Everyday our heads get filled with all kinds of thoughts and ideas: Some good, some bad, some questionable. As Christians, how do we sought everything out and decide which are evil and which are good; which to act on and which to ignore? This sounds like a simple procedure, but our choices are often complicated by the world's worship of trends and methods that may exist in a gray area for Believers. It's those kinds of decisions that can represent a moral or spiritual dilemma for Christians.
The Bible gives us a good model which we can use to recognize temptations thrown at us by the devil in 1 John 2:15-17 (KJV):
€Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.€
It's easy for Christians to recognize the obvious temptations and resist them even when the devil wraps these in pretty packages. He often sells adultery to Christians that are not living for God by reminding them how bad their marriage is or how their spouse has failed them. He uses persuasion as a means to make us enter into sin. Believers that are in the Word and living for God will not be easily swayed by these kinds of persuasions.
The real danger for Christians is that we will be tempted or even forced into a situation that causes us to compromise our moral, ethical or spiritual standards, or one that drives us or others away from the things of God. When I was young I attended public school. I became a born-again Believer at the age of fourteen, so I spent most of my high school years as a Christian facing all kinds of occasions that required me to make decisions about situations that were not easily discerned as necessarily good or evil.
I was not shy about my Christianity, but I never shoved it down anyone's throat either. I invited friends and classmates to youth Bible studies and events knowing that they would hear the gospel until I learned how to lead people to Christ myself. I brought my Bible to school occasionally and read it during lunch or free time. If anyone asked me questions, I tried my best to answer them at that time or later. I sat through endless class lectures which always seemed to ignore anything that had to do with God or the Bible unless it was to disprove them.
When I was faced with a science teacher who was a rabid Evolutionist, I learned to gently disagree with him. I knew it was necessary for me to learn what he was teaching and I did, but I never agreed with it and I politely voiced my objections. We agreed to disagree and that was easy. Not so easy was being pulled between the various religious factions in and outside of my school.
Some Christians felt that any Believer who supported the idea that men can have long hair (a popular hairstyle choice in those days) or that women could wear pants was disobedient. I chose short hair and a conservative look which I felt honored God, but had no problem with Christians who had long or short hair or with women who wore dresses or pants because those were the choices they made. I learned that these kinds of things were side issues that I believe the devil could easily use to distract Believers from the fundamental teachings of the Word and doing the Will of God.
Apart from the clothing issues, it was frustrating to watch Christians argue about how Believers should behave. Some said that Christians had no business being involved with things like amusements, sports or politics. They believed that 2 Corinthians 6:17 (Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you) taught them not to be involved with any worldly amusements, events or issues.
I examined all their arguments and decided that these matters required an acid test. My acid test was a simple one: If Christ came today and found me dressed a certain way or involved with a certain activity, would I be ashamed before him? If so, that was that. As the old saying goes, €When in doubt, throw it out!€
I would probably not be ashamed if the Lord came and found me playing sports unless it was on a Sunday and kept me away from Church. However, I would not want Him to come and find me watching a movie with nudity and filthy language. As far as dress goes, I believe that's a personal choice. I do recommend that Christians exercise their liberty responsibly by dressing in a modest fashion.
Every Christian is different and the devil knows our weak spots. He tempts us based on what will most successfully drive us away from God. One Believer's weak spot may be another's strength. This is why we must be careful to make choices that compliment, rather than complicate, our lives as Christians. We must also be sure that our choices do not cause other Believer's to sin or backslide. The Bible gives us an excellent example of all this in Romans 14:19-21 (KJV):
€Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.€
Christians must make their choices by standards that are far different from the ones used by the world. As the Kosher hot dogs commercial has pointed out for many years, €We answer to an even higher authority.€ We not only have to decide what is right for us, but what is good for our fellow Christians, and what will allow us to maintain a solid testimony before the world. The saying may be old, but it's true: Christians cannot live like their going to Hell all week and then act like they are going to Heaven just on Sunday.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." - Romans 12:2 (KJV)