Ever Learning

A Bible Warning about the Internet
and the Information Explosion

 

Is the internet an invention to aid human progress? Is it the most successful medium of pornography on earth? Is it an easy means to communicate with others? Is it a useful tool for rapidly acquiring knowledge in any field? Is it a neutral result of advancing technology? Is it a means for evangelism? Or is it a tempting device of Satan to distract believers and eliminate truth from the earth?

It is all of these things. Wise men will consider it carefully.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
II Timothy 3:1,7

Paul warned that perilous times would come in the last days. These perilous times were not described by famines, wars, depressions, plagues, or catastrophes. Instead, they would be marked by men being lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God and having a form of godliness without any authority. Today's carnal and contemporary Christianity is the fulfillment of this sober warning.

While the other descriptions of perilous times from this passage also perfectly fit our present generation, there is one mark that should cause us to soberly consider the internet among Satan's devices in these last days. This mark is a great increase and desire in learning without the ability to understand and obey the truth.

We are in these perilous times, and the internet is clear evidence of this fulfillment.

The internet is unleashing on the world an exponentially expanding ocean of information. Facts, more facts, and even more facts are available for every imaginable topic of inquiry. Opinions, more opinions, and even more opinions are also available. The number of websites, the size of websites, the readers accessing websites, and the speed of searching for websites is increasing every day.

This attractive and addicting interactive medium for classifying, presenting, and finding information is grabbing the souls of many believers. Television viewing in American homes is falling, because now the family has the option of being glued to a monitor surfing the net. And surely exploring innocent, or especially Christian, websites is not as evil as watching Hollywood television.

Forget for a moment the pornographic danger of the internet, which allows an infinite variety of images into the privacy of your house. Consider instead the infinite collection of details on any subject from a multitude of sources now available in an interactive medium in the privacy of your house. For this vast flood of information is not leading men to more truth, but rather choking their minds and souls without truth.

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
Ecclesiastes 12:12

God warned about the making of many books long ago. Though Solomon's wisdom was great, he did not see a personal computer in every home and billions of websites to review. In Solomon's day, the production of a single volume was an enormous task. To copy it only once was an expensive and complicated endeavor. To read a book from another nation required great expense and many logistical difficulties.

Anyone can now publish a book. Simply publish it on the internet as a website. It can be done for almost nothing; no educational or professional credentials are required; it can be designed more interactive and appealing than the best of printed books; it can even be in audio or video format; it can be available to the world with just a click; it exists in a permanent form to deny destruction; there are no rules of truth or integrity to be satisfied; it can instantly be copied numerous times for no cost; it can be published anonymously; it can be linked anywhere; and anyone in the world can read it anonymously and privately.

So what has such an invention brought us? Everyone is now an author; and the making of many books Solomon warned about is reaching its theoretical extreme. Everyone is now an author; and there is an infinite amount of "learning, knowledge, and facts" to sort through in the pursuit of truth. Everyone is now an author; and most of the information is garbage from unlearned minds void of truth.

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
II Timothy 2:23

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
II Timothy 2:16

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
I Corinthians 15:33

Paul further warns Timothy against wasting his precious time in pursuing or even answering the foolish, unlearned, profane, and vain discussions of ignorant men. Much of the internet is the publishing of nonsense by self-proclaimed experts. Weeding through this forest of fruitless trees is one problem, but avoiding their poisonous leaves is another risk. For evil communications corrupt even the best manners.

When Paul warned of foolish and unlearned questions causing strifes, did he know of the modern chat room? Paul must have known about chat rooms. For there is no greater fulfillment of this warning than in the endless, inane, unprofitable, and ungodly arguments in chat rooms among those who have no knowledge of what they discuss.

Let God be true, but every man a liar. Any opinion contrary to the Word of God, no matter how attractive the website or how extensive the information collected, has no merit whatsoever! It is still a damnable lie. Culling through such sites is a waste of time, and doing so also opens the viewer to subtle or overt attacks from the father of all lies.

But let us consider further the more innocent dangers of the internet and our present information explosion.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16

One of Satan's devices is distraction from God-given duties. Since true saints are not television addicts or pornography purveyors, our adversary has devised a noble and justifiable use of the internet for consuming our time. What could possibly be wrong with reading commentaries, news articles, ancient church creeds, denominational newsletters, online seminars, Hannah's Hints for Homely Homemakers, and other valuable Christian websites? Surely such knowledge will help Christian websurfers be greater soldiers of the cross.

How much knowledge does it take to be a victorious Christian? Rather than knowledge of man and his activities, it is the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the supply of the Holy Spirit to a committed heart that results in godly living. The saints of the Bible knew very little compared to the infinite amount of knowledge available today, yet their lives were models of virtue and holiness and spiritual mindedness.

Today, as always, the key is the fear of the Lord, rather than an accumulation of facts. It is Spirit power by abiding in the True Vine, rather than organizing ten thousand internet bookmarks by subject. It is prayerful communion with God, rather than reading the theological speculations of an ignorant professor of religion in Belarus.

A man will say, "I am home with my family every night after work. I don't bowl or hunt. I hire the best lawn crews and painters." We must ask, "What do you do at home?" He answers, "I surf the internet." "Do you go to pornographic sites?" "Of course not! I just like to learn. Is there something wrong with learning?" Well . . .

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Mark 4:19

Consider the subtlety of distracting Christians from communion with God, Bible reading, meditation on His Word, fervent prayer, holy living, family spiritual duties, and serving the brethren with the enticing ocean of noble and helpful Christian material waiting 24/7 on the internet. Consider it. Consider it well. Has Satan used this device to choke the Word of God in your life to keep you from bearing fruit?

It has disturbed many for years to see young men mesmerized at public arcades, in front of the television, or at home with their Nintendos. Isn't it a waste of time? Truly! What a travesty of this generation! Yet, we can find the fathers of those same boys connected to their internets four or five hours a day reading the opinions of fools from Namibia on the numerous factors for and against Adam having a navel.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
I Corinthians 8:1

If the Corinthians had learned that God was true and idols were false without the internet, just think of the arguments they could have collected with the internet. Surely their faith would have been much greater, wouldn't it have? Wouldn't they have been able to quickly persuade their weak brethren with 20-30 links to sites researching the history of idol worship?

Greater knowledge is not the need; greater charity is the need. As the apostle teaches us elsewhere (I Cor 13:13), charity is the greatest of faith, hope, and charity. And knowledge is counter-productive to charity by puffing up the mind. Rather than greater knowledge serving the church at Corinth, it would have destroyed them. For increased knowledge in such matters of Christian liberty is dangerous, for it steals the charity that ought to prevail for every weak brother.

If I use the internet to find 1000 reasons why the moderate use of wine is approved of God and beneficial to physical health, because I prefer drinking wine, how can I use these reasons to serve Christ and my brethren? I am already convinced without the reasons, and pushing this preference on my brethren is ungodly hatred. And furthermore, it will puff up my mind in arrogant pride against my differing brother. A man may still be a glorious Christian and choose not to drink wine at all out of personal preference. The greater knowledge has served no one.

In matters not of Christian liberty, do we need five hundred reasons why immersion is true Scripturally and correct historically? Or are five good reasons from the infallible word of God just as good? Or are they better? Since there is more in the Word of God than baptism by immersion, the time and arrogance created by collecting five hundred reasons is also counter-productive and dangerous.

Multiplying reasons and words seems like a noble project for promoting the truth of a given subject, but we find by a little analysis and observation that it is the breeding ground of human pride. Instead of seeking God's truth in its breadth, such a man drowns in the unnecessary depths of multiplying witnesses for no identifiable end but his own sense of accomplishment or adoration by men.

For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
Romans 16:19

Should a child of God be simple concerning evil? Paul taught such simplicity. Or should we bury ourselves in deep studies of the history, doctrines, inconsistencies, finances, sins, and social lives of the cults and their leaders?

For example, a zealous lover of the truth encountering a Seventh Day Adventist will be tempted to search the internet for articles about the SDA, Ellen White, William Miller, date-setting fanatics, Joseph Bates, Kellogg's, Methodist fanaticism, the trial of Israel Dammon, the Sabbath, vegetarianism, day-year prophecies, soul sleep, the reform dress, mark of the beast, shut door controversy, and so forth. If a person was conscientiously thorough, they could spend the rest of their life exploring what is now available and is becoming available on these and directly related subjects.

The Bible says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4). Therefore, we know that Ellen White and the Seventh Day Adventists are wrong without searching the internet. We don't need to learn she was physically handicapped, mentally weak, emotionally tortured, spiritually fearful, dominated by her husband, a plagiarizer, grossly inconsistent, blasphemous, vengeful, and used by the SDA hierarchy for monetary gain.

New Testament saints met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Cor 16:1-2), called the Lord's day (Rev 1:10), to honor their Lord's resurrection (John 20:1,19,26). They understood the sabbath was a unique sign for Israel only (Ex 31:12-17; Ezek 20:12), and they were thankful for the New Testament reformation of worship (John 4:21-24; Heb 9:10; Luke 16:16). Paul further condemned sabbath keeping for Gentiles or righteousness (Col 2:16-17; Gal 4:9-11), as the council at Jerusalem had decreed (Acts 15:28-29). Noble Bereans would receive this Divine written proof as sufficient, believe the truth, assemble on Sunday, and reject the SDA as heretics (Acts 17:11; Titus 3:10). More evidence or history would be totally unnecessary, distracting, and dangerous.

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
Proverbs 27:1

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
I Thessalonians 5:2

Time should be used with these two thoughts in mind . . . tomorrow is not guaranteed (Prov 27:1) and the Lord could come tonight (I Thess 5:2). With these in mind, no man would take over five minutes reading about the forward dipping of Mennonite factions. If a wise man, he would be reading God's Word, meditating on God's Word, and praying in the Holy Ghost.

If we were ever gripped with the brevity of life and possibility of the Lord's return, we would not waste any time pursuing unnecessary and dangerous knowledge. We would pursue Jesus Christ, as Paul did with pressing urgency and total lack of spiritual complacency and personal distraction (Philippians 3:7-14).

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
I Corinthians 7:32

Even noble distractions like marriage are to be minimized by Christians. The apostolic warning is to be without carefulness, and the example in the context is marriage. So far from being a sinful matter, marriage is certainly the will of God for most (Gen 2:18); yet even marriage is to be managed in such a way as to keep the Lord Jesus Christ the preeminent object of our affection and time.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
I Corinthians 6:12

Let us consider a virtuous Christian wife and her predicament. Football widows? What about internet widows? But should I complain? At least my husband is reading Baptist histories, theological works, online commentaries, Christian news services, and the history of the origin of numerous cults. Shouldn't I be thankful he is home and filling his mind with good Christian learning? No, he hasn't prayed with me since we got the high speed cable modem, but I am glad he is reading good material. He seems very contented at the computer every night. And soon he will put his learning to good use, I am sure.

Is this reasoning entirely valid? Dear reader, have you read the warnings from the Word of God thus far? Let us continue.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:4-5

Satan's devices are presented with two enticements. First, he convincingly denies any danger here, for this is an innocent and justifiable thing. Learning . . . learning Christian knowledge . . . there cannot possibly be any danger here. Second, he temptingly promotes it as an opportunity to excel as a Christian. With a fast DSL connection and enough bookmarks, you may be able to approach Solomon and Paul. You will be able to answer everyone's questions about anything. You could be a theological expert.

Dear reader, consider wisely. Satan arrives on the internet at carnal Christian homes with pornographic advertisements and temptations, but he comes to the homes of holy saints with the much more subtle and justifiable object of knowledge. For his cruel design is to choke you with learning to keep you from the truth and holiness your Saviour requires.

And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 12:17

Jesus Christ revealed to John that Satan would use a flood of water to attack the faithful churches of our Lord. Why should we presume a literal flood, when we have a figurative flood sitting in each of our computers and modem connections? Though the proper fulfillment of this prophecy is found in the flood of persecution and false doctrine that Satan spewed against the churches of Christ during the Dark Ages, we cannot for one moment think our spiritual battle against the devil is over.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
I Peter 5:8

Constant sobriety and vigilance is necessary to resist our merciless enemy. As the lookouts on the Titanic wondered to themselves before they drowned in the cold waters of the North Atlantic, could we have saved everyone if we had paid closer attention and not foolishly plunged ahead in dangerous seas?

You cannot relax just because you installed the Granny Porno Net to filter your email and web searches. Examine your soul. Examine the enticement of the internet to your heart. Let your wife keep a log of the time you spend on the internet. Use your history function to record your cruises through cyberspace to read current events in New Guinea and find the best answers for Holiness pastors handling serpents in Pentecostal seances.

Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right;
and I hate every false way.
Psalm 119:128

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Isaiah 8:20

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.
II Timothy 3:16-17

Even if the amount of information on the internet expands another 1000 times, the saints of God have the absolute and infallible standard of God's Word for their safety. No amount of information or disinformation can alter Holy Scripture. God said it; I believe it; that settles it! Life, truth, and faith are simple for a Bible believer. Instead of searching for what Pollyana Pastor in Poland has written about a subject, let us search for "thus saith the Lord" in our English Bibles.

Satan hates the Word of God, and he has used crafty devices from the beginning to overthrow the plain truth of Scripture. Eve fell for his subtle reasoning; Adam fell for Eve, and we drink from his fountain of water in the internet and hope not to drown. Let God be true, but every man a liar. Beware, my beloved brethren.

Remember our opening text; meditate upon it; and see if it does not apply to the internet. Paul said false teachers and their hearers in the perilous times of the last days would be "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Let such a warning and hopeless description not be true of any in our homes.

Would you miss the internet, if you were to restrict its use in your house? Does it sound like a sacrifice you could not bear? Do the blind quadriplegics following our Lord Jesus Christ miss their eyes and limbs (Matt 18:8-9; 16:25)? Or are they eternally happy?
The internet is justifiable, exciting, rewarding, dangerous, and addicting! Let the reader beware!