Personally, I am filled with so many questions~ I went to a Paul McCartney concert, did that dishonor with God? We let our children trick-or-treat a little, is that righteous? Can I walk through the Art Museum, there are some immodest works? I would never ride a motorcycle, but is it o.k. for a Christian to be a biker? The line between living righteously and living like a Pharisee can get blurry. How can I tell when I am living by man made rules? How do I know when Satan and the world have tricked me with their slick ways? I know the Scripture says to live in the world and not of it, but how does that translate to all those thousands of little choices?
Reading our Bible and praying often is our best defense against the world. It is what keeps us close to God. True fellowship with other Christians who are serious about their faith is another essential. With those items I like to add a set of questions. A sort mental flow chart to prevent me from being either a Pharisee or an offense to God:
- Am I throwing the baby out with the bath water? There is some pretty bad music out there, but I am not going to ban all music from my life. Nor am I going to say I am only going to listen to Christian music. What about Bach? Instead I am going to take it song by song. Once you say a certain area is safe, you let your guard down against the Enemy. You also do not want to throw the good out with the bad. So I might listen to some of the Beatles songs, but not all of them. I might go to the movies, but not just any movie. We might have a TV in our home, but we do not have cable, not even basic.
- What it's rating? G or PG, or is it PG13 or R. Personally, I usually only watch G or PG movies, so I extend that to the rest of my lifestyle. If a TV show or a conversation would get a PG13 or R rating, I would not participate in it either. If I go to a rock concert, it needs to get a G or PG rating. I give Paul McCartney a PG :-) Serious, a very clean show.
- Am I making it a hard and fast rule for all Christians? I don't drink alcohol. I feel uncomfortable around it. However it is not wrong for a Christian to have a glass of wine, it is only sinful to get drunk. So while it might not be for me, I am not going bring judgment on others for my man made rule. As long as it does not go against the orthodoxy of Christianity (Gospels, Ten Commandments, etc.), there is room under the tent for all of us and we should leave the judgment to God.
- Can I do this with Jesus present? Can I wear this with Jesus present? This is sort of a trick question because Jesus is always with us. God sees and knows all. Of course if Jesus was physically, visually present with us, we would behave in a different way. An outfit that seems perfectly acceptable would become an embarrassment. If I can't wear it in front of the Lord, they I do not wear it. If I can't watch it with Jesus . . . you get the idea.
- Is it poison? Poison is poison no matter how small. I would define poison as sin deceptively packaged. It is behavior not in line with a Christian walk. It is a large dose of temptation, not necessarily in a large size or amount of time. It can be as short as a commercial or as long as an evening of taking in the clubbing scene. It can be as innocent as a bikini on a little girl or it can be as harsh as husband bashing fest with your girlfriends.
- If I magnified this, would it then appear sinful to me? An example of this would be, if I took a pen from work, I would not "feel" like I was stealing. However, if I stole a computer, then I would. When, really, they are both examples of the sin of stealing. This would not work on everything. I mean I could eat one slice of pizza sin free, but if I ate the whole pie, that would be gluttony. It works on the "small" sins that people do not feel guilty for, when really there is no small sin.
- Is this hindering my Christian growth? If we are too concerned with the things of this world we will miss the overall point of our life - to glorify God. Weeds can come and choke our faith. We have to ask ourselves where this path is leading to? If it is not toward God, it is not the right path. This can be hard to discern honestly because our flesh is weak and we can quickly convince ourselves it is not a problem.