Every Christian believer being freed from the Law of sin is both privileged and obligated under God to enter into a new and dynamic way of living. By yielding ourselves to God’s Spirit within, we are to “walk in him,” thus experiencing the love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance that he alone is able and desirous to produce in our lives (Rom 8:2-4; Gal. 5:16, 22).
In contrast to the “Fruit of the Spirit,” there are those things enumerated in the Scripture as the “works of the flesh,” hated by God and to be mortified (deadened) by the Christian believer. The following are typical, though not exhaustive: pride, envy, coveting, anger, wrath, hatred, lying, sowing discord, strife, blasphemy, filthy talking, heresy, stealing, drunkenness, extortion, fornication, reveling, and adultery (Prov. 6:16–19; Gal. 5:19–21; Col. 3:5–9).
We live in a society where moral relativism has supplanted truth; where material gain is not achieved by hard work and thrift, but by dreams of lottery and casino winnings; where alcohol and drugs wreak havoc with individuals and families; where human sexuality is degraded and debased in films, television, videos, magazines, immodest clothing, and in some instances through the Internet. It is a society where wisdom and the Holy Spirit are set aside in favor of horoscopes and psychic services.
As a result of this maelstrom of confusion, and because there are many practices that, although not specifically addressed in Scripture, could nevertheless be detrimental to believers’ spiritual growth, their families, or even the church, the following principles or guidelines are offered to help in determining the biblical response to disputable matters.
Guidelines with Reference to God
1. Is it forbidden or commanded in the Scriptures? (Mt. 4:4; 1 Jn. 5:3)
a. The actual precept
b. The potential principle
2. Can God’s blessing and help be sought in it? (Ps. 66:18; Isa. 59:1–2; Phil. 4:6–7)
3. Is it to the glory of God? (1 Cor. 6:19–20; 10:31)
4. Can I give thanks to God for it in my life? (Col. 3:17)
5. Is it being done to please God (Col. 3:23; 2 Tim. 2:4)
6. Can this be done, or can I go there, knowing God is watching me? (Zech. 4:10;
7. Does it show my love for God? (1 Jn. 4:20)
Guidelines with Reference to Others
1. Does it advance the cause of Christ? (Rom. 14:16: 1 Cor. 10:30)
2. Does it hinder my ministry and influence for Christ in the lives of others?
(1 Cor 9:19–22)
3. Does it demonstrate love to others? (Jn. 12:34–35; Rom 13:8, 10; 1 Jn. 3:14)
4. Could it cause a weak Christian to stumble? (Rom. 14:13)
5. Does it unite me with unbelievers in an unequal yoke? (2 Cor. 6:14–18)
6. Does it help in drawing others to the Lord Jesus? (1 Cor. 9:22)
7. Does this have any appearance of evil? (1 Th. 5:22)
Guidelines with Reference to Myself
1. Will it hinder or hurt my Christian life? (Gal. 5:25; Heb. 12:1)
2. Does this edify me or does it bring me down? (1 Cor. 10:23)
3. Will the practice of this enslave me in its bondage? (Rom. 14:7–9; 1 Cor. 6:12)
4. Do I have any doubts about doing this? (Rom. 14:22–23)
5. How will this act or plan be viewed by Christ at the judgment seat of Christ?
(2 Cor. 5:10)
6. Would I be ashamed before him at his coming if I were doing this? (2 Pet. 3:14;
1 Jn. 2:28)
7. Does it conform me to the image of the Lord Jesus? (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Pet. 2:21)
8. Would I be misusing my liberty in Christ? (Gal 5:13, 16; 1 Cor. 8:9; 1 Pet. 2:16)
9. Do I now have or might I later have a guilty conscience from this? (Rom 14:5)
10. Am I walking in the Spirit as I do this? (Gal. 5:23)
11. What are my true motives? (1 Cor. 4:5)
12. Might this harm my body in any way? (1 Cor. 6:19)