"A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Discerning Between Good And Evil INTRODUCTION 1. In the previous lesson we talked about overcoming sin by: a. Understanding the development of sin b. Utilizing the help of God to... 1) Change our desires 2) Limit our opportunities to sin 3) Exercise self-control 4) Seek forgiveness 2. Assumed in all of this, is that we know or can discern the difference between what is good and evil a. Knowing the difference does not come automatically upon conversion b. It is an ability that comes with time and "exercise" - cf. He 5:12-14 3. This lesson is designed to help us develop this ability to discern, so that we might truly have "A Closer Walk With God" [Deciding what is right and what is wrong is really very simple. It involves asking a few questions about the matter at hand...] I. IS IT CLEARLY CONDEMNED IN THE BIBLE? A. MANY THINGS ARE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED AS BEING WRONG... 1. One list of such things is found in Ga 5:19-21 2. A similar list is found in Ep 5:3-7 B. FOR THINGS SO MENTIONED, THAT SETTLES THE MATTER... 1. At least as far as Christians are concerned 2. There is no room for debate when the Scriptures clearly condemn some practice [But not all sins are mentioned by name, for the Bible would be endless if that were true! So another question needs to be asked...] II. IS IT SIMILAR TO THINGS CONDEMNED IN THE BIBLE? A. IN GALATIANS 5:19-21 , NOTICE THE PHRASE "AND THE LIKE"... 1. When we are uncertain about some matter, we should ask whether it is LIKE any sins specifically mentioned 2. For example, what about smoking marijuana? Is it not like "drunkenness"? B. YOU MIGHT EVEN COMPARE IT WITH THE GOOD THINGS MENTIONED... 1. Notice those things in Ga 5:22-23 2. Is the matter in question more like the "fruit of the Spirit" (that which is good) or the "works of the flesh" (that which is evil)? [Another question to consider...] III. DOES IT HURT YOUR CONSCIENCE? A. THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE... 1. In light of the following Scriptures - 1 Ti 1:5 ,18-19; 3:9 2. Violating our conscience to the degree it no longer bothers us is a sure sign of apostasy! - 1 Ti 4:1-2 B. THIS MAY HELP US TO BETTER APPRECIATE ROMANS 14:23 ... 1. Doing something when you doubt its rightfulness is to violate your conscience 2. That, declares Paul, is sin! 3. So an act may be good in of itself, but... a. If you think it is wrong (because of incorrect knowledge) b. Or have doubts about its rightfulness ...then don't do it! [Another help...] IV. WHAT DO MATURE CHRISTIANS SAY ABOUT IT? A. THIS, OF COURSE, IS NOT THE ULTIMATE DETERMINING FACTOR... 1. For mature Christians can be wrong 2. As they would be the first to admit B. BUT HEBREWS 5:14 DOES SAY THAT THOSE WHO BY "REASON OF USE" ARE IN A POSITION TO DISCERN... 1. This is why the advice of mature Christians can be helpful - cf. Ph 3:17 2. The example of Rehoboam's failure to listen to the advice of older, mature men should teach us something - 1 Ki 12:6-20 3. Paul instructed Titus that the younger should look to those older - Ti 2:3-5 [Then a question that is often overlooked...] V. DOES IT HINDER YOUR INFLUENCE? A. BY BOTH EXAMPLE AND WORD, PAUL STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CONCERNED ABOUT OUR INFLUENCE ON OTHERS... 1. Notice his concern for how his influence affected the salvation of others - 1 Co 9:19-23 2. He then commands to do likewise, in which we are simply imitating the example of Christ! - 1 Co 10:31-11:1 B. PETER TAUGHT THE VALUE OF A GOOD EXAMPLE... 1. In helping a wife win her husband to the Lord - 1 Pe 3:1-2 2. What is said of a wife's example would also be true of a Christian's example [So we should be concerned as to whether a practice under question HELPS or HINDERS our influence for the Lord!] VI. IS IT POOR STEWARDSHIP? A. THAT WE ARE "STEWARDS" OF OUR TIME, MONEY, AND BODIES, IS EVIDENT FROM... 1. The Lord's parable of The Talents - Mt 25:14-30 2. Paul's instruction concerning our bodies - 1 Co 6:19-20 3. His directions for those rich in this world - 1 Ti 6:17-19 B. SOME ACTIVITIES MAY BE HARMLESS IN THEMSELVES, BUT REQUIRE SO MUCH TIME AND ENERGY... 1. There is none left for the Lord! 2. This can be true of vocations, hobbies, etc. 3. We should bear in mind that time is limited and therefore priorities must be set and kept - Ep 5:16 ; Mt 6:33 [Finally, we can ask...] VII. WOULD JESUS DO IT? A. REMEMBER THE GOAL OF DISCIPLESHIP... 1. As found in Lk 6:40 2. To be like Jesus! B. "WOULD JESUS DO IT?" IS THEREFORE AN APPROPRIATE QUESTION... 1. If you think He would not, it is probably wrong! C. THIS MAKES THE STUDY OF JESUS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE IN OUR LIVES! 1. Studying His life, His examples, His Word 2. So that we can have the "mind of Christ" - Ph 2:5 CONCLUSION 1. I hope that these seven questions can help in identifying what is good and what is evil 2. The importance of properly discerning between good and evil is seen in such passages like 2 Co 6:16-7:1 a. Where we are reminded of how blessed we are to be the people of God b. And the responsibility to act accordingly, if we wish to have a closer walk with God! SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING... 1. Do you have some older Christian to whom you feel free to go to for advice? 2. Do you feel that you usually give enough thought to the effect of your actions on other people? 3. Are you trying to keep a good conscience in all that you do? 4. Will you ask, when in doubt, "What would Jesus do?"