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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guidelines for Christian Behavior

We can divide the commandments in the Old Testament (OT) into three types:
Cultural and Civic -- for the OT Israelite culture, like commands on how to divide the land among the tribes.
Ceremonial -- concerning the Israelites' worship.
Moral -- for all cultures, at all times, like the commandment that husbands stay with their wives (Genesis 2:24, repeated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5). Moral commandments, stated first in the OT, are also found in the New Testament (NT).
We can't always tell which type of command was meant. The church generally does not hold that the first two types of commandments are binding on Christians. At the Jerusalem conference, when some Jews felt that gentile Christians must obey the ceremonial law, the leaders wrote: Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29a that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality At least one of these prohibitions is not usually taken as binding by most Christians anymore, (eating blood) and at least one wasn’t always followed in NT times: 1 Corinthians 8:8 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. The Acts 15 statement was about the ceremonial law. It does not undo God's moral laws.

Some questions to ask ourselves before starting a new activity or relationship, or making a significant purchase:
1) Is it consistent with the Bible? Especially Mark 12:29b ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
2) Would it put my spiritual health at risk? Physical health is also important.
3) How will it affect other people? Will this drive others away from Christ, or attract them to Him? (See
Romans 14:1-15:8)
4) Why am I considering this? Be careful to do nothing because of pride.
5) Has God given me a personal conviction against this (or for it)? If so, I'd better abide by that conviction. (Convictions are personal – not everyone will agree.)
6) Have I promised not to do this (or to do it)? Promises, including church vows, and marriage vows, should be kept.
7) How much will it cost me? (In money, time, effort and emotionally)

The questions above were revised on July 1, 2015


FancyHorse said...

Yes, very wise words.

I personally am grateful that the Jerusalem conference allowed gentiles to eat shellfish and pork! Although, if I'd never had them, I wouldn't miss them.

Martin LaBar said...

No, we probably wouldn't miss them.

Thanks for your comment.