Category: Society, Culture & Sinful Lifestyles

How to Distinguish Between Good & Evil

How can we distinguish between good and evil? How can we know the difference between right and wrong?
There are many bad and ungodly lifestyles which were once universally condemned in the past, but today, many non-biblical lifestyles are now considered to be “good” and culturally acceptable in society.
For example, there was a time when sex before marriage was considered to be inappropriate. However we now live in a world where if a person is still a virgin by age 20 – that person can be ridiculed or humiliated.
What used to be considered a bad lifestyle, is now promoted as being good and as part of our “evolution” as mankind and society.
Another example: There was a time in the past when homosexuality was considered to be a bad and inappropriate lifestyle. However we now live in a world were homosexuality and same-sex marriage are promoted as being a normal part of life. In fact, the view of homosexuality as changed even within various liberal minded churches which now openly support homosexuality.
Therefore there are various ideologies, doctrines and teachings that were considered to be unthinkable in the past which are now encouraged and promoted within culture and also within religion.
So these days we live in a world where morality is declining at a very fast rate. What used to be good is now considered to be evil – and what was considered to be bad in society is now promoted as being good.

Isaiah 5:20-21
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!

The world has been turned upside-down. Many people can no longer distinguish between right and wrong or good and evil. Instead the concept of good and evil is viewed through a humanistic or individualistic lens. So what’s wrong to you, might be right to someone else – and what’s right in your mind, might be wrong to others.

 

So the question is: How do we distinguish between right and wrong or good and evil?

1. Our Standard Must Be The Bible
Our standard for what is good and what is evil must come from God’s word – the Bible.
The Bible is God’s infallible word to mankind. The Scriptures reveal the nature of God, the plan of God and His values and principles for life.
Therefore our source which helps us distinguish between right and wrong is the Bible. It is NOT our political leaders; it is not a famous celebrity nor is it even a religious leader who can be our source of what is right or wrong. Instead the ultimate source and final authority in everyone’s life is the infallible word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Psalms 119:11Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Our knowledge of God’s word helps us to discern the things that are sinful from the things that are righteous. When God’s word is instilled inside of us then we become equipped to live a life that is pleasing to God.
God therefore gives us the standard through the Bible for what is good and evil in our life. God’s word is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

 

2. We Must Know God and Have a Relationship with Him
We cannot know the difference between right and wrong without knowing and relating with the ultimate Lawgiver.
Therefore it is not only important to know the Bible – but it is also imperative to know the Author of the Bible.
Therefore when we have a personal relationship with God, combined with knowledge of His word, we will intimately know the nature of God.
As we relate with God personally and intimately we will have a desire to please God and to obey His word.
One of the main reasons why morality is on the decline is because many people do not live to please God. Instead many people ultimately live to please themselves and to fulfill their own fleshly desires.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 says: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
So it’s clear that in the last days, man’s love for God will grow cold. Mankind will hate the things of God more than ever before. This hatred for God and the things of God leads to a culture where people do not care about what is right or wrong – but people will only care about what pleases their own flesh.

 

3. We Must Have A Reverential Fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord refers to having reverence or deep respect for God and His position and authority in our life.
Proverbs 8:13 says: The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil…
Therefore if we are to hate what is evil and love what is good, then we need to have the fear of the Lord. We need to respect God’s authority in our life.
We cannot discern between good and evil if we do not respect or fear God.
Proverbs 9:10 says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Therefore, just as Proverbs 9:10 explains: if we are to have wisdom to discern between right and wrong, then we must begin by fearing God.

 

4. We Must Love God
Jesus said in John 14:15: If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Loving God is therefore essential to keeping God’s commandments and to discerning between right and wrong.
The more we love God, the more we will hate what is evil. The more we love God, the more God will put His desires in our heart.
When we love God, we do not create our “own truth”. When we love God we do not create our own ideas of what should be right and what should be wrong. Instead our love for God will compel us to obey God’s commandments because we understand that God alone is the source and standard through how we discern the difference between good and evil.

 

Conclusion
Discerning between good and evil is essential to every individual’s life. Without the ability to distinguish the difference between right and wrong, our life will be filled with many mistakes and ungodly choices.
It’s therefore important for us to always ask God for wisdom in every area of life and to have the understanding that our relationship with God is integral to living a life that is pleasing to God.

 

Is Your Cell Phone Controlling You?

Is it you who is using your cell phone – or is your cell phone using you? Does the Bible say anything about cell phone addiction?
Recent studies reflect that the average person can check his/her phone at least 85 times a day.
The same study also says that young adults use their phones an average of 5 hours per day – which is roughly one-third of their total waking hours.

It is evident by simple observation that the cell phone has become one of the most necessary technological gadgets for a large part of the world’s population.
The cell phone is no longer just a communication device – but for many people it has become more like a “friend”, a “companion” and a “partner”. In fact, cellphone use has become addictive for many smartphone users around the world.

Studies reflect that cell phone use negatively affects your social life and relationships with friends and family. Cell phone addiction might also affect one’s ability to work or study because a person may want to be connected to his/her smartphone at all times. For example, it is believed that almost half of adults admit reading or sending a text message while driving and that injuries or accidents related to cell phone use have been on the increase.

It’s therefore very evident that cell phone use and cell phone addiction is increasingly and negatively affecting how people think and feel. The use of the smartphone is also negatively rewiring or altering people’s brains and people’s priorities in life.
Smartphone use has reduced people’s ability to concentrate. It has also affected people’s ability to memorize or remember information.

The apps that exist on many smartphones such as Twitter or Facebook are designed to be addictive and to keep the user preoccupied with social media. The reason is because smartphone apps all compete for the user’s attention for the purpose of their social media advertisers.

It is therefore important to have a Biblical view of cell phone addiction and the potential negative impact that it can have regarding our relationship with others and with God.
For example: imagine if we checked and read our Bible just like we read our smartphone? Suppose we used our Bible more than we used our cell phone?
Has the use of your cell phone diminished your desire to spend quality time with God or with other people? Has your smartphone consumed more productive time in your life?
Therefore whilst using a cell phone is not a sin – it is important for one to discern if the cell phone has become an addiction in your life rather than a tool that you control.

1 Corinthians 10:23 ESV
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up

Whilst there are many advantages to using a smartphone it is very important to realize that its unproductive or unnecessary usage may have long-term detrimental effects on our brains, thinking patterns, social life and our spiritual life.
Therefore excessive cell phone use draws us away from the very things that we should value the most. Such as face-to-face relationships; spending quality time with loved ones or even the amount of time we spend with God.

Below are a few ideas of how you can break your cell phone addiction:

1. Remove notifications from your social media apps – Removing notifications will prohibit the apps from constantly alerting you or updating you whenever you have a new notification. Doing this helps you to get focused on your work or on other productive things.

2. Do not go to sleep with your cell phone near your bed or under your pillow – If the first thing you do when you wake up is to look at your smartphone then it is a sign that you have a major dependency on your cell phone. Instead, keep your cell phone in a different room on in an area of your bedroom where it is not physically easy to reach. Let the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning be to pray to God and to thank Him for the new day. Start your day by reading God’s word and not reading social media messages on your smartphone (Psalms 1:1-3).

3. Have productive habits in your life – For example, instead of using social media app, buy and read some physical books. Think about doing something that does not require your cellphone but will edify you and build you as a person. Remember that your life does not revolve around how many “likes” and notifications you get on your social media app. There is more to life than the virtual world of social media.

4. Set goals and be focused – Determine to overcome your addiction. Have a limited set time during the day when you will view your social media apps and stick to that set time. Otherwise most of your day should be spent productively.

Bible verses such as Proverbs 25:28, Galatians 5:22-23 and 2 Timothy 1:7 encourage us to have an attitude of self-control.
Our ability to exercise self-control is an important virtue for every person in life because without self-control we subject ourselves to every form of temptation and vice. We become slaves to all kinds of temptation and sin.
Therefore to overcome cell phone addiction, we must be self-controlled and disciplined in life.

Colossians 3:1-2 ESV
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Our minds and our focus should be on real and genuine relationships that bring value and edification to our soul.
The human brain and the human life is not designed to be addicted to anything that is capable of diminishing or destroying us. We should never be consumed by any kind of substance or technology that will ultimately affect our health, our relationships or our spiritual life. The things of this earth are temporary and can mislead us from focusing on what is truly important in life.
Instead our minds should be focused on the heavenly things that bring life. Our minds should be focused on God and be consumed by heavenly things, because without Christ or the mind of Christ, we cannot overcome the negative things of this earth.

How Would You Rate Your Use of Your Cell Phone? Take a Smartphone Compulsion Test here

 

 

Is Legalizing Marijuana Good for Society?

In different parts of the world, governments have begun to legalize the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational use.
The debate however is whether the legalization of this drug is actually good for society in general. Does the general populace stand to benefit from its legalization or are there long-term problems in the future?
Is the recreational use of this drug actually good for people and what are the problems associated with the use of marijuana?

In 2013, between 128 and 232 million people used marijuana. Currently, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world. The population of people who use this drug will obviously continue to grow as the drug becomes legalized in more countries throughout the world.

Marijuana has been primarily illegal in many countries because of its short-term and long-term side effects.
Marijuana is known for causing sexual problems among male users; severe anxiety and panic attacks; hallucinations and strange behavior; low reaction time and poor coordination and also short-term memory problems.
Marijuana is also known for causing a reduction in a person’s IQ and it can increase the risks of a heart attack and a stroke.
Ultimately whilst this drug may have such side effects, this drug is very addictive, and it is capable of destroying an individual’s life in every aspect from his/her financial, spiritual, cognitive and social life.

Therefore from both a psychological and health perspective, the use of marijuana needs to be avoided because of its negative effects on the brain and its ability to depreciate one’s health.

1 Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

We therefore should avoid practices such as smoking, or any kind of drug use which will end up drastically affecting our health or our body.
Marijuana’s ability to reduce an individual’s IQ and damage the brain is a major problem. It means that a drug user will eventually become lazy, unproductive and ineffective in society due to a diminished thinking capacity.
When you have a society that is plagued by an addiction to marijuana or any other type of drug, there are many social problems that can arise.
Addiction to drugs leads to broken relationships and families; poor performance at school and at work; drug related violence; financial difficulties or poor financial choices; more drug related deaths and a breakdown in morality due to drug dependency.

1 Corinthians 6:12 says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything”

It’s imperative to realize that even though certain governments may legalize the use of marijuana, it does not mean that this drug is ultimately beneficial to society as a whole. It also does not mean that God agrees with the legalization of harmful drugs.
For example, even though smoking cigarettes has been legal for many years, it does not mean that cigarettes are beneficial to society or to the health of the smoker.
The same argument can be made for the legalization of drugs such as marijuana.
Individuals must not allow themselves to be dominated by any drug that is known to have addictive traits and influences.
Individuals must avoid any kind of drugs that are known to cause problems with health and one’s cognitive abilities.

Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to the standards of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The legalization of such drugs as marijuana by many countries are not entirely linked to its medical benefits. Instead one of the main factors for its legalization are due to the supposed economic and monetary benefits that are to be gained. The world is motivated by money, even at the expense of society’s well-being. Pharmaceutical companies will benefit, marijuana farmers will benefit and unfortunately the marijuana drug users will experience the deception that they are benefiting when in fact, they are actually being destroyed by the use of this drug.
We should therefore not conform to a standard of thinking that damages people and society as a whole, just for the sake of making money or for the purpose of gratifying a temporary and addictive need.

Galatians 5:16 says that we should walk in the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Our minds must be transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit through the meditation and obedience of His word. Our fellowship with God should lead us to have total dependence on God to meet all our physical, cognitive and spiritual needs rather than depending on the temporary stimulation of drugs.
We are to be filled by the Holy Spirit and not have our minds filled and influenced by brain damaging drugs such as marijuana.

 

Is Sexting, Cybersex and Phone Sex a Sin?

Sexting and cybersex can be defined as the act of sending sexually explicit materials through mobile phones or any other type of communication device. The messages may be text, photo, or video which are sent from a sender to a recipient.
Phone sex involves explicit and sexually verbal communication between two people via the phone for the purposes of sexual gratification.

The growth of technology and the rise of social media has come with various addictions, vices and behaviour patterns that were thought to be unthinkable a few decades ago. Sexting and cybersex is one of them.
Therefore is sexting, cybersex and phone sex a sin? Should these behaviours be viewed as harmless? Should society normalize these behaviours as just another method of sexual self-gratification?

While sexting, phone sex or cybersex may not involve physical contact, the Bible does warn us against having impure sexual thoughts.
For example, Jesus warned that lusting after a woman in your heart is just the same as committing the physical act of adultery itself.
In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Therefore with God, our inner thoughts are just as important as our actions. Our inner thoughts and motives actually reflect our true nature. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

It’s clear then that sexting, phone sex and any form of cybersex energizes and stimulates people’s thought patterns in an unholy manner. It feeds an individual’s lusts. It encourages masturbation and creates an impure desire for self-gratification. It also creates impure sexual fantasies that dishonor God but instead it corrupts the soul.
The Bible encourages us to flee from sexual immorality and that whoever commits sexual immorality sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18).

The marriage relationship must be honored because it is God who created marriage. A husband and wife are one flesh in God’s eyes (Genesis 2:24). Sex should be enjoyed within the confines of marriage.

Adultery is a sin before God and therefore the marriage bed should be honored. Hebrews 13:4 says: Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

It’s also a sin to sow division within people’s marriages or to cause the divorce of another married couple because in the context of marriage, Jesus said the following: What God has joined together, let no one separate (Mark 10:9).

Therefore sexting, phone sex or cybersex are forms of sexual immorality. They do not improve the life of a person and neither do they glorify God in any fashion. Ultimately sexual immorality is spiritually harmful to individuals, marriages, families and society.

 

The Effects of Internet Porn

Internet pornography is a favorite form of entertainment or past time for millions of users around the world.
However, is Internet porn harmless or is porn ultimately damaging to individuals and society?
Many people (who likely enjoy porn) would argue that watching porn is harmless as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. However, the numbers don’t lie. Pornography IS harmful. Statistics reflect that millions of people around the world are being psychologically and physically affected as a result of watching Internet pornography.

According to studies from WebRoot some of the effects of Internet porn are as follows:

  1. Porn increased marital infidelity by 300%
  2. Teenagers with frequent exposure to sexual content on TV have a substantially greater likelihood of teenage pregnancy;
  3. About 34% of internet users have experienced unwanted exposure to pornographic content through ads, pop up ads, misdirected links or emails
  4. Every second 28,258 users are watching pornography on the internet
  5. About 68% of divorce cases involve one party meeting a new paramour over the internet while 56% involve one party having an “obsessive interest” in pornographic websites
  6. One third of porn viewers are women
  7. Search engines get 116,000 queries every day related to child pornography

 

What Do These Statistics Mean?
By just looking at the statistics above it’s easy to realize that Internet porn is clearly damaging individuals, families and society as a whole.
Such kind of statistics reflect the debilitating condition of society when it comes to pornography. There’s no doubt that porn is harming society and that these statistics are increasing instead of decreasing. Therefore more people are becoming addicted to pornography than ever before and as a result more marriages are being destroyed; more families are being broken and more people are subjected to mental and physical abuse because of the effects of porn.

 

What are the Effects of Pornography?
1. It rewires the brain to the extent that the self-control of the porn viewer / porn addict is weakened tremendously.
2. The porn addict / viewer becomes easily aroused by sexual images and less by his partner. For example, a husband who views porn may become sexually aroused & stimulated by porn images instead of being biologically bonded or stimulated by his wife.
3. Porn addiction increases marital infidelity. The porn addict is no longer aroused by his spouse and so eventually he seeks to “experiment” the porn activities and fantasies he has been watching outside the marriage.
4. Pornography affects one’s spiritual life. Porn images invade not only the mind but they strike right at the soul of a person as porn images become imprinted in the mind to the extent that it causes behavior change both socially and spiritually.

2 Timothy 2:22 says “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”.

Jesus said that whoever looks at woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28).

 

HOW CAN YOU OVERCOME INTERNET PORN ADDICTION?
Jesus mentions that whatever causes us to sin, must be removed from our life (Matthew 5:29-30).
Now, Jesus is not saying in Matthew 5:29-30 that we should literally remove our eye or hands. However He is giving the principle that we need to get rid of the things that cause us to disobey God.
In the case of overcoming pornography, one of the first steps in getting rid of porn addiction is through the following:

1. You must destroy any pornographic material in your possession. This means destroying magazines, pictures and digital images on your phone or laptop. Destroy or delete whatever material reminds you of porn.
2. Take your desire to overcome porn addiction as a journey that begins with a single step. You will not overcome the addiction overnight. It will take time and you might slip up now and again. The most important thing is to continue on the journey to overcoming the addiction even during failures.
3. If you’re really serious about overcoming your addiction – install accountability software on your laptop, PC, tablet or phone. Accountability software will help prevent or stop you from accessing pornographic sites. Also remove yourself from any social network sites where you’re most likely to see sexual images that would have been distributed by other users.
4. Visit a counsellor or make yourself accountable to someone you trust and who won’t judge you because of your addiction. Have someone or people around you who can encourage you to overcome your addiction or to motivate you when slip up.
5. There is also a spiritual aspect to overcoming porn addiction. You must be a born again Christian. Indeed a Christian can struggle with lust and even with porn addiction. However, being a Christian means that you can ask God to help you overcome temptation and deliver you from the addiction. The issue of pornography addiction is just as much a spiritual problem as it is a social problem.
6. Whenever you slip up, confess your sin to God and keep moving towards your recovery (1 John 1:9). Always remember that through Christ you can overcome your addictions (Hebrews 4:14-15).

 

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