“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2
We all know how the saying goes. “You are what you eat.” Anyone who has ever tried to get into shape knows the truth of this statement. What you eat has an effect on your body; it becomes a part of you. The smallest fluctuations in diet affect your overall performance. Certain foods and supplements can boost your performance, and some can hinder or even harm you. The same is true of the media you consume. What you eat with your eyes and ears has an effect on your life.
To say, “I don’t listen to the lyrics, I just really like the beat,” is like eating a donut and saying, “this isn’t actually going into my body and being absorbed through my bloodstream, I just really like the taste.” The same is true of ALL media. Movies, TV shows, Books, Magazines, Radio, Video Games, Social Media, News Outlets… basically the internet. Anything consumed or “eaten” through eyes and ears has an effect on a life. Positive or negative, good or bad, whether you like it or not… It’s either drawing you into closer relationship with Jesus, or driving a wedge between you.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life… Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.’” –John 6:48, 56-57
We are receptacles; containers that receive or hold something. What goes into the mind, goes into the heart, and comes out in a life. Just by walking through this world there are profaned images and sounds that bombard my mind outside of my control. Why would I ever choose to feed on these things in my entertainment?
Music and media become a part of our being in a way that exists more than just in the moment we consume them. Whether you like it or not, a song will remind you of a time in your life. A video clip will transport you right back into that place, like you are reliving the experience. Just like food turns into fuel or fat, music and media either fuel us in Christ, or fatten us poisoning our spiritual fitness.
If I try to go for a run after eating a box of donuts, I physically can’t. I would become ill and have adverse reactions. The same goes for trying to step out into the world and reach the lost after eating junk music, TV shows, and media. I can’t, and there are adverse reactions in my trying to do so. If I am not filled with the Holy Spirit, Light, and Truth then the darkness does overtake me; because I am operating out of my flesh instead of the Spirit. If I am not feeding on Jesus, I am not filled with His Spirit. Which in turn means I am feeding on something else, and am filled with that spirit.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” –Matthew 6:22-23
Sin creeps in and the fat creeps on. Someone who wakes up 100lbs over weight didn’t go to bed weighing 150lbs the night before. You don’t immediately notice the effects of a bag of Cheetos every night, but you see them over time. Same with what you watch and listen to. Are you spiritually eating a bag of potato chips every night by watching that mediocre TV show that only sometimes mocks God and always glorifies the world? Has your palate changed over time and you now crave the comedy of the crass and crude?
Your appetite and cravings for certain foods increase the more often you eat them. If that is true of our physical bodies, how much more so of our spiritual? The more I taste and see that Jesus really is good, the more I want of Him, and the less I want of this world. The flesh has to be put to death. Often that death is through starvation. Are you starving your sin nature or starving your spiritual man?
We are force-fed mental garbage that deteriorates our souls just by existing in today’s world. My question to you is, what are you eating? Are you aiding and abetting the assault on your life by infiltrating your mind with music and media that are destroying the renewal of your mind? Or are you feeding on Jesus? Have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good? If you have tasted Him, has your appetite for Jesus increased? Or are you suppressing it by stuffing yourself with worldly junk food—too full for healthy spiritual food? Is it a mixture, thus leaving your spiritual body in perpetual stagnancy; not getting fitter, but not getting fatter?
“’My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” –John 4:34
Feed on Jesus.
The more I clean my house, the easier it is to spot the dirt. When the whole house is dirty it’s just that; dirty everywhere, so I don’t notice the mess on my desk. After spending a Saturday afternoon cleaning my entire house, I notice the pile of dirty laundry in the corner of my bedroom, or the few crumbs on the kitchen floor. The same is true of renewing your mind and cleaning your spiritual house. When your mind is constantly bombarded by worldly (whatever makes sin look normal and righteousness look strange) TV, music, and media you don’t notice the profanity or sexually suggestive lyrics and scenes. You’ve become accustomed to them. Numb to this world. Your whole house is dirty, what’s a little more dirt?
The cleaner your house is, the more willing and able you are to keep it clean. The dirtier it is, the weaker your will is to clean it. You’re already fighting the Devil in this war of sanctification and cleaning house. Are you helping him win by flinging the doors of your eyes and ears wide open and hauling in the dirt yourself?
I noticed this “clean house” phenomena happen most drastically two years ago when I moved into my apartment. I was poor and making only minimum wage so I opted out of paying for a TV, radio, cable, or internet. (I still live this way; in the media dark ages. My only connection to the outside world through my iPhone). Around this time I also decided I would only listen to Christ-centered music; including in the instrumental or non-lyrical genre. I specifically decided to include the non-lyrical genre because I used to love EDM (Electronic Dance Music). There is something spiritual about music, and it has an effect on you spiritually. After cleaning out the media department of my spiritual house I noticed the “dirt” after listening to EDM. I used to listen to it when I would exercise because the fast-paced beats would increase my intensity in a work out. But I began to notice afterward my spirit would change. I would become angry and impatient. Where there used to be peace there was now an angry and impulsive energy. Restlessness. Impatience. Irritability. Something entered into my being through the music I was listening to, the music I was consuming.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
There are spiritual forces at work behind music, and not just in the lyrics. Lucifer is said to have been the angel of music. Have you ever wondered why certain songs seem to transport you into another place? Lift your spirits? You “feel it” in the beat. Something in you “connects” with the song. Music is a spiritual experience. God created music and intended it to be used to worship and glorify Him. Worshipping God through music IS a spiritual experience. Likewise, listening to worldly music glorifying the things of this world, is also worship and a spiritual experience.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through, psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” –Colossians 3:16
Music edifies and instructs us in the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus. Singing hymns, and songs of the Spirit allows Christ to dwell among us and dwell among us richly! There is power in the confession of our mouths. Time and time again I have found myself in silence while going about a task and a song will pop into my head. Since I am filled with, and have been only feeding on, Christ-centered music for the last two years, it is usually a worship song. As I begin to hum the tune and confess the truth of the lyric, my heart begins praising and worshipping God. Then the peace that transcends all understanding guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus as I am communing with the triune God and no longer existing only in this world and fleshly reality. If that spiritual experience can happen by confessing the truth, what kind of spiritual experience is happening when you begin to confess the lyric to a sexually perverse and profane song? If sin creeps in, what about the subtle worldly love songs that aren’t profane or explicit, but still get you to confess something that is not God’s truth? If the confession of our mouths can save us, what are we confessing that can harm us?
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” –2 Corinthians 10:5
It is not the confession of our mouths alone that saves us. You must believe in your heart. The Lord looks at the heart. Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matt. 15:8). But Jesus also said in that very same passage “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matt. 15:18-20a).
What goes into our minds, goes into our hearts, and comes out in our lives. If I am filling my mind with pretentions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, and meditating on these things by repeatedly listening to them and singing them out, then I am allowing deceit to enter my heart and life. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matt 12:34b). As I have grown closer to God and fallen more in love with Jesus, these songs actually put a distaste in my mouth. I don’t want to hear them. I don’t enjoy consuming them. Jesus tastes so much sweeter.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” –John 14:25-26
How can the Holy Spirit remind us of things we have not heard? If the Holy Spirit brings things to our remembrance, then can the Enemy not also? Our minds are so limited in capacity. There are so many things I have to remember just to stay alive on this planet (dates, times, things to do, things to buy, appointments set and keep). If it is my aim through the power of the Holy Spirit to become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself, why on earth would I ever intentionally fill my body with anything that is not of Him?
“Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Ephesians 5:18-20
I have lived a life fully submersed in the things of this world. I got drunk on wine and it led to much more than debauchery. It led to destruction. I lived a life steeped in the things of this world. I consumed God-less movies, social media, TV, music, podcasts, anything and everything to escape and find some relief from my miserable life. I was a body filled and flooded with lies and deceit. Confusion and chaos reigned. I tangibly felt and experienced darkness. So I don’t come from place of self-righteousness or lofty piety. I have experienced the fruits for myself of a clean spiritual house. I have experienced being transformed by the renewing of my mind. I have experienced what it is like to test and approve what God’s will is in my life. By the grace of God and His Holy Spirit at work within me, I have reached the point where it is better to “give up” the worldly music and media and have intimacy Jesus, than to be distant from Him. I do believe it is better to gouge out your eye, or cut off your hand than for your whole body to be separated from God.
When you love someone, you do selfless things for them. It is no longer just about you and your happiness, pleasure, or wellbeing; but theirs too. That’s how it is with Jesus, but a thousand times more. I love Him. I desire to serve, please, honor, and glorify Him. I boast not in my love for Jesus, but in His for me. I love Him because He first loved me. He took this sinful heart of mine and transformed it to love righteousness. He created a clean heart in me. I love Jesus too much to willfully dirty it up again.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8
I cannot think about “such things” when I am focused on something that does not glorify God. “Whatever I do” cannot be done for the glory of God if it is in opposition with His truth, righteousness, and purity. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. And I only want more of Him in my life. I’m obsessed with Jesus and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.