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(Hebrews 4:13 – ESV)
What are you exposing yourself to? What are you allowing into your eyes, your ears, your mind, and your heart? I am not talking about unavoidable things. We all get exposed to images and ideas and iniquity that we would rather never encounter, but it is going to happen at times. I am also not talking about isolating yourself from all of culture in order to avoid these unpleasant events. No, what I am talking about are those things you allow as a regular course.
Do you spend a lot of time wondering if we are allowed to do this or that certain thing? Conversely, do you care at all? I think the answer to many of these type of questions could be solved by first asking ourselves some other important questions. What do you allow to fill your time? What is the background music in the soundtrack of your life? How much time are you allowing the things of God to be impressed upon you? The Word of God is powerful, but if your frequency is overrun with other, worldly things, then all you will hear is a clouded mix.
Many people talk of wanting to change but they say it is too hard to do. They look for some magic formula, or expect God to just bail them out of working at it. They also overlook this whole idea of slowly changing, and slowly sliding back. So some think it is too hard to change. If this is you, I want to tell you the truth. The reason it seems so hard is because your heart is so hard. Your heart has become so hardened because of what you have let in.
Ever have someone say to you that they don’t have time for this or that? Well we all know what this means. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with having no time but it is actually about not wanting to use our time in that way. What they mean, and if you want to be direct what you would say is that you won’t make time for this or that. What are you “making time” for?
The things you expose yourself to do indeed have an effect on you. Now this is true for many areas, but lets take images, for one example. If you say that they don’t have an effect on you, well, then why do you expose yourself to them? As you can see, it is not about the fact that they have an effect, that cannot be denied, it is whether or not they have a lasting effect, that is the real question, isn’t it?
Well, not completely. It is also about cumulative effect, and setting patterns of behavior for yourself as well. Since we know for sure that doing something over time is creating habits, it IS a habit, and multiplied images bring multiple chances for long term retention, then the only excuse you might have is to say that you will not be affected long term, that you can withdraw yourself from this behavior if it gets too much. But saying that in light of the other, undeniable evidence is playing games with your mind, your heart, and with God.
Even if we were to hypothetically admit that exposure creates no long-term effect, however preposterous that may be, we still have a major problem because it would still be, as long as you keep doing it, an ongoing effect. One exposure, one image may not stay with you, but it leads to a chain of events, multiple exposures, and this leads to an ongoing problem. How can you say exposure has no long-term effect when you keep exposing yourself to it?
A.W. Tozer said, “Every one of us is the sum of what we secretly admire, what we think about and what we would like to do most if we become free to do what we wanted to do.” Think about that. If money, jail time, conscience, family, friends, and God were not constraints, would you spend your time following Christ, learning of Him? Be honest, because the way you truthfully answer this question will reveal to you a lot about where you are in your walk with God. What do you want to be exposed to when you have the opportunity? What is lighting your fire, and where is the light going out?
Many want to be allowed to expose themselves to all sorts of things, anything except the Word of God, and they harden their hearts so as to not feel the sting of the Sword of the Spirit. Their consciences are seared and their minds are cleared from the transforming power of the Word and they are instead filled with all sorts of distraction, deception, and destruction. Nevertheless, they are exposed, we all are exposed before the Mighty, Living Word of God, Jesus Christ Himself, and His Word is His Sword in His hand. Christ will either be our physician or our executioner. If His Word is not the instrument of our life, it will be the instrument of our death, if not the instrument of our justification, then the instrument of our judgment.