In the days of the apostles it was considered a glorious privilege for brethren to refer to one another as “saints”. That title, like the title “brother”, had a rich and deep significance to all those who, by God’s grace, had been called out of the prevailing immoral darkness of that pagan Roman world. A glimpse of the moral degeneracy of the first century is given briefly by Paul and Peter in their epistles (Eph 4:17–20; 1 Cor 6:9–11; Rom 1:18–32). They mention such evils only to remind the saints that it was from this environment that they had been “called out” (hence the title “ecclesia”). They had been “washed, sanctified and justified” that they might “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him” (Col 3:10). The epistles abound with warnings to the saints not to return to “wallowing in the mire” from which they had been “washed” (2 Pet 2:20–22).

Paul wrote: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” He continues: “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient (or fitting for a saint)… for this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph 5:3–5).

The Saint and a Wicked Society

 This summarised much of the perverse world of Paul’s day, which should have had no place in the life of the saint. That world of which he spoke has today become epitomised in one particular corrupt industry—the movie and entertainment industry. It is an industry that thrives on portraying fornication, all uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, immoral foolish talking and jesting, which things Paul said ought “not to be once named among you as becometh saints”. These vices have not only become part of the life style of those involved, such as the playwrights, musical composers and musicians, actors, directors and so on, but also of those who feed on such entertainment. These musicians, actors, etc, become “role models” especially for the impressionable young. It is an industry that thrives on exciting the base lusts of the flesh. So much in today’s movies and music is designed to arouse those diabolical passions which the saints daily strive to crucify, denying the “old man” that Christ may live in them (Luke 9:23).

The earth was filled with violence

 We have all stood shocked by the horror and violence of the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. A man who filled his mind with violent video movies brutally killed 35 people. Immediately two major television stations rescheduled their movie programmes for the week as they considered that they were out of taste with the tragedy. They said that they were too violent. One programme was “a family animated cartoon type programme”, yet it was considered too violent to show that week!!

This is the “stuff” that was to flood into homes of Australians the week after that tragedy. It was “rescheduled” in respect for the dead and their grieving families, so possibly was not shown for another week or so. What saint who wishes to be holy in mind and deed could conscientiously watch television programmes or home video movies when programmers themselves admit the effect that such material can have on the unenlightened carnal mind?

Corruption and violence were the hallmarks of the days of Noah. One could hardly imagine Noah, a “preacher of righteousness”, who being “moved with fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his house”, would have condoned the wickedness of his age by taking his family to enjoy the latest play by the award winning performers of his day.

 What is wrong with it?

It is a carnal bias that asks the question “What is wrong with it?” It is a spiritual mind that judges from God’s perspective and asks “Is it right? Will it glorify God’s Name?” Do we realise that by asking what is wrong with a certain activity, we have in fact become the defence advocate for that action? Our carnal mind has already examined and accepted the action and is challenging the spirit mind to prove it wrong.

Not only should saints have an aversion to all that is corrupt and violent, but they should also have a single hearted desire to be united with their heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the beautiful words of the Bride in the Song of Songs she says: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). She sees in marriage the rich and beautiful type of a faithful and loving loyalty between the bridegroom and his bride. She has eyes for no other! The members of the bride body should be truly repulsed at any thought of others committing fornication or adultery. Yet today the movie industry makes light of these principles that are so fundamental to the mind of the saint. Movies accept as normal behaviour divorce, extended families, extra-marital relationships or attractions, and often these things become the basis of their humour and jest. Added to this, the blasphemy, vulgarity and suggestive talk that is so much part of this world’s entertainment and music does not encourage a disciple to develop a “pure heart” that he might “see God”. Should a saint find relaxation and pleasure from watching such movies either at the theatre or at home? Would we be confident enough to be found so doing by the angel who comes to take us to meet our Lord?

Christ’s words are clear: “If thine eye offend thee (cause thee to stumble), pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into Gehenna” (Mark 9:47). This sharp surgery is needed to cure the complaint. Gehenna was the place outside Jerusalem where all the filth and rubbish was destroyed by fire. If we allow our eyes to fill our minds with the “filth and rubbish” of the movie and entertainment industry, then it is just and right that when Christ comes to purge the earth of all such wickedness, those who have willingly identified with such things will be consumed together with them.

 Come out, be separate, and touch not

 As we are aware, Corinth was a notorious centre of immorality and corruption in the apostle Paul’s day. From this sink of iniquity God called out a people for His name. Thus Paul addressed the ecclesia in these words: “To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Cor 1:2). The lesson of their holy calling could hardly be missed. Yet some saints foolishly ventured back into that morass, causing Paul later to write 2 Corinthians 6:17–18 where he says: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

 By “coming out”, “being separate” and not going back to “touch” the unclean we have a glorious promise offered to us. Yahweh has said to those who appreciate His holiness and aspire to it that He will “receive” them, He will be “a Father” unto them, and they shall be “His sons and daughters”. What a wonderful promise! How marvellous that He will acknowledge us as His sons and daughters because we revere His holiness.

Paul, in concluding this section, makes this final powerful appeal in 2 Cor 7:1, where he shows a deep love and concern for the eternal wellbeing of his brethren and sisters as he urges them to keep themselves separate from the world. He says: “Having therefore these promises (the three promises listed above), dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit (mind), perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” The Greek for “perfecting” here is in the continuous tense and means to go on perfecting—it needs consistent effort and perseverance. In writing to the Hebrews Paul says that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). God will not tolerate a blatant denial of His holiness by those whom He has called out for His name.

The imagination of the thoughts of the heart

 One of the remarkable wonders of our God-given abilities is the faculty of imagination. It is one of those mental capabilities that elevates man over all other forms of the animal creation. This remarkable faculty enables us to translate the promises of the Word of God into tangible pictures that we can see through the eye of faith. We can read a description of the Kingdom and turn those words into pictures or images in our mind. This remarkable ability gives vision to our faith. Thus Abraham embraced the promises having “seen them afar off” (Heb 11:13). It gives evidence to things “not seen” now. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov 29:18). We need a mental vision of the future and we have the capacity to develop this.

However this remarkable ability of using our imagination can be used for good or evil. The days of Noah clearly teach this. Yahweh, who searches the heart of man, describes what He saw in that day: “And Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). The imaginations of their heart, the visions that they implanted there to gratify their fleshly lusts, were gross, wicked and perverse. It was an age of disregard of God’s marriage principles, which resulted in adultery, lust, corruption and violence… and they achieved all those depths of wickedness without the aid of picture shows, television and video movies! The people then had no godly vision and so they perished. How just will God’s judgment be therefore upon this wicked age.

If we willingly allow our mind to be fed, even in small portions, upon the perversity of picture shows, TV movies and video movies that excite the lusts within us, then we will have images implanted on our mind that will be obnoxious to Yahweh who “searches all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts”. It is difficult enough in the normal course of daily life to keep our minds “girded” that we may be holy. Let us not provoke Yahweh by actually making provision for the images of this evil world to be indelibly implanted there.

Blessed is the Man

 Each year as we commence our daily readings in the Psalms we have set before us a clear and unmistakable rule for life set out both positively and negatively. To consciously plan to spend an hour or two at a picture show “walking in the counsel of the ungodly, standing in the way of sinners and sitting in the seat of the scornful” or worse still inviting such into our own home by way of the TV or home video movie is hardly the picture of the man who is “blessed” (Psa 1:1,2). Rather, our delight should be in the law of Yahweh. Our meditation, that is our inward thoughts and imaginations, should be in His law day and night. This is difficult enough to accomplish in this evil world in which we live without planning for a diversion, a relaxation from the warfare, so that our “old man” may be nourished a little.

The days in which we live are evil. So let us “make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14). Let us rather heed Paul’s guidance: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, if there be any virtue or praise, think on these things” (Phil 4:8). Let the spirit of David be ours: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside” (Psa 101:3).