Learn to Discern: Reawakening the Conscience

Learn to Discern (with blog name)

So some of you are going to really hate today’s post. You may decide that I’m a little crazy and never read anything at Growing4Life again. But I’m willing to take that chance. Mostly because I have seen this all play out in my life and in the lives of others around me. I will share about that a bit further on in the post. But here is my premise–

When we fill our minds with worldly entertainment, we deaden our consciences.

Let me explain. Sometimes I wonder how so many who call themselves Christians cannot see what is going on within the church. How can they not understand how ravenous wolves–posing as sheep–are changing the very mission and vision of the church?? As I was thinking about this the other day, I realized that it’s because many of them have so deadened their consciences, that they aren’t even willing (or able?) to call sin sin. Not only can they not tell the difference between true and false, but they are starting to fudge and rationalize about the differences between right and wrong. And when we lose our ability to discern right from wrong, our ability to discern what is true from the false has already left us.

So you may be asking: How does worldly entertainment affect my discernment? I have an answer for that and any thinking person will have to admit these are true. Worldly entertainment changes us in the following ways–

1. It keeps us from our Bibles. While this may not be true 100% of the time, it is certainly often true. How many times have you heard someone say that don’t have time to read the Word but they will somehow have had time to watch TV?

2. It keeps us immersed in the goings-on of the world. When we think of worldly entertainment, we often think of the bad things, but I would submit to you that even the news and sports can steal our affections if we aren’t careful. While these things aren’t bad in and of themselves (most of the time), they will keep us immersed in the culture and, instead of separating from the world (as we are told to do in James 1:27 and James 4:4) we become fascinated by it.

3. It changes our values and hardens our hearts. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they can watch anything they want on TV because they know right from wrong and it doesn’t affect them. That they can listen to worldly music espousing sex, drugs, and alchohol because they aren’t going to ever do those things. Besides a stance like that begging the question why any believer would desire such entertainment (why would we–as a believer–want to fill our lives with the things God has clearly said He hates? Galatians 5:19-21), it also does have to be acknowledged that these things do change our values. They make us less sensitive to sin and harden our hearts.

4. It makes us more susceptible to needing the world’s approval. When we become immersed in the world the approval of the world can be all-consuming. When we love the world, we want to be loved by the world. But this, carried out to its fullest, will keep us from salvation. In John 12, this very thing happened, when we are told that some of the Pharisees believed but they so feared man’s opinion, rather than God, that they did nothing. John 12:43 simply puts it like this: for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. When we fill our minds with the world, we become much less interested in truth and much more interested in popularity.

5. It keeps us from caring about what matters in life. Entertainment is meant to entertain. Its goal is to distract us from real life for a little while and give us some refreshment. It is not a bad thing in and of itself. But we have become so enthralled with being entertained that we are distracted from our real lives much of the time. With our smart phones, our tablets, and things like Netflix and Youtube, we are constantly entertained. Many of us can’t even stand in a line at a grocery store or sit at a booth in a restaurant without pulling out our phones. This has exponentially compounded our interest in the trivial, while eliminating interest in the serious stuff of life at the same time. How many Christians do you know who ever discuss God? Or heaven and hell? Or the Bible? When serious matters do arise, most arguments are based on popular opinion rather than the Word of God. I believe this is in much part due to our obsession with entertainment.

So why do I say this? What proof do I have? Let me share three different testimonies about this–

First, I want to share something my brother, Pastor Dean, has shared with me. Shortly after college, he made two decisions. He stopped watching football on Sunday afternoons and instead read the Word. And, second, he removed all rock music from his life (including Christian rock). He credits these two decisions with changing his life completely. He says it was like withdrawing from a drug (if you have ever tried to give up rock music, you will find that it is extremely addictive) but that it was a life-changing decision. These two decisions not only strengthened His walk with the Savior, but also deepened his love for the Word and his hatred for the world.

Second, I want to share my own testimony. Mine is a little more like one of those jagged lines that goes up and down and all over the place. While I have always been conscious that worldly entertainment has great potential for evil in my life, I have not always been as careful as I ought. And I have had stages in my life where it has drawn me into its snare. And let me say this: It does change me in all of the ways listed above. I have seen these things in my own life. I know it is true.

And, third, I want to share the testimonies of two of my children. Both have told me this at two separate times. But let me back up a bit. When my kids became teenagers, we loosened up our standards a bit. Oh, not near so much as most of their friends, but we didn’t want them to look like complete losers and not be aware of anything in the world and so we caved. At that time we allowed secular rock into our home, as long as it didn’t have “bad lyrics”. We regret that choice. Even if one song of a particular artist doesn’t have bad lyrics, the others probably do. And, to add to that, the artists’ lifestyles are rarely anything we want modeled. About five years ago or so, I just started pleading with God that my children would love righteousness and hate evil. And He has answered this prayer in incredible ways! One of those ways was that two of my children decided–on their own–to eliminate secular music from their lives. And both have told me (in two separate conversations, without the other one’s knowledge) what a difference this has made in their own discernment and spiritual walk with God.

You have to know this: What we fill our minds with does affect our discernment. But there is good news! We can reawaken our consciences! It is not too late. If we start eliminating or drastically reducing (in the case of things like news and sports) the world’s entertainment and filling our minds with the Word of God, we will find our consciences will get back to work, informing and enlightening us about not only what is right and wrong, but also about what is true and false.

Okay, so now I have given you several ways our conscience is affected by worldly entertainment and I have given you three real life examples of how this has happened. As you read, you probably found yourself in one of four places and I’d like to speak to all four.

First, you may be one of those who doesn’t really have strong feelings about entertainment. You may like to watch a show or two, but you aren’t addicted. You may have a pop station on in your car but it’s just there. I would like to encourage you to continue to purify your life and to deepen your desire to please your Savior and to worry less about being “cool” in the eyes of the world.

Second, you may be one who is truly addicted to Netflix binges or your smartphone or to rock music. You realize you should change but you just don’t really want to. You enjoy your addiction and to change it now seems completely overwhelming. I want to suggest to you that you start praying that God would give you the desire to change. Or you may know you need to change and want to start now. Pray for strength and guidance. You cannot do this alone. God is faithful and He will answer these prayers!

Third, you may be someone who thinks I am completely crazy. This post makes you genuinely angry and you honestly believe that I am wrong. If you are one of these, then I ask you–beg you–to go to God’s Word to research what I am saying. Turn away from the viewpoints of popular authors or speakers and turn to the Word of God before you make your final determination.

And, fourth, you may agree with me. You may have witnessed this dynamic in your own life. (If that’s true, I’d love to hear your story. Please share by commenting below.) I would ask those of you in this group to share this unpopular message with your family and friends as the Lord gives you opportunity. So many of us Christians love the world. But this love is stunting our growth and keeping us from discerning. It is removing our effectiveness as a witness for Christ and it is making us so vulnerable to wolves who are invading the church in droves now. If you see this and you believe it, please don’t be afraid to say it. This is the time to be brave and speak up!

God bless you as you continue to learn to discern. Be in the Word, basing all your views on what you find there. And take all your concerns regarding the learning process to the Lord in prayer. He is so faithful and He will answer.

You can find all the Learn to Discern posts here on this page.

18 thoughts on “Learn to Discern: Reawakening the Conscience”

  1. When I was a young mom, I worked part time answering phones and I had lots of time to sit and twiddle my thumbs. I started reading the parenting magazines that were in the lobby. I don’t remember what brought me to my senses, but I finally realized my parenting was being influenced by what I was reading in these worldly magazines. I agree that what we put in our minds changes our thinking and therefore, our actions! Good article, Leslie! We need to wake up!

    1. Thanks for that wonderful testimony! Yes, I didn’t even touch on the “advice” we receive from the world’s entertaining resources like magazines and talk shows but how incredibly important that this isn’t our resource for the important things –like parenting! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. fantastic, eye opening and life changing message, i know i have some massive distractions, unGodly ones in my life i need to rid, please anyone who reads this please pray for me and also my husband who is a pastor he has so many unGodly distractions, that also distracts from our relationship also. love in Christ x

    1. Oh, Tina, you are not alone. I am sure there are many couples that face similar struggles. We live in a world obsessed with entertainment. I will lift you up before the Lord right now.

  3. Yes! I try to stay away from secular books and music ( I don’t really watch TV), but there have been times when I say to myself, it’s just one book or one song and then it snowballs and with that I notice my attitude change, I am less interested in attending church or reading my Bible, so now I am strict on the no secular stuff.

    1. Yep, I have pretty much come to the same conclusion and am also extremely careful with things labeled “Christian” these days, too! So much to be wary of. Thanks for your testimony!

  4. Although I agree with your main point about the influence of entertainment on our conscience, I have one big concern about this blog post. It’s possible, dear Leslie, that you could stray into legalistic waters by imposing your convictions om your readers.

    I have a personal conviction that I ought to wear hats to church. I derive my conviction from Scripture. Most women don’t share this conviction. Based on Romans 14, I believe the Lord calls me to avoid imposing this conviction on my sisters in Christ.

    Please be careful in matters of this nature. Many fine, discerning Christians don’t share your conviction on this issue, at least not as extremely as you present it here. While you make some excellent points that caused me to include this post in my upcoming Saturday Sampler, I encourage you to be cautious in how you address matters of this nature in future essays. Fair enough?

    1. While I do see your point, I think you may have misunderstood what I was trying to communicate. Scripture makes it very clear what God hates–so I am assuming we would agree that we should not put anything He hates before our eyes (as we read in the Word) so that means you must disagree with me regarding the secular things that are not in and of themselves wrong. I truly hoped to encourage people to not be dominated by them but certainly not to eliminate them. If I did not give this idea, then I am truly sorry. Legalism–the need to do something to be right with God–is always deadly and to be accused of even straying that way is a serious accusation to me. But I do not believe this post promotes legalism. This post is not about rules. It is about pleasing God and if we compare our entertainment to scripture, we would find that much of it would not be pleasing to the Lord. My goal was to encourage Christians to purify their lives of the world’s entertainment and to keep it from dominating their thoughts and their time. And certainly NEVER to give them some set of rules to live by. SO, I am not sure if we agree on this or not, but I do think this is one area that seems to be a huge blind spot among Christians–one that is changing the landscape of the church in so many ways– and so few people are willing to speak up about it. We may have to agree to disagree on this one, my friend :)

      1. I’ve just read your post a third time, knowing that my comments on it have hurt you. I realize that you weren’t intentionally promoting a legalistic position, but the overall tone of your blog post gives the impression that we should avoid television, movies and secular music completely. I now understand that’s not what you meant, based on comments you’ve made about your post. But the post itself doesn’t show the balanced attitude that I now understand you actual have.

        Most definitely, we must avoid programs that explicitly promote sin. Since marrying John, I’ve been a great deal more sensitive about my entertainment choices! But I believe the matter falls under Romans 14 — unless someone is watching something blatantly sinful. I think you might agree. As a recovering legalist, I struggle with imposing my convictions on others. Consequently, I can step over the line without realizing that’s what I’m doing. I forget Romans 14.

        We’re both misunderstanding each other, it seems to me. I now realize that you didn’t mean to imply that all Christians should smash their TV sets. By the same token, I hope you realize that I put your post on Saturday Sampler as an endorsement, despite voicing concerns. Remember that you opened the essay acknowledging that readers might disagree with you. But please don’t misunderstand disagreement and qualified endorsement as disparaging your article. I would have posted it on Saturday Sampler unless I endorsed it.

        Even kindred spirits can’t agree all the time, dear friend. ;-)

  5. You know my feelings on this as well. There was nothing more satisfying and up lifting then the hymns and gospel songs when I was healing in rehab. I don’t have TV on during the day but like some game shows on in the evening. I agree with you and pray Christians will wake up to what God wants us to be. I am not perfect and never will be untill with Him.

    1. Amen to that! None of us perfect or will be on this side of glory. I watch some shows, as well. Just hope this encouraged all of us to give more consideration to how much and to what we watch,
      listen to, and read. Thanks, Ruthie! I miss our car ride chats. :)

  6. Tammy Feathers

    Thank you for your article, and I completely agree with you.. I struggle making decisions on what should be allowed in our home. I watch pretty much nothing. But everyone else in my home seems to think entertainment is harmless. My husband included which makes it so hard to stick with my choice of banning most shows. Please pray that his eyes will be opened. Also that I will stay true to my commitment to honor the Lord above even my families wants.

    1. Oh, so many women have a similar testimony. Stay committed to God’s Word, unswerving in your commitment but always with so much love and grace. God will honor this. :)

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