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A lesson by Dr. C. L. Cagan
given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, March 18, 2018

“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity” (Psalm 119:37).

The Hebrew word translated “vanity” in our text means “evil, ruin, morally destructive, useless” (see Strong’s Concordance #7723). The Psalmist prayed that God would keep his eyes away from things that were “evil, ruin, morally destructive, useless.” That’s what young people look at for hours every day – things that are evil, ruinous, morally destructive, and useless.

What is that? What you do on the computer! I didn’t say never to use a computer or an iPhone. Use it when you need to for school or work. I didn’t say never to go on the Internet. Do that when you need to. But I’m talking about you wasting hours every day. I’m talking about Facebook and other social media. I’m talking about video games. I’m talking about pornography. Those things are not good for you. They aren’t just harmless fun. They will hurt you. All of them are useless – a waste of time. They can destroy you. They will ruin your life.

First, social media will ruin your life. What is social media? It’s how people socialize on the Internet. They send messages to each other. They put up pictures and send them to each other. They tell their electronic “friends” what they’re doing. They look to see what others are doing. They send comments to each other. They spend hour after hour on this.

I don’t see good things on social media. I’ve never seen anyone invite people to church there. I’ve never seen people witnessing about Christ there. I’ve never seen a Bible verse. It’s full of gossip and junk – even from people who go to church!

I’m talking about Facebook. I’m talking about Instagram and Snapchat. I’m talking about Twitter – sending out tweets and reading other people’s tweets! I’m talking about how you waste your time.

The average person spends more than two hours a day on social media. That’s not just the United States, it’s worldwide! (See The Statistics Portal, Adweek and Social Media Today. Click on the links to read the articles.) Two hours a day is the average. Some people waste five or six hours a day. But let’s just think of two hours a day. Over your lifetime, that’s more than five years!

You could get far better grades by studying two hours a day instead of wasting time on social media. You could do better at work with two more hours a day. You could talk with people and make real friends. You could be a human being again!

Even worse, social media is addictive. Do you check your Facebook and other social media as soon as you get up – and during the day – and before you go to bed? Can you get along without it? For a week? For a year? If you can’t, you are addicted.

A Fox News article (12/29/2017, click here) showed that Facebook is addictive in the same way as cocaine and opioids. Dr. Tara Emrani of New York University said, “Facebook ‘likes’ and comments activate similar parts of the brain as opioids... the feelings/experiences of the similar to those resulting from cocaine.”

Sean Parker is one of the founders of Facebook. He was the president of Facebook. Parker said, “It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other ... It probably interferes with productivity [getting work done] in weird ways ... God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains” (Fox News, ibid.). The creators of social media knew what they were doing and did it deliberately! Parker said,

The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them...was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit [dopamine is a chemical in the brain] every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you ... more likes and comments... It's a social-validation feedback loop ... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.... The inventors, creators ... understood this consciously. And we did it anyway. (Article in Axios – click here to read it).

How do you get social media out of your life? Just like you’d get any drug out of your life. Stop it! If you feel like going back, don’t do it! It’s better not to have a computer or an iPhone than to waste two hours every day. You may feel funny at first, but you’ll be a real person instead of a virtual one. Get away from social media before it ruins you!

Second, video games will ruin your life. There are thousands of video games. Some of them are about sports. You play football or basketball. You control the players. When you play for day after day, you get better. Some games are about fantasy. You go into a fantasy world. You become a fantasy character. You see monsters. You have super-powers. Some people like the fantasy world better than the real world. Many video games are about war or killing. You kill hundreds of people. You can become a killer yourself. Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at his high school in Florida, played violent video games all day. His neighbor said, “It was kill, kill, kill, blow up something and kill some more, all day” (Miami Herald, February 18, 2018).

People waste lots of time on video games. A study said the average is 6.3 hours per week (Time, May 27, 2014, click here to read it). And that’s the average. An NPD study in 2014 said there were 34 million “core gamers” in the United States who spend an average of 22 hours a week [more than 3 hours a day] playing video games (click here to read the article). That was four years ago! Today I often meet boys and young men who spend four, five, six hours a day playing video games.

What a waste of time! Every hour you spend playing video games is an hour that you could have been studying, working, or being with other people. Get rid of the video games! Your grades will go up. You’ll have real friends. For some of you, it will clear your mind and you’ll be able to understand the Gospel and get saved!

Video games are addictive. You keep coming back – again and again. Each time you get a little better. You go ahead a little farther. There are rewards ahead of you. So you don’t quit. You can’t quit! You’re addicted. It’s the same as a drug.

Video games are designed to be addictive. said, “One of the main reasons that video games can become so they are designed to be that way. Video game designers, like anyone else trying to make a profit, are always looking for ways to get more people playing their games. They accomplish this by making a game just challenging enough to keep you coming back for more but not so hard that the player eventually gives up. In other words, success for a gamer often feels just out of reach. In this respect, video game addiction is very similar to another more widely recognized disorder: gambling addiction” (click here to read the article).

Video games can ruin your life. Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants, said, “The more we looked at it, the more we saw gaming was taking over the lives of kids.” He said video game addiction can ruin lives. Children who play four to five hours per day have no time for socializing, doing homework, or playing sports. “That takes away from normal social development. You can get a 21-year-old with the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old. He's never learned to talk to girls. He's never learned to play a sport.” (WebMD, click here to read the article).

Video games waste your time. They twist your mind. Get away from them before they wreck your life! It’s better not to have a computer or an iPhone than to spend your time playing video games. Drop them out of your life just like you’d quit heroin. I know you’re used to them. But just don’t do it. You may feel funny at first, but you’ll get your life back!

Third, pornography will ruin your life. I never meet a boy in high school or college who hasn’t looked at pornography – at naked women or people having sex. It’s everywhere. It wasn’t always that way. Porn was hidden. It was illegal. But the year I was born Hugh Hefner started Playboy Magazine. Millions of people looked at the pictures. The porn revolution went all over the country. There were dirty magazines on every corner where a child could see them. There were porno theaters in every city.

Now people look at porn on their computers – by the uncounted millions. Forty million Americans regularly visit porn sites (see Click here to read the article). The computer security firm Optenet said that “more than 36% of all Web content is pornography.” (Click here to read the article). Porn is everywhere.

It’s a sin to look at pornography. Christ said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Oh, I know you can’t look at the ground all day! You can’t help seeing women. They’re half of the human race. I’m not saying a boy will never have sexual thoughts in his head. A young man’s body has that desire. You can’t escape all sexual thoughts. But you don’t have to look at pornography! Looking at pornography, thinking about what you saw, is lusting in your heart. It’s a sin!

King David did that. One night he “walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon” (II Samuel 11:2). It wasn’t an accident. He looked at her and he thought about her. Then he “inquired after the woman” (11:3). He called for her. He had sex with her. It ruined his life! It began with his pornographic experience that evening.

Let me ask a “rhetorical question.” That’s a question you don’t have to answer. Do you remember what you saw? Do you remember it years later? Of course you do. It’s better not to see it in the first place. If you did see it, don’t look at it again. You don’t need that in your head!

Pornography is a waste of time. You could be doing something else. But it’s much worse. Porn is addictive. “Studies examining the neuroimaging results of subjects who viewed internet pornography reveal brain region activation similar to craving and drug cue reactions for alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine... Thus, viewing pornography, especially when it becomes compulsive in nature, activates the same underlying brain networks as alcohol and other drugs. These studies offer profound evidence that the compulsive and consistent use of pornography is potentially as powerful as drug use” (see Click here to read the article). “Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction” (see Click here for 39 studies which prove that Internet porn is addictive).

Porn is like a drug. You remember what you saw – again and again. You think about it. It draws you like a magnet. You go back to it. You can’t get it out of your head. You can’t quit. You go back again. You go deeper and deeper. It will warp your mind. It will twist your emotions. You won’t think right. You won’t have a normal marriage. You won’t think about your sin and your need for the Blood of Christ. Porn will keep you from being saved.

Get away from porn before it ruins your life! It’s better not to have a computer or an iPhone than to look at porn. Drop it like heroin or cocaine. Stop it and don’t go back! You will feel strange at first. You will want to look at it. Say no to yourself. Just don’t do it. You don’t smoke marijuana, do you? Why not? Well, you just don’t do it, even if others do. You don’t use cocaine, do you? You just don’t do it. It’s the same way with porn. Just don’t do it, no matter what you feel. Stop it and never go back.

Spend time thinking about your soul. Listen carefully to the sermons you hear at church. Read the sermon manuscripts we give you. Read them on our website at Watch the sermon videos on our website. Think about your sin, especially your sinful nature. Pray for God to draw you to Christ, for your sins to be washed in His Blood. I pray that you will trust Jesus soon. Amen.

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