Unclean images and the Internet
A river of uncleanness is flowing from the internet and from television and the devil is using it to destroy lives, especially to catch people when they are young. It is very easy for anyone nowadays to see the most terrible uncleanness on the internet. Pornography is like a drug. If you start looking at it you want to look at it more and more until you can’t stop. Then the devil has got you in bondage. It’s like people who can’t stop smoking or getting drunk all the time. Even if you want to stop, you can’t! The devil wants this habit to develop in young people so that it can take deep root in them so he can destroy their lives early and make it impossible for them to get free – except for the power and salvation of God through Jesus. Pornography is spiritual poison! This poison doesn’t affect your body (not to begin with) but your heart, mind and spirit! It will destroy your spiritual life. It will flood your mind with unclean thoughts and these thoughts then lead to acts of uncleanness and sin. Another reason why pornography is so dangerous is that the images you see can stay in your mind, polluting you even when you are not on the internet! It is not something we can play with! It is not something you can look at ‘sometimes’ (there is no ‘sometimes’ with this poison!) – or to look at when you feel depressed or strongly tempted. We are not to look at this at any time. Not once! Never. We are never to go these sites – it will pollute you. It will kill you spiritually. Like with people who take drugs, if you are in bondage to pornography it is almost impossible to get free – except by the grace and power of Jesus Christ!
The reason I am writing this is because this bondage is like the bondage of taking drugs – even when God forgives you and gives you grace to overcome it, temptations can still come, even strong temptations, and you will need to run to the Lord in your heart and turn to Him and trust Him with all your heart to keep you clean and free. Temptation is not sin. But I am saying this because I know as a young person we can feel sometimes that the temptation is too strong and that we can’t resist it. We must not give in to this thought. We must not give in to the temptation to look again! The word of God teaches us, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (! Cor.10:13). Believe this, whatever your mind or the devil tries to tell you, believe the word of God, believe God. The devil, and perhaps your own desire for enjoyment or fulfilment or pleasure will lead you to think that you are being tempted beyond what you are able to resist. The word of God says there is grace to resist because of what Jesus has done on the cross! Through Christ we have been set free from sin so that we no longer serve sin or let sin rule in our lives:
“…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin… Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness… Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Rom.6:6,12,13,18)
When we are tempted we are to recognise what God has done for us and believe His word, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John.3:8). And through Christ we are to put to death the things that tempt us to sin, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry;” (Col.3:5).
This is a very serious matter. If you are reading this and you do not know Jesus Christ and His salvation, then whether you watch pornography or not, you need to repent and ask Christ to forgive you your sins if you want true Life now and in eternity; and know this, Jesus Christ is the only one who can cleanse and free you from your uncleanness, because whether you are in bondage to pornography or not, you will have uncleanness in your heart and mind. Or perhaps you think you are a Christian but you think it is not bad to watch pornography, or your conscience does not trouble you when you do this, or you are not grieved in your heart that you are sinning in this way. Then it is very possible that you have religion, not Jesus Christ. It could be that for you Christianity is just on the ‘outside’, not on the ‘inside’! Perhaps you have been deceived by religious people or priests. You have been told that if you go to church, keep certain rules and believe certain things then you are saved and that you are a Christian. Or maybe you have been told that you just have to confess your sins to the priest then your sins will be forgiven and everything will be all right! You just have to keep going to the priest every week and your sins will be forgiven! Millions of people around the world are deceived by this teaching. Their lives are not changed on the inside. Their lives a little different or no different to other people who live in the world. If your conscience does not trouble you, if your heart is not grieved that you watch pornography, then the Spirit of God is not in you. You need the salvation that only Christ can give you! A denomination cannot save you. A denomination cannot cleanse you and set you free from sin! Only the son of God can do this and you need to come to Him, and repent before Him and ask Him for true forgiveness, for real cleansing of your heart and to set you free from sin! You need to receive the Spirit that is of God to empower you to live as Jesus lived! God looks on the heart and He will only answer our prayer if we bring the ‘true fruits of repentance’ – “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father”. It is not enough to be religious! You have to know the salvation that Jesus gives! Jesus died on the cross to cut the root of sin in our lives and that we don’t serve sin anymore. (Luke 3:8,9).
For Christians it is clear that we should never look at pornography – we shouldn’t even want to look at pornography. The burden of my heart is to tell you never to give in to the temptation to look at unclean things. Do not allow yourself to fall into this sin. It is not a game. It can and will destroy your life. My burden is especially for young people because pornography is a terrible trap and difficult to get out of and a whole life can be ruined because of it! Flee to Jesus. Lay hold of Jesus. The word of God says, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25). These are wonderful words of promise. Jesus saves COMPLETELY those who come to God by Him. And brother, Jesus is praying for you and me continually! He can deliver you from this sin or any other sin. Praise God for his kindness and his power! Run away from sin and pursue righteousness and holiness, because as you know, without holiness we will not see the Lord, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb.12:14). You can see how important this is. The devil is trying to trap believers and even those who are in the work of the Lord so that he can destroy their usefulness on this earth and ruin their lives as believers. Resist the devil and he will flee from you – this is what the Bible teaches us.
God showed Ezekiel what His people, even the religious leaders, were doing in the imagination of their minds in His holy place of the temple: “He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not…” (Ezekiel 8:6-12). This is what God showed Ezekiel in a vision and of course it is a picture of what was happening in the lives of his people. They thought God didn’t know the images that they were looking at in secret, in the dark rooms of their hearts and minds. But God sees right into us, into our deepest places. He wants to cleanse us there! He wants to change us there – in the deepest place of our being! Why? Because Jesus Christ died and shed His blood to make our hearts clean, so that the Spirit of God should live there, right there, in the deepest places of our lives where nobody else can see, but God! This is salvation! Maybe you say it is impossible. Yes it is – for man. But with God all things are possible! Jesus said these wonderful words, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him..” (John 14:23) God wants to live in us by His Spirit! Jesus died for this! Talking about the day of Pentecost when the disciples would be baptised in the Holy Spirit, Jesus said this, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20). This is the Gospel! This is the New Covenant! Christ IN us, the hope of Glory! As Paul says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?.” (2 Cor.13:5)
You see, God said to Ezekiel that their unclean thoughts, their worship of unclean images in the imagination of their minds was driving Him away from His dwelling place among them! If we look at unclean images and if we let them dominate our imagination, we will grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30). How can we bring forth fruit unto holiness if these images are before our eyes and in our hearts? We saw earlier that if we seek this salvation we have to bring true fruits of repentance. We have to be real and honest before God. Jesus Himself shows us how serious we have to be about this, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart..” (Mathew 5:28). And if we watch pornography? You see how serious this is? Jesus makes it clear we have to be ruthless with ourselves! “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30). I think it is clear that Jesus doesn’t mean we should literally take out our eye or cut off our hand (because this will not change our hearts!) but He shows that we have to be severe with ourselves. By these words Jesus also indicates that what we think about not only affects our thoughts but can result in sinful actions. Continual unclean thoughts will invite unclean actions! As believers we cannot play about with these things; we cannot continue doing these things just because we think we cannot overcome them! We cannot give into these things because we feel down; we cannot sympathise with ourselves and give in to what we think will give us pleasure or comfort! We have to be cold and ruthless with sin! We cannot warm ourselves by this fire of ‘pleasure’, because this fire will destroy us!
We are told by the word of God, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Mat. 5:8); “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1 Tim.1:5). This is the New Covenant which God has promised – to give us a clean heart. The New Covenant is not just a title given to the second part of the Bible! The New Covenant is a new arrangement that God planned between Himself and mankind. Through this Covenant He would do something IN men and women that would change them completely – He would do this through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son! He said he would give us a new heart! “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, …I will also save you from all your uncleannesses” (Ezekiel 36:25-29) Wonderful words of grace and promise! And the promise is to you and to me in Christ!
Now I particularly want to speak to those who love the Lord but are struggling to overcome sin in their lives. They want to please the Lord but often feel discouraged and a failure because of the things that overcome them. Perhaps they are grieved beyond measure. Perhaps you think the things written above are impossible. Perhaps you think that you are too ‘weak’ to live like God wants you to. Perhaps you think you have failed too many times to overcome now. Don’t let the devil destroy your confidence in the word of God! It is one of the devil’s main tactics! First, the devil will tempt you to sin. If he succeeds, then he immediately tries to make you feel a failure, to make you feel sorry for yourself, to make you think you are someone who cannot overcome, that you will always be defeated; he will try to make you feel that God is against you because of your sin or even that you have committed an unforgiveable sin. He will make your hands to ‘hang down’ and ‘your knees to feel weak’ (Hebrews 12:12). This is one of the main tactics of the devil. He wants to destroy your confidence in God and in his word. He wants to bring you into darkness where you lose faith in God’s love for you, to take away the faith that God can do something in you! These feelings of deep discouragement, of total failure, of rejection of hating yourself – this is the devil’s work! The thoughts that he provokes in our hearts drive us AWAY from God’s love and God’s grace! These are the signs of his work – he wants to lead us into unbelief! And he wants to keep you in this state! The Holy Spirit doesn’t work these things in our lives! Yes, the Spirit of God will work in our hearts to convince us of our sin, but when He does this He also draws us to the answer to our sin, He draws us to come to Jesus; the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus to our hearts (John 16:14) as the one who loves us, who has died for us and who will forgive us our sin! The Spirit of God will not ‘glorify’ your problem. The Holy Spirit will show you Jesus as your Saviour in your situation. The devil will ‘glorify’ your problem so that you cannot see Jesus and will make the problem seem as a mountain that you are carrying on your shoulders! Through feelings and thoughts of failure and rejection the devil will drive you away from Jesus. The Holy Spirit will always draw you to Jesus! Can you see the difference, my brother, my sister? It is big difference.
You see what happened in the garden of Eden. The devil lead Adam and Eve to commit an act of sin? Having sinned, the devil then filled their minds with unbelief! They immediately hid themselves! They were filled with thoughts of fear, judgement, rejection as though God was going to come and destroy them! This was the devil’s work in their hearts and minds – the devil removed from their hearts the truth concerning the mercy of God, the grace of God, the love of God, the goodness of God and the longsuffering of God. The devil made them think that God was against them! This thought is the thought that the devil wants to sow in all our minds! It is the thought that drives us away from God!
But God wants us to come to Him! John says, “…these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.…” (1 John 2:1). And this is true because Jesus Christ died to destroy the works of the devil so that we should not serve sin anymore! But God has made provision for us, not an excuse for sin, but a provision for forgiveness of sin! John continues by saying, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; And he is the propitiation for our sins…” Praise God for His goodness and mercy! If you sin, don’t lie there feeling sorry for yourself; don’t spend days feeling a failure or rejected! Get up! Shake the dust off yourself! Go to the Lord, humble yourself. Turn away from the sin and turn to Jesus Christ! Come to Him. Don’t hesitate. Believe His word and, “… lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.. (Hebrews 12:12-13). He will forgive and He will make a way for you!
A brother from Iringa said this, “If you are travelling from one village to another village and you fall off your bike, what do you do? Do you sit on the ground crying and feeling sorry for yourself? Do you lament for hours about your failure? No! You get up and carry on! If you fall over again, you get up and carry on until you reach the village!” There is some truth in this. I don’t want to give anyone the idea that it doesn’t matter if we sin, or that sin is something not important, but I do want to point out a strategy that the devil uses on us all to stop us reaching our goal of knowing the fullness of Christ’s salvation and the fullness of the love of God!
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25).