January 18, 2019
Germ Warfare: Cleansing Our Lives of Cultural Toxins
Below you will find an audio of the devotion being read for you, followed by the written devotion. Listen on the go, listen as you read along, or enjoy reading it without the audio. God bless!
“For the first time, the weird and the foolish and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.” — Carl Bernstein
What Should We Be Entertained By
The Lord has used men throughout history to warn of the ungodly entertainments of their day.
Theophilus, in A.D. 168 cautioned:
“We are forbidden even to witness shows of gladiators, so that we do not become partakers and abettors of murders. Nor may we see the other spectacles, lest our eyes and ears be defiled, participating in the utterances they sing there.”
Clement of Alexandria counseled:
“Let spectacles, therefore, and plays that are full of vulgar language and of abundant gossip, be forbidden. For what base action is it that is not exhibited in the theatres? And what shameless saying is it that is not brought forward by the buffoons? And those who enjoy the evil that is in them stamp the clear images of it at home.” (1)
Ungodly entertainment is not something new in our culture. How can we expect ungodly, unsaved, unregenerate people to produce entertainment that glorifies God?
To be fair, not all entertainment is bad. Movies, media, and culture are not bad in themselves. There are some beautiful expressions of virtues like love, courage, compassion, and bravery in movies produced by non-believers. Because all are created in God’s image, we have a measure of godly virtue when we are born, and therefore, we intrinsically possess some of God’s character simply being human. But to think all people in our culture possess the same standards, priorities, and responsibilities, would be foolish on our part. So, as Pastor Groeschel says, if pleasing God is not the focus of the one(s) producing the media, how can we expect them to have the goal of glorifying God in their movie, TV show, magazine article, social media post, or book?
Bombs Away
Pastor Groeschel shares how a friend excitedly shared with him about how he really enjoyed watching the movie Hangover and suggested that Groeschel watch it. Next, Groeschel asked a couple staff member about it, and they echoed his friend’s comments about how great it was.
One final step Groeschel took was to visit www.screenit.com and find out if it was a family friendly movie for him to go to. He was shocked to discover “this comedy has more than its fair share of non-family-friendly scenes, intense language, and sexual situations. The rough spots include ninety-one variations of the F-bomb (apparently it can function as noun, verb, adjective — maybe even a conjunction for all I know), forty-one excretory words, fourteen references to a person’s behind, thirteen “hells,” and nine slang terms for male anatomy. To top it all off, this hilarious movie has thirty-one versions of taking God’s name in vain. Not exactly the Baskin-Robbins “thirty-onederful” flavors I was looking for.” (2)
To provide context, Groeschel talks transparently about his own struggle with watching inappropriate movies earlier on in the book (Soul Detox). He admits it took God really convicting him about it. When his wife started feeling convicted and brought it to his attention, he responded harshly, declaring he could handle it and she didn’t need to worry about it. So he is not coming at this from a sheltered, self-righteous view. He developed deeper convictions for movies after pastoring for a while.
Having clarified that, it would do us all good to heed his advice.
When Groeschel approached the staff members and asked them if they realized the movie had ninety-one F-bombs, about one every minute, they were surprised. “Really? I didn’t even notice?”
How desensitized have we become when we can watch a movie that has an F-bomb every minute and we don’t even notice? Not to mention, how many illicit sex-scenes, brutal fights, blood-splattering gunshot wounds, and abusive and disrespectful behaviors does it take for us to say, that is a movie I should not watch? Again, you may say, I can handle it, but can you?
The problem is that the more we see something, the less it bothers us. It might make us very uncomfortable at first, but we justify it, and pretty soon, it doesn’t alarm us anymore. We need to pray that the Lord renews our conscience and helps us to be bothered by ungodly things.
A Little Sin Goes A Long Way
1 Corinthians 5:6-7 (NLT)
6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.
A little bit of sin starts to take over and destroy our whole life. We don’t think it is a big deal, but it begins affecting everything we do. We must ask the Lord to help us be aware of sin and get rid of it from our lives. It is not worth it.
Groeschel shares a great illustration about this principle. He describes how a loving mother handled her son’s request to watch a PG-13 movie with his friends.
Cade, her son, put on his best impression of a high-powered attorney and did his best to make the case to his mother. All his friends were watching the movie together and he wanted to join them. What’s the harm in that?
His mother cross-examined him, “Buddy, is it a good movie? One that won’t hurt your Christian walk?”
This caused Cade to squirm a little because he knew there were some inappropriate scenes in it. He tried to hide his discomfort and was able to say, “Well, it is not as bad as some movies. There is only a little bit of bad stuff in it.”
His mother thought about it for a minute, and to Cade’s surprise, she said, “Well of course honey. As long as there is only a little bit of bad stuff in it.”

Cade ran upstairs and started playing video games before she could change her mind.
Meanwhile, the mother began to prepare a batch of Cade’s favorite chocolate brownies. She added all the usual ingredients, and while the oven preheated, she casually walked to the back yard and chose her secret ingredient – a fragment of something recently left behind by their dog Ginger.
Twenty minutes later, the aroma of the fresh brownies and the “ding” of the oven’s timer, brought Cade downstairs like a rat following the irresistible melodies of the pied piper.
Just as he was about to bite into the steaming brownie, his mother nonchalantly mentioned that she had added a special ingredient this time – a teaspoon of Ginger’s poop.
“What?”, Caden shouted, visibly disgusted. “Why would you do that? Are you crazy?” he said as he pushed the brownie away.
As she poured him a glass of milk, still not smiling, the wise mother said, “Don’t worry Son. I didn’t put a lot of poop in the brownies. There is just a little bit of bad stuff.”

Cade reluctantly realized that not only would he not be eating any of these brownies, but he would not be watching the movie with his friends either.
This time of prayer and fasting should challenge us to change some things as we examine our lives. It is not meant to condemn us and make us think how horrible we are. I want to encourage you that Jesus will forgive us and cleanse us as we turn away from ungodly things and we turn to Him.
If you were convicted by something you heard today, don’t get mad about it. Embrace it. God wants you to live a more sin-free life. Not just free from the sins you commit, but from the sins we entertain ourselves with as well. It may be just a story, or just a movie, or just a song. It may not really be happening. But does it really matter in the end if something is staged or real? It still has the potential to be toxic to our mind.
The Sunday School classic is still good advice: Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear. For the father up above is looking down in love. Are you comfortable watching it or listening to it with Jesus? Then you probably shouldn’t.
Thank God there is plenty of wholesome entertainment out there. Don’t follow the trend of culture. Follow the leading of God’s Spirit. Be ye holy as He is holy, in all manner of living.
(1) https://www.christian-history.org/entertainment-quotes.html
(2) Groeschel, Craig. Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World (p. 178). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.