We recently published an article by one of our young people, a 19 year old who had a very difficult life because of his cell phone, internet and social media use. Because of  Hope Biblical Counseling Center we are extremely keyed in on this subject. We counsel hundreds of people during the year concerning their home, children, and marriage. The real problem for young people is the fact of cell phones and the access they can have too many things that are not helpful or healthy. Awhile back I counseled a family where a girl and a boy were involved with each other. In fact, we get to do this many times a week and it is always the same story with some variables. After the parents found out they were seriously involved which they had no clue about, the parents restricted their phone use and separated them from each other. The young people now days are very technologically savvy. They could not call, text, or email each other, however, they had apps on their phone where they could “be friends” on the app. The parents did not have a clue. It turned out to be a disaster, and took a lot of work to be able to turn around. Folks, honestly, many of these situations never get turned around or it is years later with a lot of people destroyed or greatly harmed in the process. The person is scared for life as well.

Proverbs 13:13, Whoso despiseth (does not give proper attention to) the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.

More and more people are using their cell phone rather than their home based computer as the phone itself has become a computer. Cell phones now are extremely advanced and getting more and more advanced. Cell phones are great technological tools and can provide us through the internet, with much information right at our finger tips. It has many fantastic ways to obtain information and has become a great tool for use in business, home security, and many other important areas. What is a problem however, is a cell phone being used improperly. A cell phone given to a child and not monitored and guarded by the parents is a recipe for disaster and has great spiritual danger. Just about everyone we counsel has a problem with the internet in some way or the other. Social media has become people’s virtual reality. Forty percent of all divorcees now mention Facebook by name. All you have to do to find out about a person’s spiritual life is to look at their Facebook page or other social media outlets. They are friends with everybody and their brother. Friends with people who are vulgar in their lives and their ways. As a Christian you are reading the filth they put up? Why? When you ask why they still want to defend it. They have friends on social media they would never allow around them otherwise. I have heard this many times, “Well if I unfriend them they will be offended!” People find creative ways (excuses) to fight for their lusts.

James 4:1-10, 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? (6) 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. (9) Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Another thing I have noticed is parent’s letting their children have cell phones as presents for birthdays at a very early age. Many children who are very young are receiving cell phones from their parents. When a disaster takes place the parents are like “Wow I just did not think it would be a problem.”

We instruct parents that it is your Biblical responsibility to guard the heart of your child. Proverbs 4:23-27, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (24) Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. (25) Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. (26) Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. (27) Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

We receive approximately 300 emails a week at Hope Biblical Counseling Center with people asking for help with their home, children, and marriage. Much of this is revolving around internet abuse. Cell phones are a big part of that. We encourage parents to realize cell phones are dangerous! If a parent is going to give a cell phone to a child, have a filter put on it! Recognize though that no filter is fool proof. A good start but not the total answer. Block the internet and find out from your cell phone company how to block texts and phone calls except from certain people. Find out how to block certain phone numbers. Also, block any apps from the cell phone. I will give an example. Something as on the outside as innocent as an app like My Fitness Pal which has a lot of good uses, can be used wrongly. Young people can become “friends” with other people. It is a common thing from app users and manufactures. Then people can send messages to each other through the app. Many young people use this to fool their parents. I have counseled several families where the parents were thinking their child only had access to certain things. When the disaster took place they had no idea.

Also, young people can use their phone for code to fool their parents. Recently a parent had their daughter get involved with a young boy (I hear this multiple times a week), and did not know about it because of cell phones for months. The girl ran off with the boy. The parents had to go to another state to find her. They separated her from the boy and brought her home. They limited her cell phone use to only family members. I guess I would have thought, she does not need a cell phone, but I digress! The girl had set up a way for her sisters to give her boyfriend messages through her text messages to her sisters. An example are the emotions symbols on pretty much all cell phones that can be used as code. They had a code for each one of the emotion signs like the smiley face means ___________. Again, parents did not know, they just thought she was texting her sisters! The sisters were in turn forwarding the messages to the boy! How did the sisters know what the code was? All the sisters had been using the code to send messages to each other they did not want their parents to know about. Here we go again. The girl was telling the parents she was sorry and would not be involved with the boy again. All the time playing a part with a hardened heart. The parents bought that story and she was still in contact with the boy and corrupting her sisters in the process with her deceit. People can be very deceptive when they are seeking to live for their lust. Fundamentally, every issue is a heart issue and every issue is a spiritual 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:

Of course, many parents are just blinded to the lack of spiritual life of their children. They are never home, not paying attention, living a lustful life themselves, and they are also in trouble on the internet, or social media. Another recipe for disaster.

One of the questions I ask people in counseling is what are you using as a counterfeit for the Holy Spirit and a Spirt filled life? Satan has many of these counterfeits to use to trap you and destroy your life. God wants us to live a Spirit controlled life!

Galatians 5:16-17, This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

The goal for every parent should be to see their children become spiritually and emotionally mature. However, when a child or an adult are spending many hours a day on a cell phone for frivolous activity it is addictive behavior. They are constantly looking at the phone. They think they cannot live without it. What about your phone, how do you look at it? As a tool for getting things done that are necessary or as another toy for hours of game playing, lustful behavior, and frivolous activity. A cell phone is a great tool if used properly. Are you controlling it or is it controlling you?

Galatians 5:25, If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit does not include lustful, addictive behavior.

A pastor friend of mine who does counseling with young people told me a story. Parents brought their daughter, who was incorrigible, for counseling. This was in a live in setting. He asked the girl to hand over her cell phone as she would not being needing it here. She fell on the floor screaming and flaying all her limbs, “I think I am just going to die without my cell phone!” He told her, “Honey you won’t die, but you will get used to not having this addiction in your life.”

Of course, for many the cell phone is an idol of the heart. Trying to tell parents not to give their children a cell phone is like trying to put out a house fire with a glass of water. The thought is they are just giving it to them for protection as they can call when they need help etc. They can give several good reasons why it would be helpful for them to have a cell phone. One mother told me after her child had been in grave spiritual trouble with a cell phone, “You guys are way out.” Everyone has a cell phone!” Let’s see, you have had a major disaster with your child due to a cell phone, but you do not listen when you are given guidelines to restrict and guard cell phone use or not to have one at all? It makes no common sense let alone spiritual sense!

Parents are just as much a problem as the children. It is a huge spiritual problem. We counsel many adults who are in trouble because of their Cell phone, Internet, and Social media use. Pornography is a huge issue for men. We hear about it every week. Many Pastors get caught in this problem as well. They have a filter on the home and office computer, but not the cell phone. Many marriages are in serious trouble because of this issue. The cell phone without restrictions has made this a very dangerous proposition. Let me ask you a few questions.

1. Is it a good use of my time? Many people spend hours on their cell phone or computer but will not spend any time in God’s Word?! If they do spend time in God’s Word it is only token time not spending enough time or submitting themselves to God to allow Him to speak to their heart. Have you ask yourself this question, what is the comparison of the time I spend on my cell phone or social networking verses the time I spend refreshing myself spiritually? God’s Word tells us, Ephesians 5:16, “Reedeming the time, because the days are evil.” As a Christian we are to honor and glorify God in every aspect of our life including how we use our time. Are we wasting time on a frivolous activity that could be better spent in another area of our life? Many times mothers will spend hours on social sites, texting, twitter, and neglect their family and children. Many men neglect their wife and children by spending hours on the internet or social sites at night, “when no one else is looking”. That is seriously bad news. It makes for a weary day the next day and does not edify and build up the person. It can lead to serious problems. Are you a better person spiritually by spending this time in your life?

2. What about family and friends? Many people have said to me “Facebook and other venues like it is a wonderful way for me to catch up with family and friends”. Generally, this is after we are talking about the spiritual disasters in their life. As a Christian I am to guard what I see and hear. Much of what these quote “unsaved or carnal family and friends” talk about on these sites is not uplifting spiritually and in many instances wicked things are posted and said. We see things we should not see and engage in talking about things we should not talk about. James 3:5-6 talks about the tongue. When we write it and post it somewhere we have “said it”. James 3:5-6., “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boaseth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing, my brethren, these things ought not so to be”. Many people post things they would never think about saying to others. They think it somehow is different. While these sites can help us to communicate, we have to set boundaries if we use them! Not everyone who wants to be a friend on these sites should be allowed. The rule of thumb is this should be very limited not widely available.

3. What about your personal information? Many people have been hurt, killed, robbed, stalked, molested or worse, by interaction with people on the Internet and on social sites. I am amazed at how much personal information people willingly put up on these sites. The world does not need to know the smallest details of your life. Some things are confidential between a husband and a wife. Many times people “spill the family beans” to others who have no business hearing or seeing this information. A rule of thumb is if you don’t want it repeated, don’t post it! It is too late after a tragedy strikes.
Awhile back, I had a Pastor who sent to me every day, “Got up and bathed, ate my cereal and walked before starting my day.” Honestly, that is a waste of his time and mine and quite frankly it is personal information I do not need to know. Who cares? Does it also show a feeling of so much importance that people worship me so much they want to know this information? Really, do we think we are that important? It is Narcissistic behavior.

4. What about about gossip? Many people will get on these sites and talk about other people’s business or other people. This certainly is a violation of Scripture. Proverbs 10:18, He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool. Psalm 31:13, For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life  Many “friends” will scroll your status and site to see what they can gossip about concerning you and pass it on to others. Many times innocent things in your mind get posted and become serious issues in your life, home, marriage etc. Godly discretion needs to be used and proper boundary setting needs to be maintained. A question to ask myself is, “Is this person really necessary to have as a friend on the site?” Is this person going to be a determent to my spiritual life?

5. Do you have “friends” who you have had a crush on in the past or have been romantically involved with in the past? Are you looking to find someone to chat with to fulfill a lust you have? This is certainly a recipe for disaster and is inappropriate behavior. If I am a married person, I do not need to be talking to the opposite sex of my past or any person of the opposite sex in a sexually suggestive manner. A teenage girl or boy who is immature does not need to be involved in such activity because they are to give their heart to only one person in their life. It is a sad thing when a carnal parent encourages such activity and then loses the heart of their child. James 1:14-15, But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death (destruction). II Timothy 3:5-6, Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. I Thessalonians 5:22, Abstain from all appearance of evil.

6. Has this become an addiction? Any activity I am involved in should come under the guidelines of I Corinthians 6:19-20, What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. So, the Biblical goal of my life is to glorify God. Can I do that and be addicted to hours a day on social sites, internet or my cell phone? The answer by most Christians would be, “Why sure I can.” Really?
Folks, in our world now the cell phone and internet are used for business purposes. There are many helpful tools. Make sure you are guarded and your children are guarded.

Here are some things to work on for your children:
1. If you choose for them to have a cell phone, block anything you do not want them to use. Spend the time with your cell phone provider to find out how you can block things on the phone. You have to become savvier than they are!

2. Absolutely make sure there is a filter on the phone. There are programs that can be sent to your phone telling you what your children have tried to access from their phone.

3. Do not be fooled by the apps or games. If the app or game has the ability to have friends, block it because it will be dangerous.

4. For parents who have children who have abused the Internet with their phone, and you choose to let them continue to have a phone, have them give you the phone at night and keep it in your bed room with you. Check what they are doing with the phone daily. Many young people become experts at thieving with any type of electronic device, I-Pad, older phone still active, spare phone etc. We have also had young people who have set up a Facebook or social media account under an assumed name (not their name) to throw the parents off. Realize this child’s heart is far from God. Get spiritual help for the child. Do not just think this is a stage and will go away.

5. Pay attention, because this is extremely dangerous to their life.

What about an adult who is abusing their cell phone, internet, or social Media?
1. Set up an accountability partner. Ideally this needs to be someone other than a family member, but if not then make it the husband or wife. Make sure that the accountability partner has the pass word or code and you do not know it.

2. Follow many of the thoughts above for children.

3. Most of all have and develop a real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. If you do not know what that means go to our web site
at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com 

4. Learn what it means to control your thought life. You can learn this on our web site at www.hopebiblicalcounselingcenter.com

5. Recognize that abuse in this issue can be and probably is an addiction. Talk with your Pastor and see if he will help you Biblically with this issue or if he can recommend a good Biblical Counselor to help you. Make sure you get help!

Finally, cell phones and the internet, have many good things we can use them for. It is important to understand the difference of good and evil and make sure it is a guarded situation. It is like anything else in life. We need to make sure we are guarding our heart. If we cannot guard our heart and control the issue, remove it.

Proverbs 4:23-27, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (24) Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. (25) Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. (26) Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. (27) Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

It is our hope that this article will be helpful to your spiritual life.