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Imagine having a life completely hidden in the mystery of godliness. A life richly blessed and nourished day after day with the Living Water and the true Bread of Life. Imagine how glorious it is to have so close a communion with God that, when praying, the entire being is renewed with divine power and the assurance that all sins are covered by Jesus’ blood; and that one moves towards the condition “Be ye holy; for I am Holy”. This is perfectly possible and is what our Master pleads for. Anyone who is willing to enlist in this high calling receives immediately all needed strength, encouragement and support from heaven.
A powerful style of life like this is certainly a shut door for Satan and his evil angels. He is very well aware of it and has been working even harder these days in order to find a way to enter in our lives, for he knows that he has but a very short time to exert his power and that the end of all things is at hand. Every endeavour, every advantage and possibility, is being carefully taken into consideration by this deceitful agent. He will do everything to draw the sincere Christian away from the Divine presence; away from Divine favour and protection. However, there is only one way he can achieve this: it is when we allow our attention to be diverted from holy things to things not approved by heaven. By doing so we, the servants of the true God, open the only door through which Satan has total and free access to our mind —through our five senses.
Behind the scenes of television and movies—in the initial stages of production —there is a silent work being done with all effort and mastery. There is a blending of the holy with the filthy, and the innocent and useful with the perverted. It is all diligently designed by evil powers to deceive as many as possible. ‘Acting’ has been Satan’s most powerful tool since his war in heaven, and this he performs with brilliant perfection and grace. Through a display of apparent sophistication, knowledge and progress many believe their eyes and ears are upon healthy and worthy things, while they walk the paths of death with quick steps towards perdition.
There are many important points to be analysed about the influence of television upon the Christian life, but before we go any further in this discussion it is worthy to consider what the Spirit of Prophecy says about the origin of television – the theatre.
“Among the most dangerous resorts for pleasure is the theatre. Instead of being a school for morality and virtue, as is so often claimed, it is the very hotbed of immorality. Vicious habits and sinful propensities are strengthened and confirmed by these entertainments. Low songs, lewd gestures, expressions, and attitudes deprave the imagination and debase the morals. Every youth who habitually attends such exhibitions will be corrupted in principle. There is no influence in our land more powerful to poison the imagination, to destroy religious impressions, and to blunt the relish for the tranquil pleasures and sober realities of life than theatrical amusements. The love for these scenes increases with every indulgence as the desire for intoxicating drink strengthens with its use. The only safe course is to shun the theatre, the circus, and every other questionable place of amusement.” (Adventist Home, p. 516)
Without acting, there would be no theatre—this is common sense. Acting is the base of drama, cartoons, puppet shows, movies, soap operas, comedy shows, opera, etc., consequently we can safely consider ‘television’ as an extension of the list, for it is no less poisoned than the theatre stage performances described by the Spirit of Prophecy. Acting is best defined as the art of copying in the most precise and amazing way. It is counterfeiting—a way of presenting the closest form, image, sound and appearance of something but not the real thing; an imitation but not the original. In principle it has nothing to do with godliness, which calls upon us to think of that which is “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8)
Many religious people consider employing such ‘art’ in the service of God as of great value, but we are clearly warned that such a course of action is rejected by heaven: “There should be in the meetings nothing of a theatrical nature.” (Counsels on Health, p. 481). “Wrecks of character have been made by these fashionable church festivals and theatrical performances, and thousands more will be destroyed; yet people will not be aware of the danger, nor of the fearful influences exerted. Many young men and women have lost their souls through these corrupting influences.” (Counsels on Stewardship, p. 202)
Beloved youth, ‘acting’ is not a gift from God. Remember that God is true and has nothing to do with what is counterfeited, pretended or imitated; this is Satan’s work. He is the king of lies and counterfeits. It is his speciality to appear as a lamb on the outside, while being a murderous wolf underneath the white wool, and this is exactly his counsel for man: to act as acceptable and lovely on the outside while the reality is a life of sin and reprobated character. Here is included flattery, fake smiling, gossip, competition, envy and other curses based on acting.
God’s character is pure and confusion is not His name. Our Redeemer did not employ deception or pretension in order to accomplish His plans to save us. Our Holy Father rejoices in everything which is genuine, pure, lovely and real. Even our words must be, “Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:37)
Let our mind rest upon the work of Jesus our Lord for a moment. Our Faithful Pattern never used pretension in His teachings. Christ’s parables are examples of effective methods our Lord used to help us understand divine lessons. They are not pretensions, or an act; rather, they are enlightening symbols.
What a wonderful revelation is the parable of the ten virgins! Have you read it? It’s found in Matthew 25. Through it, Jesus revealed the mystery of the opening of the door to the Most Holy place in heaven, and that His people should keep their Christian life filled with prayer and God’s Spirit lest they were caught ‘sleeping’ (wavering or destitute of faith) and left outside (without knowledge and salvation). They are true warnings, given for our correction and salvation.
Knowing the hardness of the human heart, Jesus, through the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, showed the disciples that the only chance of being delivered from destruction was by following the counsels recorded in His word. Even the act of Christ raising someone from the dead would not have power to soften the heart hardened by sin (Luke 16:23-31). Again, there is no deception here, it is not an act. The characters employed by Jesus illustrate the work of the Father and heavenly beings in the salvation of the human race.
These parables were used to illustrate important truths. We may apply the same analysis to the earthly sanctuary which was an “example and shadow of heavenly things” and made “according to the pattern showed” (Hebrew 8:2-5), and also to the visions of Daniel and Revelation. All these are great object lessons that shed light on the real plan of redemption. Symbols employed in instruction are approved by heaven and confirmed in the works of Jesus Christ. Does this mean then, that all cartoons, fairy tales and puppet shows are harmless?
Cartoons, fairy tales and puppet shows
These are one of the cruelest forms of education given to children. Without knowing the fantastic nature of these stories and plays, children with fragile minds develop false expectations in the real world. When they try to apply any of the false lessons they’ve learned, they suffer the terrible consequences of the false teaching upon their characters and have to face the sad reality that they have been deceived.
Such waste of energy is a sin against God and against our children. All this effort could be employed in learning the truth. Learning the sweetest stories ever told, as found in the Bible and in the book of nature; stories about our Saviour, His love, lessons of kindness, obedience and forgiveness. The great stories of the Old Testament would inspire these children to trust in God when in difficulties and increase in love for their parents and God.
Learning the secrets of nature would tell them of the great power of God in creating all those wonderful and amazing creatures, plants, the human being and the eco-systems with all their diversity and complexity. How much more would children profit from simple explanations and displays of how these mechanisms work and how God keeps them living. Children would certainly be far more blessed with the truth instead of being taught to give animals and other inanimate and non-existent things voices or human-like attributes, thus following Satan in his work when he gave a voice to the serpent, to deceive Eve. The same enchantment experienced by Eve in Eden controls the poor little ones who are exposed to such idolatry. The truth, presented in simple and refreshing ways will prove infinitely more beneficial to young brains than all the fabricated lies and excitement of theatrical teaching methods.
These are one of the most powerful methods used by Satan to deceive and pervert the principles and behaviour of youth.
Mothers who spend most of their time at home are also targets of Satan. If their lives are not filled with useful and rewarding labour, they are made an easy prey to this type of moral pollution. As they are daily fed on such poisonous food, they become weak and discontented with their own life and completely forget the blessings and provisions of God. Many marriage disasters and discordances between husband and wife have their origin in the debasing content of soap operas.
Immorality and unfaithfulness in marriage are not the only things taught in soap operas. Worldly fashions and spiritualism in its most developed and deceiving form are also upheld and promoted. Everyone who has not become intimately acquainted with the Word of God will fall prey to such terrible and satanic teachings. May the Lord touch every heart lest their faith be completely destroyed!
Think for a moment of the solemn service that our precious Saviour is executing in the Most Holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Are you aware of His work? Can you bear the thought that your name might be in review right now? God has covered all our repented of and confessed sins that we may be rescued from eternal death! Before such a solemn and wonderful scene, can we question whether unholy laughs, jests, jokes, mockery, swearing, making fun of others, and even mockery of divine themes are welcome before the throne of God? Beloved youth, the angels weep at such behaviour, for all who practise this will suffer God’s consuming fire.
On the same scale as soap operas are movies, which instigate the desire for the unreal, and excite evil passions, anger, hate, revenge, violence and other lusts. Apart from this, they tend to substitute the genuine with the false, and here it’s satanic stamp is found. When a story is told through a movie, a lot of its usefulness and real information is lost. The ‘flickering of the screen’ prevents the brain from creating images about what is being said. Once ‘everything’ is shown, the mind has no chance of properly reviewing and processing everything. The result is a ridiculous passiveness, and the brain succumbs to an involuntary acceptance of whatever is presented, without restriction or choice as to what it accepts.
Christian movies are a snare the deceiver has created to reach those who seek to substitute the fire from the altar with strange fire. Many think that they are very well equipped with such movies and that they can even dismiss the study of the Bible, just so long as they get fed by a ‘Bible film’. They do not know how Satan works greatly with these movies, filling them with lies and false conceptions based just on emotions which prevent the spectator from receiving lessons of reproof and warning so essential to character building; lessons that are found in every page of the Sacred Book.
Some Christian movies which seem to be perfect, omit important passages of the Bible and pass by precious pearls which are recorded for our instruction and correction. The wisdom of man cannot be compared with God’s. When we go through the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, God Himself will speak to us, and while we are attentive to His voice, nothing that concerns the work of our salvation will be lost. This is the methodology that God’s providence has prepared. Anything that prevents this miracle from happening in human hearts does not come from the throne of grace. Besides, we have been clearly warned against the use of such art in the work of enlightening the world with the gospel:
“I have a message for those in charge of our work [proclamation of the gospel]. Do not encourage the men who are to engage in this work to think that they must proclaim the solemn, sacred message in a theatrical style. Not one jot or tittle of anything theatrical is to be brought into our work. God’s cause is to have a sacred, heavenly mould. Let everything connected with the giving of the message for this time bear the divine impress. Let nothing of a theatrical nature be permitted, for this would spoil the sacredness of the work.” (Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, p.125)
Documentaries which do not include theatrics as well as filmed sermons and filmed teachings are examples of the use of technology for the glory of God. In them Jesus is pleased and honoured.