Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The more we're online, the greater the chance of becoming addicted to moral perversity and the occult. The danger is very real, and the evidence is everywhere.
Today, a call to engage people who use the Internet and other media to enslave us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, every time we think society has fallen to a new moral low, we find the culture dropping even further, even faster. Can believers really make a dent in this decline?
You know, Dave, I'm going to answer your question directly. It's very difficult for believers to turn back the culture. But my heart in this series of messages is that the believers themselves will not submit to the culture, the culture that you have so vividly described. We're living at a time of technology, and unfortunately, so often parents no longer raise their children, the culture does. And that's why this series of messages is so important.
It is intended to raise awareness as to what is happening on social media and through technology. But at the same time, the key verse is, keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. To everyone who is listening, would you get on the phone and encourage others to listen to this series? It is very relevant to our culture, and it is a strong call for holiness in the midst of a culture that has lost its way. I begin today with excerpts from some letters that have been sent to me.
I'm writing to ask that you pray for my nine-year-old son and his father. I've been divorced for several years and we are both remarried, so my son goes back and forth between us. During our marriage we would play games like Magic the Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons and other games like that. These games would consume my ex-husband. He would stay up all hours playing these games.
It was as if he wasn't there. You could talk to him and he wouldn't even hear you. Since that time I've become a Christian and I realize that my ex-husband is under the power of the occult. Demonic forces are holding him back. Now he has taught my son to play, and I've noticed changes in my son's attitude.
In fact, he's had to get rid of night terrors by reading the Psalms aloud every night, and his half-brother, age six, is now also involved. Let me read another letter. Ever since my wife discovered the chat room on the internet, she now connects with her friends every evening. She comes home, makes a quick dinner, then by 7 p.m. she's on the computer until about 11 p.m. and so it goes every day. We have no communication, no fellowship, no social life. She's consumed with a computer and her friends.
One more. I discovered my husband's pornography on the computer. He was very angry when I found it, but he assured me he'd never go there again. Well, he has repeatedly. He won't go for counseling, is angry most of the time, telling me that what he does in his spare time is none of my business.
I don't want to leave him for the sake of the kids, but even they know something is really wrong in our home. The topic of these messages is guard your heart sexual purity in a media culture. Could you even imagine any passage of scripture or any idea or sermon topic that would be as relevant as this?
Because indeed we have a media culture that is consuming us and drawing our hearts away from God. The Bible teaches that the heart, and it uses it frequently hundreds of times actually, really it stands for everything about us that is immaterial. It talks about our will. It includes our will. It includes our aspirations, our feelings.
It's the place where decisions are made and attitudes are developed. It is the real you because the Bible says, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. Jesus made the interesting statement. He said that from the goodness of a person's heart come good things. From the corruption of the heart come evil things. Now before we get into this, I'd like to dispel some myths that all of us, I think, have accepted at one time or another. And we'd like to lay these myths out and show you why they are myths, and then we'll get to the Word of God and expect changes and transformation in our lives. First of all, myth number one is this, that technology is totally neutral. It just depends on how you use it, but it itself is neutral.
Not quite. It is biased against a life of holiness and a life of commitment. It is bent against the kind of purity that we're going to talk about in these messages.
You can't go online and look at the news without provocative pictures coming up alongside that you're tempted to pursue. Right there it is. I thought that it is neutral.
No, it's not. You know those games, those computer games that lead many people into the occult? Those aren't neutral. In fact, I saw something on TV a couple of weeks ago, very quickly, I remember it saying that there are ways that they try to program these so that you can never let go. You always have to do the next thing. Bottom line, they are after addicts. They're after addicts because if you're addicted, you're going to buy the next game and the next game and the next game and the next game.
All of these kinds of things are geared against us. Now, I know that there are some good computer games. My own grandchildren, they play with some computer games carefully chosen by their parents.
But when you stop to think of all that's out there and many parents not caring, or even if they care, their kids are playing these games in other people's homes, it's incredible. But the media technology is not neutral. Neil Postman says, a medium is not neutral. It's not a neutral bystander in our communication. Every technology has its own inherent bias.
It has a predisposition to be used in certain ways and not in others. Every media has an agenda. Even Facebook, I understand it's advertised by saying broadcast yourself. Well, okay, broadcast yourself.
What you're going to do is to put the best spin on yourself that you possibly can and ignore all the things that your friends don't want to know about you. The medium is not neutral. Now, having said that, I'm glad for modern technology. I would not want to go back to the days before email. In fact, I was thinking the other day, what was life like before email? I mean, I remember most of my life we didn't have email. In fact, you know what?
This is for the younger generation. The first book that I ever wrote was written so long ago that my typist would have to type it and then if you added something, you'd have to retype the whole page and it would spill over to the next page. And if she made a mistake, she had whiteout.
It's not a snowstorm. Whiteout is a little bottle of white stuff that you smear over a word or a letter to correct it. How many of you actually remember the whiteout? Oh my. Oh, I'm so glad that those days are gone. And many of you run businesses that you could not possibly run without computers. But I'm going to be emphasizing that if we're going to use it for the glory of God, it has to be redeemed out of a whole network of technologies that are against us and against Christian living. So it's not neutral.
We're in a battle for sure. Number two myth is, oh, I can watch whatever I like and it doesn't affect me. If you believe that lie, you know there's a book written entitled Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill. And it has empirical proof that violence in the media, violence on television and in movies and in video games has a direct relationship with violence in the life of the child that actually inflames anger and does all of those things.
And don't kid yourself. And if you are struggling with pornography, as many people do, you'll discover that that has implications in terms of the breakdown of certain standards and pretty soon you want to act out what it is that you are watching. Don't ever accept the notion that what you see doesn't affect you. Think about it. Why are billions of dollars spent on advertising today if what you see on TV doesn't affect what you do? The advertisers know right well you see it often enough, you see it advertised, pretty soon you're out there buying it. It has a great deal to do with what you do.
And remember what the Bible says, as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. That is the real you. A third myth is that somehow we can we can corral this and we can take care of it and we can institute some guidelines and that's the answer. No, I'm sorry.
Sorry. The battle is much deeper than that. In fact, I'm convinced after doing some study about this, just being blown away by the impact of the media, especially in the lives of young people, but also adults, I have come to the conclusion that the media basically in much of what it has is really the devil's playground. And if you're going to come out from under those kinds of addictions and attractions and pressures and the need to constantly have something new, if you're going to come out from under that, it is going to take prayer and fasting and yieldedness and all the rest. I would rather stand on a bridge and convince the Mississippi River to flow the other way than I would try to convince somebody who is absolutely content with who he is and rejoices in his particular addiction. Now, having said all that, of course, I believe that there is going to be tremendous transformation as a result of these messages. I believe that finally there is going to be a concerted, prayerful investigation of our lives by the Holy Spirit.
And there is going to be victory for this reason. With man, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Anybody believe that or am I alone up here today? So, you know, husbands, it is possible that God will change your wife.
It is possible, wives, that God will actually change this guy you married. We have to believe God, we have to trust God, and we have to redeem technology out of the hands of the devil. Strong statement, but I really do believe that. Well, our text today is taken from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs, and what an amazing book this is. And we're in chapter 4 of Proverbs, and I'm actually in verse 20.
It's page 530, if you have a Bible like mine. Proverbs chapter 4, verse 20. My son, be attentive to my words, incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight, keep them from within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and healing to your flesh. Keep your heart with all the diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet, then all of your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left, turn your foot away from evil. What an amazing passage, and it's desperately needed in this generation, probably more than in any other generation in all of history. Three responsibilities, it is a command to guard our hearts, and I see in here three responsibilities that we have. Responsibility number one is to know your heart, to know your heart. The heart is the place where life makes up its mind, it is the throne room, the direct center of control of all that we do. Out of it, the Bible says, are the springs of life, like an overflowing river, what's within comes out, that invisible part of us.
And we have to know it, it's complex. We can't even figure it all out, we stand in amazement at ourselves, and God's creation, and who we really are. For example, one thing about the heart is, it can be a place of peace. Jesus said, let not your heart be troubled. And the Apostle Paul says, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. So you see, your heart can be a place where peace is in charge. And what a beautiful heart that is. It's also the place where there is trust, trust in the Lord with all thine heart.
And don't lean on your own understanding. The heart can be a place where there is rejoicing, rejoice ye pure in heart, we sometimes sing. It can be the wellspring of a great deal of joy. The heart can be a place where we love. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind and all thy soul.
Imagine that as human beings. The heart is the place where we experience God. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. What a statement, what a statement, how complex we are. But alas, there's another side to the human heart. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.
I don't know of any other book in any other religion that has such an accurate description of the human heart. It is deceitful. It deceives us in terms of how good or bad we are. Most people think that we are much better, that we're much better than we really are. And the way in which the heart does that is it gets us to compare ourselves with others. We find somebody who's worse than we are, especially a churchgoer, and then we say, well, if they're like that, I do this and I'm good. The Bible says that the way of man is pure in his own eyes, but God judges the heart, and the heart deceives us. You're not as good as you think you are.
I'm not as good as I think I am. We're deceived. The heart also denies the dark parts of our lives. That's why, you see, you can have somebody who is abusive, somebody who is unkind, thoughtless, and all the rest, who does horrible things and hurts people, and he thinks he's actually pretty OK, thank you very much, and that the people that he steps on and hurts deserve it.
And he denies how evil it is. You and I know all that we need to do is to watch the news to see how deceitful the heart really is. You know, when you see of what is done, whether it's not it's to children or whatever the abuse that goes on, I'm reminded of the fact that the human heart is just as bad as the Bible says it is. In fact, there have been times when you and I have heard about evil and we have gone and we have thought about that evil and we have seen it and we thought to ourselves, this is the worst possible thing that anyone could do. And you feel as if you're finally in the basement, you got to the bottom of how bad man or woman can be. And then while you're standing in the basement, you notice that below you somebody's knocking under your feet and you realize that there's another story down there, full of all kinds of serpents. The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.
Let me ask you something. Do you think that you could live for 24 hours, 24 hours without a single thought that was either unkind, untrue or impure? My friend today, the Bible says so clearly that we should guard our hearts. As a matter of fact, it says above all, guard your heart. I believe that this series of messages is so critical and there are many of you who are parents who are listening and you want your young people to listen to these messages.
We're making them available to you in permanent form so that you can play them again and again, share them with your friends because in a day in which there is so much coming to us through technology, we desperately need to be aware and we need to guard our hearts. The title of the series is Guard Your Heart. For a gift of any amount, we're making it available.
Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's RTWOffer.com. Of course, RTWOffer is all one word.
RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the sermon series, Guard Your Heart, perhaps one of the most important series of messages I have ever preached in our technologically driven culture. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life.
Charles lives in Cleveland, Ohio and listens to Running to Win on WCRF. Here's his question today. I have a friend who is a Jehovah's Witness. He believes that the New Testament is only for the 144,000.
How can I explain that this is impossible? Charles, I do have to say that I think you've misunderstood your friend. The Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that the New Testament is only for the 144,000. What they do believe is only the 144,000 will rule with King Jesus in heaven.
So that's a distinction. They would say that the New Testament is for us today, but they would deny the divinity of Jesus. They deny salvation by faith alone. Theirs is primarily a religion of works. But let me give you a tip, Charles, as you discuss with your friend the big issues of life and these are big issues, namely, what do we have to do to go to heaven? Ask him, if you haven't already, whether or not he worships Jesus. This is the way usually I approach Jehovah's Witnesses. If he says yes, that he worships Jesus, according to his theology, he would be guilty of idolatry because Jesus isn't God and the Bible is very clear you should worship the Lord only.
If he says no, I don't worship Jesus, try to help him to see that in heaven they do. Recently, some Jehovah's Witnesses were at my door and I went out and greeted them and we had this discussion and I pointed out that in heaven Jesus is worshipped. And the woman gave me a Bible and says, show me where this is in scripture. So I turned to the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation and there it says that the Lamb, they worship the Lamb, and I read it to her. And she said, you know, there are many people who believe what you do, but you're the first person to whom I handed a Bible who could actually point to a passage of scripture that indicated that Jesus was worshipped. I invited her to receive Christ as Savior.
They turned around and left. I also invited them to pray and they didn't stop to pray, but I knelt in the driveway and I prayed for them that they might understand the completeness of Jesus Christ, his divinity, and the salvation that he brought us and brought to all of us, not just the 144,000 who incidentally are Jews. It's listed there in the book of Revelation. The salvation is to all who believe in Christ.
So I pray for your friend, befriend him, encourage him, talk with him, and let him know that Jesus is not just a man, he is God, a very God. Thank you, Charles, for your question, and thank you, Dr. Lutzer, for your answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.
You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Sex, it seems to be everywhere. Since we're all sinners in this internet age, it's no surprise that immorality is rampant. How should Christians protect themselves from the media onslaught shouting from their computers, phones, and TVs? Next time on Running to Win, more from our series on Guard Your Heart, Sexual Purity in a Media Culture. We'll learn that the time to step up to the plate in this battle is now. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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