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THE COMPUTER, THE INTERNET, AND YOUR SOUL
by Dr. C. L. Cagan
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).
More than 2,500 years ago the prophet Daniel received these words. The Bible said that in the time of the end “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” There would be a great increase in travel and knowledge at the end of history.
Our text says that in the time of the end “many shall run to and fro.” Travel began to increase in the great age of exploration when Columbus sailed from Spain to America in 1492, and when the ships of Magellan sailed around the world a few years later (1519-1521). In the nineteenth century railroads and steamships were invented, and people could go hundreds of miles in a day. Then came automobiles and airplanes in the twentieth century. Now people fly thousands of miles in a day and think nothing of it.
Travel has exploded in our time. When my grandfather was born there were no automobiles. I don’t think he ever flew in an airplane. But when I was 15 years old I saw men walk on the moon! I was born in New York City, but I grew up here in California. I married a woman from El Salvador in Central America. Many of you were born in China, Korea, or Mexico, or another country – but now you’re here. There has been a tremendous growth in travel, just as the Bible said!
Our text also predicted a great increase in knowledge. It says, “knowledge shall be increased.” Modern science really began to grow three hundred years ago with the work of Isaac Newton (1642-1727). He invented calculus and founded the modern science of physics. Now science has grown incredibly in our own time. Knowledge has been increased, just as the Bible said.
Even more important, we have access to all that knowledge at our fingertips, like no one ever had before. With today’s computers, Daniel’s prophecy is literally fulfilled. When I went to college at UCLA, nobody had their own computer. There was no Internet. To write a paper we had to go to the library and read books, and then write the paper by hand or on a typewriter. That took time. But now in my house I have a computer with more power than all the machines that guided the first men to the moon. Today the Internet connects me to the whole world. In just a few seconds I’m in touch with news, videos, science – everything! I can look up information on almost anything. I send messages all over the world by e-mail. I read more than a dozen news sites every day. As the Bible says, “knowledge shall be increased.”
But now it’s old-fashioned to talk about a computer in your house. Today you carry the computer with you. You have an iPhone, an iPad, a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, or a notebook. With a little gadget that fits in your hand, you talk to people all over the world. You spend hours sending and reading text messages. You take pictures and send them to others. You watch sports and videos. You play games. You have programs called “apps” that can do just about anything for you. You spend hour after hour with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a million other things. You know the Bible was right when it said, “knowledge shall be increased.”
The computer can be a blessing. Our sermon manuscripts go into 216 countries in 33 languages. More than 100,000 people read the manuscripts or watch the videos every month. The sermons are on video in English, Chinese and Spanish on our website and on YouTube. We get e-mails every week from pastors who are helped by the sermons and even preaching them in their churches. Yes, technology can be a blessing.
But the computer can also be a danger. It can take over your life. It can even keep you from being converted! The greatest danger to the souls of young people today is not drugs or sex. It’s technology – computers, smartphones, the Internet. It’s taken over your life. These devices are not just things you use. No, they use you! You spend hours every day in an electronic world. You hardly live on this earth. You live in a different reality – that isn’t real at all!
Did I exaggerate? Did I go too far? Not at all! Some of you spend hours every day playing video games. That’s where you live. You spend hours every day on Facebook, or watching videos, or playing games, or doing something else on the Internet. That’s where you live. The gadgets take over your life and keep you away from other people. Did I say they keep you away? That’s right!
I’ve seen people talking to each other on their phones when they were just a few feet apart and could easily talk in person. I’ve seen people lined up in a row on a couch, each one tapping his gadget, ignoring the others, deep in a make-believe world. Some of you spend hours every day texting, even during class, at work, or in a car. Some people don’t answer their phones at all! They hardly ever talk to anyone. They let all calls go to their voicemail, and then look at the texts they get. I’ve seen people who can’t get along for five minutes without their device. No matter where they are, who they’re with, or what they’re doing, they keep looking down at their gadget. In church, they can’t listen to a sermon because they’re looking down at their device – and so they don’t receive a blessing. They don’t trust Christ. They’re too busy with their device.
They don’t own the gadget, it owns them! There’s no human communication, no relationship, no friendship, no love! People don’t know how to talk to each other today. They don’t know how to do anything without their device. They can’t live without it. Can you get along without your gadgets? Could you go a week without them? You can’t live without them. In fact, some of you are addicted to your electronics.
Is the computer addictive? Is the Internet addictive? Yes! You can get hooked on it like a drug! The addiction has an official name, Internet Addiction Disorder or IAD (See http://www.helpguide.org/articles/addiction/internet-and-computer-addiction.htm.). Here are some of the symptoms of Internet addiction:
• Feeling an intense desire to go online, play a computer game, or socialize.
• Being drawn by the computer as soon as one wakes up and before one goes to bed.
• Spending time on the computer despite family functions taking place, special events, or other activities.
• Using the computer as one's primary source of entertainment.
• Losing track of time while on the computer and spending more time on it than intended.
• Using the computer as a form of escapism from reality.
That describes many young people today. Does it describe you? Are you addicted to the Internet? Does your gadget run your life? Do you go back to it again and again? Can you get along without it, or can’t you? Do you use it as an escape from reality? Have you fallen into the trap of technology?
Some of you play video games for hour after hour. You go on and on. You get a little better at the game each time. You go back and play again. You’re drawn in. You go back and play some more. You live in the game. It’s your escape from reality. In fact, it is your reality. You’re addicted. Stop it!
Some of you look at pornography on the Internet. It’s easy to find. Once you look at it, you go back again and again. You don’t have a normal mind. Your thoughts are filled with what you see. It’s your reality. Stop it now! It will ruin your life – and keep you from being converted. Stop it and never go back!
Today’s gadgets and the Internet can help you, but they can also hurt you. There is a spiritual side to this – and a spiritual answer. Listen carefully. What does the computer offer you? What does the Internet offer you? Two things – knowledge and power. That has been the great temptation of the human race since the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, the Devil told our first mother Eve that if she disobeyed God,
“Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
“Knowing good and evil” – knowledge. “Your eyes shall be opened” – knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods” – power. When the Devil tempted Christ in the wilderness, he showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9). The Devil offered power. His offer is knowledge and power.
The Bible predicts a great “falling away” from the truth in the end times (II Thessalonians 2:3). That is happening in our day. People say we don’t need God. We don’t need the Bible. We have science. We have knowledge and power.
I used to think that myself. I believed only in science. I thought there was nothing after death. I thought the Bible was full of errors. I thought there was no God, no Heaven, no Hell, and no judgment. I thought Jesus was just a man who lived and died two thousand years ago.
I thought the answer was in science – in knowledge and power. Science would advance and we would go out into space – like in Star Wars and Star Trek. That was the answer – knowledge and power. That’s the reason science fiction is popular today, and many are deep in the culture of “Star Wars” – because they’re attracted to knowledge and power. Thank God I stopped believing in science fiction and trusted Jesus!
As the human race falls away from the truth and demonic temptation rises, we see Satan’s offer more and more: knowledge and power. That fits with the growth of modern science – power and knowledge, knowledge and power – predicted in our text, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). “We don’t need God,” people say. “We have science. We have knowledge. We have power. That’s what we want.”
And that fits with the misuse of the computer and the Internet. You can learn things – knowledge. You can do things – power. “Surrender yourself,” whispers the Devil. “Submerge yourself. Escape into the electronic world.” If you listen to him, you will lose your soul forever.
What is the Christian answer to technology? You may ask, “Are you telling me to never use a computer at all?” I didn’t say that. I said not to let it take over your life and steal your soul. The computer is a machine, like a radio or a car. What should you do with your car? Use it for what you need – to go from one place to another. What about a radio? Use it for what you need – to get the news while you’re driving, or for a little music.
It’s the same with the computer or any electronic device. It’s the same with the Internet. Use it for what you need, for school or work, or to communicate with people, or even a little fun. But don’t let it take over your life! Don’t make it your reality. If you’re looking at pornography, or something violent or demonic – stop it and never go back! If you’re playing video games for hour after hour – stop it! Don’t spend all your time clicking a gadget. Don’t spend hours every day on the Internet. Learn to read a book. Learn to talk to people. Learn to have old-fashioned fun. Learn to live without a machine. Learn to be a human being!
You ask, “How can I do that?” I’ll tell you what to do. Come to church every time the door is open. Turn off the gadgets and listen to the sermons. It’ll do you good – and show you how to be saved through trusting Christ. Turn off the gadgets and talk to people in church. Have a good time at lunch and dinner with us. Make good Christian friends. It will heal your mind and give you a happy life.
Someone says, “Church? Isn’t church boring? Why should I go there?” Well, maybe you’ve been to a boring church, but that won’t happen here! You’ll make friends that will last a lifetime. You’ll have more fun than you’ll ever get from a video game. You won’t need virtual friends and a virtual reality in an electronic cloud. You’ll make real friends and have real fun. That’s why we say, “Why be lonely? Come home – to church!”
Don’t stay tied up inside your gadgets! Listen to the words Mr. Griffith sang a few minutes ago,
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight.
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
(“I Am Resolved” by Palmer Hartsough, 1844-1932).
Don’t linger – don’t wait – any longer, charmed by the world’s delight, swallowed up in a false reality! Don’t be tied up in the world with its empty pleasures! There are things that are higher – and infinitely better. You ask, “What are they?” I’ll tell you what they are. Come to church and find out how much God loves you! Trust Jesus and let Him pardon your sin with His Blood and save you for Heaven forever! As Mr. Griffith sang,
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.
Don’t wait any longer! Trust Jesus today! “Hasten” to Him – don’t wait – come to Christ. Trust Him. He will save you now. Be sure that you trust Jesus and are pardoned of your sin by His Blood.
Coming out of the electronic cloud will heal your mind and help you in your life. But it will not get you to Heaven. It will not make you right with God. It will not forgive your sin. The Bible says, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23). You have sinned. And the Bible says, “Your [sins] have separated between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2). You can’t stand before God with your sin. That’s why Jesus came to earth and died on the Cross – to pay for your sin. That’s why Christ shed His Blood for you – to wash your sin away. That’s why Jesus rose from the dead – to give you life. If you trust Jesus, His Blood will pardon your sin. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). I pray that you will trust Jesus soon. Amen.
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(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-5.
Solo Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Am Resolved” (by Palmer Hartsough, 1844-1932).