June 24, 2021

Can I follow Jesus and smoke, drink, and cuss?

Have you ever wondered how far is too far? Like, where does God draw the line on sin? You probably desire to do good, but isn’t it hard to understand what good is? There seem to be more and more gray areas, so how do you know if it’s okay to take a hit, smoke, drink, or cuss?

In this episode, Whit and Adam talk about the areas in the Bible that can sometimes seem a little gray. So, let’s talk about it.

3 questions to ask when examining the gray areas of sin

Certain sins are obvious in the Bible. Think about the 10 Commandments; those are pretty clear. But there are other actions that the Bible doesn’t come right out and say, “Don’t do this.” Our technology and culture have changed significantly since the Bible was written, so some areas weren’t even a problem for the first followers of Jesus. So, how do you navigate the gray areas? 

1. Is it making me my best self?

In our relationship with God, we are asked to trust God’s boundaries, or as we like to say, “trust God’s ‘no.'” Some of the first words God spoke to man were “no.” In the Garden of Eden, God tells Adam, “You can eat from any tree, just not this one.” Why can’t Adam eat from this tree? In the story, there’s not a ton of explanations why. God just asks Adam not to. Of course, we know now, there’s a lot of consequences for eating from that tree, but in the story, Adam just needed to trust God’s “no.

Maybe you can’t see the problem with your actions, but maybe in 30, 40, or 50 years, you will understand why that action was not beneficial. Can you trust God’s “no” in your life?

1 Corinthians 10v23 says,
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

There are certainly actions you take, substances you consume, movies you watch, or words you speak that may not be bad but aren’t all that beneficial.

IS THIS MAKING ME MY BEST SELF?

One of the best questions you can ask is, “Is this making me my best self?” There are a lot of things that aren’t exactly bad, but they may not be helping you or the people around you. As a Christ-follower, you are asked to bring your very best to every situation, so ask yourself, “When I do x, can I be my best self?

Am I looking to a substance for comfort?

An action may not inherently be a sin, but you could be turning to it for comfort instead of Jesus. In that light, the action or substance becomes an idol in your life. When it comes to alcohol, Netflix, social media, CBD, or really anything, are you turning to it for comfort when you could turn to Jesus?

A relationship with Jesus where you find rest, replenishment, and refilling is possible, but when you turn to things to fill a void that only God can fill, it becomes idolatry. And the thing about these actions or substances that is so difficult is that they almost work. They almost fill the void that only God can fill, so we keep using them.

Slow down and examine where you turn for comfort. Ask yourself, “Am I looking to this substance for comfort?

Does it benefit the community I’m in?

One of the New Testament authors, Paul, writes about being incredibly aware of the people he is around and making sure he is not causing them to stumble.  You are a part of a community, and what you bring to it should build it up, so if the way you speak or the actions you do tear the community down, you need to change.

1 Corinthians 8v9-12 says,
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again so that I will not cause them to fall.

There are probably words that you use that you don’t use around children; that’s okay! It’s not duplicitous; it is wise.  Examine the actions in your life that may not bother you but hurt the people in your community, then change. Ask yourself, “does this action benefit the community I’m in?

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.

To sum up, one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. A life deeper and more connected to Christ would be a life with more self-control, not less. Hebrews 12v1 tells us to lay aside every weight and sin that so easily entangles us. The distinction between weight and sin is huge here. There are burdens of our past, actions that we take, things that we do that may not be sin but are weights that have entangled us, and we are called to lay them aside.

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