Dear friends of Hope Biblical Counseling Center,
Rarely do I send out articles by other people. In response to a request of another preacher concerning Cell phones, Internet, and Social media a 19 year old young man in our church wanted to respond. Below is what he sent to me for my thoughts on it. I thought it was excellent and I have decided to send it out on Hope Biblical Counseling Center. Here at Hope Biblical Counseling Center we receive emails and phone calls daily from people asking for help with their marriage and their children. One of the biggest problems we face today for our spiritual life is lust. Cell phones, Internet, and Social media are big players in this. Currently, 40 percent of all divorces mention Facebook by name. Many problems come from teenagers with cell phones that are unrestrained by their parents or the child has deceived their parents by improper use. Believe me a young person can be very creative in seeking to fight for and live for their lusts. I hope the article is an encouragement to you. It is written by a young man who has been there and done that and has learned how and what it means to have a real relationship with God. The Scripture passages between the paragraphs have been added by me (Pastor Coomer) for Biblical emphasis.
Dr. Terry L. Coomer
Director of Hope Biblical Counseling Center
This email is in response to your request for feedback on cellphones, Internet, and social media. I understand that you requested to get this feedback from parents, teachers, and church leaders. Although I am only nineteen, I have some responsibility in my church (Hope Baptist Church of Little Rock AR, Pastored by Dr. Coomer), and I have been trained as a Biblical counselor in several areas, including how to deal with a person on the issues of social media, Internet, etc. God has called me to preach, and I am currently training to do so. Although I am young, I understand these issues well, and I hope that I can give some helpful insight and thoughts that can be used to help change lives. My Pastor has helped me to learn the truths I am describing below.
As almost everyone knows, there are several issues that can occur with the Internet such as pornography, fantasy/romance novels, etc.; texting can involve sexting; and Social media can include all of the above plus sexual predators, identity thieves, rekindling of impure relationships, etc. The list of wickedness that can occur is huge, so I am not going to focus on that. My desire is not to describe the problem, but rather to shed light on the root of the problem so that it can be fixed and avoided.
Although the Internet, cellphones, and Social media each have their specific allures and complications, the Biblical principles for honoring God in these areas are the same.
Satan’s goal is to destroy lives. The key to defeating Satan is to have a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. This includes confessing all sin that would block fellowship and being submitted to the Holy Spirit’s control.
James 4:6-8, But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (7)Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Because Satan wants the victory, he has devised counterfeits to a real relationship with God and the Holy Spirit’s work in a person’s life. Most Christians fall for these counterfeits. Besides music, Internet and Social media are the greatest tools that Satan is using to destroy the lives of Christians today. If a person is having intimate fellowship with God, and they are turning over to Him every wrong thought that enters their mind, then Satan is ineffective in controlling their life with his outside pressure. Satan knows this, and he is actively trying to confuse Christians about fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit, and anything else that would help them to gain victory over their lusts.
2 Corinthians 10:5, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2 Peter 1:4, Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
The Biblical key to overcoming any lust, including cellphones, Internet, or Social media, is to understand that lust is a heart issue.
Ephesians 6:6-7, Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (7) With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
The Christian who is out of fellowship with God will seek to fill that void with any lust that Satan throws their way. He lures them in with counterfeits for true joy. Satan uses the constant ‘on the go’ mindset with modern technology to consume the Christian’s time, and occupy their mind with things other than a relationship with God. Each Christian must guard his heart against Satan’s counterfeits by having a real relationship with God. Nothing must be substituted for fellowship with God and the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work!
Yielding to lust will destroy a Christian’s life. The issue with cellphones, Internet, and Social media is that they are the easiest places to let our guard down. No matter how many internet filters and guards are put up, there is always a way to fulfill a lust. Yes, filters are most definitely a helpful deterrent and are a must have for any kind of Internet access, but the only ‘fool proof’ deterrent and personal accountability is a real relationship with God. I will only deny myself sinful lusts, and keep myself personally accountable before God, when my fellowship with God is so precious that there is nothing I would risk losing it for.
James 4:1-5, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (2) Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (3) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (4) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (5) Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
Many Christians are first generation Christians who have been saved out of the misery of sin. They don’t want to go back into sin because they have already experienced it. They know that “the way of transgressors is hard.” (Prov. 13:15) Even if their Christian life is miserable, the parents know that it is still better than sin was. The problem is that the children haven’t experienced that misery yet. Without a real relationship with God, their lives are miserable, and they are searching for true joy. The only happiness they see available is “the pleasures of sin”, even if it’s only “for a season” (Heb. 11:25). A little pleasure is much more attractive than none at all. In this case, this form of pleasure comes from cellphones, Internet, and social media. These Christian’s know that their lusts are wrong, but they’re so miserable that they don’t really care. They aren’t going to just come out and blatantly live for their lusts at the start, so they begin to yield to and act upon their lusts in the virtual world. Any kind of electronic screen removes the feelings of personal touch and accountability for my actions. It is well known that people will ‘say’ things online that they wouldn’t dream of saying with their own lips. The virtual world allows them to live out their lusts in secret or what they think is secret. When something is sent out on the Internet it is always available. They can let their mind run in the gutter without any discipline, responsibility, or thoughts about the reality of their misery.
This ‘private’ rebellion online softens the person towards outward rebellion. It slowly alters perception on morality and purity. Once innocent boys and girls are now acting like they have no regard for what comes out of their mouths, or how much of their bodies they show. Their soft hearts have been slowly hardened against the Holy Spirit’s convicting voice. Pleasure is king! The simple, pure pleasures God provides in life become uninteresting as they begin to breed a lack of contentment with reality. Reality WITHOUT A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD is uneventful, unexciting, and miserable. If you do not understand what it means to have a real relationship with God, please click on our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounseling.com
A person’s Cellphone messages, Social media profile page, and Internet search history reflect their true heart. The key with all of this is a heart issue of pride. Misuse and abuse of anything, including these issues we are discussing, reveals that I don’t trust God’s perfect will. I wish to live for myself, independent of God and His plan. I would rather yield to Satan’s pressure to fulfill my lusts than to put in the effort to have a real relationship with God, cleansed of all sin. Their lusts eventually consume them and become demand lusts in their lives, which control their behavior. Again, a heart issue of pride is the problem.
Ephesians 2:3, Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; (demand lusts) and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
There is so much more that can be said about these issues, but here is the Biblical problem and solution in a ‘nutshell’: problem – pride; solution – a real, personal, intimate, and passionate relationship with the Creator of the universe!
Cellphones, apart from possible emergency and necessary communication situations, are not even close to being a need for young people. Why encourage the waste of a child’s time with frivolous conversations that have no eternal value? “But all their friends have phones!” You won’t answer for their friends choices (and they have the wrong friends if that’s truly the case), but you will answer for your personal life and how you raised your children. The Internet is an extremely useful tool, but it must only be used as so. Use practical, common, and spiritual sense. Have filters, be accountable, and by no means allow young people to be unsupervised on the Internet. The most powerful tools are the most dangerous, and they require the most delicate and mature handling. Don’t fool yourself about what you can handle. Why push yourself to the limit of temptation, or even worse, allow your children to be tempted? As for Social media, it seems to have the least amount of practical and spiritual value. There are very few things that Social media allows a person to do more efficiently than can be done by other methods. Pretty much the only thing it’s effective at is letting everyone know what I am doing, thinking, eating, wearing, etc. Social media is all about narcissism. I understand that it can be used to share spiritual truths, but there are very few Christians that can use Social media without any abuse of it whatsoever. We must remember to “[redeem] the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). As a good friend of mine has said, “There is very little good that comes from [Social media]. So little that it’s not worth wading through the ungodliness to find one grain of good.”
If a person finds themselves defending and rationalizing against the points presented here, it should send up a red flag about their heart’s spiritual priorities. A Christian doesn’t need Satan’s counterfeits to have true joy! “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” (Prov. 10:22) Be spiritually discerning, and “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23)
I hope that these thoughts can help someone. They truly have made a tremendous change in my own life.