R-rated films; and increased dramatically in PG-13 films. PG-13 is short for “Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” R-rated movies are restricted to audiences age 17 and older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Since 2009, the level of gun violence in PG-13 films has been as high as or higher than in R-rated films and has exceeded that level since 2012, the analysis shows.
The new study analyzed a database of 945 films sampled from the 30 top-grossing films for each year from 1950 to 2012. Analysts coded each film for the presence of violence and guns during five-minute segments.
The Motion Picture Association of America has “been allowing violence to slowly but surely creep up in PG-13 to be equal to what’s in R,” says Daniel Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and a study co-author. If more films with gun violence were rated R, it would show that the industry recognizes the potential harm and that parents should have that information, he says.
The Motion Picture Association declined to comment on the study.
I am guilty. I am guilty of watching some of these movies. And it may sound cliché or oversimplified, but would you watch these movies with God the Father or Jesus Christ sitting right next to you. If you can answer yes then that is certainly your decision. I can’t answer that way. And if you can’t answer yes, and you answered that question as no, then I have to ask should we be watching them in the first place?
I ask this question. Why would you willingly subject yourself to watching and being entertained by things that clearly are contrary to God’s way of life. Please do not misunderstand. I’m not passing judgment if you have watched or plan to watch these things, people can handle different things. As I said, I’m guilty regarding this as well. But I have to ask myself that question. Why would I allow that type of material to come into my mind if I am told, really commanded, to bring every thought, EVERY THOUGHT, into the obedience of Christ?
We are told to “look diligently”. What are we supposed to be looking for? We’re supposed to be looking for that potential root of bitterness. Barnes Notes on the Bible states this about this section of scripture:
Looking diligently – This phrase implies close attention. It is implied that there are reasons why we should take special care. Those reasons are found in the propensities of our hearts to evil; in the temptations of the world; in the allurements to apostasy presented by the great adversary of our souls.
Lest any man fail – As every man is in danger, it is his personal duty to see to it that his salvation be secure.
It is up to us, young and old, to do what it is we are required to do. We can’t go in based on our past works, and we can’t go in based on what our parents believe.
Lest any root of bitterness springing up – Any bitter root. There is doubtless an allusion here to Deuteronomy 29:18. “so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood.” The allusion there is to those who were idolaters, and who instead of bearing the fruits of righteousness, and promoting the piety and happiness of the nation, would bear the fruits of idolatry, and spread abroad irreligion and sin. The allusion, in both cases, is to a bitter plant springing up among those that were cultivated for ornament or use, or to a tree bearing bitter and poisonous fruit, among those that produced good fruit. The reference of the apostle is to some person who should produce a similar effect in the church – to one who should inculcate false doctrines; or who should apostatize; or who should lead an unholy life, and thus be the means of corrupting and destroying others. They were to be at especial pains that no such person should start up from among themselves, or be tolerated by them.
In other words we not only need to be careful of our thoughts for our sake but for the sake of those around us as well.
How about another form of entertainment, the television. According to Neilson, the firm who tracks and analyzes consumers, including in TV consumption, the average American watches 34 hours of live TV per week. That doesn’t include another 6 hours of DVR recordings. There was a recent report published by the University of Michigan Health System, which consolidated various reports & studies. It focused on television and these are some of the things they found:
- TV viewing among kids is at an eight-year high. On average, children ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, DVR and videos, and using a game console. Kids ages 6-11 spend about 28 hours a week in front of the TV. The vast majority of this viewing (97%) is of live TV .
- 71% of 8- to 18-year-olds have a TV in their bedroom [1a]; 54% have a DVD/VCR player, 37% have cable/satellite TV, and 20% have premium channels .
- An average American child will see 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV by age 18.
- Two-thirds of all programming contains violence.
- Most violent acts go unpunished on TV and are often accompanied by humor. The consequences of human suffering and loss are rarely depicted.
- Many shows glamorize violence. TV often promotes violent acts as a fun and effective way to get what you want, without consequences.
- Even in G-rated, animated movies and DVDs, violence is common—often as a way for the good characters to solve their problems. Every single U.S. animated feature film produced between 1937 and 1999 contained violence, and the amount of violence with intent to injure has increased over the years.
So what about our television viewing habits? What do we watch? How much time do we spend watching TV and is what we watch godly and give glory to God? Here are the top 10 TV shows for 2012, minus sports & reality TV.
We first have NCIS, focusing on crime & murder. Then the Big Bang Theory, which certainly has its vulgarity issues. Next is NCIS: Los Angeles, crime and murder followed by Person of Interest, crime and murder. Number 5 is The Walking Dead, a show about a zombie apocalypse. Next is Two and a Half Men, major issues with vulgarity and promiscuity. Number 6 is Blue Bloods, crime and murder and then Elementary, crime and murder. Number 9 is Modern Family which focuses on a sister and her family (of course with a bumbling husband as usual), her homosexual brother and his partner with their adopted child and their divorced father who married a much younger divorced woman. That is the “modern family.” Bringing up the rear at number 10 is Criminal Minds, crime and murder.
Those are the types of shows that we watch for 40 hours per week! I ask the same question, would you sit there and watch these shows, or others that are just like them, if you knew that God and Jesus Christ were right there on the couch with you?
I’ve got a shocker for you; God and Jesus Christ are on the couch there with you. They know what your thoughts are and what your desires are. It’s easy behave and think and talk one way when you are around other people who follow God, it’s something else to be that way when you are alone. But God knows. He knows
when you sit down and when you get up. If God would be uncomfortable with what we are watching then we should be too.
One final piece of entertainment that can have an influence over adult & teen alike, video gaming. According to the Entertainment Software Association we spent $15 billion on video games in 2012. The only estimate I could find stated that we spend 3 billion hours a week playing video games as a planet. Is this a potential area where Satan can gain access to our thoughts, maybe change our perspective on things?
According to VGChartz.com, these were the top selling video games for the week ending November 16, 2013.
- #5 Assassin’s Creed IV
- #4 Watch Dogs – Watch Dogs is an open world action-adventure stealth video game in which players control an Irish vigilante named Aiden Pearce who can hack into various electronic devices tied to the city’s central operating system, allowing various methods for the player to solve numerous objectives. Examples include hacking into people’s phones to retrieve bank data and steal funds, triggering malfunctions in equipment to distract other characters and hacking into traffic lights to cause collisions. Players can also receive information on civilians via augmented reality feeds, providing the player with information on demographics, health and potential behavior. Objectives showcased in presentations include finding specific targets to kill, evading the police and following potential victims in order to stop their would-be killers. Combat utilizes a combination of stealth components and parkour, along with the mechanics of a cover-based third-person shooter.
- #3 Battlefield 4
- #2 Grand Theft Auto V (best selling year to date with 30 million)
- #1 Call of Duty: Ghosts
Christians are told to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, to get rid of anger, wrath and malice (the desire to hurt others) and to grow in peace, longsuffering, kindness and gentleness. These are direct opposites of the kinds of gratuitous violence that are becoming prevalent in many games. In addition to violence, swearing and filthy language have been added to modern games, again in the quest for more “reality.” This, too, violates God’s instructions.
We’re told to get rid of filthy language and not to let any obscenity, coarse joking or any kind of unwholesome talk come out of our mouths. It’s important for a Christian to avoid letting filthy words into his or her mind. And once those words are in our minds, it can be hard to prevent them from coming out of our mouths or getting out of our head.
And with all things we humans continue to push boundaries. After showing more realistic violence and adding coarse language, the next boundary that fell was sexual content. More games now include nude or scantily clad women and sexuality.
Jesus says that a man entertaining lustful thoughts about a woman who is not his wife breaks God’s commandment about not committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28.
Clearly this is a huge issue in Western society as a whole and is not limited to the gaming industry. However as Western culture in general keeps “pushing the envelope” of what society will accept the gaming industry has followed suit. And I’m sure most of you are saying “I don’t play video games.” OK, I’ll give you that, but what about your children? What about your grandchildren? We have an obligation as family to try to protect our own as well.
We cannot always control what we see and hear, but we can control what we hold dear in our hearts.
Each day Satan, the “prince of the power of the air”, relentlessly inspires a multitude of improper thoughts. We must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” We are bombarded with “corrupt” communication from coworkers, fellow students and acquaintances. Movies and TV shows, video games and magazines transmit values, morals and behavior far removed from those God expects of His followers. Nevertheless, we must assimilate God’s words and ideals; they must become a part of us; we must keep them in our minds and hearts.
Where do you find the knowledge of God? It’s right on your lap, called the Holy Bible. But we live in a world that is constantly exalting itself and trying to tell us that this Book isn’t worth the anything. There is a reason there is the phrase “wipe the dust off your Bible,” because it’s not used much anymore.
Well you and I are told we have to remember that we have a very difficult job, we have to bring into captivity, notice, every thought. Now even as I am speaking to you, your mind is doing this – you’re coming up with all kinds of thoughts. You hope every one of those thoughts are yours, but there are other thoughts that can be placed in your mind by other spirit and elements in this world. You know that the scripture tells us that Satan is the prince of the power of the air and a lot of times people don’t realize, they don’t think carefully why am I thinking this? Why am I thinking what I am thinking?
What are we told to do? We’re told to try the spirits, to see if it’s of God, to see if this is what the Word of God would have us do. And as we try the spirits, we begin to see certain things that do not harmonize with the Word of God. If it doesn’t harmonize with the Word of God, we’re told to avoid it, to stay away from it because it’s not going to be beneficial.
I John 4:1-6
We have to bring every thought in obedience to Christ. Now let me show you an example of that that the Bible clearly says. Now it was the will of God, and we know that Jesus Christ had to go to Jerusalem to do what? He had to die to become the Lamb of God, to take away the sins of the world. Your sins, my sins, everyone’s sins. Thank God for God and thank God for Jesus Christ our High Priest at the right hand of God the Father.
But every thought has to be in obedience to Christ. Christ is going to Jerusalem, He tells His disciples, He says, I’ve got to go and the Pharisees and Sadducees are going to lay hands on me and they’re going to make it tough for Me and I’m going to have to die. What does Peter do? He ran up there, very well meaning, he wasn’t in a bad attitude or anything else, he ran up and grabs Christ, he puts his hands on the Lord and said, Lord, far be it for you to go, we’re not going to let that happen to you. To me, when I read that it sounds like he’s well meaning, he wants to preserve the life of the Master, I don’t want you to go and die. But yet the will of God was that He had to go and die. And what does Christ do? He sorts this thinking out for us and shows Peter, you don’t realize whose talking. You have been inspired by something else in your thinking. He said, “Get behind Me, Satan!
So there are times if we’re not careful, Satan can get in there and he can change our thinking up and cause us to say things or do things that further his will rather than the will of God. So how do we stop this?
We must look to God! We must seek Him out! We must ask for His protection! We must spend our time with Him, not with the homework assignments that Satan tries to give us. He uses those things to change our thinking, to influence us about the things of men, or for his will. Not for the things of God and God’s will.
Don’t let Satan be the greatest source of influence in your life. Don’t let his methodology, his entertainment, his subtle ways, to take captive your thoughts. Take your own thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.”