Monday, May 4, 2015

Gray Areas

Some material adapted from Discipleship Defined
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  1 Corinthians 10:23-24 defines gray area as an undefined situation or subject that does not seem to conform to known categories or rules; an intermediate area or topic that is not clearly defined.  A gray area is a very dangerous place, especially for a Christian.  It seems like a gray area is a place we can shape however we want to.  There are no real rules or definitions.  We set the boundaries and rules the way we want to. 

Some situations we face in life have clear cut black or white choices.  We immediately know what the right or wrong answer is.  Murder, stealing, or committing adultery are wrong.  There is no question about those issues.  Sometimes, however, the answer is not so evident.  It is not always easy to discern which choice is right or wrong.  Not everything is specifically addressed in the Bible and these things can be cloudy and gray to us.  Gray areas are issues that Scripture does not take a dogmatic stance on, or at the very least, issues that Scripture does not discuss in depth.  Instead, the Bible gives Christians the liberty to make God-glorifying decisions based on their convictions.
Some examples of gray areas are drinking, dating, music, clothing, gambling, dancing, etc.  These topics, among some others, are either not discussed in scripture or are discussed only briefly.  Debates about some of these areas have caused serious dissention between believers, individuals, communities, and churches.  Some disagreements come from differing interpretations and preferences.  When we begin making our own preferences, the rule by which we judge all people, problems will arise.  For example, the Bible does not specifically say that kissing before marriage is a sin.  If one person decides to refrain from kissing until marriage, are they more right than the person who believes it is ok to kiss on the second date?  The problems can arise when judge others by the standards we create for ourselves in gray areas. 

Our Own Slippery Slope
Sometimes, as Christians, we create our own gray areas that are not really gray areas at all.  We can be masters of justifying our own sins by making up our own rules and definitions.  We can make exceptions for ourselves in order to shake off the guilt of continuing in sin that we really know is wrong.  Satan is a master of helping us in this pretense.  He wants us to fail.  He wants us to make excuses and to keep the sin going in our lives.

Guidelines for Gray Areas – Five things to consider
  • Is it a sin? – If the Bible teaches that it is a sin, then it is a sin. Turn away!
  • Does it negatively affect another Christian? – Is this going to cause another Christian to stumble?  This is an unselfish choice that God calls us to make.  It may not be wrong but if it causes another to stumble, don’t do it!
  • Does It Affect Your Testimony To Unbelievers? – We are called as Christians to positively affect unbelievers.  It is our responsibility.
  • Does it go against your conscience? – What is your gut instinct?  Usually a Christian has a kneejerk reaction to right and wrong.  You really know whether something is right or wrong, even if you choose to ignore the warning coming from inside.  Don’t ignore your conscience!  God gave you that still small voice for a reason! Our conscience is just a guide, not a court of last appeal.  You can talk yourself into a clear conscience and still be wrong in the sight of God but it is a guide that God has given you for a purpose. 
  • Is It Unwise? – Biblical wisdom is both religious and practical.  Seek biblical wisdom and apply it in your every decision. 
Scripture to Claim:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

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