'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
Acknowledging, respecting, and honoring the differences in convictions in what they allow themselves to think or do can be a problem among Christians. The eating or not eating of certain foods is addressed specifically by Paul in Romans 14. However other issues are covered within the first portion of verse 22.
Differences in convictions can cover a very broad spectrum. The preferences of others that they have made, or allow themselves to do or believe, including foods, but not limited to food. One other issue that has caused enormous controversy and even conflict within the church is the issue lf the partaking of alcohol. Beliefs and conviction, and practices run the gamete of the whole field of possibilities.
God in His wisdom, mercy, and compassion, has chosen to allow individual Christians the freedom of choice concerning things not specifically prohibited; that is, prohibited for everyone. But the field is much broader than that one issue. In can involve how to dress, what to wear and when to wear it. Even what make of automobile to drive. The words "unseemly, improper, vain, pretentious, and arrogance have been used to describe the disapproval by some of what others allow themselves.
Some of what some allow themselves are not pleasing to God. However, God is not a tyrant, or a dictator in many things that simply do nothing for or against the Gospel or His Plan, or His overall will. Jesus Himself did things that would certainly be "no-nos" for many genuine Christians. And He refused some things that some today would allow themselves. Much of this revolves around the word "culture". There are many traditions, habits, and cultural norms that encompass these issues.
There are some things some could allow themselves that someone else should not allow themselves to do. These issues are too complicated to discuss in this short article. In a sense, it is near impossible to address such issues. And perhaps we should not try to categorize them, or enter discussion of the right or wrong of them. After all, if the Apostle did not take up space in his epistles with details, I do not feel that I should. This is one of those issues where we can guardedly say "let your conscience be your guide". Even admitting this can be a problem. It assumes that the conscience is guided and directed by the Holy Spirit
So listen seriously to your conscience, but listen more closely to the Spirit. Christ is Lord of our life, and our conscience. There is great danger in defiling your conscience. Denying witness of Holy Spirit on the conscience could lead to searing of the conscience - a very dangerous condition!
If you are not certain about something that seems neutral, don't - until you have taken it to God in prayer. If He gives you a clear conscience about it, and it is something you still desire to do, you will not have a problem with Him. If, however, what you have been allowed to do would offend or be a stumbling block to others, you have another issue. One which Paul also addresses.
First, consider what Christ thinks about it for you personally. Then consider what He thinks about it regarding what others think.
Than do or not do. Your conscience can then be clear before God and man.
"Your personal convictions [on such matters]--exercise [them] as in God's presence, keeping them to yourself [striving only to know the truth and obey His will]. Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves [who does not convict himself by what he chooses to do]. But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful]." - Romans 14:22-23 (AMP)
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