Determining Right From Wrong When It's Not Mentioned in the Bible (2)
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Sunday, November 12, 2006 -

Let’s look at these final principles for determining right from wrong in culturally specific moral situations:

1) THE PRINCIPLE OF SHOWING OTHERS PREFERENCE - Am I putting others ahead of myself in this action?

Romans 12:10 - “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

The last part of the verse describes and explains the first phrase. How do I know I am devoted to others in brotherly love? What does this kind of love look like? Here’s the test: When I have opportunity to do something that is pleasing to me, but troubling to others, do I put their considerations above my own?

2) THE PRINCIPLE OF PEACE - Will this activity promote, or will it diminish the priority of peace with others?

Romans 12:18 - “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”

The verse is very realistic. It won’t always be possible to maintain peace. But as far as it is possible, it is my Scriptural duty to do so. Sometimes we must break peace on the grounds of Christian conviction:

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 - “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. [12] For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? [13] God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’”

But the kind of situation Paul describes in these verses is rare. Most of the time we all too quickly forsake the path of peace over nothing more than personal preference and selfish ambition.

Jesus takes this principle even further in Matthew 5:9 - “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” These are very pressing words. You keep peace with a friend. You make peace with an enemy.

3) THE PRINCIPLE OF THE YOKE - Will this activity link me with unbelievers in a way that will limit my freedom to follow Jesus as Lord in all things?

2 Corinthians 6:14 - “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

This verse needs to be studied along side of another passage:

1 Corinthians 5:9-11 - “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— [10] not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. [11] But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.”

2 Corinthians 6:14 forbids relationships with unbelievers that will link or yoke me with their actions and decisions (marriage is just one example). 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 deals with associations with unbelievers, rather than relationships that yoke.

In short, there must be association with unbelievers. How else will they be reached for Jesus? But there must never be yoking with unbelievers. This kind of relationship would put limits on the claim of Jesus on my own decision making.

4) THE PRINCIPLE OF CONFORMITY - Will this activity engage my life in patterns that, even though not specifically mentioned in the Bible, will incline my heart in the direction of more specific sins in the future?

Romans 12:1-2 - “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

While I try to make all of my life an act of worship to my Creator and Redeemer, there are constantly two possible roads to travel. One is negative and one is positive. First, there is the pressure to conform to the world, and, second, there is the wooing of the Spirit of God to be transformed.

The battle ground for both processes is the mind of the believer. And I cast a very deciding vote in the way this process will eventually unfold.

In making any decision, or in taking any course of action, I must remember the nature of this battle for holiness. Long before any sin is committed outwardly, the mind is shaped to embrace the direction of that sin inwardly.

So the issue wrapped up in this principle is this: What is the direction of the choice I’m about to make - not just the immediate result, but the long range tilting of my soul? Will this actions make holiness easier in the future or carelessness? That’s the crucial issue of conformity. Every thought, every actions, every choice, has a life far beyond the present. Every decision shapes the rest of your life in one direction or another. Wise choices are made with that understanding.