How do you handle issues that the Bible doesn’t speak about? Usually, these activities create controversy in the church. Many believers argue about things like gambling, tattoos, drinking alcohol, or buying lottery tickets.
In Paul’s day, the issue was about buying meat that had been sacrificed at a pagan temple. It was the best meat in the marketplace. But there were many who said that it was a sin to eat it.
In chapters 8 through 10 of his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle gives some guiding principles.
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6
I find this to be an amazing passage of Scripture. Here you have a former Pharisee looking at the issue and not immediately saying, “It’s a sin, don’t do it.”
Instead, Paul takes a step back and looks at it in logical terms. What’s an idol? It’s nothing at all. A statue made of metal or wood. It has no power or ability to do anything.
I think that our problem in dealing with these “hot button” activities is that we get emotionally invested in our conclusions. We have a definite opinion about whether something is sin or not. Usually, that’s the case even though the Bible is silent about it.
There are many activities that God clearly defines as sin. There are lists in the Bible that tell us what God hates and instructs us not to participate. There’s no question – these things are not God’s will for us.
The problem comes about in these grey areas. Many of these activities existed since the times of the Patriarchs. Yet the Lord chose not to speak about them. If that’s the case, then why do we get so worked up about them?
We need to take a lesson from Paul. Step back, get rid of the emotional attachments, and look at it from a purely Biblical perspective. He starts at the bottom line. Idols are nothing, God is everything.
In all areas of life, we have to look at our relationship with God as the overriding factor. Everything that I do should revolve around Christ. We seem to forget that sometimes.
With Paul, that’s the starting point. We begin with a desire to please Christ. It’s not about proving that I’m right.
So often, when it comes to these grey areas, it’s a matter of checking our motives. In many cases, I’ve been approached by Christian teens asking if a certain activity was a sin. They were trying to get me to override their parents.
“Pastor Nick says that it’s not a sin, so why won’t you let me do it?”
In those cases, I bring it around to the true issue. It’s always a sin to disrespect your parents. As long as you’re under their authority, you need to abide by their decisions, even if you think that they’re wrong.
Usually, it’s not as simple as asking if something is a sin. There are many things in life that are not a sin, but they are also not God’s will for me to take part in. I have to consider that as well.
Our walk with God is the top priority. We should be trying, with all of our heart, to please the Lord in all that we do. That’s the start of a pure walk with God.
Question: What are some special limits that God has placed upon your life?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi