“But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.”
“Let’s find a new series to watch on Netflix together,” my wife says to me as we relax on the couch one evening.
“Okay, that sounds good,” I respond.
After scanning for a while, we decide on a new show.
It was a very interesting drama with a twist at the end each time–along with a cliffhanger–so you’d want to watch the next episode immediately. I really enjoyed the overall story, but, after binging several shows, it didn’t sit right with me. The Holy Spirit was letting me know I shouldn’t be watching it. This program was full of extremely foul language, sex, adultery, and lot of other things I should not be filling up my soul with.
The next morning I told Jennifer how I felt, and what I thought God was saying to me, and she said, “That’s fine. We don’t have to watch it.”
To be clear, there was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have allowed God to guide this type of decision. My old, unrenewed thinking, along with the enemy and the power of sin, didn’t want me to think I was a prude.
“Don’t be lame. It’s no big deal. It’s just a show on Netflix.”
But this has nothing to do with being a goody-goody. On the contrary, it has everything to do with guarding my eyes and ears because both lead directly into my soul. My soul impacts every aspect of my life, as well as the lives of those around me. What I pour into my soul will eventually come out through my hands, feet, mouth, and attitudes.
Jesus said, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34).
In context, Jesus is speaking about unbelief in Him–that is the truest form darkness. If you’re a believer, you don’t have darkness in you–in your spirit. Jesus cannot live in dark places. However, we can also look at this verse with the perspective of, “I need to protect my senses from things that do not match up with my spirit.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying shut everything off which is not of God. Paul told the Corinthians they’d have to go out of this world in order to do that (see 1 Corinthians 5:10). Instead, pay attention to your spirit’s guidance as well as the Spirit’s guidance. Both are holy, and both will sift out impediments (see Romans 6:6-10, Colossians 1:22, 1 Peter 1:16, Philippians 4:8).
You can’t water a flower with motor oil and you can’t feed your soul with trash. You must protect your soul at all times. You must be defensive about your mind, free will, and emotions, from regular outside sources. Not in a rude way, but in the same way as you express the gospel: with gentleness and respect (see 1 Peter 3:15).
The same goes for legalism and conservatism, both can be directly from hell. Because of poor teaching and centuries-old tradition, many Christians don’t understand that we don’t live under a single law or commandment of the Old Testament, including the Ten Commandments. The Old went away at the Cross so that the New could come in! The New is not an amendment, it’s a whole new deal! It’s the same God, but a New Covenant! (See Romans 10:4, Hebrews 8:6,13, 10:16).
“So Matt, are you saying we can just lie, cheat, and steal, and do whatever we want?!”
Friend, you, as a child of God, don’t want to do those things because you’ve died to sin (see Romans 6:11). Just try any flavor of sin on for size and you’ll see it doesn’t fit. Sinning will never make sense to you permanently as a person who’s been remade and then conjoined with Jesus’ Spirit (see Galatians 2:20, 1 Corinthians 6:17).
One of the worst false teachings out there is that Christians like to sin–we don’t. Sure, the flesh might get a flash-in-the-pan thrill from sin, but moments later, the real us sets off alarm bells. We don’t want to do anything that isn’t guided by the Holy Spirit. We truly want what God wants. Does God want to lie, cheat, and steal? No, and neither do you, and you don’t want to be legalistic either.
“Then Matt, what do I do? How do I know what is right and wrong? I need a list!”
You really don’t. Living by a list was Old Covenant, that’s how Israel lived. Their list was “613 things to do and not do,” ten of those things were the Ten Commandments. They always looked to this directory to define sin. Now, on this side of the Cross, anything that is not of faith is sin (see Romans 14:23).
“Anything that is not of faith is sin?! What does that mean?!”
It means anything you do or don’t do, think or don’t think, which is not led by Christ within you, is sin–but you are not sinful. You are a brand new sinless creation! (See 2 Corinthians 5:17).
“But Matt, what do I do! I need something to do!”
Okay. I’ll give you something to do, but these two things will come naturally anyway as you just be yourself. Here they are:
These are the two new commandments Jesus gave to us (John 13:34, 1 John 3:23). These two commandments are not added to Moses’ 613–because the Bible says that list can’t be modified (see Deuteronomy 4:2)–instead, they’ve replaced them. These commandments are not burdensome. 613 all-or-nothing were, and the Jews were ecstatic to get relief from that list (see 1 John 5:3, John 8:36, Matthew 11:28-30).
Legalistic teaching can lead a person to think they need a ton of stuff to do and not do. Thinking comes by way of what we allow to enter our eyes and ears. A hint of legalism causes us to never find rest, as we’re constantly reaching out for the dangling carrot of impressing others and God (see Galatians 5:9).
Because of this, the grace-confused folk believe God comes and goes based on their performance. I hear Christians say all time, “I need Jesus!” but they already have Jesus. Behavior-focused sermons are to blame.
I also hear believers make the claim, “I gotta get closer to God!” But inside of God is as close as you can possibly can get, and that’s where He’s hidden every believer (see Colossians 3:3). Some say, “We need a revival!” But we don’t need that either. Revival means to come back to life–yet, we’ve done that by accepting Christ’s life as our own! (See Colossians 3:4, John 3:16).
What we need is our minds renewed to Him being 100% in us, teaching us gently, and that He’ll never go away as long as He lives. We need to be taught more about who we already are, that way we can mature into who we already are (see Romans 12:2, Philippians 1:6, Galatians 5:22-23, Hebrews 7:25, John 14:26, 1 Corinthians 13:11).
Horrendous, legalistic, “You’ll never be good enough!” tutoring enters our soul through our eyes and ears. Protect them at all costs! KNOW THE TRUTH! KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Christian, you are complete! You are lacking nothing! You have all you need for life and godliness! (See Colossians 2:9-10, 2 Peter 1:3).
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you away from legalism in the same way He guides you away from watching porn, beating up your spouse, using the silent treatment, getting drunk all the time in front of your kids, or “innocently” flirting on social media. All of this stuff is damaging to your life’s enjoyment. There is a better way, an authentic way. The way of a saint. That’s what you are, believer.
So today, my friends, know this: It’s important to protect your eyes and ears because both lead to your soul. Not your spirit–which is sealed up in perfection with Christ (see Ephesians 1:13)–but the customizable part of you. If it feels “off” then it probably is. The inspiration and motivation of the Holy Spirit of Christ will constantly guide you into peace, comfort, confidence, love, and sound mind. Let Him lead you more and more each day!
A prayer for you: Dad, today I want to thank you for gently teaching me what I should and shouldn’t be watching and listening to. I’m still learning, but I’m so much better off than I was. Keep guiding me with your Spirit. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear readers are struggling with discernment–what is and isn’t of faith. Father, teach them how to be in this world but not of it. Jesus did this, so can we too! Help us to hear you more clearly every day! We know you’ll do it! I pray all these things in Jesus’ name, we love you, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!