Determining Right From Wrong When It's Not Mentioned in the Bible
Sunday, October 22, 2006 -
In our opening lesson we outlined the four broad categories of problems:
a) There are problems that stem directly from the Fall of man and the entrance of sin into this world. God has established judgment on sin, both in this world and in the next.
b) There are problems which, while not directly traceable to any one act of person sin, enter my life from outside sources and influences of the world we now inhabit. They spill over from the fallen environment in which we all now live. Sin has affected even the external world (floods, earthquakes, sickness, famine, drought, etc.).
c) There are problems that are brought into our lives by the actions of others (drunk drivers, rapists, crooked politicians, aggressive armies, etc.). God does not keep people from freely making wicked or foolish choices that can affect my health and happiness.
d) Finally, there are problems caused by our own choices (sinful choices willfully made against God’s laws, and limited choices where we, in our finite condition, simply don’t have all the information needed to make perfect choices)
This week we’re going to wrap up our study of problems caused by sinful choices. The issue this week is this: How can I know the right course of action, when I really want to please the Lord, if the issue I’m facing isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible?
Here’s the heart of this teaching: While not every activity in which we may engage is named specifically in the Bible, God has, by His Holy Spirit, given us eternal and inclusive principles covering the contemporary choices we make today. These principles will keep you free and clean in our present day. While none of these principles alone is enough to insure infallibility, taken together they will help greatly to keep you from major blunders.
1) THE PRINCIPLE OF EXCESS - Does this activity distract or slow me down in crucial spiritual pursuits?
Hebrews 12:1 - “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us....”
a) We must lay aside all sin - There is simply no way to follow Jesus without forsaking sin. You may feel close to Jesus while walking in sin, but such feelings are a delusion of fallen thinking or a direct lie from the Devil.
b) We must lay aside any encumbrance - There must be a conscious elimination of anything that becomes a weight in my walk with Jesus. I must learn to separate the nice (and frequently addicing) from the excellent.
2) THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDIENCE - Is this action going to be helpful in the greatest priority of my life - my walk with Jesus as Lord?
1 Corinthians 6:12a - “All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful....”
This is slightly different from point number one. The principle of excess deals with things (even legitimate things) that may hold me back spiritually. The principle of expedience emphasizes things that will build me up and more me forward spiritually. One eliminates the negative. The other promotes the positive.
3) THE PRINCIPLE OF ENSLAVEMENT - Does this activity diminish the control of the Holy Spirit by enticing too great a portion of my interests and affections?
1 Corinthians 6:12b - “....All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.”
Notice Paul’s emphasis on lawful things in this verse. He’s not dealing here with perverse or perverted addictions. He’s talking about my tendency to give much of my life to good things, but to the point where they actually do me spiritual harm. We all need to think much about this.
4) THE PRINCIPLE OF EXAMPLE - Can this activity have a spiritually detrimental effect on others?
Romans 14:13 - “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
Most of us use the first half of this verse more than the second. But it’s the second half that is to be used to regulate my free choice of activities. Paul is absolutely clear on this point in his words to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 8:5-13.
5) THE PRINCIPLE OF EVANGELISM - Does this activity give consistent testimony of my commitment to Jesus to those outside the church?
Colossians 4:5 - “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
Remember, even atheists know enough Bible to spot a hypocrite. And hypocrisy is the most damaging sin to the cause of evangelism. It takes more than tracts and signs and special activities at your church. The world needs to see remarkable Christlikeness in us if it is to be even remotely interested in the Gospel.
See also 1 Peter 3:14-16 - “But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,  but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;  yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
See also 1 Corinthians 10:24-33.