Pastor Ron Swanson
Dec. 31, 2018
As Christians, we understand that the Bible is our final authority in life. We wholeheartedly agree with David when he declares, “The Word of the Lord is right” (Ps. 33:4). When the Word forbids certain practices, we understand that we shouldn’t be participating in them.
But what about things that the Bible doesn’t specifically address? Things like: watching a movie with no objectionable content. Is that allowed for a Christian? Or, watching TV? Or, listening to certain styles of music (like Christian Rock or Christian Rap)? Some Christians would say those things are acceptable; others might disagree.
So, what do we do in those cases? The Word provides us with four “filters” (or questions) through which our activities should pass. If a practice can pass these four filters, then I think it’s safe to allow it in our lives.
1. HOW WOULD IT AFFECT MY CONSCIENCE?
The first “filter” it needs to pass through is your own conscience. When you’re sure that the Bible doesn’t specifically condemn the practice, the next step is to ask if it would violate your conscience. (Of course, this isn’t completely fool-proof, since there’s always the possibility that you’ve seared your conscience in that area. So, here are a few guidelines from Paul that might help.)
a.) Does it Glorify God?
1 Cor. 10:31 - “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” When you’re looking on the inside to see what your conscience says, stop and ask yourself this question: “Does this bring glory to God? Is it honoring to Him? If Jesus came to my house, could we do it together?” If it doesn’t pass this test, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
b.) Am I Addicted to It?
The principle here, is that God wants us to be in control of our appetites. If you have to have something, and you can’t do without it, then you should probably cut it off until you regain control. Even if it’s not technically a “sin”, you’d be better off not doing it. (1 Cor. 6:12 MSG)
c.) Does It Harm God’s “Temple”?
If you do things that destroy the temple, then God will let it be destroyed. Doing things that harm your body isn’t taking care of the “temple” where God lives. Activities like that don’t even pass the first test.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Jan. 7, 2019
As Christians, we understand that we should avoid practices that are forbidden in the Word of God. But, what about things that the Bible doesn’t specifically address? (Things like watching a “G” rated movie in a theatre. Is that allowed? Or listening to specific styles of music?) How do we decide what’s permissible when the Bible doesn’t address those issues? The Word provides us with four “filters” through which our activities should pass. If an activity can pass these four filters, then I think it’s safe to allow it in our lives.
The first filter was our own conscience. Under this point, we asked ourselves: “Does it grieve my spirit? Does it glorify God? Am I addicted to it? Does it harm God’s temple in any way?” If it violates any of the above, you’d be better off leaving it alone.
2. HOW WOULD IT AFFECT OTHER CHRISTIANS?
The second “filter” your activity needs to pass through is “how it would affect other believers?”. Would your actions hinder them in their walk with God?
I know our initial reaction to that question might be: “Who cares? It’s my life! This is between God and me!” But, that’s only partially true. In one sense, it’s between you and God. But, it’s also between you and your brothers and sisters.
Cain once asked the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer that’s proclaimed in Scripture is a resounding, “Yes!” Like it or not, we’re responsible to make sure that our actions don’t cause others to stumble.
In 1 Corinthians chapter eight, Paul uses the example of meat that’s been offered to idols. (That’s not an issue in 21st Century North America. But it was a big question in Paul’s day.)
Paul’s answer was this: “We are no worse off if we eat that food and no better off if we don’t. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track.” (1 Cor. 8:8-9)
The fact is, I am my brother’s keeper! Paul recognized that, and he went on to say: “If food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again.” (v. 17 NASB). Could you make that kind of commitment? In a generation where everyone is standing up for his or her “rights”, the Word still demands that we consider others.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Jan. 14, 2019
We’ve been discussing activities that the Bible doesn’t specifically address. (Things like watching movies or listening to certain styles of music.) When the Word doesn’t address certain activities, how do we decide whether they’re permissible for a Christian? We’ve discovered that there are four “filters” we can pass things through, to help us decide.
The first was the filter of our conscience. (Does it grieve my spirit? Could I do it if Jesus was physically present?) The second filter concerned other believers. Would my involvement in the practice hinder another Christian’s walk with the Lord? That brings us to the third test.
3. HOW WOULD IT AFFECT UNBELIEVERS?
The third test is, “How would this affect the unbelievers around me? Would it hinder others from coming to Christ?”
We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians chapter ten, where Paul is still talking about meat that’s been offered to idols. He says, “If your host goes out of his way to tell you that the meat was sacrificed to an idol, you shouldn’t eat it. Even though you may be indifferent as to where it came from, he isn’t, and you don’t want to send mixed messages to him about who you are worshiping.” (1 Cor. 10:27-29 MSG).
In a case like that, my host’s eternity is more important than whether I eat meat that night.
4. IS THIS BECOMING A DISTRACTION TO ME?
If an activity has made it past my conscience, and the offense test (with both believers and non-believers), then it comes down to one final test. Is it becoming a distraction to me?
Hebrews 12:1 commands us to lay aside two things: Sins and weights. Now, obviously, sin needs to be set aside. But what are “weights”? A weight is an activity that, in and of itself, isn’t wrong. But, if you indulge in it too much, it can become a hindrance in your walk with God.
Weights aren’t sinful. They’re just distractions. Golfing would be a good example. There’s nothing sinful about golf. But some people take it to an extreme. Their life revolves around the sport until it becomes a distraction. Paul calls us to lay those things down, so we don’t lose the “edge” in our walk with God.
If an activity passes all four of these tests, and you’re sure that you’re not violating Scripture ... then it’s safe to participate in it.