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Beyond The Shadow of Doubt
An Exposition of I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist, Cincinnati
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Beyond the Shadow of Doubt
By Norman H. Wells

I Corinthians 8 ----

V. 1 "Now as touching things offered to idols . . . ."

It was the custom among the heathen to make feasts of the animals that had been sacrificed to their idol gods and to invite their friends to join them. These feasts were looked upon by the heathen as religious affairs. The problem presented to the Christian living among these heathen, (who were in some instances friends), was whether it was right for a Christian to participate in their feasts and to eat the meat that had been offered to idols. This meat that had been offered to idols was sometimes offered for sale in the market-place. The question for the Christian also concerned the right or wrong of buying and eating this meat.

It must be remembered that there were no definite Scriptures dealing directly with this problem. So all opinions being expressed were just that --opinions, interpretations, and conclusions reached solely by reason.

The importance of this problem is shown by the amount of Scriptures given to the subject. A PRINCIPLE WAS BEING SET DOWN FOR ALL AGES. V.1---"we know that we all have knowledge'

There obviously had been a great deal of discussion among the Corinthian Christians concerning this matter.

a. Some probably argued that to eat meat offered to idols was alright while some argued it was wrong.

b. Others probably argued that it was alright to eat the meat if you bought it in the market-place and didn't attend the feast.

c. The question could have arisen as to the right and wrong of attending the feast and not eating the meat.

The amplification of the minute details of this question was almost endless. Should you buy any meat from a butcher that even sold meat that had been offered to idols? Should you remain friends with a neighbor who ate meat offered to idols? Should eating meat offered to idols be a test of fellowship among Christians? Should they be allowed to teach or hold office in the church? Were those who refused to eat meat offered to idols pharisaical and legalistic? In effect when Paul said, "we know that we all have knowledge" he was saying, "I know all of you have a strong opinion on this and believe that you have the answer." The debate on this question had gotten beyond the problem itself to an exercise and exhibition of one's opinion and knowledge on the subject. The winning or losing of the argument had become more important than the right or wrong of eating meat offered to idols.

It is not difficult to recognize that this condition still exists today - not about meat offered to idols - but about dozens of other similar things.

V. 1 ---"Knowledge puffeth up."

There are very few dangers as prevalent as conceited knowledge. A conceited confidence in OUR knowledge, OUR understanding, OUR interpretation, OUR position, is vigorously condemned throughout the Bible.

"Be not wise in your own conceits." Romans ----- "---walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind." Ephesians 4:17.

The Bible condemns being "highminded" (II Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 6:3). Highminded simply means having an exalted opinion of one's own intellectual opinions and conclusions and having no tolerance with anyone who differs. One who does differ is looked upon as inferior and not sufficiently enlightened. V. 1 -- "but charity edifieth."

Love (charity) is certainly to be preferred over the conceited knowledge. Intellectual understanding that is not tempered with heart understanding and spiritual discernment is cold and useless, inclined more to harm than good.

V. 2---" And if any man think that he knoweth anything he knoweth nothing as he ought to know."

In areas of doubtful things the individual who knows it all, generally knows the least. A real knowledge in doubtful and uncertain areas will understand that it is doubtful and uncertain and doesn't necessarily have a pat answer. It is characteristic of Christians that generally the strongest opinions are expressed in the most doubtful and uncertain areas.

The Apostle, in this verse is saying in effect, "If any man thinks he knows everything in these areas of doubt then he really doesn't know anything as he ought to know. It is one thing to know truth and another thing to know it in a right manner. When knowledge inflates our ego, gives us superiority, ridicules all that differ, and makes us highminded, then it is said, " He really doesn't know anything as he ought to know. The way he "ought to know" is in love and spiritual discernment.

Typical of this type of knowledge would be the individual who will read these pages and not agree with what is said. His intellect will immediately begin to concoct some "reasonable" argument to refute what is being said - without even entertaining the idea that what is being said might be right.

V. 3 --- "But if any man love God, the same is known of him."

This verse is a little difficult by itself so must be interpreted in the light of the context - what has already been said. (V. 2 ) speaks of one thinking that he knows when, in reality, he knows nothing. V. 3 is speaking of how that knowledge, which in V. 2 is not known, can be known. V. 2 is the negative, V. 3 the positive. Man, by the exercise of his own intellect will not arrive at true knowledge and if he does he still will not know as he ought. But if any love God, then that knowledge is given to him of God.

This is knowledge obtained by love and spiritual discernment. The one who loves God first is taught of God and given understanding of God. He receives that which he could not obtain by reason and intellect alone. It is not enough to justify one's actions by reason and intellect alone - it must be done in love and spiritual discernment. Many sins can be given reasonable justification by man's intellect

V. 4 - - "As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in this world, and that there is none other God but one."

Paul, having set down some general principles to the particular problem at hand- "the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols."He begins with those things that are definitely known because they are dealt with in the Scriptures.

" --- we know that an idol is nothing in the world--"we know that there is none other God but one."

The reason these things were known was because they were specifically spelled out in the Bible. This is the basis for all Bible study. You begin with what is clearly revealed and proceed from there into doubtful and uncertain areas where there is no such clear pronouncement.

V. 5 ---- "For though there is that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

Very obviously there were those, who among the heathen were called gods and lords. These false gods and lords were reckoned by the heathen to be in heaven and earth -- "gods many and lords many." These were the false gods and lords unto whom the meat in question has been sacrificed. Paul was acknowledging the fact that belief in these false gods was a fact.

V. 6 -- "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him."

Paul continues his positive assertion of those things that are definitely known by mature Christians.

"there is but one God"

"of whom are all things" - "God is the Creator"

"one Lord Jesus Christ"

"by whom are all things" - Jesus too, is Creator

These are things accepted by all mature Christians.

V. 7 --- "Howbeit there is not in everyone that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto idols; and their conscience being weak is defiled."

The first thing that has to be accepted about this verse is that it is speaking of Christians. All Christians do not have the same degree of knowledge and understanding. This is established in the Scriptures.

"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word. that we may grow thereby:" I Peter 2:2.

1. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." II Peter 3:18.

Christians, at the time of their regeneration, are spoken of as "newborn babes" who are to grow in knowledge. This growth is to continue the entire life of a Christian. This means that each Christian can be at a different stage of growth. Some will grow faster while some will be stunted. Paul says of the Corinthians:

"And I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, even as babes in Christ." I Corinthians 3:1.

These Corinthian Christians had been saved long enough to have been mature Christians but were still "babes in Christ." These were born again Christians. Paul calls them brethren (v. 12) and says Christ died for them (v. 11).

In verse 4, (I Corinthians 8) concerning meat offered to idols Paul said, ". . . we know that an idol is nothing . . . and that there is none other God but one." Mature Christians had this knowledge but new and immature Christians did not. "Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge." (I Corinthians 8:7). Some of these Corinthian Christians would have this knowledge while some did not. Paul gives a description of those without this knowledge.

". . . for some with conscience of the idol" Some of these newly converted and immature Christians were still sensitive to the rituals of their old idolatrous religion. They were truly converted, yet their conscience was still sensitive to the old ways. When invited to a feast of meat offered to idols their Christian conscience was too weak to refuse even if they knew it was wrong. It is always hard to break with the old ways. When they did eat their "conscience being weak is defiled." They felt conviction of wrong doing.

V. 8 --- "But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse."

Here Paul gives a point blank summation of the answer to the dispute that was raging among the Corinthians concerning meat offered to idols. IT DIDN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER! They were having a big hassle over nothing. It didn't matter if they ate or didn't, they would be none the better or worse. What a rebuke to all the heated debate that had issued from the question!

V. 9 --- "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of your's become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." Everything in this entire chapter revolves around this verse. We need to be reminded of the order of the things that have already been said in this chapter.

V. 1 - Paul addresses himself to the debate in the Corinthian church concerning eating meat offered to idols. Opinions, interpretations, and conclusions were freely given on all sides of this question. Some had become very proud and puffed up in their knowledge. Knowledge without love was condemned.

V. 2 - A real knowledge will reveal how little is really known and will recognize that it is a doubtful and uncertain area. Knowledge without love was condemned.

V. 3 - True knowledge is only revealed by God.

V. 4 - 6 - True knowledge will reveal that an idol is nothing. There is only one God.

V. 7 - Newborn and immature Christians may not have the complete knowledge.

V. 8 - Paul I s conclusion - it didn't , t make any difference one way or the other.

Now it seems that this would have concluded the matter. If it didn't make any difference one way or the other then everyone could just do what they wanted. BUT THIS WAS NOT THE CONCLUSION!

Verse 9 sounds a warning--"But take heed!" Watch out! Be careful! This warning was to those who understood, who had the knowledge that there was nothing to it one way or the other - they could either eat or not eat meat offered to idols. But! There was a condition under which it would have been wrong to eat --- they were not to use their liberty to eat to become a stumbling block or do harm to those whose conscience said it was wrong. That which within itself was not wrong became sin if it did harm to someone else.

V. 10 - 11 "For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols: And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died."

The example given here is clear. If the mature Christian was seen by a weaker Christian eating meat in the idol's temple, the weaker Christian would do the same (being made bold by the example of the mature Christian) even though his conscience told him it was wrong. To deliberately do what you believe is wrong is sin. Thus the example of the mature Christian would be causing the weaker Christian to sin! The weaker brother would perish, not in his salvation, but in the sense of the injury done to him and its effect upon his life and testimony.

Again, love is the criteria. Christ loved the brother enough to die for him. Surely the Christian should love him enough not to deliberately do that which would harm, even if they had liberty to do so.

V. 12 "But when ye so sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ."

THIS VERSE MAKES THIS MATTER OF EXTREME AND URGENT IMPORTANCE TO EACH CHRISTIAN. There was no wrong in eating meat offered to idols but if in so doing the conscience of a weak brother is wounded, the mature Christian has sinned against Christ.

THE PRINCIPLE THAT IS SET DOWN HERE IS APPLICABLE TO ALL AREAS OF DOUBT AND UNCERTAINTY. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A CHRISTIAN TO COMMIT ACTS, WHICH WITHIN THEMSELVES ARE HARMLESS, YET BECOME SIN IF THEY HARM A WEAKER BROTHER IN CHRIST.

V. 13 "Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."

This is the final conclusion and the ultimate criteria for all Christians of all times. Paul says, in effect, "Although it is all right for me to eat meat offered to idols, as long as there is a chance it will offend my brother, I will eat no meat!" This is knowledge and spiritual discernment expressed in love.

Again, let it be said. This is the criteria for all Christians for all times.

In the 9th chapter of I Corinthians Paul cites some more examples of things he did not do, yet which, within themselves were not wrong.

V. 4 --- "Have we not power to eat and to drink?"Paul had evidently denied himself the proper food and drink in order to be an effective Christian to the Christian. He could have been putting the right to eat and drink ahead of his service to the Lord --- but he did not.

V. 5 "Have we not the power to lead about a sister, a wife?"

Paul did not marry, although he had the same right as anyone else. In his time, under the circumstances that he lived he felt it best not to marry in order to better serve the brethren.

V. 6 ". . . have not we power to forbear working?"

Paul had the right to expect those to whom he ministered the gospel to financially support him but (probably because it would have been an offence to do so at that time) he supported himself by working with his hands.

The lesson is obvious. A Christian should be willing to surrender any personal right in order not to be an offence and to be a better witness.

ROMANS 14

An examination of this subject would probably be incomplete without at least a brief look at Romans 14. Most of what is said in Romans 14 is given in I Corinthians 8, so we will examine in detail only that which we have not covered.

Paul lists some doubtful areas.

V. 2 "For one believeth he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs."

V. 5 --- "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. . . ."

Again Paul is dealing with differences of opinions and interpretations in doubtful and uncertain areas --- areas with which the Scriptures did not directly deal. His conclusions are the same as those given in I Corinthians 8. There is nothing wrong with the things in themselves, but they are wrong when they offend a weaker brother.

V. 5 ". . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."

V. 14 "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

V. 15 "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."

It is easily seen that this is the same teaching as we already covered in I Corinthians 8. One expression in verse 14 stands out --- ". . . but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." This very definitely establishes that if a Christian partakes in an act or deed that he believes to be sin --- it is sin for him. This same act or deed would not necessarily be sin for another Christian. There is something new introduced in Romans 14 the matter of judging. It is very obviously taught that Christians were not to judge one another about these doubtful and uncertain areas.

V. 3 - 4 "Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him." "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? . . ."

V. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? . . ."

V. 13 "Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."

Paul is obviously admonishing God's people to stop judging one another in these doubtful areas. Then, as so often is true today, a great hassle over the right and wrong of these things was taking place. One Christian was not to impose his convictions and conscience in these doubtful areas upon another nor to judge another's actions by his own.

NOW THIS SEEMS TO PRESENT A CONTRADICTION.

The one that thought eating meat was wrong was not to judge the one who thought it was alright and vice versa. The question is asked, "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant?" Taking just this part of these verses would lead to the conclusion that everyone could do that which was right in his own eyes and it was no one else's business. No one should judge another --- one Christian was not to pass judgement on the right or wrong of another Christians action in these doubtful and uncertain areas, BUT THERE WAS A JUDGEMENT THAT WAS TO BE MADE. ". . . but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." The Christian is not to pass judgement upon the action or deeds of his brother but was rather to judge himself that his own actions or deeds were not a stumbling block or occasion to fall to his brother. Each was to judge himself in this manner and that judgement was to be beyond the shadow of a doubt. No Christian was to allow himself any exercise of liberty in Christ that carried the slightest doubt that it would harm another. I Corinthians 10:29 states that our judgement in these doubtful areas should not be according to our own conscience but according to the conscience of others.

We have been dealing with this subject in the area of separation, but it is applicable to matters of doctrine as well. Two thoughts have to be kept in mind when thinking on these things.

1. When the Bible clearly and precisely speaks, the Christian has only to believe and obey. No debate, no opinion, no interpretation, is to be expected. The overwhelming majority of the Bible falls in this category.

2. There will be parts of the Bible that will be difficult to understand. Peter wrote concerning Paul:

"As also in all his epistles speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures unto their own destruction." II Peter 3:16.

There is no doubt that there will always be parts of the Bible that are "hard to be understood." We are warned not to violently twist these scriptures to our destruction. One soon learns that good, born-again, dedicated Christians differ in opinions, interpretations, and convictions in these areas. The same rules that are set down in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 also apply in this situation. We are not to be argumentative, contentious, and spend our time trying to impose our views in these hard to be understood areas on everyone else. Neither are we to make hairline interpretations a test of fellowship. We are also warned about getting puffed up with pride in our own brilliant knowledge and having contempt for those we consider not as enlightened.

This does not discourage firmness in conviction but it does encourage love and spiritual discernment.

3. There will be in each age, particular circumstances, customs, deeds, with which the Bible does not deal with in particular but only in principle. For example, no American Christian is faced with the problem of eating meat offered to idols but then the Corinthian Christians didn't have drive-in movies. Obviously the principles set down in the Bible do not change but they do have to be applied to the particular situations of each generation.

We have thus far been dealing with this matter in its relationship to the individual Christian. There is, however, the same application to the individual church. The admonitions in the letter to the Corinthians were addressed to the "church of God which is at Corinth." (I Corinthians 1:1). That there is to be unity in the church is strongly stressed.

"Be of the same mind one towardanother."Romans 12:16

". . . likeminded one toward another - - " Romans 15:5

". . . to Be of one mind -- " II Corinthians 13:11

". . . that ye be likeminded--" Phil. 2:2

". . . be ye all of one mind . . ." I Peter 3:8

The verse that sums it all up for the church is I Corinthians 1:10.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

The importance of this matter is shown by the expression, "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The things that Paul was beseeching the church to do were:

". . . ye all speak the same thing."

The church must give forth a certain message in all matters. All must speak the same thing.

". . . that there be no divisions among you."

Despite doubtful and uncertain areas in separation and doctrine, the church was to be united ---- there were to be no divisions. The church was to "be perfectly joined together."

". . . in the same mind and in the same judgement."

Again, in doubtful and uncertain areas the church was to have the same mind and the same judgement. In view of what we have already said the question naturally arises, "How can this be accomplished?" Two things have to be considered.

1. There is no difficulty in the area where the Bible clearly, plainly, and understandably states the truth. It is just a matter of believing and obeying.

2. It is a difficult matter in those " things hard to be understood" and the application of Bible principles to modern living. How is likemindedness in a church going to be achieved in these matters? How can all the members "speak the same thing?" For the answer to these questions we have to look to the office of the Pastor.

"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the nd of their conversation."Hebrews 13:7.

The pastor is spoken of as one, "which hath the rule over you." In what capacity does the pastor have the rule over the church? Certainly not in the sense of usurping the rule of God in each heart or being a higher authority than the word of God. The rule of the pastor is in the area of those things hard to be understood and the application of the principles of God's word today's living.

". . . whose faith follow. . ." The Christian is expected to follow the leadership of the pastor in these areas.

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls . . ." Hebrews 13:17.

The Christian is to obey the pastor and submit to his teaching in "things hard to be understood," and in applying God's word to today's living. In I Thessalonians 5:12 the pastor is spoken of as "over you in the Lord."

The relationship of the pastor to the church is likened unto that of a pastor to the flock, overseer to a work force, father and family, teacher and pupil, etc.

The responsibility of the pastor in this area is clearly spelled out.

"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." II Timothy 4:2.

The pastor is not only to "preach the word" but also "reprove, rebuke, exhort." The dictionary says that "reprove" means, "To censure authoritively, openly, and directly, as for a fault." The word "rebuke" means, "To reprove sharply; reprimand. To check or restrain by a command." "Exhort" means "To incite to well-doing by earnest appeal or argument." This is the responsibility of the pastor. The pastor is forbidden to use this authority to his own advantage, satisfaction, or glory. (I Peter 5:3).

When the pastor rightly exercises his God given authority and the people submit themselves, then you have the unity that speaks with one voice in the work of the Lord. It is to be understood that neither the pastor, nor anyone else, speaks with the authority of an Apostle and certainly not with the same authority as the Scriptures. The pastor, as any other man, can make mistakes. However, he and the church have their God given responsibility one to another and it must be carried out.

Just as it was in the time of Paul's letter to the church at Corinth so it is today. There are definite areas of doubt and uncertainty about which there are many questions, opinions, and interpretations. As the Pastor of the Central Baptist Church it is my responsibility to address myself to these questions. Since the Cincinnati Baptist College, The Central Baptist High School, and The Central Baptist Elementary School are part of the Central Baptist Church what is said will also apply in this area.

Since there is, in this age, such an aversion to "lists of do's and don'ts I think it needs to be said we are following the Bible example as given in Galatians 5:19-26, Romans 1:24-32, and II Timothy 3:1-5.

AMUSEMENTS

There are many questions and many areas of doubt and uncertainty as to amusements and recreation for the Christian.

MOVIES

The Bible vigorously condemns adultery, fornication, uncleaness, lasciviousness, witchcraft, murders, violence, drunkenness, homosexuality, lesbianism, sex perversion, vile affections, covetousness, disobedience to parents, pride, boasting, stealing, gambling, etc.

The overwhelming majority of today's movies give favorable emphasis to these things condemned by the Bible. A Christian should not feed his mind and soul with this kind of filth that is directly designed to stir the lust of the old nature.

Movies are one of the instruments that are used to indoctrinate the mind (particularly of the young) with a humanistic, secularistic, Philosophy of life that is directly opposite to that which is taught in God's Word. The philosophy of life learned from the movies belittles and ridicules the Bible concept of life and creates resistance and rebellion against God.

The argument is raised that (and this is extremely doubtful) since there are some good movies a Christian can be selective and just attend the good movies. This reasoning is wrong for several reasons. Why should a born-again Christian even want to participate partially in something that is so potentially dangerous? Even if a film is free from emphasis upon the sins named, you can rest assured that the philosophy is still secular and humanistic. The strategy is simple - the occasional so called "good movie" is nothing more than bait to create the movie going habit.

There is no question but that movie going by a Christian is injurious to the conscience of many.

What about "religious" films? These are probably the worst kind! For instance, the sins of the people of the Bible are presented in a sympathetic, acceptable, manner, slight distortions of the Bible narrative are used to give an entirely different interpretation than was originally intended.

The obvious conclusion is that a Christian should not attend movies.

TELEVISION

There are positive benefits for the Christian having a television set in his home. It is probably one of the best and easiest ways for a Christian to keep informed and up to date on all current happenings from the local to the world scene. The Christian can keep aware and sensitive to current conditions around him. Being aware of current events helps him to understand his Bible in the light of what is currently happening.

It is very obvious, however, that when the television is used in the same manner as movies then it too becomes wrong. Some kind of censorship has to be exercised. A good rule to follow would be not to use your television (with the possible exception of sports) for just entertainment. As entertainment, who needs it?

ROCK MUSIC

Since the obvious intent of the words and music of rock music is to incite lusts of the sinful nature of man the Christian should refrain from listening. The theme of most of the "message" rock music is humanistic, anti-God, and anti-Bible. The young are brought to a place of rebellion against God, Bible, Church, and parents by the influence of rock music.

BOWLING

Here is another doubtful and uncertain area. Naturally there is nothing wrong with the game of bowling by itself. However, when bowling has to be done in a saloon atmosphere with a bar present and drinking taking place it is hardly a place for a Christian. Where is is possible to bowl without these conditions no fault can be found.

DANCING

Any born-again Christian should be aware that the obvious intent of the modern dance, with the accompanying music, is to incite the lust of the old nature to adultery and fornication. No Christian should participate in modern dancing.

ICE AND ROLLER SKATING

Naturally there is nothing wrong with ice or roller skating within itself. However there are some areas of doubt and uncertainty. When ice or roller skating simply becomes dancing on skates then it comes under the same condemnation as dancing and a Christian should not participate.

MODERN LITERATURE

It is to be quickly recognized that a Christian cannot "get out of this world" and to some degree is going to be exposed to the evils thereof. Modern literature is a case in point. It would be impossible for one not to be exposed in some degree to the nudity, suggestiveness, and even philosophy of today's magazines, books, and even newspapers. However, a Christian should avoid such pornography, smut, and filth as much as possible. Certainly a Christian should not deliberately expose himself to such literature.

ICE SHOWS AND CIRCUSES

It is a shame that so many things which, at one time, could have been described as "good clean fun" have become so corrupted. Ice shows and circuses are a case in point. The nudity, suggestive dancing and material used place these in the doubtful and uncertain area that should be avoided by the Christian. Practically naked ladies on bicycles, horseback, or ice skates is hardly good clean fun.

POOL

Like skating and bowling there is nothing wrong with pool playing within itself. A pool table in the home could be an acceptable form of recreation. However, pool-shooting in a gambling, saloon, atmosphere would be wrong for the Christian, particularly if it was a form of gambling.

OPERAS AND STAGE SHOWS

A Christian could possibly be selective as far as operas are concerned and stay within a safe area. Some classic stage shows could possibly come under the same heading. However, as is easily discerned, today's modern stage shows are even more rotten than movies and should be avoided by the Christian.

PLAYING CARDS

There are some areas where it is extremely difficult to spell out conclusions that would be applicable to all circumstances and situations. Playing cards, by itself, separate from gambling would be hard to fault. However, there are some games, like playing cards, and dice, that have so long been associated with gambling that it is hard to separate the one from the other, even when no gambling is involved. When this is true, for the Christian to participate and it is an offence to some, then he should refrain.

GAMBLING

The principles set down in the Bible certainly condemn gambling as sin and a Christian should not indulge. This would certainly include State Lotteries.

MIXED PUBLIC SWIMMING

Because swimming is so popular and enjoyable it is difficult to challenge the right or wrong without stirring real conflict. Let it be readily admitted that there is no wrong in swimming - the wrong is in the attire worn. to Modest apparel" is the Bible standard and by no stretch of the imagination can today's swim suits be classified as modest apparel. If some would say that it is modest apparel then I would ask, "What is immodest?" Mixed swimming, men and women, together on public beaches or pools is wrong and should be avoided. xxxx Men alone, women alone, or families with small children alone, yes - but public mixed swimming, no. Children should be taught this at an early age.

APPAREL

The standard for apparel in the Bible is given in I Timothy 2:9, "women adorn themselves in modest apparel." Throughout the Bible nudity and immodesty is condemned in both men and women. it is very difficult to spell out in minute detail the application of the term, "modest apparel." For instance, if she so desired, a woman could be immodest in an ankle length mother hubbard dress.

Without a doubt swimsuits, short dresses, bare midriffs, shorts, halters, low necklines, tight clothing that obviously exposes or emphasizes the body to the extent of being immodest is wrong and a Christian should not conform to fashion in these matters. Dresses should definitely come down, at the very least, to the top of the kneecap.

The same would apply to men wearing shorts, going naked from the waist up, etc.

HAIR LENGTH

The Bible very definitely states in I Corinthians 11:14 -15 that a woman is to have long hair and a man is to have short hair. The only difficulty lies in a definite description of "long" and "short."

Long hair on a woman would have to mean long enough to appear feminine. Short hair on the man would mean short enough to appear masculine. From the Scriptures it is obvious that there was a hair length that was definitely feminine and one that was masculine. A good rule for the man would be to keep his hair short enough not to hang over his ears or over his collar.

There is no Bible admonition against men wearing beards.

SLACKS

At this writing, there is probably no more sensitive area in apparel than women wearing slacks. In one lifetime the custom of women wearing slacks has gone from almost universal condemnation by Christians as sin, to become common practice. As we have said, this is an extremely sensitive area and due to this fact a Christian woman should be willing not to wear slacks in order not tobe an offence or stumbling block.

There is genuine Christian conscience among a great percentage of Christians that it is wrong to wear slacks. It is difficult for me as a Pastor to understand why a dedicated Christian woman would make a case out of this, one way or the other. It is such a trivial thing that it would seem any Christian would avoid such an issue. Is it such a great thing to wear or not to wear slacks? It is a sign of a greater problem when rebellion is expressed over such a trivial matter. Two or three things must be considered.

1. It must be accepted that there is reasonable, acceptable, interpretation of Scripture that has caused so many Christians for so long to have accepted the fact that wearing of slacks is wrong. The principle set down in Deuteronomy 22:4, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment," can be carried through the entire Bible.

In whatever age, culture, or custom, the woman is to be feminine and wear what is identifiable as feminine clothing. The man is to be masculine and wear what is identifiable as masculine apparel. Pants or slacks, in our society has always been and still is accepted as men's apparel.

It is a sad commentary on our generation that we have drifted so far from this Bible concept that it is getting difficult to identify the difference between men and women's clothing. Christians should not get caught up in this kind of thing.

2. The Christian is not to be satisfied with simply presenting strong arguments against the concept of women not wearing slacks and making it possible for them to justify wearing slacks as far as their own conscience and convictions are concerned. The fact that this is an uncertain, doubtful area --- where many Christian consciences would be offended by a woman wearing slacks --- should eliminate even the idea of wearing slacks from the Christian mind and heart.

JEWELRY, GOLD, PEARLS, BROIDED HAIR, MAKE-UP

There are two Scriptures, used together, that explain themselves in these matters.

It In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness, and sobriety; not with broided hair, gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." I Timothy 2:910.

"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." I Peter 3:3-4.

The word "adorn" means simply to beautify. How does a Christian woman beautify herself? On the negative side it says not with broided, plaited hair. Not with gold, pearls, or costly array. The woman is not totally forbidden the use of these things because one of the things listed on the negative side is "putting on of apparel". If it meant total restriction then a woman couldn't wear clothes.

What is being taught is that a woman will not depend upon these things to beautify herself. It also condemns excessive use that would identify her with the world. These artificial, worldly, things are not needed to beautify the Christian woman because her true beauty will be the radiance of her Christian character and works.

ABUSE

The modern concept that the activities of an individual that effects no one but himself is his own business and should not be the subject of regulation is not Christian. It is easily established Bible teaching that any activity of an individual that brings injury to his own body is sin. Sin, in any manner, is an offence and stumbling block to others.

Under this type of sin would come such things as use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, gluttony, etc. A Christian should refrain from all such activities.

SPORTS

One way that sports can become dangerous is if it takes first place in the Christian's life. This should be avoided. Sports, such s race horses, is so connected with gambling that it should be avoided.

SUNDAY ACTIVITIES

Sunday is not the Old Testament Sabbath and it is wrong to try and transfer the restrictions of the Old Testament Sabbath on to Sunday. Sunday is a day of worship and should be used as such. Any activities that do not hinder this worship should not be condemned simply because they took place on Sunday.

CHARACTER & CONDUCT

Negative

The Bible has much to say about the character and conduct of a Christian. On the negative side such things as, hatred, wrath, strife, envyings, cursing, deceit, lying, lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, disobedient to parents, heady, highminded, and lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God are condemned. All murmurings, contentiousness, griping, quarreling, and gossiping are to be avoided.

Positive

On the positive side the Christian character and conduct is to be exhibited in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

Everything that was said in the first part of this discourse is applicable to all Christians in any age. The particular applications that I have made to current conditions I was speaking as the Pastor of the Central Baptist Church. Everything said applies to all members of the Central Baptist Church and much more so to all who are in an official position such as deacons, trustees, church officers, Sunday School officers and teachers, choir members, and teachers and staff of the College, High School, and Elementary School. The responsibility, particularly in the area of teaching children, is so great and has such eternal consequences that all should be willing to deny self in order to effectively accomplish God's work to His glory.

As a pastor for many years I have learned a great deal about Baptist people. This has come about, not because of any particular ability of mine, but by sheer exposure. I know the rebellion that lies lurking in the heart of everyone of us. I know how that rebellion expresses itself in hatred for the idea of anyone "telling us what to do." I know how pride challenges everyone of us to assert "our rights" and defend It our position." I know that one of the true characteristics of a Baptist is to have it deep personal convictions" and to be willing (sometimes more than willing) to fight for these convictions and let "the chips fall where they may." I don't think I would really want it any other way. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I know what kind of reactions to expect when details are spelled out in such sensitive areas as those with which I have dealt. In the light of this let me add a few more observations.

How should all that I have said be received? How is unity and singlemindedness to be achieved in the Central Baptist Church on such a wide variety of subjects upon which there is so much differences of opinion. In these areas of doubt and uncertainty about conduct and character and in those areas difficult to be understood who has the authority of enforcement? The church? The pastor? No--not in doubtful and uncertain areas. The area of the church exercising discipline is clearly spelled out, but not in all these areas. Where is the enforcement? Again, let us listen to the Scriptures.

"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours becomes a stumbling block to them that are weak." I Corinthians 8:9

Most Baptists could give an argument that they have the liberty, the right, to do some of those things I have named. In love I ask you, "Can you, beyond the shadow of a doubt, say that these actions would not be a stumbling block to someone? A child? Would you so assert your rights as to injure someone else?"

". . . when ye so sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ." I Corinthians 8:12.

To "sin against Christ" is as serious a charge as can be lain at the feet of a Christian.

The Christian attitude should be, "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more." (I Corinthians 9:19). Paul teaches that our liberty is to be judged by the conscience of others. (I rinthians 10:28-30).

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather that no man put a stumbling block Or an occasion to fall n his brother's way."

We are not to judge one another but we are to judge ourselves on the basis that none of our actions are a stumbling block or an occasion to fall. Jesus Christ himself said:

". . . It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come. It were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these ". . . little ones. Luke 17:1-2. Are you listening, teacher? "Let everyone of us please his neighbor for his good to edification." Romans 15:2.

Where is the enforcement? What would compel a Christian to accept direction in these areas of doubt and uncertainty?

"FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US . . ." I Corinthians 5:14. The word "constrain" means "to confine, to compress." What constrains a Christian from doing those things he has a right to do?

What makes it virtually impossible for a Christian to deliberately offend one for whom Christ died?

"THE LOVE OF CHRIST!" And because we love Christ we love those for whom Christ died.

"For, brethren, ye have been called into liberty: only use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, and by love serve one another." Gal. 5:13.

"We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren." I John 3:14.

To the best of my ability I have sought the leadership of the Lord in the things I have presented and trust that each one who reads will likewise yield to God with a common desire to glorify His Name and to win the lost to Jesus.

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