Making the Hard Decisions Easy
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I told you this morning that I want to just share some things very practical from my own life, along the line of making the hard decisions easy.
And I want to pull together a lot of things out of the Word of God.
But before I do that, just a little bit of introduction.
The Bible is very explicit on matters of sin.
There's no any reason to wonder what it is that God forbids.
You can start with the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord lays out the things that He does not permit.
There are other things which God commands us to do and not to do those is sin.
We are not in the dark about sin.
The things explicitly spelled out in the Scripture are very clear to us.
We know what's wrong.
We also know what is right in regard to many things, for God has given us very clear word on that.
Now we don't want to talk about what is explicitly right and what is explicitly wrong in the Scripture, we want to talk a little bit about what falls in the middle because that really poses the difficult problem when it comes to decision making.
If somebody proposes to you the possibility of lying, cheating, stealing, killing somebody, committing adultery, coveting, that's pretty obviously not acceptable.
If somebody proposes to you the idea of reading the Bible, praying, witnessing, sharing the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word with someone who needs to hear it, that's pretty obviously right.
But what about all that stuff in the middle to which the Bible doesn't explicitly speak?
And this is a large category.
For example, there are some people who say that there are certain foods we should eat and certain foods we should not eat.
There are those today who would want to bind us to an Old Testament dietary law and tell us that true spirituality is really involved with what you eat.
And, of course, if you eat pork, or any thing that's not kosher by Old Testament law, you've committed a sin.
Other people would tell us that you can drink certain things and not other things.
And if you drink certain things, that's sinful.
And certain other things are not.
And there's a lot to be said about that in Scripture but no specific prohibition regarding what we may or may not drink.
Some people believe, and this might sound strange to you, but it's true, some people believe that sports are sinful.
In fact, I know a man who feels that way very strongly and says he's writing a book on the sin of sports.
Now some of you don't believe it's a sin, to you it is a god.
And you bow down and you worship it...every opportunity you get.
There are some people who believe television is a sin.
If you own a television, you're not spiritual.
There are other people who are zombies.
They stare at that box.
Doesn't matter what's on, even a test pattern tickles their fancy and they'll watch it as long as the fuse lasts.
Some people would say that if you go to a movie you've committed a sin.
If you enter into a theater, you're participating in ungodliness.
If you plunk down your...I don't know whatever it costs to go to a theater...that you are paying money into the godless movie‑producing industry.
Other people say, "Well, you can go to a movie and it's a diversion, it's recreational, you can see the beauty of certain scenery," and so forth.
There are people who think that if you do anything on Sunday other than sit and read the Bible, you have entered into sin.
You're not...when I was a little guy growing up, I can remember when we were back in...particularly on the east coast, in Philadelphia...you were not allowed to do anything on Sunday that even remotely resembled recreation.
We came home in our little Lord Fauntleroy suits with the little stiff collar, and a little tie, and sat on the couch all day.
Couldn't read the funny papers, couldn't read the sports page, couldn't look at television, couldn't go out in the yard and play catch, couldn't take a walk, we sat.
The only sin we could commit and we could commit that sin all we wanted was the sin of gluttony.
We could literally gorge ourselves on Sunday.
And, of course, most of the women spent all morning cooking up this massive meal by which we sinned all afternoon, but couldn't...but couldn't run it off.
And so we were stuck with the consequence of our evil.
But that sin was tolerable.
And in most evangelical circles it still is...as given evidence by the shape of most evangelicals.
But anyway...we'll stay away from that one.
I remember as a little boy that you could play cards.
You could play cards as long as the cards didn't have jokers, spades, clubs and those other things.
If they had anything else but those, they were okay.
But if they printed those on them, that was sinful and no self‑respecting person would ever pick up a card and see one of those markings on it without dropping immediately lest he commits some evil.
Now you could play "Pit" and scream and shout and throw things, and that was all right, but watch what's on the card.
There were people who believed that certain games were sinful.
Certain games like "Monopoly" taught materialism and there should have been a game called "Humility and Poverty" for those who really wanted to pursue true spirituality in their recreational life.
And then there are people who believe that it's a sin to stick leaves in your mouth and set them on fire and blow smoke through your nose.
I was just in North Carolina and I saw most of the deacons doing just that.
And I asked somebody how it is that that's not a sin and they said they all raise tobacco back here so that's not a sin.
But anyway, there are other people who say that if your hair is too long, that's a sin.
And if it's too short, that's not a sin unless it's really too short and that may mean you're gay so find a middle ground somewhere so you're not sinning on either end.
There are people who believe certain clothing styles are basically reflective of a sinful society.
Now I don't understand the fashions today.
I really don't.
Personally, I believe God is symmetrical.
You understand that?
I believe God is symmetrical.
He likes the same thing on both sides of you.
But I see...see, I see clothes that go every which way.
I mean, crazy things like exploding things and everything all around.
But I think God is a God of symmetry.
But anyway, that's just me.
I like a pocket on both sides of my shirt, what can I say?
And there are some people who...some people who feel that certain musical styles are sinful.
Rock music is sinful.
And we might even agree with that.
Country and western is definitely sanctified.
They must not be listening to the words.
There are some people who think that it's okay to have boys and girls together swimming, and there are some, many in the south, for example, who believe that's a sin.
They call that "mixed bathing" and that is forbidden.
But there are a lot of things like that that enter into the area where the Scripture really doesn't have anything to say and so we're left with having to make some decisions.
Now the easy way is to make up a list of rules.
That's very easy.
We'll just decide.
We'll get a committee and we'll say this is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong, this is right.
We'll just live by those rules.
And if you keep the rules, we'll call you spiritual.
And if you don't keep the rules, we'll call you fleshly.
That's the easy way out.
As Christians, we need to know how to make decisions about those kinds of things.
There are these things that face us every single day in our life.
How do we decide?
Well, I'm going to give you two handfuls of principles, all right?
We're just going to lay them before you.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on them except to share them with you.
These are the things that I use in my own personal life.
I sat down one day and just wrote them down, just out of my own experience.
I didn't have to go study to figure them out, these are the things that I ask myself periodically whenever I'm faced with making a decision that isn't black or white in Scripture.
The sooner you learn to apply these things, the more you will enjoy your spiritual experience and understand what it means to be free in Christ and yet submissive to His perfect purpose.