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Note: The following is a continuation of X-rated Vision, a reflection on Ezekiel 8 and John 2 which can be read here.

We live in an image-rich, eye-serving, sexually explicit context. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that “everything” is either pornographic, pornified, porno-centric, or on its way to becoming some kind of porno-graffitti.

Tragically, the church is just as susceptible to American idolatries, and affected by the imaginations of our hearts, as the culture is.

As a Christian husband, father, and pastor, it has long been my fear that our zeal for the house of God — our passion and desire for the holiness and righteousness of God — has dimmed and faded, collectively and individually. We are far more apathetic about these things than Jesus was — and far more tolerant (accepting?!) of sin than he was, both in others, and in ourselves.

As the One who sees what is secret and hidden, the Lord Jesus Christ could justifiably copy, paste, and forward us the same letter that he sent to the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29). It is written:

The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The letter is as relevant now as it was then. Jezebel lives. Her false gospel of self-indulgence and sensual lust promises instant pleasures for all your impulsive passions.

Yes, Jesus could commend us for some good practices; but he could very well condemn us for others, namely, believing a false gospel and practicing sexual immoralities and adulteries. Not just the kind committed in hotels, but the kind committed at our homes, on our phones, with our eyes, in our hearts.

In the 16th century Calvin said the human heart is an idol-making factory. That is true. In the 21st century we might add that the human heart is also a search engine — ever-searching but never finding what it’s looking for, never discovering what it truly needs; searching but never making a strong connection, never feeling satisfied.

Remember this the next time you perform a search on google, instagram, et al: you are not alone in your search; you are not the only one searching. God is searching for true worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in truth. The one whose eyes are like a flame of fire is performing a deep search of your desires and motives and thoughts. And he will give to you according to what you “google” before him.

Only those one who overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life — by loving God and keeping his commandments — will be exalted. All the rest will be opposed and shamed.

Who in the world can overcome the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:5) His true gospel of self-denial and sacrificial love promises forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who turn from sin and trust in him.

 

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