THIS was the question given to Hezekiah by the prophet Isaiah. It is most appropriate in relation to the subject of Television. Many things are seen on the Television screen. Can it be for the glory of God for a Christian to have one in the home? Will it encourage spiritual things? Will it help the family grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? How does it really affect the boys and girls and young people for whom it has a special appeal?
Yes, but think of how attractive the Gospel is on TV! Look at the background scenery: Look at the styles of the choir and the preacher. Hear the tremendous music. What a privilege to see modern converts like Johnny Cash and a host of others who still entertain the ungodly in Las Vegas Night Clubs, also entertain the Christians on TV. Is there not a danger in TV services to exalt man rather than the Lord? Did Paul make the Gospel attractive like that? He said he knew the terror of the Lord and persuaded men. Paul was determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians 2:1-4).
The Israelites had «light in their dwellings» while the Egyptians had nothing but darkness. God's children are children of light and their homes should be marked by the light of God's presence. In bringing in Television you bring in with it the «unfruitful works of darkness.» «Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or WHATSOEVER ye do, do all to the glory of God» (1 Cor.10:31).
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BELIEVERS AND TELEVISION
A radio newscaster reports that a large Mental Hospital in New Brunswick, Canada, is using TV to put patients to sleep. For years they found it difficult to quiet the patients for sleep and the doctors decided to try TV. So now they spend time each night watching TV shows and then quietly go to sleep.
The sad fact is that the Devil has been using TV to put believers to sleep all over the nation.
Meeting with several deacons in the quiet of a home, all of them confessed that since they had TV in their homes they have neglected God's Word, prayer, visitation for the Sunday school, and their own lives have grown cold spiritually. TV had put them into a spiritual sleep.
Another deacon told me that since TV was brought into his home he had lost his passion for souls and had not the same desire to go out after the lost that he had before his TV sleep. One year later, after speaking in his church, he went home and put away his TV and his former passion for souls returned. He also testified that his home life returned to its former spiritual condition.
Pastor after pastor have confessed to me that since TV has been in the homes of their people that there is not the same interest in the prayer meetings and Sunday night services. Yet most of the pastors I know have TV in their own homes. Even ten years ago they stood against Hollywood shows and influences but today are muzzled because the same shows are coming into their own homes.
One pastor said to me, «We control our TV with the children.» Two of them were watching a 'children's show' around 5.30p.m. Sitting in the next room, I sensed a quieter atmosphere. I went to find out what the children were looking at and found them watching a 'Wild West' Roy Rogers show like the ones I used to see when an unsaved boy. I spoke to the preacher to come and see the 'controlled program'. The only way to control TV would be to have a paid watchman on duty and even then many believers would try to bribe him to behold Hollywood's best.
One lady said to me after a radio rally: «I have a TV in my home but I cannot see that it is any worse than radio.» I said to her: «Has radio kept you from reading your Bible or praying or going to prayer meetings?» «No!» she replied. «Has TV ever kept you from your Bible or prayer time or from the meetings?» «Many, many times» was her honest reply. «Then you have given your own answer. Television is affecting your spiritual life.»
THE PRESENT CONDITION
I don't know when I have been so concerned about the spiritual condition of believers. A careful diagnosis of over 30,000 fundamental, evangelical believers shows that less than 7% have a family altar, less than 5% read and meditate upon the Bible daily, less than 5% ever try to win a soul, and about 12%-15% of evangelical church members attend the prayer meetings.
In travelling about 5,000 miles a month, visiting church after church, area after area, I have yet to find one exception where believers as a group are anything but luke-warm, indifferent, powerless, self-complacent, easy-going, worldly and carnal.
Why are so few souls being saved in our evangelical churches? Why is there so little concern about the spiritual powerlessness among believers? Why are the preachers so ineffective as prophets in our day?
My conviction is that one main reason for the spiritual condition of our day is the influence of Devil-Vision (excuse me I mean Television) both upon the preachers and people of our evangelical churches.
We are not thinking of TV in relation to the unsaved. We are vitally concerned with the spiritual state of modern believers. For years the fundamental churches took a clear-cut stand against shows, dances, and other worldly, carnal habits. But today there is hardly a church or a preacher taking such a stand against TV, which introduces all these evils into the homes of our people.
Will any believer dare say that Television improves his spiritual life? God's Word has the answer: «in all thy ways acknowledge Him...» «Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.» «Abstain from all appearance of evil.» «Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.» «Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.» «The thought of foolishness is sin.» «Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.» «Yield your members (eyes) as instruments of righteousness.»
Will any believer dare say that TV does not affect the lives of children? What would preachers say if their children went to the movies? Yet they encourage their children to go to the movies each day. Jesus said: «But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck. and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.»
When we were boys we spent our time out of doors playing baseball, tag, hockey, and in other activities. Today the children would rather lie on their tummies and look on bullets, blood, murder, and sin. Is this what God meant when He said: «Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it?»
Of course I hear preachers, deacons, and other church people say to me: «Well, I see nothing wrong with TV». If they see nothing wrong with it they need their spiritual glasses adjusted. Little wonder the prayer meetings are becoming something of the past and the Sunday night services are going out of style. The trouble is found with those in leadership who cannot see what is wrong.
Is it wrong to sit and watch adulterous men and women parade around half-naked and flaunt their sex-crazed bodies in the face of our young people?
Is it wrong to encourage the drinking of beer, liquor, and wine and to teach our children to do so? One pastor, making a home visit, witnessed the following scene:
A little girl, under five years old, sat before the Television. Suddenly she said to her mother, «I want a drink.» Her mother said, «There is orange juice in the refrigerator.» «But I don't want orange juice.» «Well, then, there is grape juice.» «I don't want grape juice.» «What do you want dear?» «I want Schlitz beer.»
The mother was amused and thought her darling was quick to catch on to what she had seen and heard. Foolish mother! Smiling at the serpent that would sting her little one. But no more foolish than the host of spiritual leaders and people who see nothing wrong with Devil-Vision.
Is it wrong to allow someone to bring into our homes the low, vulgar, and off-color language of the dives of sin and to fill our minds with their actions and words?
Is it wrong to encourage drinking, smoking, petting, sexual promiscuity, vulgarity, murder, robbery, dancing, gambling, rape and worldliness?
Some try to tell us that Radio is just as bad. But while we do not excuse the sin of Radio there is a difference. It is the difference between hearing the voice of a harlot and having her prance around before you. It is the difference between hearing about beer and liquor, and of having them set up a bar in your living room and drink before your children. Psychologists tell us that up to 90% of our thought life is stimulated by what we see. Thus only 10% of our thoughts are aroused by hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting. Television employs the quickest, surest way to the polluting of the mind and the damning of the soul.
Then, TV is the greatest time-waster of our day. People who have no time for Bible study, family altars, prayer meetings, or even Sunday night services have hours to spend on the one-eyed monster.
The following poem perhaps expresses this brain-washing better than any other way:
THE DEVIL'S VISION
- J.C. Woodward
The Moody Monthly had this to say about TV in an editorial:
We note that television is not a recognized problem to most Christians. It has been accepted, just as the radio or books. To us the gravest problem lies in noting the growing indifference on the part of Christian television viewers to biblical standards of morals and ethics. Things that a year ago were shocking to moral sensibilities are now seen by seasoned Christian viewers with indifference or even with enjoyment; things that would have caused a blush when the television set was first purchased can now be watched without a pang. Children who have been brought up with some ability to distinguish between the shallowness and callousness of worldly attitudes as compared with the depths of the things of Christ are now enjoying and mimicking the ideals of the stage which they see daily in children's programs. Disrespect, coarseness as well as terror, are now a daily part of the training of many Christian children in homes where the television is indiscriminately used.»
So many have asked me this question, «is it all right for me to look at TV and to have it in my home?» Why do you ask this question? Is there not doubt in your mind? An old Scottish minister, when someone came with such questions of doubt, would answer immediately: «No, do not do it.» The inquirer would remonstrate and say, «Why do you not wait until I have explained in detail the matter under consideration?» The old pastor would reply, «When in doubt, don't.»
Our individual standard must not be based on what other believers do but solely upon the Word of God. God has a definite answer if we are willing to hear His voice.
There was a time when there was a clear-cut division between what the world was and what the world was not in relation to the believer. Christians, for example, took a stand against the show and the dance. Today they receive both into their homes by means of TV. Most of the shows seen on TV are exactly the same shows that were seen in Movie Theatres years ago. Then, it was wrong to see them. Today, it is right to see them. If it is right to see these shows in our homes why is it not right to see them in the theatres? Does it mean that present-day believers are living more to please man than God? Is it right to see shows as long as we see them apart from the public? How the Devil chuckles to see such confusion and lack of conviction on the part of believers today. Little wonder there is no power and such little reality in the churches of our land. We must re-examine our present position in the light of God's Word.
There are several reasons why believers should not be spending their time looking at Television:
God's Word says, «Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If
TV is just as much of the world as the show or other worldly amusements. God says in Ephesians 5:11: «Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.» The works of Hollywood are works of darkness. The advertising of beer, liquor, tobacco, and other such worldly things are the works of darkness. All is of the world. We are not to love the world and we cannot love the world and love the Lord at the same time. This is one great reason - if not the greatest - why so many believers are cold in heart and lukewarm in spirit.
TV IS DEFINITELY DULLING TO SPIRITUAL LIFE.
Those who are spending time watching Television are neglecting the daily study of God's Word, regular prayer, the family altar, and they are not witnessing to the lost. The four main services of the church (Sunday school, morning worship service, evening evangelistic service and the prayer meeting) are showing signs of neglect because many are staying home to look at TV rather than to meet with others of like precious faith. No church, recognizing these dangers, can remain a powerhouse for God and not take their stand against TV.
TV HAS A TERRIBLE EFFECT UPON THE CHILDREN.
God's Word says in Luke 17:1,2: «Then said He (Jesus) unto His disciples: It is impossible but that offences will come: but WOE UNTO HIM, THROUGH WHOM THEY COME. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.»
Yet parents today are deliberately leading children astray by having TV in their homes and even encouraging them to watch it. TV is controlling the thoughts of millions of our youth. There was a time when the children were not allowed to go to the movies or the burlesque shows but now they are brought right into the living room. There was a time when adults would not allow the children to see them drink. Now they watch beside the parents as the announcer pours the beer into the glass.
The Bible says in Philippians 4:8: «Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS.»
TV HAS TAKEN VALUABLE DOLLARS FROM BELIEVERS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN USED MORE EFFECTIVELY
IN THE SALVATION OF LOST SOULS.
The cost of five Television Sets would keep a missionary on the field for a year. Now that color TV is so popular even more money is being spent to make the worldly shows more attractive. So many Christians give $10 to God and think they are doing so much. But at the same time they spend $200 - $400 for a TV set. One day we must give an account of our stewardship to the Lord.
WHATSOEVER BELIEVERS DO SHOULD BE DONE AS UNTO THE LORD.
The final test in judging our actions should be to ask ourselves if they can be practiced in the light of Colossians 3:23: «And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.» Can you, as a believer, watch Television heartily as unto the Lord?
I realize in writing this article that many of our friends may not be pleased to have these vital truths pointed out. Yet God has revealed this TV danger to me and it is necessary to speak. It will not help the cause of Christ to enter into a spirit of criticism in judging other Christians who are losing out spiritually in watching TV shows.
Many Christians bought TV sets without even thinking through the serious implications. This is a sin, because we should pray first before making such decisions that affect our daily lives. This sin should be confessed to the Lord.
The present result of Television upon Christians' lives ought to awaken us to see how subtle the Devil is in trying to destroy our spiritual power with the Lord. We must take on the whole armour of God. We must resist the Devil. We must overcome him by the Word of our testimony and by the blood of the Lamb.
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