Pastor Keith: Welcome to this episode of Doxology Matters. I’m your host, Keith McMinn, Worship Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church. This podcast hopes to help you think deeply about God’s Word as we offer Him praise. And today’s topic is holiness in the digital age – Holiness in the Digital Age. We read out of 1 Peter 1:16, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” So here we see this text calling us to holiness, and we want to unpack that. What does that mean? What does that look like for a Christian and especially contextualization in our digital age with so much technology at our fingertips? And today we have back with us Pastor Kevin Jones, great friend. So happy to have him back. This is your second time on the podcast.
Kevin Jones: Yes, thanks for having me back. Good to be here.
Pastor Keith: Hundred percent, yes. And we’ve got Pastor Michael Howard from Seaford Baptist. He always wears red when he records. I’m not sure if that’s his lucky color or what. We don’t believe in luck on this podcast, by the way, but –
Michael Howard: We do believe in Liverpool Football Club, though. That’s why I always wear red.
Kevin Jones: There you go.
Pastor Keith: Okay. Well, I just want to ask as we start, why does God call us to holiness when He has paid our sin debt? Pastor Kevin?
Kevin Jones: Sure, yeah. I was just looking over at Pastor Michael’s Bible here, and he has the same passage opened that I was going to reference. So I’ll let him do that, and maybe I can add in after he says that. But what I think of when I think of holiness, and kind of the very simple phrase that I used to teach my students when I would give student lessons, is that holiness – or I might say obedience – is the only proper response to grace. If we are not obeying what the Word of God says, then we don’t truly understand what grace is. So it’s the evidence. The obedience, the holiness, the desire for holiness, the pursuit of holiness, is our response to what we’ve been saved from and what we’ve been saved to. So that’s what I think of. That’s kind of the really basic and simple response that I think of.
Pastor Keith: Any connection to when Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”?
Kevin Jones: Absolutely, yes. I would say, for sure, yeah. Jesus showed His love for us in His death on the cross. We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments.
Pastor Keith: Amen. Pastor Michael, what does a pursuit of holiness look like? And, A, if you would just set the ball up on the tee for us, is that something that we think about as Christians often?
Michael Howard: I hope so. I think that –
Pastor Keith: I know you do, because I know you and I appreciate that about you.
Michael Howard: I have found that most brothers and sisters that walk seriously with the Lord, and when I say seriously, I’m not saying that they’re like the way that Robert Murray M’Cheyne has been described, where if he walked in a room, everybody felt more holy just because he showed up. You know? I’m just talking about somebody that is reading their Bible regularly, praying regularly, looking for opportunities to share their faith, somebody that’s embracing the basics of following Jesus. I do think they think about it, and I think they think about because, like Kevin said, they love Jesus. And I think that that love draws them in to think, “Well, how can I become more intimate with Him?” And He has not called us out of darkness into darkness. He’s called us out of darkness to himself.
And so, yeah, got my Bible open Isaiah 6. Right? “He is holy, holy, holy.” And that means that He’s called us to Himself. He’s called us to a God who is holy. And so if we want to be intimate with Him, we must pursue holiness. Colossians 3 is a passage I love where you are taking off the earthly desires and you are putting on the heart of compassion, humility and gentleness, forgiveness. Paul says love above all of those things. The peace of Christ is ruling in your hearts.
And then that all leads up to what I know is one of Pastor Keith’s favorite verses in Colossians 3:16, where there’s this instruction for the Word to dwell in us richly and that we’re going to be worshipers in song and in all we do in life. So I think that to pursue holiness, it means that we are wanting to lay aside every weight. We’re wanting to separate ourselves more and more from sin. And it’s a continual repentance, where we’re turning our back on sin, turning toward God, and we are putting on the things He calls us to put on that are going to remove those barriers of sin and let us have that intimacy with Him that He desires with us and that our hearts grow to desire as we know Him more and more.
Pastor Keith: So a statement that’s kind of bubbling up here, with you brothers speaking, is that the Word – reading God’s Word, meditating, and memorizing God’s Word, and communion with God in prayer is of utmost importance in the pursuit of our sanctification and holiness. Any response that you have to that?
Kevin Jones: Yes. I would say absolutely. If you have a relationship with somebody, you don’t ignore them after that relationship has started. You continue that relationship. And so, yeah, I’d say if you’re not doing the basics of understanding God more and more, you can’t even consider becoming more holy. I think that’s where it starts.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, some people will say, “I just really haven’t grown in the Lord in a good while.” And when they say that, I’m thinking, “Well, wonder why not?” But maybe it’s because they haven’t spent time in God’s Word and prayer. Now sometimes you can go through a patch to where you’re just – I don’t know how to describe that. Maybe that you’re not – I don’t know how you can not grow when you’re spending time in God’s Word and in prayer. But that would be my encouragement to you, if you’re listening. If you feel like, “Man, I just – I’m not really growing and drawing near to Jesus.” I would say think about James, where the Scripture says, “Draw near to him, and he will draw near to you.” And abide with Him. Read His Word and commune with Him in prayer.
Kevin Jones: I think a lot of that, Keith, comes from this idea that there needs to be some kind of emotional response in us when we’re growing in the Lord. I get that some. I have some students that I teach at Hampton Christian Academy. I’ve got 11th and 12th grade class that I teach Bible to. One of the questions I got from some of them if, “Well, I don’t feel close to God.” It’s like, well, you don’t have to feel close to God to be close to Him. And I think a lot of people say that because they’re like, “Oh, I haven’t had some emotional event with God.” And I don’t know where that comes from, if that’s just kind of our culture or what it is. But sometimes the emotions aren’t there, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not drawing closer to Him.
Pastor Keith: That’s really helpful.
Michael Howard: Yeah, persisting in the spiritual disciplines even on days when – I think about John Piper’s got the book When I Don’t Desire God. The days where you feel like you don’t desire Him, persisting in those disciplines and being honest in prayer. I think some people’s prayer lives can be a little bit surface level. And God, He’s described in Revelation 1 and Revelation 2, Jesus has these eyes that are like fire. He sees straight through our hearts, and so you might as well just be honest with Him and just say, “God, I don’t want to read Your Bible today. I don’t want to pray today. I’m not feeling this. But I know You want me to do this, and I’m going to ask You to show up, because I know I want You. And I know that these emotions I’m feeling, I cannot trust them, because I can’t trust my heart.”
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Michael Howard: “So I’m going to pursue You right now, and I’m asking You to show up and to transform me.” I’ve had seasons where I’m praying that continuously and maybe I’m struggling because I’m just kind of settling for complacency in some area, or I’m not spending enough time maybe challenging myself, or even just changing up my routine. You know what I mean? I don’t want anybody listening to feel like, “Well, these guys all just really love the Lord and I must just be not a true Christian,” or whatever. There are seasons where you feel like you’re in the wilderness. I mean the very last verse of Psalm 119, after all this talk about the Word of God, he’s like, “And I’m a sheep out in the woods. I need God to come and get me.”
Pastor Keith: We’re a desperate people.
Kevin Jones: Absolutely, yeah.
Michael Howard: Yeah, so that happens. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” But don’t let you feelings drive you to give up or to not take the discipline seriously, but instead say, “I know what the Word says I should do, so I’m going to keep coming to the Word. I’m going to keep coming the Lord in prayer and believe that His power is stronger than my sin and my complacency.
Pastor Keith: So rich already. How does the gospel help us in our pursuit of holiness? And before you answer that question, could you just define the gospel. One of you? Yeah, open up to anybody.
Kevin Jones: Sure, yeah, how do you define such a profound thing in a few sentences? But it is the good news that we could do nothing to save ourselves. We were utterly lost and utterly dead in our sin until Jesus came and paid the perfect sacrifice for that. And through faith, we share in His death to sin, but we also share in His resurrection and life. That’s as basic as I can put it.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, I remember Don Whitney said something to me when he was here at Bethel, he said, “If you ask most Christians to define what the gospel is, they won’t be able to tell you.” And I thought, “I don’t know about that.” We were sitting in Ruby Tuesday. I thought, “I’m going to give that a try,” and I started asking people that question, and the responses I got were like, “Whoa.” As a pastor, it really made me think, “I’ve got to really make sure I’m clearly articulating the gospel.”
Kevin Jones: Absolutely, yeah. To ourselves even.
Pastor Keith: Oh, absolutely.
Kevin Jones: To remind ourselves. Yeah, because even when you asked, “What is the gospel?” I had a little bit of a panic, “Do I know what it is?” I mean, truthfully, because I don’t think about it enough. You know what I’m saying? I don’t think, “What is the gospel to me?” So yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. We need to speak it to ourselves and to others as often as we can. Even those who already know it.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, C.J. Mahaney, in his book The Gospel Centered Life, says it needs to be – we need to speak it to ourselves just like brushing our teeth every day. So how does the gospel help us with our pursuit in holiness? Michael?
Michael Howard: I think that when you know – like Kevin was saying, our biggest problem in life is the fact that we cannot help ourselves and that we are destined for eternal hell. The fact that our biggest problems, sin and death, have already been dealt with – the promises of the new covenant in Ezekiel 36 is that God will put His Spirit within you and that He will cause you to obey His statutes. So I think the gospel helps us because we’re going, “Our biggest problems have already been dealt with and God is giving me the power by His Spirit to obey the commands that He has given me.”
That it is not muster up all your effort so that you can satisfy the law, and then you’re declared holy by God. But instead that our efforts have failed and that Jesus in His perfect effort and in His perfect life, He has satisfied the law and that now we are free to love the Lord and we are declared holy not because of anything that we do but because of what Jesus has done. And so now we’re free to pursue Him and His Spirit is going to lead us to obey His statutes. I think that that’s how the gospel encourages me, to know the right order. That it’s not my obedience earns salvation, but it’s that my salvation has been earned and now I can be obedient.
Pastor Keith: Yes, amen. Very well said. When I was growing up, we had our envelopes that – we had to check off if we brought our Bible, if we studied our Sunday school lesson, all those kind of things. Is stuff like that helpful? Or does that create a culture of us – of duty, of checking marks. How does that play in?
Michael Howard: I think that depends on the person. I’m a list person. I love a list. I love checking things off. There are some people, that the mere existence of a list in their presence will make them so anxious and turn them into such a legalist that maybe that’s not helpful.
Kevin Jones: Yeah, sure. Absolutely.
Michael Howard: So I don’t know that that’s something that’s kind of the one-size fits all situation.
Kevin Jones: Right. Yeah, I think it depends on your heart for sure. When we were talking about Isaiah 6 – that’s the passage I wanted to go to – talking about what is the right order of things. I mean, look in Isaiah 6. Isaiah sees the heavenly throne room, and he says, “Woe is me. I’m undone, for I’m a sinful person.” I’m paraphrasing some here. Then he says, “One of the seraphim,” one of the angels, “flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he’d taken from the altar. With it, he touched my mouth and said, ‘This has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'” And then here’s the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us,” and that’s when Isaiah says, “Here am I. Send me.”
In that, I see this order. I see first, Isaiah admits that he is not worthy to be in God’s presence. I think that’s the first step of holiness at all is to say, “I am unholy. God is holy. I cannot be in His presence in my unholiness.” But the next step is not, “Oh, I better do the right thing.” The next step is, here is a free gift of salvation. The angel flies over and says, “Here is this hot coal. Your guilt’s taken away.” So after that, Isaiah says, “Yeah, of course I’m going to go for the God who saved me.” I mean, that’s his response. So whenever I read Isaiah 6, I see that order of – how does the gospel call me to holiness? Because I’m already saved and I’ve already been given a grace that I don’t deserve. Therefore, what – again, I just say, what is my only response to that? Is to follow that God with all that I have. So that drives my pursuit of holiness, and I think it should drive all of ours.
Pastor Keith: That’s excellent. One of my questions I had is – how can I phrase this for you? Do you think holiness or living a life that pleases God is possible? And I was thinking about that Scripture, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, my rock and my redeemer.” So as we think about holiness, is God pleased with us some days and not pleased with us another day? I know that we – God looks at us through His Son, that we have His righteousness imputed to us. But day to day, can you help those that are listening think about how God views them in their day to day? Maybe if they responded to their spouse in a way that was fiery or they talked about somebody uncharitably, how does God deal with us day to day with our sin in light of the gospel?
Michael Howard: So I think that’s when – there’s two things I would say. One is that you need to brush your teeth with the gospel, like C.J. Mahaney said. I mean, those are the days where you have to preach it to yourself, that God’s love for you is not based on your performance. That, as Matt Chandler said, He’s not waiting for some future version of you that He’s going to love. That He loves you now, in Christ. And that Christ has already died for you. As if He was brash with your spouse that day, as if He spoke unkind words or even curse words or whatever, that Jesus was already punished for that sin on the cross for you, which should do nothing but make you want to worship Him and not do that sin again. So I would say that. But I do believe in the discipline of the Lord. I do believe that if you’re a child of God, that He uses His discipline in order help to – not just His discipline, but certainly does use His discipline to help shape and conform you to the image of His son.
Pastor Keith: Is that the Old Testament reference, “He chastens those that he loves.”
Michael Howard: Sure. I was also thinking of Hebrews and how – basically the argument from the author of Hebrews is, if He doesn’t discipline you, you’re an illegitimate child. What father does not discipline his child if he loves his child? If I discipline two of my children and one of my sons I just never discipline, at some point that son will look at me and go, “I wonder why I never get spanked?” You know? I wonder why he doesn’t care what I do? Why my actions don’t really seem to matter to him? I discipline all three of my children because I love all three of my children, and God disciplines His children. If you can sin and sin and sin and sin, and it never bothers you, it never has an effect on your conscience, you don’t loose sleep at night over that, and you think you’re a Christian, then you should examine yourself to see whether or not you are in the faith. Because the Bible simply does not show us a child of God who is not disciplined by the Lord.
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: You know probably the words have come out of my mouth maybe seven times in various situations to where I’ve said, “I wish I could stop sinning.” The older I get, the more I hate the sin that is within me. That’s just – that’s an honest confession. If the mics were off, I’d say the same thing. It’s not that I’m out doing like big public sins, because I’m not. But I know that the sin is in my heart. Like, I don’t ever want to speak about somebody uncharitably. I never want to gossip. I never want to look on something lustfully. I don’t want to covet. I don’t want to not trust God when He’s clearly given me reasons, and I’ve seen His faithfulness throughout all the redemptive history and in my life. I want to trust Him. So yeah, I think the more you grow with the Lord, the more you distaste the things that are not of God. Would you say that you agree with that?
Kevin Jones: Absolutely. Yeah, like Michael said, if not, you need to question, are you truly saved? Do you truly know what you were saved from? Because if you did understand that, you would not want – I mean, you have Romans 6 on the list. When we get to that, we can mention that. But we can’t live in that sin anymore. If we’ve been called to life, we can no longer live in sin.
Michael Howard: You end up calling yourself wretched. Right? And I think that the closer you get to Jesus, the more you become aware of your sin. I think Spurgeon said something to that effect, that, “If you show me someone who thinks their sin is small, I’ll show you someone who thinks their Savior is small.” And I think the closer we get to Jesus the more aware we become of the fact that we do not measure up and without Him we would have absolutely no hope in this world or the next.
Pastor Keith: I think about the quote, I don’t remember who it has come from, but I’ve heard Keith Getty mention it a couple times. We live in the best of times and the worst of times. And you could say that in a lot of different subject matters. But for right now, we’re living in the digital age. Everything is literally at our fingertips. I don’t know if you ever watched the show Little House on the Prairie.
Kevin Jones: Yeah.
Pastor Keith: No, Pastor Mike?
Michael Howard: Afraid not, no.
Kevin Jones: When I stayed home sick from school with my mom, usually.
Pastor Keith: How about Scooby Doo? Did you all watch that?
Michael Howard: I’ve been binging Shark Tank lately.
Pastor Keith: Oh, Shark Tank, yeah. “You’re dead to me.” I forgot where I was going with that.
Michael Howard: Digital age.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, digital age. We have all these tools that are available to us that we can use them for good and be edified in them and communicate to our flock, communicate with one another, body life, but also it’s really challenging, because it can be a vehicle to pour bad stuff in our life, what we feast on. Just really quick, give me your – both of your summations of the – how about one of you tell me the gifts of social media, and one of you say the dangers of social media. We’ll go to gifts to Pastor Kevin. How has social media been a blessing to us – oh, Pastor Kevin, yeah.
Kevin Jones: Okay, yeah, making sure. All right.
Pastor Keith: I did that in one other podcast.
Kevin Jones: The gifts of social media. Yes, well, this is the harder one, I think. The connection that you can make with people from all over the place, from friends that you had all the way back to middle and high school maybe, in some cases. I try my best – my social media accounts are both me trying to be funny and get laughs and post cute pictures of my kids, but also to preach the gospel when I can. There’s different – I try not to make it a place where that is contentious, that is all about me, although that’s really kind of the purpose of social media is, “Hey, this is me. This is my online poster of myself,” is really what it is.
But yeah, I think one of the gifts can be this is somewhere you can online just post, “Here’s the gospel. This is what it is for me. This is what God’s done in my life. Here’s a Bible verse. Here’s a song.” And I try to do that as much as I can. So just those connections you can make, the way that you can kind of get the gospel out there to people who would otherwise not give you the time of day. They might scroll past it, but they would see – the hope would be they’d see the gospel through you on social media. So I’d say that’s probably the biggest potential gift, if you chose to use it that way.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, we can be a strong witness for Christ.
Kevin Jones: Right, absolutely.
Michael Howard: So I get the curses of social media?
Kevin Jones: How much time do we have?
Pastor Keith: That’s right.
Michael Howard: I’ll try to do it brief here. No, I think that you can follow stuff that is not pleasing to the Lord and that stuff can cultivate in you a lot of things. I think it can cultivate in you a humor that is not pleasing to the Lord, if you’re following stuff that is funny to the world but it would break the heart of God. I think that if you are just following nothing but political stuff, you could become obsessive about current events and even allow that to become the dominant theme of your social media to the point that people don’t really care at all about what you have to say about Jesus, because they’re so offended by how abrasive you are in your political opinions. I think that it can be used for gossip. I think it can be used as – it’s a catch all for complaining. It becomes this place where it’s cool to go and grumble. It’s cool and go and bash the cashier that was too slow checking you out at Kroger, or it can be a place to go and complain about Governor Northam, whether he’s your favorite person or not, or President Trump, whether he’s your favorite person or not. I think that it can be all of those things.
I think it can be a time suck for us, where you sit down at the end of your work day and get home, fix yourself a glass of tea, sit down in the recliner and say, “Oh, I’ll just spend a couple minutes on Facebook.” And the next thing you know, it’s 90 minutes later. And then people will say, “Well, I just don’t have enough time to do a quiet time. I just don’t have enough time to read my Bible. I don’t have enough time to pray.” And by the way, we were talking about being cold in our prayers. “Well, I tried to pray for 10 minutes and didn’t really feel it.” It’s like, well, maybe we should put the Facebook away and seek the Lord for 90 minutes and use Facebook for 10 minutes.
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Michael Howard: And 90 minutes, that would be a below average user of a smartphone. The average use for smartphone is 3 to 4 hours a day for an American adult. And I would dare say, most of that time is spent on social media. So it can just suck our time up. I know for me personally, and I’ve really been convicted about it the last year. I’ve tried to separate myself. The last bastion of social media that had it’s hooks in me was Twitter, and Covid-19 has fixed that for me. Because it’s so dark and dreary and people are so pessimistic, I’ve found, on Twitter. Because nobody clicks on your article when you say, “Hey, I think things are looking up.” Everybody clicks on the article that’s bad. I just have found that I can’t – I can’t be on there, man. It just brings me down. I’ve been reading more. I’ve been writing more. I’ve been spending more time with my kids. I’ve had more time to play video games. Not just like things that are rich and spiritual.
Kevin Jones: I feel that, yeah.
Michael Howard: I’ve had more time to sit down and play some video games, because I’m not just wasting on social media. Video games are just like the jigsaw puzzle. You know what I mean?
Kevin Jones: Same for me.
Michael Howard: You play it. You check out. You beat the game. It’s fun. You get done. To me that’s a better use of time than just scrolling on Facebook. I think there’s clearly a lot of good, like Kevin said. And right now, during this global pandemic, if not for social media, our church would have not been able to connect nearly as much as we’ve been able to with our church members. But man, there’s so much that can really stand in between you and the Lord through those platforms.
Pastor Keith: This is really helpful. I mean, you guys really created a fair and balanced view of the blessings and the cursings of social media. I really want to dive down, in the balance of the time that we have left, to that, because I think pastorally, I think social media reveals what’s really going on in a person’s heart.
Kevin Jones: I agree with that.
Pastor Keith: A hundred percent. Before that, I think we could have fake faces on when we see people out in public, but there’s something about – there’s a disconnect in people’s mind that they think, “I’m going to post this. I’m in my house. Nobody’s here. I’m going to post this, but it’s not going to reflect on me. I can say this, but when I get around ‘real people'” – air quote – “they’re not going to see that.” But then they just put all kind of stuff out on the net. Personally for me, I think about my challenges I have with that.
But pastorally, there’s major red flags going off when a student will post a picture of herself in a bikini or – the ones that really bother me – well, not really. All of them bother me, but somebody will post something and say, “Well, this is a great post. Excuse the language, but go ahead and read this.” That’s not helpful. Whenever I see those, I’m like, “Hmm. What better part of wisdom is that?” But it shows to me that their person – and I’m not judging in a legalistic way but it shows to me where their discernable line is in their hearts to where that they would feel comfortable even projecting that out.
Kevin Jones: Maybe like you were saying, something they wouldn’t even say out loud to another person, but it’s like, “Oh, it’s okay, because I’m ‘just’ – again, air quotes – “‘just’ posting it online,” as if that is somehow better or not – yeah, not as bad as just saying it out loud.
Michael Howard: Well, to the generations coming after us, and probably even my generation – I don’t know how old Kevin is, but I’m like right on the borderline of Millennial and Gen-X.
Kevin Jones: Full Millennial here.
Michael Howard: Yeah, I associate myself with the Millennials. I grew up a ’90s kid. I’m not going to try to cling on to the ’70s and ’80s kids. For Millennials and the generation coming after us – I’m don’t know what they’re calling them. Generation-Y? I don’t know what they’re calling them this next generation. What you post online is more important than what you say in person. In fact, when you try to call – if you try to call a 15-year-old, it’s like, “What are you calling me for? That’s so aggressive.” You know what I mean? Like, “Don’t call me. Send me a text or Snapchat,” or whatever.
Pastor Keith: You know, to follow up with that – I’ll stop you just for a minute. We often think of the younger generation, the Millennials, and push back on social media. I mentioned a younger person posting a summertime picture that is maybe not modest. But we see that in adults as well.
Michael Howard: For sure, and actually on Facebook I would say that – the Golden Generation to a lesser extent, but the Boomers are – they’re running Facebook now. I mean, I left Facebook. I was done. A lot of Millennials are leaving it as far as heavy use, and the generation after us, they don’t care about Facebook. They ain’t getting on Facebook.
Kevin Jones: Yeah, not at all.
Michael Howard: And then they have their Instagram account, then their burner Instagram account, where they post the stuff they don’t want their mom to see. So yeah, when we’re talking about the ills of Facebook, which to me is just – man, that is like the bottom of the barrel for social media for me. I’m going to be honest. That’s where I think I see the most stuff that bothered me was on Facebook. It’s mostly people between the ages of like 40 and 70 who are doing the damage, and it’s really ugly. I’m not saying Millennials aren’t doing stupid stuff on the internet. Don’t get me wrong. Plenty of stupid stuff. Just go on Instagram. You’ll see all their dumb stuff.
Pastor Keith: Or this new app called TikTok.
Michael Howard: Or TikTok. There’s plenty of stuff on there that’s not honoring to the Lord either. And there’s some fun stuff that comes out, but a lot of it is not good at all. But man, Facebook had just become a place where the older generations are wreaking havoc with their words and actions.
Pastor Keith: Yesterday I had a conversation with my son, Jonah, about TikTok. I’m hearing everybody talking about it, so I thought I would just check this out to see what it’s like. And whoa. And so I was talking to my kids about it. Not Sarah, because she is not on any kind of electronic, other than her iPad to watch Nickelodeon or whatever. But I shared with them, especially Jonah yesterday – he said, “Well, Dad, you can follow people that don’t post garbage.”
Kevin Jones: Sure. You can.
Pastor Keith: And I said, “Buddy, that’s true.” But I said, “Hand me your phone just for a minute.” So he handed me his phone and I just started swiping up and just letting TikTok bring things, you know. I said, “Look at this.” Like, look at this.
Michael Howard: It doesn’t take long.
Kevin Jones: It doesn’t take long.
Pastor Keith: I said, “Buddy, you could have good intentions and want to be pure, but you could come across something that, on one hand, you’re going to wish you didn’t see it, but then the other part, your flesh is going to go, ‘Bing. Bing. Bing.’ And all of a sudden you’re down a path that you never thought you’d be down, but there you are.”
Kevin Jones: So if I can jump in on that. That is the exact – I had an Instagram account for a while. And that is the reason that I got rid of it. Because, like you said, all I had to do was scroll a little bit and there’s some add or some, “Hey, you might like this,” and my flesh says, “Yeah, I do like that picture of that girl,” but my spirit should not like that.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, exactly.
Kevin Jones: I eventually had to delete the app. I haven’t had that app on my phone in two-and-a-half years. Haven’t used my Instagram account in that amount of time, because to me it was kind of a cut your right hand off so it doesn’t allow you to sin kind of thing. For me, Facebook hasn’t been that. Some people had a lot more negative experiences with Facebook. For me, it hasn’t been bad. That’s the one that I’m on still, because I’m able to –
Pastor Keith: Same.
Kevin Jones: Yeah, I’m able to kind of control what I see easier. I’m able to use that without letting it become an idol – sometimes. My wife would tell you I’m on it too much. Which she’s probably right. I probably need to be on it less. But I’d say that’s the biggest issue I have with Facebook is I just look at it too much, like we were talking about earlier. But for me it was Instagram. I said, “No, this is not worth it anymore.” Yeah, I could follow accounts that don’t post things, but it’s too easy to find some that have way to many things that I should not be seeing.
Michael Howard: I think it’s person to person too, what they can use and what they can’t use. The reason I left Facebook is it caused – for me it was a time issue and it was pastoral anxiety. It was just causing so much anxiety in me, because I felt like I constantly had to keep up with what was going on with all the church members on Facebook and people coming to me, “Did you see what So-and-so put on Facebook?” And now I can look at them and go, “No, I didn’t, but why don’t you tell me.” And what I’ve found is people actually call me now. They’re like, “Oh, I know you don’t have Facebook, so let me tell you that So-and-so is in the hospital.”
Kevin Jones: Oh, that’s nice, yeah.
Michael Howard: I’m like, great. That’s awesome. I don’t have to go search it out. People call me. It was giving me anxiety. And it would give me anxiety when I saw church members fighting about politics. It killed me. And so I just didn’t want to see it. That was an out of sight out of mind thing that I needed to do for myself. It’s different person to person. But that’s where you have to be in prayer, reading the Word, and he responded – you know, with Instagram, Kevin responded to a conviction. And as he was convicted, because he cared about holiness, he responded and he took action. And I think that’s the important thing when it comes to social media. Don’t just be a sheep. Don’t just sit there and be like, “Well, whatever the world gives me, I’ll eat it.” But instead, you’ve got to keep those discernment goggles on.
Pastor Keith: Absolutely. It’s not that we want a legalistic approach and say, “Don’t use and iPhone,” or, “Don’t get out on the net.” But we need to have this growing desire to pursue the things of God, and that’s really well said. Don’t just eat and gobble up anything the world gives you. Because if you do that, you’re going to find yourself in a really bad place.
Michael Howard: Without a doubt.
Pastor Keith: Without a doubt. I know pastorally, we could all three share – non-identity, individuals names, but of cases to where pornography and lust has wrecked people’s lives. Absolutely wrecked their lives.
Michael Howard: Marriages.
Pastor Keith: Oh, my goodness. Families, kids, and it will take you further than you ever thought that you would go. And you’ll look in the rearview mirror and you’ll be like, “How did I get over here?” I counseled one person years ago, before I was at Bethel, that had a struggle, and they were a 911 operator. And they were looking at pornography on the 911 screen, and the person’s – the caller-in, their house burned down. And he was looking on the screen. Now probably years before that, he would have never thought that would even be a possibility. But before you know it, you feed your flesh so much that you’re just going to crave those things. But we need to crave the things of the Spirit.
Kevin Jones: Yes, absolutely. Without a doubt.
Pastor Keith: And the things of God. And so I just say to you, brother and sister in Christ, as you’re listening, as you approach day-to-day life, not just social media, but maybe in drama, what parts you take in a certain play. Can you portray – we had this conversation with interns at one time. Can you portray something drama-wise that is sensual and very contrary to what the Bible says and then on the next day turn your way and sing praise to God like it’s no big deal just because you’re acting? Where are you using your godly discernment to reflect the goodness of God and live a life that is in the pursuit of pleasing God?
I think we need to look at all of our actions, not just social medial. But really take serious this drawing near to God. It’s a real burden and passion for me. Almost like in the Life Action Ministry _____ , like the seed that kind of grows. It just grieves my heart a lot when I look at social media and see the pictures of – pastorally I think, “Oh, they need soul care here.” They’ve got this narcissistic issue here to where, this person posts a picture of themselves with the sun shining on their face in a certain way like three or four times a week. Like, “Wonder why they do that?” Is there something in their life that they didn’t feel loved a long time ago.
Kevin Jones: Sure. Could be.
Pastor Keith: How is their identity in Jesus Christ? Do they need likes on Instagram or social media to help them feel more loved? I just want to tell them, “Don’t do that. Jesus loves you in a way that a like on Facebook can never obtain.”
Kevin Jones: Without a doubt. That’s my issue with Facebook. If I’m funny, people like that or laugh at that on Facebook, man I feel good about myself. I think there can be a balance to that. Yeah, I think that’s fine as long as it’s not what gives you your worth. Right? And again, that’s personal convictions. There are some times where I’m checking this post. How many more people liked this now? That’s a heart check for me. It’s like, is that all I care about? Is that what I want people to see me – do I want people to see, “Hey, wow, that Kevin guy, he’s funny. He posts some funny things that his kid says”? Or do I want people to think, “Wow, that guy really loves Jesus. That’s where he finds his identity”?
That’s what we have to ask ourselves. What do we want people to think of us online? More people see us online, I would say, than in person. I’m generalizing. Probably true. What are we portraying ourselves as? Are we portraying ourselves as people who are pursuing holiness? Or just, “Hey, here’s me. Here’s how I’m funny. Here’s how I look.” Whatever it is, what do we want people to see?
Pastor Keith: We don’t want to be like the Pharisees on the other side of – when Jesus said, “You people, you honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.” So we want to post as – one of the things I so appreciate about Michael, and actually about you, brother, is that you’re authentic in your walk with God.
Kevin Jones: Try to be.
Pastor Keith: And so we want to have this authenticity as we pursue the things of God.
Kevin Jones: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that.
Michael Howard: Yeah, I think that it’s not like your social media account, if you have it, just has to look like what John Calvin’s would have looked like maybe, if he had one. I think it’s okay to post about sports teams you love or a show that you’re watching that is not dishonoring to the Lord and it’s not going to harm your witness letting people know you’re watching the show. I think that there’s other things you can do with social media besides just posting Scripture and memes of theologian’s quotes. I think Martin Luther, for example, would have had a great Facebook. He probably would have gotten in trouble a little bit here and there.
Pastor Keith: Oh, my goodness.
Michael Howard: But I think he would have had a great Facebook. He’s got so many quotes that I know his tongue was in his cheek as he was saying these things. But at the same time, he was getting across the truth.
Pastor Keith: He would have lit Twitter up.
Michael Howard: He would have been great. You know what I mean? And I don’t think he would have just been so spiritual that he would have felt inaccessible as a person. And so I tell you a Twitter follower that I’ve enjoyed over the years is Jared Wilson, at Midwestern now, written a lot of good books – Jared C. Wilson. Yeah, he’ll post about the Patriots, but then he’ll turn around and share some really good quotes, or he’ll put something out there, a question. Instead of just being so sure about everything, he’ll ask a question about a book he’s reading. “What do you guys think about this opinion?” He’ll interact with people.
I’ve just found him to have – to me I’ve always thought, “Man, this guy’s doing it right. This is what it should look like.” Where if I was an unbeliever, I might follow him just because he’s funny a lot of times. And I’ll put up with the Christian stuff, because he’s funny. So he’s probably got a great witness, I think, with some unbelievers. He’s encouraging and edifying to brothers and sisters. And he’s seeking out some of his common interest groups. There are probably Patriots fans that follow him just because he tweets about the Patriots. And none of it, I think, defames the name of Jesus in any way, but it’s not just like ivory tower Christianity either. I think that’s kind of a nice place for us to aim for.
Pastor Keith: Man, brother, that was an excellent example of how to have a presence on social media like that. That was very helpful.
Kevin Jones: I agree.
Pastor Keith: Amen to that. We thank you so much for listening to this podcast, and brothers, we’re thankful to have you on this very important topic, a brief discussion, nearly about 40 minutes. But we just want to pray for you that are listening as you journey with God, that you would trust him, that you would draw near to Him, pursue Him, read His Word, be people of prayer, commune with Him, and grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Now we hope that this has helped you. If you want to follow – subscribe to this podcast, you can go to Apple Podcast and type in the search bar ‘Doxology Matters’ or Spotify or go to our website bbcyorktown.org/doxologymatters. I’m putting all the words out here at the end. And join the conversation. Let us know how God is working in your life. Thanks for listening.