Christian Living · Culture & Society · Movies

Not Prohibited but Providentially Redirected

On July 1, 2014, a new movie is scheduled to open in theaters. The plot summary alone should frighten a person prior to viewing the movie on a big screen. “In ‘Deliver Us from Evil,’ New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.”

As Christians consider going to see this demonically-inspired movie, several biblical principles should be remembered, reviewed, and appropriately applied.

First, the Bible tells Christians to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16). It is not wrong for a Christian to consider whether or not this two-hour film is a good investment of time.

Second, the Bible instructs Christians to think on matters which are pure, holy, and decent. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). A discerning Christian will realize from the plot summary and movie trailer that they will be witnessing images and actions that recreate demonic activity with thoughts that are frightening, terrifying, ugly, violent, and vicious.

Third, the Bible tells us to be careful not to cause a weaker brother to be offended (Rom. 14:15). There are Christians who believe it is wrong to go to the theater or to the movies. Sometimes young Christians watch mature believers as an example of proper behavior. The Christian is to be sensitive to this reality and not cause others to violate their conscience. R. C. Sproul offers wise insight on the concept of offending the weaker brother.

“The Classical understanding of Christian Liberty is this: we are not to try and force somebody with a scruple against something, as uniformed as that scruple may be, to violate his conscience. The basic principle that unfolds here is one of loving sensitivity. If my brother believes that drinking a glass of wine is sin, I ought not to try to coax him into drinking a glass of wine. That would be an attempt to entice him to violate his conscience. The violation of one’s conscience, even if it is a misinformed conscience, is a serious matter. That does not mean that we should stand back and allow our weaker brother to make his scruple the law of the Church. Paul makes clear in his teaching that though we are to be sensitive, loving and kind to the weaker brother we ought never to allow him to exercise tyranny over the church.”

Fourth, the conscientious Christian should consider whether or not the money spent on a demonic movie is the best investment of God’s resources. With so many needs in the world, with so many people to help, and with so many good ministries in need of support, is the money spent watching the machinations of the devil a good place to put God’s financial blessing?

Fifth, does watching a demonically inspired movie bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ? The Christian should remember that there is not a dramatic distinction between the secular and the sacred. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Finally, the Christian should consider the sum total of the life that is being developed and be aware of the dark side in the soul that does not need to be encouraged to fantasize about sexual exploitation and physical violence, both of which are inevitably associated with demonic activity. Secular writers familiar with the dark side of the soul know this is true. In his novel Invisible, author James Patterson has one of his characters saying, “Everyone around you has a sexual proclivity or a sadistic streak or some surrender to temptation that they bottle up inside, that they hide behind their Armani suits or fancy makeup or warm smiles or polite laughter.” It would be hard to deny this insight into the human persona. George Dana Boardman said,

“Sow an act, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Christian, what acts are you sowing, what habits are you developing, what character are you creating, and what destiny will you reap?

The concerned Christian will carefully consider whether or not they should see “Deliver Us from Evil” based on these, and other, gospel principles.

When reflected upon, when gospel principles are applied, when the person and work of God the Holy Spirit is allowed to influence one’s beliefs and behavior, it is probable that a Christian will be providentially redirected away from this movie, and others like it, in order to put their time, resources, and energy into something more wholesome.

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