The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Every click of the mouse

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Google is currently locked in a legal battle with Viacom over allegations of copyright infringement on its YouTube site.  A US court has ruled that Google must hand over to Viacom a viewing log containing the log-in ID of users (probably across the world), the computer IP address (the online identifier), and details of clips watched.  Some 12 terabytes of data (i.e. quite a lot) are to be handed over.  The obvious battle lines have been drawn up: copyright entitlements, privacy issues, data protection concerns.

That’s all well and good, but I don’t want to weigh in on any of those concerns.  I want you to imagine that someone will sit down, identify your computer, and start working through the YouTube clips that you have watched.  There are those clips of news, current affairs, sporting highlights.  There are those comedy clips.  Perhaps there are a few recommendations from a friend.  There are the multiple times you watched OK GO on treadmills.  There are the bands that were all the rage when you were at university about whom you suddenly thought, “What did we listen to?”  There are the clips of preachers and evangelists of every stripe whose personal styles and truth-speaking (or lack of it) are the objects of adulation or concern.

But what else is there?  For sure, there are times when you clicked on something that you thought might be interesting.  All of a sudden, halfway through something apparently innocent, some words or images suddenly erupted into your consciousness that were profoundly ungodly.  Would Google’s data reveal that you suddenly slapped the stop button and went away?  Or not?  How long did you keep watching?  Were there things that, while nothing made you reach for the mouse to flick off, were generally soaked in carnality, having an undercurrent of filth?  In an idle hour, when you were weary and bored, did you flick through link after link?  Did you get to the point where you were half-hoping that something risqué or titillating would show up?  Was it some flash of flesh or suggestive image or words on the stills in the “More from . . .” or “Related videos” that made you watch that next video?  How much did you drink in?  Did you, like David wandering on the rooftop when he ought to have been labouring in his calling, find yourself quickly sucked into some moral morass?

Would you want someone tracking your viewing habits?  Would you want your YouTube log to be sent to your friends?  Your wife or husband?  Your children?  Your pastor?  Your fellow church-members, if you are a Christian?

If the reality that every click of the mouse is being recorded causes a shudder, then how much more the reality that the Holy One of Israel was watching?  Every click of the mouse has been recorded and will be recorded.  The God who himself is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look on wickedness (Hab 1.13), has observed not only your viewing habits, but your viewing desires and intentions.  Nothing can be hidden from God, not even the thoughts and intents of the heart, and we will be held accountable for them.  For the man or woman who lives and dies apart from Christ, this will be part of the record of unrighteousness that justly consigns to Hell.  For the Christian, this will be taken into account when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2Cor 5.10).

Under such circumstances, two things are necessary.  The first is repentance: particular repentance for particular sins.  You may never have stopped to consider that God will hold you accountable for every idle word and every carnal viewing habit, the sins of our minds, words and eyes.  But he will.  Thank God, then, that there is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, that we may flee to Christ in order to be washed clean in the blood of the Saviour.  It may be for the first time, but if you go to him with true grief over and hatred of the sin that binds you, you will be made clean.  If you profess to be a child of God, then there is cleansing still: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And he himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1Jn 1.8 – 2.2).  But beyond repentance there is obedience.  God does not drag us out of the moral morass of our sin and cleanse us so that we can return like a dog to its vomit, like a sow to the mire.  He delivers us from the guilt and the power of sin.  In dependence upon God, with much looking to Jesus, with earnest prayers to the Holy Spirit, we are to make a Job-like covenant with our eyes, that we will not drink in with our eyes the forms of men and women for our gratification (Job 31.1).  We must remember that “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas 1.14-15), and so guard against every entrance of wickedness, resisting every temptation to sin that we might not be overtaken by sin itself.  We must live and work and recreate conscious that every click of the mouse – and everything else – is being recorded, if not always accurately on earth then precisely in heaven, and that that record – before men and angels, as well as God himself – will either glorify God or dismiss him as irrelevant, with awful consequences.

How much we need the prayer of David:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones you have broken may rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
And do not take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And uphold me by your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to you.  (Ps 51.7-13)

Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 5 July 2008 at 10:01

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