I am a big believer in grace, and I feel that the Christian has great freedom to make mistakes while growing in Christ. This is good for me, because sometimes I make mistakes (and by “sometimes” I mean “often”).
One such mistake is that I do things that I question–meaning I do things that I think might be sinful or, at the very least, unhealthy for my pursuit of holiness. A big example of this is making consumer purchases. Sometimes, I will be out and about; and I will see something I want, pick it up, and not think twice about it. I have no doubts that the purchase is innocuous or amoral or appropriate, and I have no concern over it. No worries. On the flip side, however, I also have times wherein I want to purchase something, but a soft tug inside me attempts to stop it. Whether it’s a matter of fiscal responsibility, avoiding my own greed, or cultivating contentment, I get a feeling I should refrain. I have a rough time with this soft voice. In fact, I would say that I stumble 60/40, usually giving myself a pass to buy what I want, quieting the voice and moving on with life. Interestingly, the more I have worked on this area of my life over the last 3 years, the more the Lord has worked out the matter so (a) my choice has some level of consequence and (b) the voice is much louder than it used to be (there’s too much to describe here, but sit down with me sometime and I’ll tell you).
Accounting for this, I decided to memorize a passage from Paul’s epistle to the Romans to help remind me that the little voice is not to be ignored. Despite its brevity, this passage is FULL of truth and goodness. I love it. And given the current struggle I outlined above, I find the passage to be immensely helpful. In regard to the matter at hand, my understanding of the passage, based on both studying and ruminating on it, is as follows: If a specific action is questionably sinful for the believer, then it is essentially a sin in that circumstance–even if it would not be for the person next door or even to the said believer at another time; in that moment, when the Christian thinks the action may be a sin, to him it is. I am off? Here is the text:
“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
Like I said, I am scratching at the surface of thing, for Paul is a saying a great deal in a limited amount of space (a skill I want cultivate). I am sure I glean a great deal more insight as I continue to muse over the passage, and I am glad to have it written on my heart for years to come.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.