How can a Christian know what he may or may not do? Is it all right for a believer to go to dances or to the theatre, to play cards, to smoke, to drink or to participate in other worldly pleasures and amusements?
Many young converts are troubled by questions similar to the above. They find that certain practices are clearly condemned in the Bible, but that there are many others which are not mentioned. It is the purpose of this lesson to provide the student with a series of standards which may help him to decide whether or not he should engage in a questionable activity.
1. First of all, is it distinctly forbidden by the Lord for believers today? If it is, avoid it as you would a deadly plague. If you do not know, don't do it until you have had a chance to find out.
Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22
2. Then, is there any glory for God in it? In I Corinthians 10:31, we read this plain statement: "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Before you engage in the activity in question, can you honestly ask for God's blessing upon it, believing that He will be honored through your participation?
3. Is it "of the world"? If it is, then it is not "of Christ." He said concerning His disciples, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:16). He was not "of the world" at all. He was in it, but not of it.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2:15-17
4. Would the Lord have done it? He has left us an example that we should follow His steps:
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. 1 Peter 2:21
5. Would you like to be found doing it when the Lord returns? Someone has wisely remarked, "Don't do anything, say anything, or go anywhere that would cause you shame if the Lord should come!"
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28
6. Can you feel free to do it when you remember that God the Holy Spirit dwells within you? "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:19). See also Ephesians 4:30:
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
7. Is it fitting conduct for a child of God? When a king's son acts in an unworthy manner, he brings disgrace on his father's name. So does the Christian who behaves in an unbecoming way.
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. Romans 2:24
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10
8. What effect will your conduct have on others? Will it be a good testimony to the unsaved, or will they decide that there is really no difference between a Christian and an unbeliever?
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Also, will it cause someone who is young in the faith to stumble? The Apostle Paul warned that no man should put "a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way" (Romans 14:13).
9. Finally, is there the least bit of doubt in your mind about it? If so, then don't do it, for "he that doubteth is damned [condemned]...for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).
In connection with this subject of what a Christian may or may not do, it is well to remember that "we are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14,15). This does not mean that we may do as we like, but rather it means we want to do what God likes because He has done so much for us. We do not avoid worldly pleasures and amusements because we have to, but because we want to. The reason we want to is because Christ died for us, and now our ambitions are to live in a manner that will please Him (II Corinthians 5:14,15). God does not say, "If you keep away from sinful pleasures, you will be a Christian." But He does say, in effect, to the believer, "You are a Christian! Now live in a way that is consistent with your high calling."
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. Ephesians 4:1
It is possible that a Christian may forget his dignified position, and go in for the things of the world. In such a case, God will bring him back by loving correction, just as a shepherd brings back a wandering sheep by placing his crook around its neck. Thus, if God's grace is forgotten by the believer, he will be restored by God's government.
From What Christians Believe: Basic Studies in Bible Doctrine and Christian Living by Alfred P. Gibbs... [et al.]; staff members of Emmaus Bible School. Chicago: Moody Press, 1951.
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