April 27, 2009 Ration
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.
The Lord is giving the Israelites a great possession of land full of bounty and pleasure. The Lord is also giving the Israelites this charge and warning: drive out all that is foul in the land, or it will be a trouble to you.
It is not the land that is foul, but those who inhabit the land. The current inhabitants do not enjoy God as the end of their enjoyment of the land. The land is glorious! The spies reported so (Numbers 13). The present inhabitants, however, were a stain on the land with their idolatry and Godless ways. As long as they remained in any number, their canker would continue to infest and spoil the peace of the Israelites. Ungodly men were the problem of the land, not the land itself.
So it is with the pleasures of artistic expression. Ungodly men are the problem, not artistic expression itself. Artistic expression is this glorious creation of God for man to take pleasure in as he lives his days and expresses his soul. But men will quickly foul up the pleasures in artistic expression when they make anything other than God their chief enjoyment of its pleasures.
The ungodly affections of men in artistic expression are comparable to the Godless inhabitants of the promise land. Any faithless, fetid, or perverse affection that we let remain in our heart will prove to be a barb to our eyes and a thorn to our sides. They will trouble us where we dwell. They will enslave our sons. They will draw away our daughters. They will siphon our wells. They will plunder our fields. They will drag us to ruin. They will rot our souls. They will ruin us. And if that is not enough, the Lord will do to us as He would do to them because we have now become like them: iniquitous inhabitants.
But our end does not have to be like that of the ungodly. Artists, drive out the Godless affections in your heart. Make war on them! They do not serve you at all, though they will plead for a treaty of servitude. Do not make the mistake of bartering with what is rotting. Mold calls for bleach or fire, not a covering of paint. Mold will only spread if left to fester, so it is with sin. An exhaustive purging of our heart is what is needed if we are going to enjoy the full pleasures of our lot in the arts. We need the Lord to search us and expose the hiding caves and pits of sin (Psalm 139:23-24). Then we need to flood them with the water of the Word until all abhorrent affections are drowned. Let no trouble dwell in your well.
Artists, the expanse of artistic expression is an amazing, beautiful portion in which to dwell. But we will not enjoy its dwelling for long if we are not diligent to remove all the troublesome barbs and thorns. Be staunch, then, as you search out what has been given to you. The quills of the ungodly may not feel very sharp to your hardened skin, but that is no reason to give them ground in your land. Your childrens skin is soft and will be found. Drive out the foul affections of your heart like you would drive out a varmint inhabitant of your yard. Make them not be a trouble to you.
© 2009 The Gaius Project