Make No Provision for the Flesh

Earlier this week I posted an article about Christians and movie-watching. The article garnered a fair amount of attention and there were plenty of comments and trackbacks. I was surprised to see that most people who commented actually agreed with me. A few took the other side. One called me a neo-puritan. I kind of like that, so feel free to call me that whenever you like. I’ve been called far worse!

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Yesterday I was finishing up Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney. While the book is written primarily for and about men, the final chapter is written by the author’s wife, Carolyn, and is targetted at women. Carolyn wrote a section called “Make No Provision for the Flesh” which seemed appropriate to this topic. I will provide a few paragraphs for your reading enjoyment:

“But now your family is finally asleep, and you want to escape from all the unpleasantness of your day. So you flip on the TV ‘just to see what’s on.’ A show piques your interest, and you pause with your finger on the remote. Although you know this program can be vulgar at times, it’s the only amusing thing on, and you think you deserve a little leisure time. You promptly dismiss your conscience and settle down to enjoy yourself.

“This scenario I’ve just described may or may not be a familiar temptation to you. Regardless, Scripture teaches that we all have areas where we are susceptible. In Romans 13:14 we read: ‘Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.’ In response to this verse, each of us needs to ask: When, where, and with whom are we most tempted to accomodate our flesh and gratify its desires?

“Now I am not insinuating that rest or leisure activities are sinful. God’s Word actually requires us to rest, and there are many God-honoring activities that provide us with refreshment!

“However, I am insisting from God’s Word that we never indulge our sinful desires in our recreational pursuits. For example, we should not read anything, view anything, or listen to anything that arouses impure thoughts or compromises our biblical convictions. That would be sinful!

“Observe David’s commitment in Psalm 101:2-3 (NIV): ‘I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing.’ The psalmists resolve was sweeping – no vile thing. Notice also that David determined to walk with a blameless heart at home. As Charles Spurgeon once said: ‘What we are at home, that we are indeed.’

“So can we say like David, ‘I will walk in my house with blameless heart’? Have we purposed not to see, read, or hear any vile thing? Or are we taking liberties where we shouldn’t? Do we watch any unwholesome movies or television programs? Do we read worthless materials – such as romance novels or magazines – that tempt us to sinful fantasies? Do we listen to ungodly music that stirs up impure thoughts? If we answered yes to any one of these three questions, we must expunge these practices from our lifestyle” (pages 113-114).

I think Carolyn speaks with great wisdom. Perhaps she is a fellow neo-Puritan. When we watch movies or participate in other recreational activities, no matter what they be, do we do so from a desire to heed God’s requirement that we rest, or do we do so from impure motives? Do we do so to indulge our sinful desires? Just a couple of days ago I wrote an article which examined the depth of my own depravity and my own propensity towards evil. Evil always seems to draw me to itself. When I watch movies, do I watch them to indulge these sinful desires which are always lurking just under the surface of my life? Am I drawn to movies by my old man, or by the new man?

Can I say with David that I have a blameless heart and that I have set before my eyes no vile thing? Or do I purposely, recklessly set before my eyes all manner of vile things and perhaps even do so in the name of growth and godliness? Is it possible for me to put on the Lord Jesus and to make no provision for the flesh, while at the same time I seek to indulge my flesh? What I am at home, that is what I am indeed. What I am in the darkness of a movie theatre is what I am indeed. What I am when no one is looking is a clear indication of my character and the extent of my pursuit of godliness. What do these moments say about me?