Five Solas Help You Discern What to Avoid Watching

Dan Strange

In this post, I want to tackle the much-asked question: “As a Christian, is it ok for me to watch [insert generic TV show]?”  

Somewhat surprisingly, the 16th-century “Solas” (Latin for ‘alone’) of the Reformationact as a useful test or filter through which we can measure our cultural consumption and creation.   

Sola Scriptura 

“Scripture Alone” declares that the Bible is our ultimate authority and that we must interpret the world through the Word. This is not just thinking about the Bible but thinking through the Bible—thinking biblically about everything else. 

So it’s not about cherry-picking verses, stories, and isolated truths, but going deep—going “meta.” The Bible has repeated structures and patterns which act as a pair of x-ray goggles we put on to see all the world all the time as it really is. 

If we don’t discern, articulate, and persuade others with the Bible’s blueprint for the flourishing of human life and culture, then others will with some other blueprint. Some other story. And ultimately these alternative stories are all hopeless. 

Sola Gratia 

“Grace alone” reminds us that our acceptance before God is not based on anything we “do” but what God has “done” in Christ. We contribute nothing. We can’t earn our salvation—it’s a free gift.  

What’s the cultural relevance of this? It means that our reason for watching or not watching something needs to be grace focused. We should be wary about any rationale for “No” that puts imperatives (e.g. be holy) before indicatives (e.g. you are holy in Christ). This order matters.  

If I’m saved by grace alone then the motive behind my cultural choices is not to keep rules to somehow impress God or prove myself worthy, but to love and honour God because of what he’s already done for me.  

Sola Fides 

“Faith alone” reminds me of the means through which I am united to Christ and receive all his benefits—it is through faith alone.  

These benefits include what John Calvin calls “double grace”. First, through our initial faith we are reconciled to God—Christ’s blameless record becomes our blameless record. Second, through our ongoing faith we are “sanctified by Christ’s spirit [so that] we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life.”[1] 

Far from tip-toeing around simply trying to avoid evil, our living faith spurs us to pursue good works that spill out into our churches and communities, bringing blessings to individuals, families, and society at large: 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13) 

Our good works include our cultural endeavors, which are part of the way we have dominion and fill and subdue the earth.

Sola Christus 

“Christ alone” should act as a sobering reminder of our call to holiness. In 1 Peter, the apostle says that we are to live in “reverent fear” for we know that: 

it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  (1:17-19)

We should be rightfully fearful of ever conducting ourselves in a way that suggests our new birth doesn’t matter—that Christ wasted his time when he laid down his life, and probably didn’t need to bother.

John Piper gives us a slap-around-the-face-wake-up-call here: “If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.”[2] 

Sola Deo Gloria 

Finally, “God’s glory alone” is the glue which sticks all the solas together. It sums them all up: there’s nothing we bring, it’s all about him. 

So, whether or not God is being glorified is the ultimate litmus test of faithful cultural consumption and creation. Everything we do can be, and ought to be, done for his glory:  

Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10 v 31). 

Posted at: https://unlockingthebible.org/2019/04/five-solas-help-discern-avoid-watching/

How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties

Article by Jonathan Pokluda, Pastor, Dallas, Texas

No one ever plans to ruin his life. Nobody makes failure a goal, or a New Year’s resolution, or an integral part of his five-year plan. Kids don’t dream about growing up to be an alcoholic; students don’t go to class to learn how to be bankrupt; brides and grooms don’t go to the altar expecting their marriage to fail.

But ruined lives do happen — far too often. And they happen because of the choices we make. Many of our most influential choices take place when we are relatively young — old enough to be making important decisions, but young enough for those decisions to have disastrous consequences. In other words, these are choices of young adults.

How can we avoid making such mistakes? We can start by listening to God’s wisdom through King Solomon. Although Solomon faced major challenges later in his life because he stopped taking his own advice, he was one of the wisest men who ever lived, and God has preserved some of his best counsel in the book of Proverbs.

Below are seven ways you can ruin your life while still in your twenties — based on the opposite of Solomon’s counsel — along with a resolution for what to do instead.

1. Do whatever you want.

This was the biggest lie I believed in my twenties. I thought I could do what I wanted and get away with it. I thought, I’m young, and I’m not hurting anyone. But I’ve since learned otherwise.

Right now, you are in the process of becoming what you will be one day. You are preparing either to be a great spouse, parent, employee, and friend, or to be the opposite of that. Everything you do now will lead you down one of those paths.

The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. (Proverbs 14:15)

Resolution: Do what God would have you do.

2. Live outside your means.


I live in the city that practically invented the term $30k millionaire. But when you spend more than you can afford, you still have to pay for it — plus interest. By living “the good life” now, you ensure you’ll be living the bad life of debt payments, downsizing, and financial worries in your future decades. Many people today are still paying for experiences that happened many years ago, long after the “instant gratification” has been forgotten.

Resolution: Live below your means.

3. Feed an addiction.


Whether it is alcohol, money, drugs, pornography, shopping, or another attraction, most people have an addiction of some kind. These addictions bring death: either literal death, or death to relationships, freedom, and joy.

How do addictions happen? You feed them. When you feed something, it grows. The more you feed an addiction, the stronger it grows, and the harder it is to stop. Wisdom is stopping now, not later. It only gets harder and harder after each “one last time.”

The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the treacherous are taken captive by their lust. (Proverbs 11:6)

Resolution: Starve your addictions.

4. Run with fools.

Fact: you are becoming, in some real sense, who you hang around. It’s been said you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You do what they do (because you’re doing it together), you pick up on their ideas and beliefs, and you even learn their mannerisms and language.

So, if you hang around fools, you will become one. But if you hang around wise people, who are committed to following Christ and to making a difference with their lives, then you’ll become wise.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20)

Resolution: Walk with the wise.

5. Believe this life is all about you.


You are one of nearly 7.6 billion people alive currently, and though you arespecial, so is each of the other 7,600,000,000 people in the world — and the billions and billions who have come before but are now long dead and forgotten. You are not the star of this show. You have a cameo that very few people will see and that will be forgotten as soon as the screen changes.

People who become the biggest reality in their world are dysfunctional. They always end up either disappointed or delusional. And when they leave this life, their world disappears; they don’t actually leave any deep impact. If you want to be important and make a difference, live for God and serve others with your life. Jesus was our greatest example of this. He served us by willingly dying for our sins on the cross. The most powerful person who has ever lived used his power to serve (Mark 10:45Philippians 2:5–8). And by dying, he rescued us from sin and bought the power we need to serve others with our life.

People who become the biggest reality in their world are dysfunctional. They always end up either disappointed or delusional. And when they leave this life, their world disappears; they don’t actually leave any deep impact. If you want to be important and make a difference, live for God.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

Resolution: Serve others with your life.

6. Live for immediate gratification.


Almost nothing truly worthwhile comes quickly. It takes time and discipline to become an Olympic athlete (or to simply get in shape), to get a degree, to become a CPA, or to become a good husband or wife. And many of the things you truly want long term can be derailed by indulging yourself in the moment. Do you want an amazing marriage, or just one amazing night? Do you want to retire in 36 years, or drive a luxury car for the next 36 months? In each case, choosing the latter makes it more difficult (or impossible) to have the former.

Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)

Resolution: Hold out for God’s best.

7. Avoid accountability.


We all have the tendency to screw up, or be blind to our own failings, or convince ourselves that we can change on our own, even though it’s never worked in the past. That’s why God created us to live in community with others: so we can encourage each other, point out blind spots, and have help in times of weakness.

Are you running to community and accountability, or running away from it? The reason people avoid accountability is that they don’t want to be corrected, even though that means they will continue to do what is ruining their life. If you really want to change, and really want to put God first every day, then do one simple thing as a first step: find Christ-centered community.

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1)

Resolution: Do not do any of this alone.

Who You Become Tomorrow


People don’t resolve to ruin their lives. We hope to be great employees or business owners. We hope to be great moms, dads, husbands, or wives. We hope to be successful and contribute to society. We hope to be faithful in our walk with Jesus. But all faithful walks start with small faithful steps. Great mature adults are created through the faithfulness of young adults.

You are becoming something, and the resolutions you make and keep today will shape who you become tomorrow. Who do you want to be when you grow up? You will be that person much sooner than you think. What are you doing to become him today?

Jonathan Pokluda is the leader of The Porch, one of the teaching pastors at Watermark Community Church, and the author of the book Welcome to Adulting. He and his wife, Monica, live with their three children in Dallas.

Article posted at: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-ruin-your-life-in-your-twenties

Four Warnings for Your Twenties

Article by Marshall Segal : Staff writer, desiringGod.org

How far do you get into the Old Testament when you start to feel the friction of daily Bible reading? We know the resistance is good for us, like we feel when we exercise, but we often don’t enjoy it — like when we exercise. For many, it’s simply harder to wake up for Numbers in March than for Genesis in January. The days can begin to feel like a season in the wilderness.

Even though 2 Timothy 3:16 echoes in the back of our heads, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable,” the experience of reading our Bibles can be a little like watching grandma use a smartphone. She knows it can do a lot more than she does with it, but she’s at a loss without someone showing her (seven or eight times) how to take a picture, turn on Bluetooth, or listen to a podcast.

These Things Happened for You

In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul sits down with us, like a room full of grandmas, to explain how to read Moses in our daily fight against sin and for joy. He begins by reminding his readers of the Exodus and Israel’s wandering in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1–5). He explains that their hope was ultimately in Christ, even though Jesus would not be born for more than a thousand years (1 Corinthians 10:4). Then he writes, as if speaking to a crowd of twentysomethings today, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).

Entertainment, sexual immorality, impatience, and discontentment: temptations that date all the way back to Moses.

I say twentysomethings, because the next four things he says are remarkably relevant for the rising generation of Christians. The same temptations that were murdering the believers under Moses are waging a spiritual war against believers today: entertainment, sexual immorality, impatience, and contentment. Paul finishes the paragraph by saying, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

These four warnings were lived out by Israel, but meant by God for you, and for me.

1. Do You Distract Yourself with Entertainment?

Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (1 Corinthians 10:7, quoting Exodus 32:6)

Paul quotes (or alludes to) Moses for each of these. He clearly has particular passages or events in mind as he pastors the churches of his day. In this case, he quotes from Exodus 32. Moses is meeting with God on the mountain — he was meeting with God. The meeting ran longer than the people expected, and they got bored and disinterested (Exodus 32:1).

They asked Aaron for another god, he made them a golden baby cow, and they “sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:1–6). They ordered delivery, turned on Netflix, and scrolled through social media at the same time.

Unwilling to wait for Moses (and God), they decided to entertain themselves instead. We’ll deal with impatience later, but the point here is that entertainment is an easy and empty god. Have you given up waiting for God to move — to reveal himself in his word, to help you make an important decision, to bring the healing or reconciliation you’ve been asking for — and decided to distract yourself with something fun instead?

2. Are You Experimenting with Sexual Sin?

We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. (1 Corinthians 10:8, referring to Numbers 25:1–9)

We tend to think of today’s America as the most sexually promiscuous and degenerate group in history. And we’re probably wrong. Sexual immorality was enticing and enslaving long before pornography was online or so-called same-sex marriage became legal.

“To grumble against God is to despise him. That’s a sobering message for us today.”

In Numbers 25, the men of Israel began sleeping around with forbidden foreign women (Numbers 25:1), to the point that one man boldly brings his sexual immorality before the whole congregation (Numbers 25:6). He knew God had forbidden this relationship, and yet, not only did he indulge in it, but then flaunted his immorality before the people. He experimented sexually, against God’s clear commands, and then bragged about it.

He and the woman were speared to death (Numbers 25:8). Seem too severe? Moses wants us to see that we deserve that, and far worse, from God if we indulge in sexual sin.

God brought a plague against the people because of their sexual immorality, and 24,000 died (Numbers 25:9). As a point of reference, there are 24,000 students currently enrolled at Auburn University. That many, all dead because of sexual immorality.

Moses said that all that death happened for your sake — a spear through a stomach, a plague wiping out thousands — so that you and I would feel the awful offense of sexual sin, and flee from it.

3. Do You Refuse to Wait?

We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents. (1 Corinthians 10:9)

In Numbers 21, the people have escaped Egypt and been to Mount Sinai. Now, they are on the way to the Promised Land. Moses tells the story, “From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses . . . ” (Numbers 21:4–5).

How would you do on that long, hard road from Egypt to Canaan? Does your life feel like that some days (or months, or years)? God had saved Israel from cruel and violent slavery. And he promised to bring them into their own land of safety and prosperity. But they could not wait.

How did God respond to their impatience? He sent poisonous snakes into the camp, and many died (Numbers 21:6). They repented (Numbers 21:7). Will we? Having been rescued by God from never-ending judgment and destruction, are we willing to wait another week, another year, or another ten years for him to answer our prayers?

God heard their pleas for mercy and made a way of salvation (Numbers 21:8–9). Jesus tells us that scene was meant to help us wait for him. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15). God is waiting to save and satisfy you, if you are willing to trust him and wait.

4. Are You Always Unhappy?

[Do not] grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

“When we are tempted, God creates the way of escape and waits to reward us with more of himself.”


Israel complained about everything. They complained about not having anything to drink (Exodus 15:24). They complained about their food (Numbers 11:4–6). They complained about being in the wilderness (Exodus 16:2). Then they complained about leaving the wilderness (Numbers 14:2). They complained about their enemies (Numbers 14:3). They even complained about not being in slavery anymore (Exodus 16:3).

How does God respond to their grumbling?

“Truly, as I live, . . . none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.” (Numbers 14:21–23)

To grumble against God is to despise him. That’s a sobering message for me today. God wiped out the wilderness generation to describe to every generation after them the seriousness of faithlessness, to show us the consequences of complaining about how and when God works in our life.

The redeemed endure difficulty and inconvenience differently. Paul writes, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14–15).

In a world filled with complainers, people that are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10) will shine brightly and garner attention for the glory of their Provider and Keeper in heaven.

Flee from Idolatry

Can you sum up the four warnings in one? “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14). He says it at the beginning of the paragraph (1 Corinthians 10:7) and at the end (1 Corinthians 10:14). We learned from Israel in Exodus and Numbers that idolatry can be entertaining. That it can allure and entice you. That it can make you impatient and unhappy. And that it can kill you. Flee from it, and run to God.

With the severe warnings, Paul gives us an invitation and a promise.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:12–13)

God is faithful. He stands ready to walk with you and keep you through every circumstance and inconvenience. He doesn’t just stand nearby watching to see what you will do, but promises to provide a way out of temptation and into the joy of being made like him. He creates the way of escape and waits to reward us with more of himself.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating (2017). He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have a son and live in Minneapolis.

Article posted at:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/four-warnings-for-your-twenties

Last Night, We Won

Article by Carl Laferton

The anthem was belted out. My heart beat fast. The adrenalin flowed in torrents. Ah, it’s the hope, the rising hope, the no man’s land of touching distance. And then it’s the ebbing, the dashing, the dying of the hope. And the sadness settles in. And then the “If only we’d…”, and then the strange sense of emptiness.

I really could care less about the football. And I think I really should care less about the football. (And the rugby, and the cricket, and the tennis.)

I’m a sports nut. I will happily read about sport, talk about sport, watch sport and shout at sport all day. There was a time when I hoped very much that my job would be to write about sport all day.

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

Until there is.

One thing that changed me

I remember years ago—back in 2013 at an Acts29 Europe conference—listening to the pastor Matt Chandler give a seminar. Honestly, I don’t remember the topic—I think it might’ve been something to do with longevity in ministry. Frankly, I don’t remember most of what he said.

But I do remember him saying one thing that changed me. And it was about sport. Matt was talking about how he had made a conscious decision not to actively support any sports team. Why? Because when he started to care about a team, he would always care too much. Their success would stir his affections more than anything else. Their failure would make him irritable like nothing else.

And that’s just not Christian, he said. Jesus Christ is the One whose cause should capture us. His victory is what should most excite us. The advance of his kingdom is what should most stir us.

Honestly, would I get more excited if someone were converted this summer, or if we won whatever major tournament is on?

His point was that anything that replaces Christ as the thing that most attracts our excitement, our devotion, our hopes and our dreams is an idol that needs to be rejected. Not cuddled. Not toyed with. Not excused because, you know, all the other guys at church do it…

And as he spoke, I realised he was speaking of me. That when we’re searching for an equaliser, it’s like my life and happiness depend on it. That I shout helpful and innovative advice like “Shoot!” from thousands of miles away as though this, right here, is life. That defeat makes me feel like the world is a worse place, and I have the right to be grumpy with those around me and one-eyed about the referee. That I excuse all this by making a joke of it.

And I thought: Honestly, would I get more excited if someone were converted this summer, or if we won whatever major tournament is on?

The answer wasn’t the one I think God would be pleased with, or that I should be pleased with. I was more gripped by the prospect of a gold trophy than a trophy of grace.

This matters more

Since then, I’ve tried to spot when I am enjoying sport as a good thing, given by the God who wants us to enjoy the world he’s made us to live in; and when I am straying towards idolising sport as a god thing, replacing my God in my affections, capturing my excitement, leaving me feeling empty if we lose. I’ve asked the Spirit to prod me when I am beginning to define myself more in terms of my country-tribe or team-tribe than in terms of Jesus’ tribe (he calls it the church).

Because that’s the moment when I’m loving the football (or rugby, or cricket, or tennis) too much. And I say to myself, ‘Carl, you are literally getting over-excited about whether a man can kick a small sphere between two posts and under a bar.’ And then I try to think about what else is happening today: that round the world, the good news about a man who won the greatest of victories in the most unlikely of venues is being shouted, spoken, whispered, read about, believed. Victory after victory is being won as His Spirit brings everlasting hope to those who were facing the defeat of death. And I am being invited to show in my life (including in how I watch sport) and say with my mouth that, yes, His triumph means more than my team’s.

Last night, we won. Because Jesus has won. And seriously—that matters more.

And sooner or later, my heart will race. The adrenalin will flow. The shouts will come. The hopes will rise, and never die. There will be no more sadness, no more disappointments, no more “If only we’d…”. And all I’ll know is soaring fullness and all-encompassing adoration as I join the crowds and belt out the anthem:

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honour and glory and praise!’ 
(Revelation 5 v 11-12)

I really can’t care too much about the Lord.


Article posted at:  https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/blog/interestingthoughts/2018/07/12/last-night-we-won/

How to Leave Porn Behind

Article by  Samuel James

My older sister sat across from me at the Taco Bell and listened carefully. She knew I was lying, but she was too concerned to be angry. As she questioned me about the double life I had been living, which had been unwillingly exposed to my family and friends, she calmly heard my mistruths and told me that she knew better.

For years I had been hiding beneath the identity of being a pastor’s kid in the church worship band while yielding myself totally to pornography. I was broken, but not broken enough, and still trying to put up a crumbling façade.

As she surgically deconstructed my lies, she knew I was broken. She knew I needed a path toward healing as soon as possible. So she looked at me and said something that still echoes in my mind eight years later: “I want you to pursue a radical lifestyle of repentance.”

“The sin of pornography goes much deeper than the singular moments of watching and downloading.”

This frightened me. What did she mean? Yes, I knew I had to repent. Yes, Jesus had used this destruction in my life to show me his gospel in a saving way for the very first time. I was ready (or so I thought) to turn from my sin. The solution seemed obvious enough: (1) I had to confess openly my problem with porn, (2) I had to get an accountability partner, and (3) I needed to see a counselor at my school (I ended up doing all three).

But her words “radical lifestyle” — radical, not garden-variety; lifestyle, not sporadic or occasional — suggested unknown depths of discipline. I squirmed in my seat, nodded, and quietly feared my future. Little did I realize how life-giving a “radical lifestyle” could be.

Why So Many Are Losing the Battle

If you had asked me, I would have said that my life was just fine as it was, except for the porn. But I’ve come to realize that this perception was wrong.

The sin of pornography goes much deeper than the singular moments of watching and downloading. It’s about entire daily patterns of unbelief, laziness, self-absorption, and much more. Thus, repentance from enslavement to pornography must seek more than behavior modification in one isolated habit. It must be a resolve to bring every piece of the heart’s architecture, every beat of the rhythm of life, into the light of the gospel.

Many Christian men are fighting a losing battle with pornography because they are trying to remove the sin without adopting a radical lifestyle of repentance. They know their spiritual lives would be sweeter without giving way to lust. They know their capacity for rich relationships with other believers would expand tenfold if they weren’t smothered by midnight shame. They know their Godward ambitions for vocation and missions and pastoring are being squashed by it.

They really do want it gone, but they want everything else to stay where it is — and then they are perplexed why it just won’t work, even with accountability partners and internet filters. It won’t work long-term because this is not how God designed us.

How Badly Do You Want to Win?

Repentance has a radical character to it precisely because repentance happens in the heart. Human beings are not equally partitioned creatures: one part intellect, one part body, one part soul, and so on. In his glorious, image-bearing design, God creates us with a center of existential gravity. The heart is that center.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). God promised to give his covenant people new hearts that would lead to authentic and holistic obedience (Ezekiel 36:26). Jesus explicitly taught us that our external rituals pale in comparison to our inner heart-delights (Matthew 15:18). Because our heart orients everything else, and since real repentance happens foremost in the heart, turning away from heart-enslaving sin often has far-reaching implications.

“You need to make radical changes in parts of your life that you might not intuitively think need changing.”

If you are losing the battle against porn, let me exhort you, as a fellow fighter by God’s grace: You need to make radical changes in parts of your life that you might not intuitively think need changing.

What about your job? Could the chokehold that porn currently has on you be strengthened by your daily vocation? Sometimes companies require you to have a smartphone, or to be online, alone, during late hours. While God has grace for every situation and promises the opportunity to resist temptation, I’ve met more than one fellow struggler who would have been much better off had they laid down their vocation at the feet of Jesus, and chosen radical repentance instead. What does it profit a man to gain the world but forfeit his soul to the lust that will damn him?

Likewise, I’ve known friends, especially men, who don’t realize how their lack of industriousness (or their dead-end job) is actually feeding a sense of aimlessness that makes them more vulnerable to the lure of porn. But the gospel commands those who are born again to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). If you aren’t being a faithful steward of your time in helpful, character-building work, take radical repentance with you to a different situation.

Consider too your hobbies. Most people who are serious about fighting lust know intuitively there are some movies and sitcoms they need to leave behind. A friend of mine was deeply frustrated at his lack of progress in this battle. He loved video games. But as he spoke and confessed that failure was still the norm, I started to realize that radical repentance for him would look like cultivating better, more life-giving hobbies. He was trying to negotiate with his old habits, instead of infusing them with radical repentance. His three hours of daily gaming were not neutral; they were actually artifacts of a cloistered lifestyle that had been tailored to resist valuable means of grace in the fight against lust.

Repentance Brings Us Gain, Not Loss

Radical repentance isn’t just subtraction; it’s addition too. One of the most helpful pieces of counsel I received was that I should start cultivating the skills, ambitions, and opportunities God had given to me, instead of merely sitting on the couch, retreating from life out of shame at the past.

“Radical repentance isn’t just subtraction. It’s addition too.”

What holy ambitions have you been ignoring while merely trying to keep your head above water? Don’t just passively sit on the forgiveness and new life Jesus gives you. Turn it into a new job, one that empowers you to work heartily and serve others. Turn it into new hobbies, especially offline ones that can take you outside your own head. Turn it into a new lifestyle of sacrificial giving and of “radically ordinary” hospitality. Sin has no power over you, because you are under grace (Romans 6:14) and bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Why not live like it?

Jesus offers much more than a cleansing purge. He offers an eternally springing fountain of himself that spills into every well in our heart. Trust me, whatever you lose in radical repentance is not something you want to keep. Radical repentance begins and ends with delight: delight in God, delight in what he loves, delight in his good gifts, and delight in his promise to never cast you away or leave you. Go to him — radically.

Samuel James serves as associate acquisitions editor at Crossway Books and managing editor of Letter & Liturgy. He lives in Wheaton, Illinois, with his wife Emily and son Charlie.

Article posted at: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-leave-porn-behind

You Can’t Serve God and Entertainment

Article by Phillip Holmes

You love entertainment. On-demand streaming, live television, video-sharing websites, and social media are all at your fingertips. Your ability to access entertainment swiftly and effortlessly has encroached on every aspect of your life. Research recently revealed that you’re tempted to check Facebook every thirty-one seconds.

Are your friends boring you with dull conversation? Grab your iPhone. Is your wife annoying you? Turn on your television. Is your professor uninteresting? Sign into Facebook. Entertainment is your means of escape from the inconveniences of life into a comfortable world of fantasy. And your means of escape has made you a slave.

Confessions of a Slave

If I’m honest, I’ve had an unbridled love for frivolous entertainment — over the years I’ve used it primarily as a means of escape. Entertainment was used to distract me from the guilt of sin, friction in relationships, or anxiety about work. It became what daily prayer and Bible reading should have been: a safe haven to retreat for rest and comfort.

I failed to recognize that my never-ending pursuit to be entertained had turned me into a slave. My love for my new master was subtly causing contempt towards God and reticence in my duty to delight in him.

A Tale of Two Masters

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus reveals that when we gravitate toward entertainment as a means of comfort, we’re moving further and further away from our Creator. The notion of two masters is, in fact, a fictitious tale. It’s impossible to have more than one. Jesus exposes an insightful reality: Love for one will cause hatred toward the other.

If we devote inordinate amounts of time, money, and affection to anything, including entertainment, we will despise whatever draws us away. We’ve all been faced with the choice between spending time in prayer and God’s word or spending time with entertainment. At the crux of these crossroads, the all-satisfying gift of Jesus is pit against the temporal promises of entertainment. Whichever road is chosen increases hatred for the path denied.

When we choose the broad path to careless entertainment, seeds of contempt are planted for Christ. Likewise, when we choose the narrow road to Jesus, seeds of hatred are planted, not only for mindless entertainment, but all of our indwelling sin. This path reveals that endless entertainment is a cruel master that seeks to devour our true joy and lead us away from Christ, its source.

The Cruel Master

Entertainment over-promises but under-delivers. It is unable to satisfy what our hearts truly long for. We want rest. We want comfort. But entertainment can only offer a temporary fix. As soon as we wake up from hours of binging on Netflix or scrolling through social media, our problems remain, still waiting to be confronted. And we’re faced with the truth that all we’ve done is put off the inevitable.

Chasing joy in entertainment is like “chasing the dragon.” The term is a slang phrase, which refers to the continuous pursuit of an ultimate high previously obtained at the initial use of drugs.

For example, a drug user tries heroin for the first time and has an amazing experience. But when he returns to the drug, he can’t get that same experience. Instead, the experience gets weaker, so the user takes more and stronger heroin to reach that same feeling. As he “chases the dragon,” the user’s body decays inside and out. This decay usually manifests itself in extreme itching, unwanted weight loss, slurred speech, kidney or liver disease, and more.

Addiction to entertainment is similar. The physical and health effects may not be as striking as heroin, but the spiritual effects are costly. We chase mindless entertainment hoping for relief for our souls, but instead all it really can promise is death. It distracts us from the highest and ultimate good with a mirage of happiness and comfort.

Jesus Is the Good Master

In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus invites all who labor and are burdened to come to him, promising to provide rest for our weary souls. This promise is not empty. In the gospel, he fulfills his promise by taking up our burden on the cross for our rest and joy in him.

“In communion with Jesus, we experience lasting joy that entertainment can only promise but never provide.”

I have never walked away disappointed when I’ve pursued my joy in God through prayer and Bible reading, reminded myself of his promises in the gospel, repented of my sin, and cried out to God for comfort. Were all of my problems solved? No. But my joy was restored, and my soul had feasted on his promises. Likewise, every time I’ve used entertainment as a means of relief for my soul, I was left wanting and unsatisfied.

Even still, when I find myself at that proverbial crossroads between communion with Christ and frivolous entertainment, I’m tempted to say yes to entertainment and no to God.

As we walk through life, we will be tempted to continue to engage entertainment carelessly and ignore our bondage. Some will continue to live like slaves, binging on entertainment and neglecting spiritual nourishment. But you don’t have to live in bondage.

The gospel supplies the power to say yes to God and no to endless entertainment. Here we uncover the beauty of our wonderful master and realize that Jesus is better. In communion with him, we experience lasting joy that entertainment can only promise but never provide.

The next time you find yourself at this familiar crossroads, cling to Jesus. Remember that he alone is your highest good. He died and rose so that we can experience communion with him, which provides the supreme joy that an escape to entertainment simply cannot compete with.

Phillip Holmes (@PhillipMHolmes) served as a content strategist at desiringGod.org. He is the Director of Communications at Reformed Theological Seminary and a finance coach and blogger through his site Money Untangle. He and his wife, Jasmine, have a son, and they are members of Redeemer Church in Jackson, Mississippi.

Article posted on:  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-cant-serve-god-and-entertainment