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There is an old saying in the computer world: 'Garbage in, garbage out." It means that if you input nonsense into a computer program, you would get a nonsense answer. In the late 70s, the psychology world borrowed that phrase and attached another meaning to it. Psychologists meant it as: if you fill yourself with negative things, it will have a negative effect on you. So you need to modify your behavior to stop putting things into yourself that cause you problems. For instance, fearful people needed to stop watching scary movies, depressed people needed to stop listening to music that carried a depressing message, etc. (It makes sense, doesn't it?)
The saying also became popular in Christian circles, and it meant something slightly different. For Christians, it meant that if you filled your thoughts and attention with worldly things, you would tend to be worldly-minded; but if you filled your mind with spiritual things, you would tend to be spiritually-minded. In other words, the things that you put your time and attention into shape your values and effect your thoughts and your behavior. That also makes sense, doesn't it?
That is why the Apostle Paul instructed us to focus on God in Phil 4:8. He said, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things." The NLT translation uses "fix your thoughts" in lieu of "meditate." The principle is clear -- the things we focus our attention on begin to effect what we value and how we do things. God wants us to focus our thoughts and attention on Godly things, and to look to Him and the things that are important to Him.
Satan also knows this principle, "garbage in, garbage out" very well. His goal is to get us to fill ourselves with garbage and ungodly things, so that we become less godly and less effective for God's kingdom. Since Satan is a deceiver, he tries to gain control of a Christian's thinking patterns through outside influences, in order to deceive them. He uses things like books, movies, television, comments from other people, etc to try to subtly mold our thinking to be in opposition to God's. Satan is in a battle for the mind of the believers, so that he can get them to buy into his deceptions and falsehoods.
We get bombarded with things that contradict God's values all of the time because we are still in the world. And the world is very busy trying to promote it's values through television, books, movies, music, news reports, etc. Let's look at a few of these.
Movies and television promotes non-Christian values and philosophy, and makes them seem normal. It can desensitize the church to God's standards and truth. For instance, Star Wars became popular back in the 80s and because of new releases, it is still popular today. Star Wars borrows it's philosophy from Eastern theology, which it presents as "the force." The concept of the force is still popular today. In fact, some believers try to equate the force to God. Unfortunately, those two things are not similar at all. In fact the theology surrounding the force is in direct contradiction to what the Bible tells us about God. It is Eastern theology, which teaches that God is not a personal and sensitive being. Instead, the force is an impersonal energy source that we are all a part of. This theology teaches that we all collectively make up god, so we can tap into this divine power anytime we want, providing we learn how to do it.
This ungodly concept was made popular because of a delightful fairy-tale like movie with loveable robots and a noble main character. Did I enjoy the Star War movie when I saw it? Yes, I did. It was cute and loveable. But, as cute and delightful as it is, it taught us bad theology in a manner where we could empathize with that wrong theology and think of it fondly. Satan knows that he is in a battle for believer's minds, so he packages his stuff in cute and appealing ways. Over time, these "attractive" things desensitize us to the devil's message and we start to buy into it.
Let's look at a few more examples from TV and the movies. There are a lot of movies and TV shows that tell us that sex outside of a marriage relationship is "normal" and good. What does the Bible say about that? The bible has a totally different message on sex, and considers it pure and good only when it is performed between married people.
There is also a lot of perversion and violence on television, which desensitizes us to violence. The same can be said of the animated violent computer and video games. In fact, many secular psychologists who do not hold Christian values, are expressing concern about this. They fear that if our children grow up seeing violence as "normal" from TV and video games, these kids will grow up to be violent.
The entertainment industry is also desensitizing us to witchcraft and the occult. There are a lot of movies and television shows that portray witches and warlocks as good. There is a sit-com called "Sabrina The Teenage Witch," which portrays the star as a delightful and loveable teenager who is learning to use her witchcraft for good. There is a series called "Charmed," that is about three good sister witches who use their powers to fight evil. And there is the Harry Potter books and movies, which makes a warlock a hero and takes you to a school to teach you how to be witches and warlocks. How do you think God feels about the entertainment industry portraying witches and satanists as good?
I don't have to guess at how He feels about witchcraft -- the bible makes it very clear. So why do many Christians watch these type of shows? They watch them because they disassociate the entertainment portion of their lives from their relationship with God. They receive inputs from the entertainment media that the occult is not so bad, that witchcraft can be a good thing. Over time, this effects their perception and they can get to the point where they literally consider some forms of evil as good.
And the devil is using television to teach people to be demonized. For instance, one of the Star Trek series had a character named Dax, who was a beautiful woman who was the "host" for another being. The other being can take her over and speak through her and control her actions any time it wants to. She has learned to co-exist with this being and in the television show, this is portrayed as a good thing. Then there is the cartoon Pokyman, which is fairly blatant about demonization, where children have and control demons and fight them against each other. These type of things desensitize Christians to the lies of the evil one. They put us in a place where it is easier to be caught by the devil's lies and deception.
The devil has been subtly introducing New Age philosophy into the church through the entertainment media and through other means. The way he does this is to take worldly and new age philosophies, and wrap them in "nice" packages. A lot of those are embraced and accepted in the church because of their cute packaging. People don't necessarily believe them but they enjoy them and promote them.
Let me share an example that I have seen recently. It was a humor piece on reincarnation, which even some of the strong Christians in my church thought was cute and circulated on the church email list. The first few lines are:
In this life I'm a woman. In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear.
When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that. Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too
It ends with
If you're a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat. Yup... gonna be a bear.
This is cute and humorous, because it pokes fun at some of the tribulations women face as they grow older. But it has a fundamental problem -- it advocates Hindu theology of reincarnation. The bible says, in Heb 9:27, "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." There is no "next life," or reincarnation, to come back as anything. It all hinges on what we do in this life -- on whether or not we receive the salvation that Christ has purchased for us on Calvary.
Jokes like this seem to imply that people will get a second chance if they make wrong choices in this life, such as not receiving Christ. Jokes like this may sound cute, but the message they carry is deadly. Christians should not willingly propagate this type of thing. If they want the humor of the story, the should rewrite it to not advocate reincarnation or other Eastern and New Age theology that contradicts the bible. For instance, we could change the reincarnation reference to something like "I wish that I had been born as a bear," or, better yet, "Bears have it better than I do." That way, none of the humor is lost, but the bad theology is removed from it.
The thing that really amazed me was that solid Christian people were more than willing to overlook the bad theology because of the humor. They passed it on to their friends as "cute." They should ask themselves this question, "When I stand before God will He be pleased or displeased that I advocated reincarnation in the form of humor?" If they think that God would be pleased, they need to read 2 Peter 2. If they think that God will be displeased, then why are they doing it?
They are doing it because the devil is a deceiver, out to deceive the very elect (Matt 24:24, Mark 13:22). And the strategy that he is using to bring bad theology into the church is to package it in cute or attractive ways. But, as a church, we need to be more alert to the devil's strategies. We need to identify and object to any form of propagating the enemy's lies and deception in our midst.