The early stages of the Christian life start with separating ourselves from bad things, so that we can do good things. As we mature, we must learn how to separate ourselves from good things, so that we can do the best things. Interacting with other Christians, who are all at different stages of maturity and convictions, can be difficult. We want to operate with a clear conscience before God and a good testimony before men. We also need to be gentle towards others, letting God convict other people's consciences (Philippians 4:5 NKJV). The above Scriptures show us that this is a matter for prayerful concern. Below are some Scriptures to help us with this delicate task.
Questions to ask yourself:
I Corinthians 6:12 & I Corinthians 10:23
- Is it lawful? - Does God call this sin?
- Is it profitable? - Not, "how bad is it?" - Rather, "how good is it?"
- Is it Overpowering? - Does it control me? - Does it tempt me?
- Is it Edifying? - Does it build others up, or is it a stumbling block to them?
Romans 1:32 Who are your heroes, roll models, and entertainers? See Psalm 101
Romans 12:21 Wickedness is all around us. Are we letting it in (like a leak in the boat!) or are we influencing others for good? See Matthew 5:13-16.
Principles to follow:
Romans 14:13-23 Principles of separating from worldliness gracefully.
- Don't judge others.
- Don't be a stumbling block to others.
- Edify others (build them up).
- Respect the conscience of other believers.
- Follow your own conscience. Make sure your conscience is persuaded by Scripture.
- Keep the important things important. Don't rob yourself or others of righteousness (i.e. having a good conscience before God and a good testimony before men), peace, and joy in the Lord.
Titus 1:15; I Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-33; Ephesians 5:1-21; I Thessalonians 5:14-24
- Approach life with simple and pure motives. Avoid even the appearance of evil. See Romans 16:17-19; Ephesians 5:1-2; Philippians 2:14-15; I Thessalonians 5:22.
- Don't be naive. Use discernment with grace and sincerity. See Ephesians 5:1-13; James 3:13-18.
- Life is short. Seek the Glory of God. See Romans 15:1-7; Ephesians 5:14-21; Colossians 3:1-5, 12-17.
- Seek the ultimate good for others. Be a servant of God to men. See I Corinthians 9:19-23; Philippians 2:1-8 (cp. Ephesians 5:2 "for us…to God"). See also Philippians 4:4-9.