Some things are always sin. God gives us unchanging principles and commands in the Bible about these things:
- The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20. – Have no other gods before God, make no graven images to worship, do not misuse God’s Name, take time to rest and worship, honor your father and mother, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not covet, do not kill, do not lie.)
- Love God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul. (Matt. 22:37)
- Love people and treat them as you would want to be treated. (Matt. 22:39, Luke 6:31)
- Keep your promises and your word. (James 5:12)
- Forgive wrong things people do to do whether they apologize or not (Matt. 6:14-15)
- Do not hold on to bitterness. (Eph. 4:31)
- Do not gossip or slander others. (2 Cor. 12:20)
- Be humble, get rid of all pride. (James 4:6)
- Dress in a modest way that honors God, yourself, and others. (1 Tim. 2:9)
- Honor your marriage vows. (He. 13:4)
- Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18)
- Make disciples of all nations. (Matt. 28:19)
- Take care of the widows, orphans, the poor, the oppressed, the sick, and needy. (James 1:27, Isaiah 10:2, Matt. 25:31-46)
- Do not argue or complain. (Phil. 2:14-16)
- Honor those in authority over you unless they ask you to clearly sin against God. (Eph. 5:22-33, Romans 13:1-7, Heb. 13:17)
These kinds of things (and many others) are unchanging biblical principles and commands. But some things are not so black and white – God gives us more liberty in certain areas that are a matter of personal conviction. These are things each believer must privately, prayerfully consider and attempt to do what he/she believes God desires him/her to do.
Please read Romans 14 this week when you get a chance!
CONVICTIONS ABOUT GRAY AREAS ARE A PRIVATE THING BETWEEN EACH BELIEVER AND GOD
The Bible says that those with strong faith must bear with those who have weak faith in these issues, and not create a stumbling block for others. What we decide about our personal convictions are things that we don’t have the right to force on others – these are private matters. I need to be sure I am acting in love and not causing others to stumble. The entire chapter of Romans 14 is about this issue.
Just because I have one personal conviction doesn’t mean someone else is “wrong” if he/she has a different conviction in a gray area.
It is important that we go by God’s definition of sin in His Word, not our own convictions in gray areas where believers should have freedom to make their own decisions.
A few examples of areas of personal conviction:
– Calvinism vs. Armenianism.
– Where to send children to school (homeschooling, private school, public school).
– Whether to abstain completely from alcohol or to drink a little bit of alcohol occasionally (without getting drunk, of course).
– What church/denomination to attend.
– My exact boundaries with the opposite sex and how I decide to guard my heart to protect my marriage.
– How often to go to church.
– How best to discipline and raise children.
– What it means to dress modestly, how we do our hair/makeup, what we wear.
– What music to listen to.
– How to calculate a tithe or how much to give to the church and to those in need.
– Whether to celebrate certain holidays and how to celebrate them.
– How to have time with God.
– Whether to own a TV or not.
– What to watch on TV and how much TV to watch.
– How to eat in a way that honors God.
– Some personal priorities.
– How to pray and when to pray.
– What translation of the Bible to read.
– How exactly to be a godly steward of your time, resources, talents, and money.
We get ourselves in a lot of trouble when we insist that other people, must abide by all of our personal convictions. We also get into trouble when we allow other people’s convictions to create doubt or false and unnecessary guilt in us. (For example – if watching my video or reading my posts about how I process my motives with external issues like makeup or modesty causes you angst or distress or guilt – let’s talk about that together! I don’t want to every create unnecessary doubt or guilt for anyone.)
We are all bound by God’s Word and His commands to us as believers. So we would all need to be sure that we are not violating God’s principles in our motives, thoughts, words, decisions, and actions. But there is room for different believers to have different convictions about issues where God’s Word is silent.
Sometimes, we might even think that if other people (including our men) don’t live by our convictions, they are sinning.
But people can have different convictions from mine and not be sinning against God.
NO HUMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO ASK ME TO DISOBEY GOD’S PRINCIPLES (this applies to any people in positions of authority and leadership – church leaders, parents, bosses, the government, marriage, etc.):
It is really important that we know for sure that someone in authority over us is truly sinning before we decide to not honor that person’s leadership! Let’s use great caution here, my dear sisters!
Example: If my husband wants me to have an abortion (murder), rob a bank, commit income tax fraud, lie for him to the police to cover up his crime, join a cult, put him above Christ in my heart, commit an unethical or immoral act with him, watch porn with him, steal something for him, have an affair, get drunk, have a threesome, work as a stripper, parade my body immodestly in front of other men, sell our children into slavery, beat our children (not just a spanking), or these kinds of things – I cannot cooperate with those requests. I must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).
In Christ, unity is not always about agreement in all the little gray areas, but it is about agreement in the most important areas – biblical principles.
SECRET TO UNITY
Let’s focus on the things we do have in common with our men and with other believers.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 5:1-6)
We can give grace in areas of preference.
AREAS OF PREFERENCE CAN VARY BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS, BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES AND COMMANDS DO NOT CHANGE:
We each have freedom in Christ to have our own convictions about the true gray areas. We don’t have freedom where the Bible specifically speaks and labels something as sin or as obedience. In those areas, we must all submit to Christ and to His Word. But in the areas where Christ gives freedom, we must also give freedom – not condemnation. It is not my right to determine if something is sinful or not for someone else in a gray area.
God is the only one who has the authority to decide that something is sin.