To begin, if you haven’t read the full series on Protecting Against Deception, we would encourage you to do that. Now, as we continue our Dad’s Corner series on deceptions to which believers fall prey, let’s investigate another one.
Let me give you some clues to help you identify the deception we will focus on in this Dad’s Corner. What word is frequently used when describing a motive to do something? What word has amassed enumerable stolen hours in its treasure chest? What word equals Balaam’s secret weapon? What word shouts victoriously over ministry, witnessing, Bible reading, or service every time? What word separates the modern church from the church for which Jesus died? What word is likely quite responsible for the modern church not being “salt and light” to a dying world?
Merriam-Webster defines this word as: “what provides amusement or enjoyment; specifically : playful often boisterous action or speech.” Its synonym friends are: jest, sport, game, and play. By now you likely know the word that is the world’s most treasured friend—”FUN.” Perhaps there is more time wasted in fun’s honor than for any reason. It is important to clarify that we are referring to those activities that are not sinful in themselves, but that are enjoyable, pleasurable, and entertaining, and that steal our time away from pursuits that are edifying and productive.
A Google search for “fun” turns up 667 million sites one can visit if he lacks for fun. Even though the Bible is the most treasured and printed book of all time, it only returns 118 million Google sites referencing it. Sadly, fun’s popularity far outweighs the Bible’s.
What does the Bible say about our “friend” fun? That is a slight challenge because the word “fun” does not appear in the Bible. We must begin by looking at the definition of fun, which we saw earlier was “what provides amusement or enjoyment.” Webster’s dictionary defines amusement as something entertaining. In essence, we see that fun is something that is an end in itself; it is pleasurable. Today pleasure, fun, and entertainment are synonymous. Fun is not sinful in itself, but oh, what a powerful weapon it is in the hands of God’s enemies.
Remember from Part 6 of this series, I said, “One way to confirm a deception is to see if Satan promotes it and what the Lord’s position is on it.” In these next verses we see both Satan’s promotion and the Lord’s condemnation of pleasure. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4). Doesn’t that seem to describe what we observe today?
Let me remind you of one of the protections from deception from Part 3 of this series: “By directing us to what edifies, He doesn’t have to have an endless list of things that we can’t do. When we focus on what is good, then what is harmful is not a danger.” Is that what we find in churches today, or are we also seeing this love of pleasure soundly advancing upon the professing church? I expect it would take little objectivity on our part to look no further than the calendars of many churches to see that to which God’s people are being drawn. Is it fun, or is it edifying?
First, we could consider the youth activities that are the training grounds for the church leaders of tomorrow. What do we see? Is fun the bait used to draw the church’s youth and outsiders to the group, or is it edifying pursuits? What is used to bring them in must be used to keep them too. When observing the youth, do you see sober teens or silly, fun-loving teens? Paul warns, “Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded” (Titus 2:6). A diet of fun does not lead youth to be sober and service minded.
Next, it would be good to look at the church activities for the adults, especially the men. Again, are they edifying or fun? I understand that the churches’ justification of the use of fun is to draw men in the doors of the church, but sarcastically I question: Did not Jesus, the God of creation, think of this? If this was a good thing, why did Jesus not use fun things to draw men to Him? It wasn’t because it wouldn’t be effective, since we know that man is drawn to pleasure. I believe Jesus didn’t use fun to bring men to Himself because it would not have been edifying. It wouldn’t produce the fruit that He desires in us.
Often we receive e-mails from moms seeking encouragement because their husbands waste precious time on fun things, while discipling the children and the needs of the home are left untouched. Every hour men spend doing fun things is one less hour available to do that which is worthwhile, that which is edifying. Our time on earth is so short. How will it be used—on fun things or those activities that bear eternal fruit?
Here is another verse where we find God’s mind on pleasures and fun. Jesus tells us plainly, in the parable of the unfruitful seed sown, the result of pleasure in a life: “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). The pleasures of this world will choke out the fruitfulness of a believer’s life. Wouldn’t that be a delight to Satan? We see the truth of God’s Word being lived out today in our now-pagan nation. I believe that the professing church’s effectiveness in reaching a lost and dying world has been quite effectively neutered by the power of fun. As I said in the Dad’s Corner, Balaam Rides Again.
To determine whether or not we are being deceived, we might look to our lives and see what place fun and entertainment have in relation to spiritual fruit–bearing activities such as time in the Word, serving the Lord, discipling our children, and serving our families. It would be good for each one to do a Bible study and try to find out how God’s men used their time. I’ll give you a hint. They didn’t spend time being entertained—the Romans did that at the coliseum. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I believe Scripture teaches that we are here on this planet to be instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:19) in our Savior’s hands.
Another test of whether we have fallen victim to the deception of fun might come from Part 2 of this series: “First, we can see that when we have a negative attitude toward God’s clear commands, we open ourselves up to false doctrine.” 1 Corinthians 10:23 says: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” Do we have a negative attitude toward this directive from the Lord? Do we think we deserve to spend some time having fun? Does it sound too confining and unrealistic to evaluate activities to see if they are edifying? Do we set in the balances “edifying time” and “fun time,” considering it acceptable if “edifying” tips the scale over “fun”? Remember Eve’s response when the serpent questioned her on God’s command?
This is a heavy discussion of a deception. For many years, my family and I were victims of this deception. It was only through our time in the Word and choosing to follow after that which is edifying that the Lord began to open our eyes to fun’s delusion. The Lord has used this change in our family’s focus to so transform us that we want to challenge others to evaluate whether they are being deceived and then to encourage them that they will be happy with a path away from fun if they were to choose it.
Next month we will look more into fun’s deception, what we receive when we avoid fun, and what we can do if we don’t look for fun.