As Christians striving to align every aspect of our lives with the will of God, what does the Bible say about watching bad things?
While the Bible does not directly mention anything specific about watching bad things, it offers great teachings that can help us make sound decisions in different aspects of our lives, including the media we consume.
What the Bible Says About Watching Bad Things
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”Matthew 6:22-23
Because modern media did not exist during biblical times, the Bible doesn’t explicitly say anything about “watching bad things” in the exact sense of the word. Watching bad things could constitute anything from TV shows, movies, or literature that depict sinful behavior (sex, violence, drugs, etc.).
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However, many passages in the Bible address the spiritual effects of engaging in sinful behavior.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”Matthew 5:27-28
Entertainment plays a huge role in shaping our moral compass. What we expose ourselves to in movies, TV shows, social media, magazines, etc all has a lasting impact.
“For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”Mark 7:21-22
Looking at pictures of people who are dressed indecently and watching video clips that arouse ungodly desires in our bodies is already a form of adultery.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.1 John 2:15-17
Jesus instructs us to guard and be careful of the nature of our affections. He is not asking us to completely isolate ourselves from the world but to watch out for the things that we devote our hearts to.
Are we seeking our fulfillment and satisfaction in the fleeting pleasure of the things of the world? The desires of the flesh and the lust of the eyes lead us astray; they are fleeting.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.Matthew 5:30
The world and its desires will pass away, but whoever does the will of God will live forever.
This is a promise of eternal life in the kingdom of God. The very desires that captivate our eyes and minds are transient, while a life lived in obedience to the word of God has eternal significance.
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Our journey as believers involves seeking treasures that are lasting and fulfilling in God’s eyes.
Matthew 6:21-22 reads, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So, as we watch content on various media platforms, we should not forget that our choices reflect where our affections lie.
James 4:4 reads, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”
Any form of sin, including that of watching bad things, creates a barrier between us and the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord is completely ruined when we consume ungodly things. Conversely, the more time we devote to God and the works of His kingdom, the closer we draw to Him.
For this you know with certainty, that no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, which amounts to an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.Ephesians 5:5
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.1 Peter 2:11
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.James 1:14-15
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.Galatians 5:1
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age,Titus 2:11-12
We attract darkness in our lives when we watch bad things and allow their grip to take a toll on our lives.
There is a powerful connection between our eyes, our hearts, and our spiritual well-being. As a result, our entertainment choices can greatly influence the state of our hearts and spiritual lives.
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The eyes have been likened to a lamp to reveal to us that what we allow ourselves to see has the power to shape the condition of our inner selves. Just as a lamp lights a room, the eyes light the information that floods into our hearts and minds.
If our eyes feast on unhealthy content, our spiritual lives will become unhealthy. In Luke 11:35, Jesus asks us to see to it that the light in us is not darkness. Inasmuch as watching bad things seems appealing, we must ask ourselves if there is any light we can see in it.
“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”1 Peter 1:15-16
Jesus calls us to a standard of purity that reflects His image and character. We may not be aware of it but there are people who may be looking up to us as their spiritual mentors. Our choices should have a lasting impact on the lives of those who are yet to know God. So, make a choice that will portray you as God’s child, holy, chosen, and mature in the things of the kingdom of God.
Is There a Way Out of This?
While the temptation to watch bad things is very high in the modern world, our Heavenly Father, who knows our deepest struggles, provides a way for us to resist it. It is up to us to use the means provided by God to protect our souls from harmful content.
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To overcome the allure of watching bad things, Jesus invites us to immerse ourselves in the Word of God.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”Psalms 119:11
By embracing the truths found in the Word of God, we arm ourselves against the pull of watching bad things. Let us heed the call of Jesus and embrace the way of escape that is found in the truths of God’s Word. Our choices matter, and by choosing what is right in the eyes of God, we can transform our struggles into victories.
If we are already doing it and don’t know how to free ourselves from it, we can call on Jesus to deliver us and set us free. We can turn to Jesus with an earnest heart and ask Him to help us break the chains that bind us. We can always seek His help through prayer.
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What we watch has the power to influence our hearts and minds, negatively or positively. As you choose what to watch, seek out what is pure, holy, and praiseworthy.
The choices we make in this world resonate not just in our minds and hearts but also in the spiritual realm. As we struggle with the dilemma of whether watching bad things is a wrong or right practice among Christians, let us be mindful of the spiritual implications. Our choices have the power to draw us closer to God, drift us away from Him, strengthen our relationship with God, or create enmity between us and God.