October 21, 2017

Protecting the Hearts at Home

Tony L. Miller

When our daughter was in high school, a European film company came to our area to produce a documentary on Christianity in America. They interviewed and filmed our family for this program. The main focus was an extended private interview of our daughter by one of the company’s women. To say the least, we wondered what kind of interrogation or indoctrination might occur during that interview. Ultimately, though, we believe our daughter gave a clear presentation of what a Christian teenager should Biblically be.

Think of it—what if you had a stranger show up at your doorstep saying, “I want to spend an extended private time with your child,” wanting not only to question your Christian beliefs but also to indoctrinate your child on how to steal and not be caught? Or to learn to be a wizard without warning about the dangers of the occult? Or how to enjoy drinking and illegal drugs without negative consequences? Or to have sex outside of a normal marriage relationship without contacting STDs? What would your response be? You say, “There is not enough money in the world for a stranger to pay our family to access our child this way.” But we are paying money for strangers to access our children and influence them against our Bible beliefs. How? By paying for media entertainment that promotes evil without showing the consequences.

As leaders of our homes, we have not made the heart resolutions that David did.

I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. (Ps. 101:1–3).

In Exploring the Psalms John Phillips says, “It is said that Ernest the Pious, Duke of Saxe-Gotha, sent an unfaithful minister a copy of this psalm. It became a proverb in the land that when a minister of state was guilty of misconduct, ‘He would soon get the prince’s psalm to read.’” Better yet would it be if we “got” this psalm before we fail as leaders, rather than afterwards. Note the nine “I wills” and the six “I shalls,” which indicate strong resolve of heart about what would come into the hearts within the psalmist’s home.

The First Resolution

In Psalm 101 the first resolution to protect the hearts in our homes is “I will sing of mercy and judgment.” In verse 1 he says he twice says he will sing of God’s faithful love (“mercy”) and His righteous decision-making (“judgment”).

The heart that is rejoicing in God’s faithfulness and righteous acts is not easily tempted to immorality. Romans 1:21 demonstrates the protective reality of thanksgiving, which keeps us from idolatry and immoral perversion: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” Worshipping, praising, and giving thanks to God inoculate a believer’s heart from being tempted toward the “pleasures of sin for a season.” When our hearts are mad and not glad in the Lord, a “root of bitterness” will lead to a “profane” life of fornication like Esau’s, as Hebrews 12:15–17 shows:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Good music in the home with the resolution “I will sing” is “first base” in the game of a godly home. Joyful people are normally Spirit-filled people, and joyful people do not need illegitimate pleasure for happiness. They already have the joy of the Lord as their pleasure.

The Second Resolution

“I will behave myself wisely” is the second resolve David makes toward a blameless life. When David uses “perfect” twice in verse two, he is not determining to be a perfectionist but to have a blameless life. In light of behaving wisely, remember wisdom in the Bible is a practical, not just intellectual, concept. Wisdom basically means choosing the best means to the best end in all matters of life. David was determining to make godly decisions so he would end up well. And though he had one major failure in his life, he certainly ended life with God’s commendation. His predecessor king, Saul, experienced a bad end because of the many bad means he chose. Let us resolve, “I will behave myself wisely.”

The Third Resolution

The third resolution is “I will walk within my house with a perfect [blameless] heart.” Note the psalmist’s effort to live (walk) in the home and with a right heart. The heart of living is a matter of the heart motivation. That motivation is to please God in private as well as in public life.

In the next verse a personal standard is set: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” All Christian standards should come from heart convictions connected to the attributes of God. As you are forming your convictions (internal persuasion of what pleases God) and your standards (external parameters or guidelines from your convictions), from what personal quality of God are those standards flowing? For example, why should we have a conviction not to put anyone before God in an idolatrous way? Because the Bible says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Why? Because “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” God’s jealous nature is one of several reasons we should keep our lives from idolatrous relationships.

In the U.S. sexual pleasure outside of marriage is a huge idol. We need to get into the Bible and thoroughly study it, allowing it to convict us and to bring us to the right resolutions for our homes when through it we connect to the attributes of God.

The Fourth Resolution

“I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” is the fourth resolution (v. 3) and the most quoted of all eight resolutions in Psalm 101. The “wicked thing” is the “work” of wicked men or those who go astray. For our emotional being to be Biblically balanced, we must fervently love and equally hate. The psalmist demonstrates emotional love toward God’s faithful love (v. 1) and faithful men (v. 6), yet he still hates wicked works of wicked men (v. 4). Loving God means that we should hate the sin of wicked men.

Do we hate pornography, adultery, and abortion? In what ways should we see to it that no wicked thing is set before our eyes in our homes?

We pay big bucks for our computers, DVD players, televisions, and reading materials; each teaches a lifestyle while it entertains our families. Allowing children to have a TV, to have access to the Web, and to view videos in the privacy of their rooms is dangerous. Computers with access to the Internet should be filtered, located in a public room of the house, and not used privately after the rest of the family goes to bed.

The original question was, “Would you allow someone to teach your children positively concerning immorality, wizardry, thievery, and drug and alcohol addiction?” Though we immediately respond, “No!” in fact many Christians do pay teachers to come into their homes to lead their families toward the four general categories of the works of the flesh: immoral passion, idolatrous power, “I”-exalting pride, and intemperate pleasure. (Note Galatians 5:19–21.) Wicked people come freely into our homes not by the door but via cable and satellite, the Internet, magazine subscriptions, and DVDs. The first question we should ask ourselves is, “Are we setting people before our children who will teach them to enjoy the works of the flesh instead of being stirred toward the fruit of the Spirit?”

Avoiding “Wicked Things” in the Home

Having counseled men for over thirty years, I am convinced the greatest downfall of American Christian men is toleration rather than hatred of flesh-exciting media at home. How can leaders in the home prevent setting “wicked things” before their eyes and hearts? Some book and magazine subscriptions should be cancelled. If television companies do not offer technological features to block pornography, certain movies based on their ratings, or program content, they should not be paid to come into your home. All computer Internet access should be filtered; spam should be blocked, chat rooms monitored; logs should be easily checked. There should be no private use of the Internet during the day or after everyone else goes to bed, and, if necessary, a system of accountability should be installed for all logs if participation in pornography is a temptation.

This is not an extensive list, but there are services to assist with many of these. For example, Dan Olinger has written an excellent two-part article on “Internet Safety” in the Bob Jones University Press publication Teacher to Teacher. He gives insight in part one on how to responsibly access the Internet with its technical dangers (spam, pop-up ads, spyware, viruses, hackers, sexual predators) and personal dangers (violations of privacy and false information). Part two gives a look at ways to prevent access to pornography and other objectionable types of material.

Another example: We don’t have to watch movies to learn about their content. Leaders in the home can go to websites such as www.screenit.com to check content categories such as violence, music, language, sensuality, and even the general storyline. By using modern technology we don’t have to be “surprised” by movie content. Responsible men can find out the content before exposing their hearts and households to sin-provoking media. American Christians need to start viewing Christian DVDs that excite to the Spirit instead of feeding the flesh nature.

Four More “I Wills”

Four more “I wills” conclude Psalm 101: “I will not know a wicked person”; “I will cut off a slanderer”; “I will not suffer a proud heart”; “I will destroy the wicked in the land.” Interestingly, the Hebrew word “wicked” is best translated into Greek as ponoros, which is half of our English word “pornography.”

The psalmist took a no-tolerance “I will” stance to eliminate certain kinds of people from influencing his house or nation. As New Testament believers, we are not asked of God to “destroy the wicked of the land,” but we should do everything to destroy and eliminate the works of those who go astray. It starts at home.


Tony L. Miller is pastor emeritus of the Morningside Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina.

(Originally published in FrontLine • March/April 2007. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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