Our enemy, Satan, causes division and disunity among believers as a means to keep us from reaching the goals that God intends for us to reach. One of the areas that can cause division is when we begin to disagree about the little things. I believe that we can go too far the other way as well. We cannot compromise on Scriptural truths and tolerate sinful behavior. Once again we see the necessity for balance!
The Scriptures do not change; they are forever settled in Heaven. God has spoken in His Word, and He ended it with a period. There will be no new revelation forthcoming from heaven.
Although the Bible doesn't change, the culture in which we live is constantly changing. New questions, new issues, and new options demand the fresh application of our unchanging Bible to our ever-changing situation.
I. Some Things are Major and Some Things are Minor.
A. Good, Better, Best.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9-10)
1. Paul prayed that they might "approve things that are excellent" as they made choices in daily living.
2. Often our decisions are not just between that which is right or wrong, but what is good, better, and best.
3. That means they would have to make some value judgments about teaching and practices.
B. Major and Minor.
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Matthew 23:1-3)
1. Our Lord taught the distinction between major and minor matters in this chapter.
2. He condemned the scribes and Pharisees because they majored on the minors and minored on the majors!
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24)
C. Appropriate and Inappropriate.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)
1. The believers at Rome were arguing over the eating of foods and Sabbath activities.
2. Paul didn't decide in favor of either the meat-eaters or the vegetarians.
3. Nor did he condemn those who insisted on maintaining the O.T. Sabbath observances.
4. Instead he treated the issues as relatively minor matters and left it up to each individual to decide.
II. Applying the Principles.
A. Related to Ourselves.
a. We are to approve the things that are excellent.
b. We must ask ourselves what good will this activity or choices accomplish in my life?
c. What contribution will this make to me as a person or to my family?
a. Part of the Holy Spirit's fruit in our lives is temperance or self-control.
b. If a habit or activity begins to take away that self-control, then it must go.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
a. What impact will certain activities or events have on me?
b. We have been purchased by the Lord Jesus and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so we ought to take care of ourselves.
c. We should abstain from anything that would hinder our spiritual growth!
B. Related to the Lord.
a. We do not live for ourselves.
b. We are accountable to the Lord for all we say and do.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
a. We glorify God by making His character known to others.
b. If what we do detracts from people's perception of God's character, we have no business doing it!
a. We believe in the imminent return of Christ.
b. We must ask ourselves, "Would I be ashamed of what I am doing if the Lord returned right now?"
c. God's Word teaches us to be ready for His return at any moment.
C. Related to the Brethren.
a. We must be careful not to offend or to cause a brother in Christ to stumble.
b. We aren't talking about making someone upset or angry.
c. We are talking about influencing a Christian brother to do something that he had doubts about.
d. Note: Romans 14:13-21
a. When a person climbs a ladder their movements are more restricted at the top than at the bottom.
b. This holds true for the ladder of leadership as well.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. (James 3:1)
c. Those in positions of leadership need to make sure that their influence is always wholesome.
D. Related to the Lost.
a. Last, but certainly not least important is our relationship with the unsaved.
b. We are to let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and give glory unto God.
c. Concerning matters of question we must always consider the impact on the lost.
a. At times lost people have greater expectations of us than we have of ourselves.
b. "And he's supposed to be a Christian" "That's not very Christian of you to do"
If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? (1 Corinthians 10:27-29)
c. We should restrict our activities by the expectations that unsaved people have of us. d. If we lose our testimony before the lost, how will we ever be able to win them to Christ?
We are not talking about clear Biblical doctrine and Scriptural commands. We are talking about the minor matters. Christian liberty is not absolute freedom, but is freedom within limits, and these four relationships form the limits as set forth in the Scriptures. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing! And the main thing is obeying the Word in maintaining Biblical relationships