In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he unpacks many of the problems that the church in Corinth was facing. Their problems sprouted from the same root: sinfulness.
They were divided, prideful, and living in immorality. And one of these issues was that of making decisions in the area of conscience and Christian freedom (chapters 8-10).
Why would Paul spend three chapters speaking about conscience issues and how to make godly, God-glorifying decisions? Because this is an important issue.
According to the Holy Spirit, he saw fit to send us detailed guidance and inspired direction for making decisions as a Christian in what we call the “gray areas.”
This is not like wondering whether or not if I should hold up the convenience store on Corinth St. or if I should move in with my girlfriend — those, and things like them, are not gray areas (for example see 1 Corinthians 6).
There are many things that Christians are not free to do because they are not their own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are not free to break God’s commandments or disregard our conscience when it is rightly tuned to the Scriptures.
The Gray Areas
Nothing brings up more controversy than controversial takes. We all have opinions on issues, and we also know that the Bible doesn’t have any verses on whether or not you should homeschool your kids, what television shows you should watch, how to spend your free time, or if you should get a vaccination.
We believe that the Bible is sufficient in all areas of life and godliness (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17), so we have real answers to real issues. And your decisions and life matters, for eternity!
So, how do we navigate whether or not I should drink alcohol as a Christian? Or, whether or not I should see that movie, or other issues regarding disagreements between believers. And I think, in 1 Corinthians 8-10, we can gather some helpful questions to guide us in our decisions in these areas:
1). Will it cause my brother to stumble (8:7-13; 10:24-30)?
2). Do I need this (8:8)?
3). Would it put an obstacle in the way of unbelievers seeing the gospel (9:12; 10:33)?
4). Will it help me to run and finish the race well (9:24-27)?
5). Will it be an area of temptation to sin for you (10:6-12)?
6). Does it show a participation (‘communion’) with unbelievers (10:19-21)?
7). Is it helpful (10:23)?
8). Can I glorify God (10:31)?
These are basic principles for guiding us to godliness.
The way to Celestial City is a pilgrimage through many temptations, swamps, towns, and lands riddled with pitfalls and enemies.
In whatever decision we make, may we do so with our eyes fixed on Christ and a heart full of love for our brother.
Christian, run the race well and glorify God in all that you do and do not do.