I saw a printed sermon in the "Sword of the Lord" by now deceased Dr. Curtis Hutson titled, "Deciding Questionable Things for Christians". I felt it would be a good subject to share with our readers this week.
1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
The Bible is more up to date than next week's newspaper and is good for all time, for all people, for all areas of life. The Bible is not a revelation of all that God knows, but a revelation of all God wants man to know. If God had said, "Thou shalt not smoke camels", the early Christians would have built no fires around the camels. If God had said, "Thou shalt not watch TV", two millenniums of theologians would have tried to decide what 'TV' means. Now frankly, some people hide behind and even relish in the fact that their pet sins are not spelled out in the Bible. What does one do when the thing he questions is not clearly spelled out in the Scriptures? Some suggest that we "follow our conscience." This is flawed because one can have a flawed conscience simply because he or she believes the wrong thing. For example, a Catholic's conscience would bother him is he missed mass, but if I missed, it would not bother my conscience because I don't believe I should attend mass. We can't follow our conscience because if our belief system is flawed, our conscience is flawed. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
If you can't follow your own conscience and the Bible does not give clear details regarding every question, what can you do? The answer is clear for those wanting to do the Perfect will of God in all things and glorify God.
While the Bible does not spell out every detail of life, there are some guidelines that will help us make decisions about things that will help us to "do all to the glory of God."
What do we do when the thing we question is not clearly spelled out in the Bible? Can you let your conscience be your guide? The answer is "No." So, what do you do when the Bible does not clearly name a particular subject? (Example: Smoking)
I need to say here that every area of life can be applied to some Bible principle. Here are some things to consider in determining whether a thing is right or wrong:
- Are you willing to do what is right once you know God's will about a thing? (See James 4:17) Our attitude toward the thing will determine our response toward the truth when it is revealed.
- Is there agreement in the Scriptures on the subject? 2 Peter 1:20 tells us that no Scripture is of any private interpretation. That means that we compare all the Scriptures on the subject, not just one isolated verse. Never use an isolated verse to contradict several clear passages.
- Have you prayed about it? A.J. Gordon said, "There is more you can do after you pray, but there is nothing you can do until you pray." Rest assured, if you cannot pray about it, you cannot it! See Phil 4:6, James 4:2, and Romans 8:26-27.
- Do you have the leading of the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:14, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." See Galatians 5:16-26 and notice vs.16, "walk in the Spirit". vs.18, "led of the Spirit", and vs.25, "live in the Spirit...walk in the Spirit." THe Holy Spirit will not lead contrary to the Word of God! Of course, Romans 8:26-27 also applies here. Phil 2:13 states, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
- Does it please God? See 1 John 3:22, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." When there is no clear command in the Bible, after searching the Scriptures, playing and seeking the leading of the Spirit, we must ask: "Will this please God?"
- Can you do it in the name of the Lord Jesus? Colossians 3:17 states, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." That is very broad! Every word and deed must be done in the name of the Lord Jesus! What does "in the name of the Lord Jesus" mean? It means with His approval and with His authority. If you cannot do a thing with His approval and His authority, you cannot do it. Example: Could you go to a store an tell the clerk, "Jesus sent me to buy a pack of cigarettes and a case of beer... and, oh yes, He wants a lotto ticket and a video, too"? You could not do that in His name. If you cannot do a thing with the Lord's approval and authority, you should not do it, period!
- Can you give thanks to God for it? Again, Col. 3:17 states, "...giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." This is in context of doing all things in His name. If you cannot thank God for a thing, you cannot do it. Can you thank God for a cigarette? Can you bow your head and thank God for a beer or a glass of wine? Can you thank God for an adulterous relationship? The Bible answer is, "No".
- Does it bring glory to God? 1 Cor 10:31 states, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, ot whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." We should ask ourselves this question about anything we are considering to do: Will it glorify God? Will it give God a good name? Psalm 23:3 states, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
- Does it offend other Christians? 1 Cor 8:13 states, "Wherefore, if meat make thy brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." Look at 1 Timothy 4:3-5 concerning the last days. "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain form meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer." We may have the liberty to do something, but if we know it will offend a weak brother, for his sake, we should not do it. See also Romans 14:2 and Luke 17:2. There may be something which you feel liberty to participate in which a weaker brother may see as forbidden. 1 Cor. 8:9 says, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak."
- Are you fully persuaded that it is right? Romans 14:5 states, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." A good rule to follow is, "If in doubt, don't." Romams 14:23 says, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Never do anything unless you are fully persuaded. Col. 3:15 states, "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." If you don't have peace about it, don't do it!
- Do the best Christians you know feel it is right? Prov 24:6 says, "In the multitude of counselors there is safety." If you have a question about a questionable thing, ask advice from a Godly Christian whom you respect.
If you will ask yourself these eleven questions before becoming involved in questionable things, your life will be blessed and you will be a blessing to those about you.
"Whatsoever therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31