In computer science, garbage in, garbage out is the concept that flawed, or nonsense input data produces nonsense output or “garbage”.
Likewise, what we put into our bodies and minds affects our physical, mental and spiritual self. But do we really consider the severity of that effect? Or do we think that because we are followers of Jesus that even if we allow ourselves a little leeway, a minor vice or guilty pleasure, it doesn’t really affect who we are deep down?
Jesus had some pretty strong words for the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees. In Matthew 23:25+, he is giving them a piece of his mind because their inner life didn’t match what they tried to portray on the outside. This is what Jesus said.
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
In these verses, Jesus is keying off of a truth that affects us all, whether we acknowledge or even realize it. It’s the concept of sowing and reaping. Scripture says that if you sow to the flesh, you will reap destruction. What is it that you will be destroying? Your inner self. Your spiritual vitality. Your connection to God. You may still look good on the outside, and you may still seem to have things together. But on the inside you will be filthy and full of impurity.
It’s important to keep the following foundational truths in mind as we explore this topic.
Foundational truths to remember
- Reality consists of more than our physical dimension – We tend to think of reality only in terms of what our 5 senses tell us. But there is a whole other reality just beyond the physical reality we experience. This meta-physical world or dimension is just as real, perhaps more so, than ours. It is acknowledged in biblical and non-biblical arenas. It is inhabited by beings that are not at home in our reality. But while they are not easily discerned by our senses in our dimension, they do in fact inhabit it and attempt to influence it. In fact, this is their land – their domain. Always keep this in mind because understanding this reality provides the foundation for all that follows.
- If you are a Christ-follower, earth is not your natural home – the Bible says that you have been grafted into another reality, a heavenly. Earth is no longer your ultimate home. So now you are an alien here.
- Tension will exist between you and the world – Due to the first two items, you will always have a certain amount of tension between the influence of the world on you and the desire for your ultimate destination.
- You are influenced in ways you don’t immediately recognize – The quality about this truth is how subtle it all happens. Absorbing one small piece of the world’s system is trivial. Repeating that hundreds of times is unnoticeable. But so incredibly cunning are the forces that rule this planet that a person rarely even realizes how their heart’s desire shifts until one day they find that they have “grown beyond their childhood concepts” and are now “more enlightened” to the point that their heart is cold toward God and warm toward self and they serve demonic spirits without knowing it.
There are two sets of Scripture that help explain the consequences, positive and negative, of how we act. We’ll look at the first one in this post and cover the second one in Part 2.
No one lights a lamp and then puts it in a cellar nor under a basket [hiding the light], but [instead it is put] on the lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive, focused on God], your whole body also is full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts].
But when it is bad [spiritually blind], your body also is full of darkness [devoid of God’s word]. Be careful, therefore, that the light that is in you is not darkness. So if your whole body is illuminated, with no dark part, it will be entirely bright [with light], as when the lamp gives you light with its bright rays. Luke 11:33-36
These verses explain a two-fold truth.
- First, they touch on our ultimate purpose in life. We are to be “image bearers” of God. What that means is that we are to reflect the characteristics of our creator. We do this as a lifestyle of honoring and glorifying (lifting up/making known) God. Being an image bearer then also infers that we reflect God’s image to others.
- The second truth is that what we fill our minds with via our eyes directly impacts our spiritual condition.
Look again at the four foundational truths.
- Reality consists of more than our physical dimension
- If you are a Christ-follower, earth is not your natural home
- Tension will exist between you and the world
- You are influenced in ways you don’t immediately recognize
Are you starting to connect the dots? We live in a world dominated by nefarious spiritual forces that are intent on preventing us from fulfilling our purpose for being here – bearing God’s image. These forces have set up an incredibly appealing, yet distorted and damaging reality. And it’s all done very subtly.
All the seemingly credible sources, from science and education to entertainment and government, work in concert to convince you there is nothing beyond the material and if there is, it’s not ruled by the God of the Bible.
The general sentiment is, “Spirituality is fine. You can even appreciate the teachings of Jesus. But don’t think for a minute that what the Bible outlines as reality is indeed the truth. That’s just man’s attempt to control you with rules and shackles.”
This is not to suggest that there is zero truth in science, art, philosophy, etc. So don’t misunderstand the point. God created the earth and everything in it. He said it was good, and he is actively involved in the affairs of man.
The problem is that the system is corrupt and broken, and we can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out why God allowed it to be so. That’s not for us to know. Some things remain a mystery hidden in the mind of God.
What we do know is that he allowed the corruption to happen and set forth a plan to redeem it all. That’s reality and that’s what we need to respond to.