Friday, March 23, 2007

Principles For Christian Prudence

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
(Colossians 3:16 – ESV)

The church looks like it has lost the power to stand apart from the crowd. We cannot ignore the problem (as some do), just acting superior won’t help, and finger pointing is simply hypocritical. We’re living with sin, rather than looking at Him. Our families are crumbling, our children are crushed, and our churches are confused. We continue to slide into a mindset that thinks more like the world than Christ.

The problem is what we are doing with our freedom in Christ. Certainly we are free in Christ (Galatians 5:1), and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17), but many have been caught up in a false gospel that sees grace as a license to sin with impunity (Galatians 5:13 / 1 Peter 2:16). As a supposed answer to this, we have many churches and teachers who believe that it’s a sin to wear pants, cut your hair, or go to the bowling alley.

Now no one needs to ask if it is okay to commit adultery, steal, cheat, or lie, but what about those things that the Bible seems to be silent about? What is the right balance? What kind of music should I listen to? Can I go see a movie? Can I go to a “sports bar” to watch the game with friends? What can or should I wear? What can I do on Sunday? Things can in themselves be indifferent, or neutral, but for the Christian it is a matter of the right use of matters indifferent.

1 Corinthians gives us seven principles that will help us to allow our freedom in Christ to glorify God. This isn’t about new laws; it is about principles that will keep us from falling into trouble, and helping others not to stumble at our liberty. These aren’t universal rules for you to impose on others; they are guidelines for you to regulate your decision-making. Prudence is about making mature decisions, the wise exercise of our freedom in Christ. This is all about renewing your mind (Romans 12:1-2 / Ephesians 4:22-24).

Principle #1 –
MasteryWill This Bring Me Into Bondage? 1 Corinthians 6:12
Ephesians 4:27 / Romans 13:14 / 2 Peter 2:19 / Titus 1:15-16, 2:11-12

Principle #2 –
MoralityWill This Defile God’s Temple? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Psalm 101:3 / 2 Corinthians 7:1 / 2 Corinthians 10:12

Compare yourself to God, not yourself, or others. Not about smoking or drinking, per se, but about getting drunk, altered states, gluttony, looking at pornography, etc. It’s about morals here.

Principle #3 –
MaturityWill This Cause Anyone To Stumble? 1 Corinthians 8:8-9
Romans 14:20-21 / Philippians 2:3-4 / Romans 12:10

Principle #4 –
MinistryWill This Edify Me And/Or Others? 1 Corinthians 10:23
Galatians 5:22-23 / Ephesians 4:29 / 1 Peter 4:10-11 – Don’t be pugnacious with our liberty

Principle #5 –
Mind Will This Violate My Conscience? 1 Corinthians 10:25-29
Romans 14:23 – Some things that will tempt me will not tempt others / James 4:17

Principle #6 –
MagnifyWill This Bring Glory To God? 1 Corinthians 10:31
Ephesians 5:15-20 / Colossians 3:17,23 / 1 Timothy 4:4-5

Principle #7 –
MissionWill This Hurt My Witness? 1 Corinthians 10:32-33
Matthew 5:16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:22 / Ephesians 5:3-8 / Philippians 2:15 / Colossians 4:5

Some things are not all bad, but they aren’t any good either. Don’t be looking to “help out” the witness by succumbing to the culture. Christianity is the solution to culture. Yes you can have a tattoo and go to heaven, but we don’t need to get a tattoo to show others the way to heaven.

Not isolated but insulated. Avoiding a bad witness by going to secret hideouts to do bad things is not fooling God. Your life is a witness everywhere, whether you want it to be or not. In a sense, God is more interested in those you don’t know because His power burns brighter in your witness (lifestyle – 1 John 3:18) there because you don’t have the power of your other relationships.

6 comments:

jazzycat said...

J.D.,
There are some really good points in this post. The seven principles you list are an outstanding way to use Biblical teaching to help us be discerning about our activities. Unfortunately too many Christians think that anything that is legal is O.K.
wayne

Even So... said...

?

Even So... said...

Bueller, Bueller....

Even So... said...

Perhaps I stifled comments with #3,4,6,7...

Craver Vii said...

Bueller here. Finally, I got a chance to get in and peek at your post, and I also like the way you have used multiple principles. I have had bad experiences with Principle #3, because the ones stumbling were not weaker brothers, but cranky traditionalists who resembled Judaisers, more than Christian elders/mentors. If I were to use the list with a younger person who was hung up on that point, I could probably answer the question by checking whether it got past the filter of the other 6 principles you listed, and clarifying whether the supposed stumbler was a weaker brother.

Even So... said...

Indeed, not just one but all...