James Merritt - The X-Rated Life
If you're a guest of ours today, we started a series last week we're calling "The Elephant in the Room". And it really is about those things that people don't like to discuss, and we all have to be honest here, pornography is one of 'em. And by the way, it is one big elephant. Pornography, annually, is a $97 billion global business. In the United States, it tops $13 billion. Pornography brings in more money than the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball put together. It makes more money than ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. Porn sites now account for 12% of all internet sites. As a matter of fact, internet porn sites get more monthly visitors than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter put together.
Now, what we've witnessed in my lifetime is an explosion of free explicit pornography. And it's constantly expanding because now anyone anywhere at any time can post a video clip any time they want to. As a matter of fact, this amazed me, an independent web tracking company clocked 107 million U.S. visitors to adult sites in one month alone. The world's largest adult site says it gets 2.4 million visitors every single hour. In 2015, you ready for this, in 2015 alone, people around the world watched 4,392,486,580 hours of its content, which is more than twice as long as humanity has spent on planet earth. An estimated 40 million people a day in the United States log on to some 4.2 million pornographic websites, according to the internet filter software review.
Now, that's bad enough. And that ought to shake us to our core. And that ought to admit that there's an elephant in the room that we really need to deal with. However, this is what really gets me. This is not just an adult problem. The Journal of Sex Research puts the first exposure to pornography, on average, at 11 years of age for young boys. Ninety percent of children, 90%, between the ages of eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the internet and, in most cases, unintentionally. Now, you ready for this? The largest consumer category of internet pornography is boys between 12 and 17 years of age. By college, according to a survey of more than 800 students titled Generation X, 90% of men and 33% of women have viewed porn in the preceding year. Now, you say, "Well, wait a minute".
So why are we talking about it here in church? Very simple reason. See, many of us think the problem is out there. No, the problem is also in here. This visual sewage has now infiltrated the plumbing of the church. Fifty-seven percent of pastors admit they either do or have struggled with pornography in the past. Twenty-seven percent of Christian men have viewed pornographic sites once or twice in the last month. You ready for this? The most popular day of the week to look at porn is Sunday. Now, think about that. The most popular day of the week to view porn is Sunday. Here in our own church, in our campuses, because we have web filters on our sites to Wi-Fi access, we have to block eight to ten attempts to view porn in our buildings every single Sunday. There's an elephant in this room and in the church room, and it's a very big elephant.
Now, there was a time, and I remember it, many of you may, when people were saying, "Look, there's nothing wrong with porn. What you do in your house is your business. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, it's alright". And there was a day when just a few people like myself, pastors and others, stood alone and cried out about the danger of pornography. But no more because much of what I just sited to you, do you know the sources I got this from? Newsweek. Time Magazine. The Huffington Post. Sociology professor Gail Dines, writing in the Washington Post, argues that the scientific question of whether porn is bad or not and whether or not it's bad for society has been forever settled. As a matter of fact, this is what she said. She said, "Just as the tobacco industry argued for decades there was no proof of a connection between smoking and lung cancer, the porn industry with the help of a well-oiled public relations machine has denied the existence of empirical research on the impact of its products".
And then she goes on to site a wealth of peer review studies that show that men who consume porn are most accepting of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. The kids who watch porn engage in sex sooner and are at much greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases. We now know that in the human anatomy, the brain is command central for the entire body. Right? Every action, every response, every impulse that we have originates from the brain because the brain is not just a mental organ, it is a spiritual organ. You know why? Because every thought you have not only has a mental component to it, it has a spiritual component because the truth of the matter is you cannot separate the spiritual from the mental and the emotional and the physical because they are all woven together.
Now, you say, "How do you know that"? Because of something Jesus said. You remember what the greatest commandment is? "You should love the Lord your God with all of your heart," that is spiritually, "your strength," that is physically, "and your mind," that is mentally. So we've got to get control of the mind before we ever get control of the problem. So the question is, what's the solution? Hopefully some of you out there are listening right now and you're saying, "Help me. I need help. I want help. I'm tired of living in this mental perverted prison that I'm in".
Well, if you brought a copy of God's word or you have an iPad or a smartphone, whatever it is you use that you look at scripture with, I want you to turn to a book called 2 Corinthians. Now, that may not help some of you except to know, "Well, there must be a 1 Corinthians". Right? And there is. But in the New Testament, if you'll go about six or seven books over from the gospels, you'll find, about three or four books, you will find 2 Corinthians. Okay? It's in the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 10. Now, while you're turning there, the greatest Christian, by all accounts, who ever lived, not counting Jesus, was a man by the name of the apostle Paul. Paul is writing to this church in Corinth. And by the way, Corinth was a church that was ripe with sexual sin. There was a temple dedicated to Aphrodite. And so they had temple prostitutes and so they had all kinds of actually physical, visual pornography that you could look at.
And so Paul is writing to this church and he says, "Let me tell you how to get out of an X-rated life to a G," that is a godly, "rated life". And he tells these Corinthians there are three things you've got to do with your mind if you're going to ever defeat this problem. Okay? Number one, we must guide our mind in all things. Got it? We must guide our mind in all things. Now, we're in 2 Corinthians 10. Listen to verse five. He says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought," he's talking about our thoughts, "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".
Now, this battle that Paul is talking about is all about knowledge and all about thoughts and all about arguments. Well, where do those come from? They come from our mind. So what Paul is saying is if you're living an X-rated life, it is because you're thinking X-rated thoughts. It all begins in the brain. It all begins in the mind. However, before you begin to think "so it's just a mental battle, right; it's just a psychological battle," well, no, because listen to what he says in verse three. He says, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does". In other words, Paul says, "Look. Understand something here. You're not primarily in a physical battle as much as it is a spiritual battle". It's not just a moral battle; it's also a mental battle. And unlike the world's wars, this war, he says, it's invisible. It's not a military war. It's a mental war. You're in a war in your mind. You're in a war of the mind. You're in a war for the mind.
Now, here's the truth. Paul says we can direct our mind at all times and in all things, and we've got to do this because the most powerful force in this world is not a nuclear bomb, it is not the United States military. As a matter of fact, it is not all the militaries of all the world put together. The most powerful force in the human world, in the world of humanity, by the way has always been, the mind. Matter of fact, listen to this. If you could build a computer that could do everything your mind could do... Okay, so we're going to build a computer and it has the capability of doing everything your mind could do. Listen to this. That computer would have to be the size of the Empire State Building. It would have to be a city block wide and a city block deep.
You say, "You mean the mind is that powerful"? Well, just think about this. You take these little gadgets. You know, there is more computer power in that little cell phone that I have in my pocket, there is more computer power in that phone than it took to send a man to the moon. We've got all these gadgets and all these toys. We've got computers, cell phones, GPS tracking systems, we've got the internet. Let me ask you a question. How did we get all those things? They started out as what? An idea. Somebody had an idea in their mind, so we've got all these things we enjoy today.
Now, here's the point. When you become a follower of Jesus, God moves in and God says, "Okay, here's how I want to work here. I want to take control of your soul, your emotional life. I want to take control of your heart, your spiritual life. I want to take control of your body, your physical life. And I want to take control of your mind, your spiritual life". Because He not only wants to direct in how you live but in how you think because either your mind is going to guide you in where you go and how you live and how you think or you're going to guide your mind inn how it thinks and therefore how you live and how you go. So that's why every single day, you need to do, I've done this for I don't know how long. You've got to have a plan in place every day. You've got to get up and say, "Okay, I've got". You've got to have a plan in place to make sure "I'm going to guide my mind in all things".
In other words, let me put it to you this way. You've got to make up your mind about your mind and make your mind mind. That's so good I'm going to say it one more time. You have got to make up your mind about your mind and make your mind mind. You can make your mind mind. You are to guide your mind in all things. That's step one. Step two, we must guard our mind against wrong things. The way you guide your mind in all things is you begin by guarding your mind against wrong things. Now, let's listen again to this entire passage and listen, listen carefully to every word. Paul says, "For though we live in the world..."
In other words, we live just like everybody else. We live in the same world unbelievers live in. We live in the same world that pagans live in. We live in the same world that atheists and agnostics live in. We all live in the same world. "...but we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". Now, if you listen carefully to what I just read and you were really tuned in on every word, you heard words like war, weapons, fight, stronghold, captive.
Now, what does that tell you? You're on a battlefield. We're literally, every day when you get up out of your bed, you step into a battlefield. You're in a war and the war is for one thing and one thing only. The war is for control of the mind. So when you get up and your feet hit the floor, a battle starts at the moment... As a matter of fact, at the moment a child begins to think on their own, the battle begins. And by the way, once that battle starts, it's never over until you take your last thought or your last breath. It is the battle for mind control. See, your mind's like a castle. Here's what Paul is saying. Your mind's like a castle. It's like a stronghold. Your mind is like a fort. And it's constantly under attack. And your mind is the bullseye in this battle. And you say, "Wait a minute. Why is the mind the bullseye? Why is the mind such a big deal? Why is it that Satan, more than anything else, would love to control my mind"?
It's real simple. Whatever controls your mind controls you. Why didn't some people go to church today? Because they decided in their mind, "I don't want to go to church today". Why do people do this or do that or don't do this or don't do that or go here but don't go there? Because in your mind, you make decisions every day. This is what I'm going to do. This is what I'm not going to do. This is where I'm going to go. This is where I'm not going to go. Your mind is the control center of who you are. And if you don't know this already, you better learn it. Our belief determines our behavior. Our belief determines our behavior. Let me tell you something. I don't have to ask any of you in this room what you believe about anything. I really don't. Show me how you live and I'll show you what you believe. The rest is just talk.
For example, show me your finances and I'll show you whether or not you really believe what God says about tithing. Don't tell me what you say you believe; just show me your finances. Or just tell me when is the last time you shined your flashlight? When's the last time you turned your light on? When is the last time you even tried to talk to somebody about Jesus? Don't tell me, "Oh, I believe people are lost and people need the Lord and I know I need to be telling people about Christ. I really do believe that". No, just let me know how you live. I will tell you what you believe. Our belief determines our behavior. Everything else is just talk. Some of you may remember, there was an old proverb that puts it this way: you sow a thought, you reap an act; you sow an act, you reap a habit; you sow a habit, you reap a character; you sow a character, you reap a destiny, but the destiny always begins with a thought. It all begins with the mind.
God knew when He created us that the mind is the key that unlocks your heart, the mind is the key that unlocks your hands, the mind is the key that unlocks your habits. So listen to the first part of verse five again. Listen to it. He says, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God..." Paul said, "Look. There are evil influences out there all over the place. They're everywhere. And they want to put any barrier they can between you and your knowledge of God," which, by the way, that brings us back to the whole issue of pornography. We're to guide our mind in all things. Right? We're to guard our mind against the wrong things. And then, thirdly, we must give our mind to the right things. We must give our mind to the right things.
Now, I hope that some of you at least understand why you cannot afford to lose this battle because the only way to stay in control of you is to stay in control of your mind, because your mind controls you. Former President Woodrow Wilson put it this way. He said, "He that will not command his thoughts will soon lose command of his actions". "He that will not command his thoughts will soon lose command of his actions". Now, for those of you out there right now and you say, "Boy, this has been a hard message to listen to," and there's some of you out there listening right now and you're saying, "I'm so glad you don't know it's me that you're talking to," "I'm glad my wife doesn't know that it's me you're talking to," "I'm glad my girlfriend doesn't know it's me you're talking to," or, "I'm glad my boyfriend or my husband doesn't know that it's me that you are talking to", I want you to hear this clearly.
If you know Jesus, you are not fighting for victory, you're fighting from victory. Did you hear me? If you know Jesus, you're not fighting for victory, you're fighting from victory. He's already won the battle. You just need to win it through Him. Now, here's the good news. We've got the weapons that we need. Let's hear Paul again. "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God..." Now, watch this. Listen to what Paul says. "...we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ".
Now, Paul doesn't say that in a hypothetical or theoretical way. He says, "Listen. I'm living what I'm preaching and I'm preaching what I'm living. We've learned how to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ". You say, "How do you do that"? Well, the way you start out is you've got to direct your mind to the right things. Paul wrote this in another letter, Paul said, "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things". Do you see that little word, set? You've got the power to set your mind. You've got the ability to decide where your mind is set. You can determine the direction of your mind. You can control the connection of your mind.
You say, "How do you do that"? I'm going to give you the secret, alright. Listen. Ready? Every morning when you get up, your mind is just like a vacuum. It's empty. You haven't filled your mind. You've been asleep all night. Right? So your mind is empty. Now, when you get up in the morning, you can fill your mind with whatever you want it to fill it with. You can fill your mind with good things. You can fill your mind with bad things. You can fill your mind with right thoughts. You can fill your mind with wrong thoughts. You can fill your mind with gross thoughts. You can fill your mind with godly thoughts. Now, you may think that's impossible, but I'm going to give you an illustration. I want you to imagine that you brought me an empty glass up here, just an empty, like you drink water out of empty glass.
Now, I want you to imagine there is nothing but glass, there is nothing but air in that glass, right, so it's empty. All it has in it is air. Now, I want you to imagine that you asked me this question, "How do I get the air out of that glass"? The only thing in the glass right now is air, right? How do I get the air out of that glass? Well, that would be easy. Somebody, tell me, how would you do that? Fill it up. Just fill it with water. The way you get the air out of the glass is fill it up with water. Guess what. The way to remove wrong things from your mind is to fill your mind with the right things. So to quote the apostle Paul, if you don't mind, one more time, Paul said this, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things".
Paul, you're brilliant. So how do you get pornography into your mind? You look at it. You watch it. You focus on it. You obsess with it. You get addicted to it. That's how you get it into your mind. How do you get it out? Focus on the Bible. You do not have a moral spiritual problem that Jesus cannot solve. If He is who He said He is and He did what He said He did, you do not have a moral spiritual problem that Jesus cannot solve. And I want you to hear me carefully 'cause we so short-change Jesus in all of this. Jesus Christ died on the cross. So I believe that. Jesus Christ came back from the dead.
You say, "I believe that". But here's what we miss. He didn't just die on the cross and come back from the dead to give us victory over death. He died on the cross and came back from the dead to give us victory over life, to give us victory right here right now. He didn't just die so we could kind of limp home beaten up, bruised and battered, and whipped and defeated, and just finally barely cross the finish line into heaven. He died so we could have our chest out and our head up and we could look at the world, the flesh, and the devil and we can say, "You don't own me. You don't control me. You can't beat me". Through the power of the risen Lord, there is nothing that I cannot do. He didn't just die for your heart so you'd live right. He didn't just die for your body so you would act right. He died for your mind so you would think right. So you can go from an X-rated life to a G-rated life that is totally saturated and activated by God Himself. Why don't you start today?