How do we form godly convictions without specific Biblical directives?
The ten principles in this list will guide us when we are unsure about what pleases God. Christians should examine their lives in light of each one. But while we do this, we must respect the fact that different applications will be made from these more general commands.
When a behavior is not addressed in Scripture by a specific moral absolute commanding or forbidding a response, it belongs to a category of freedom. In areas of freedom, Christians are encouraged to establish their own convictions. But we are not permitted to judge or ridicule those who do not share our conviction (Romans 14:3).
We must do our best to avoid legalism. Legalism destroys Churches. It can be detected when leaders or individual Christians apply general commands in specific ways and then place their applications on the same level as Scripture by judging others based on them. The principles offered here are primarily for personal use. They could also be used (with maturity) to assist others in arriving at godly decisions.
Scripture: I Corinthians 6:19-20;10:31; I Thessalonians 2:12
Questions: Does this behavior/practice bring glory to God? Would it dishonor God?
2. Loving others:
Scripture: I Corinthians 8:1,9-13;Romans 14:13-21; Galatians 5:13.
Question: How will this behavior/practice affect others?
Note: Offending weaker brothers should be distinguished from offending Pharisees (see Matthew 15:12-15). We should not change based on the opinions of pharisees.
3. Eliminating excess:
Scripture: I Corinthians 9:24-27;Philippians 3:13; Hebrews 12:1.
Question: Will this hinder me in living an effective Christian life?
4. Attaining excellence:
Scripture: I Corinthians 6:12;10:23; Ephesians 5:16; Philippians 1:9-11.
Questions: Is this activity useful toward my Christian growth? It may not be wrong, but is it really useful and profitable? Is this activity the best use of my time?
5. Avoiding destructive alliances:
Scripture: II Corinthians 6:14-18; Psalm 1:1-3; Proverbs 13:20;22:24-25.
Questions: Am I entering into a relationship that could cause me to commit myself to believe or practice something that is against God’s will? How will this association influence my life?
6. Keeping a clear conscience:
Scripture: Romans 14:5,14,22-23; I Corinthians 8:7.
Question: Is what I am doing bothering my conscience in its current condition?
7. Aspiring to Christlikeness:
Scripture: Romans 8:28-29a; I John 2:6.
Question: Is this consistent with all that I know about Jesus Christ?
8. Maintaining purity:
Scriptures: Matthew 5:27-30; Romans 13:14; Philippians 4:8; I Peter 2:11,16; Galatians 5:13
Questions: Will this activity become a source for sin? Am I allowing myself to be vulnerable to temptation?
9. Prioritizing the Gospel:
Scripture: I Corinthians 9:23
Question: Will this activity hinder or help my effectiveness as a witness for Christ?
10. Listening to leadership:
Scripture: Hebrews 13:17;I Thessalonians 5:12-13.
Questions: Is what I am doing in conflict with the membership or service covenants of my Church? Am I respecting the leadership and seeking guidance from them?
When we use these principles to reach conclusions on matters that are not explicitly addressed in the Bible, we must not make our conclusions morally binding upon others (unless they are house rules). Prayerfully work through these principle with honesty and humility. God knows our hearts and He knows what is best (I Samuel 16:7; Hebrews 4:13; Philippians 1:9-11). Our service for God should be motivated by love for Him as we make every effort to do what pleases God (Matthew 22:37; II Corinthians 5:9-10,14-15; ).
Memorize these Scriptures:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.”
II Corinthians 5:9-10
“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”