Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Sin, Not God - Is it OK to Golf?

I think we'd all agree, that the continuum of supernatural entities ranges from the hell of Satan's fiery inferno, to the city of Light and precious stones called Heaven. As Christians we can confidently say anything that God instructs us to do is not sin. We can also confidently say that anything that He instructs us not to do, is sin. We also know from reading Paul's epistles, that not everything in itself is evil. Between sin and not sin is realm I like to call "not sin, not God."

Certain things are sin for sure, we're not going there. What about stuff that just is? Like playing guitar, golf, hiking, board games and other types of hobbies or pass times? I haven't even added TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet.

Paul said Romans 14:20 NAS Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.

This is really the verse that allows us to have the freedom to do all things. It frees the men's group to play a game of touch football, and kids to have an ice cream at church. It is the verse that allows us to listen to music written by artists not considered "Christian."

Simple, right? Not really. God has a will for us, and our flesh is usually in conflict with it. Here is a test. Listen to and entire worship CD, like Michael W. Smith Worship or a Chris Tomlin CD each day for a week. Choose one that is meaningful to you personally-- one with songs that you'd pick if you were the music director or worship leader at church. The following week, try listening to something else that you like right after your chosen CD. Close your eyes and really listen. Is it really the same? Do you think God cares?

One of the things that I have noticed in all my years as a Christian, is that the environment which we create in our homes, our cars, and at work impacts our spiritual life. Many things are permissible, but they may not edify us. In fact they may just erode our spiritual communication. Do you remember the days when you left church excited, full, and expecting the things of God? What happened on Tuesday, or Thursday? Why was church so energizing? Hopefully because there was a greater presence of God than we could enjoy on our own. (I am not saying that God lives in church! Read Watchman Nee, The Release of the Spirit)

Jesus slipped away to pray, and who among us has time for that? He couldn't be with the multitudes, eating with sinners and tax collectors without some place to to be directly communicating with the Father. If prayer is communicating with God, then it should be energizing. If you think that pressing in is all that God requires in prayer, you probably need to lighten up, or you are an intercessor by gifting. (Prayer is the place were we see the Father's Heart, His plans, His hope for the destiny of his people. As His sheep, we know His voice and we are able to see what He is doing-- so we can do it too.)

What is important to note is that things that are permissible can be abused, they can be deadly and they can keep us from what we really want; a relationship with a loving God. Moderation is probably a good idea.

I haven't even gotten into whether R movies are permissible. I'll leave that up to you.

A recent survey said that couples that have a TV in the bedroom have sex half as often as those who don't. Is TV permissible? Yes. Is it profitable is probably a better question. Another survey said that 80% of Christian men that had a computer in a room with a door looked at Internet pornography. I'd be interested to know how many men have a TV in the bedroom and a PC behind closed doors.

Not everything that is permissible is edifying. And I believe a steady diet of entertainment and hobbies is easily a problem for our spiritual life. Here is simple test you can do. List your top 10 favorite things to do. Then track your time in hours for all your activities during an entire week. And lastly, take a look at your checkbook. The health of our spiritual life is gauged not in works, but where our heart is at. Where we spend our passion, our time and our money is a pretty good indicator of where our heart is at.

If we are led by the Spirit our life is not our own. As a matter of fact, if we are in God's will our life is none of our business, now is it? We can't just decide what is not sin even when it is permissible. In truth, we need to obey God, not just follow His rules. There are things that the Bible commands that are neither prudent or acceptable at certain times. I am not suggesting we "break the rules." I am suggesting that there are so many things that we could do at any given moment from loving our neighbor to praying without ceasing. We need to hear God, and obey Him. That is why obedience is better than sacrifice.

If we are to obey God at every turn, and take captive every thought, then God is going to have an opinion about everything that we do. If He has an opinion, and we reject it, is that sin?

What we "do" under supposed grace has to be more than deciding is it a matter of choice, sensitivity, or legalism? Like Abraham, it has all got to go on the altar. Everything we do needs to be presented to God. Then we'll see what He provides for us in the process.

Enjoy your golf game.


Tony C said...

Very insightful.

I struggle in being consistent with what I call 'quite time' where my focus is on reading God's Word or praying.

You nailed it on many of the reason I struggle.

Great post.

Irene said...

This is a very interesting topic that could have and should have elicited more comments. Perhaps too many Christians don't want to get involved with answering because then whoops they might have to change something in their own life. Oooohh do I smell a little uneasiness amongst the brethren?
I won’t bother to share my opinion about golfers but I will say that if I did not know Jesus, died and went to hell it would be set up with 18 holes and I would have to watch men in polyester pants play for eternity! Worse yet I would have to play! I have ranted many times in my life to many people that God did not create “gray areas”, man did. God has done a very good job at letting us know what is right and wrong in His Word, directly, indirectly, through principles and inspiration. God was even so gracious to send us the Holy Spirit to keep reminding us because He knew man would start weaving this very effective gray area of “it’s not sin”. We are even warned not to do something we believe is OK if it causes someone else to stumble. Hey folks, that really should cover it.
Most recently the church has come to its senses and realized it has been raised under an intense legalistic structure of do’s and don’ts, so it’s thrown off that dangerous doctrine and now everyone is free! Yeah! That’s great but what does this freedom mean? In comes the “gray” area. Heck now everything’s grey. It’s basically “Do whatever you want because God loves you”. That statement is actually true – you can do whatever you want and God does love you….however. The entire world has fallen for a “politically correct”, “cultural diversity” gospel that I think has been propagated by the ahem…the church. We can’t agree on a true standard for good behavior, respect and honor for one another, or even good manners! The idea of Christians being soldiers battling in a war is long gone from what I’ve observed. I am amazed at how many of my wonderful Christian friends like to drink alcohol – a lot – regularly. (i.e. they like to get drunk) How many of my wonderful Christian friends like to sleep in on Sunday morning or visit another church other than the one they seemed to have committed to. I think they’ve committed…….their leaders of a ministry. How many of my wonderful Christian friends constantly flock to demonically inspired movies without any concerns. “Grey areas” they’re not my own choosing but a lot of them have been pushed on me lately. Wait sister! Don’t judge others – it’s between God and them…..
So what you’re actually saying to me is (pick one)
1. Sedate whatever gift is motivating you sister
2. It’s just you and me and we just disagree (I never liked that song)
3. Stop caring about me
I could go on but I won’t.

jai said...

This was very insightful,and it started up my thinking process,as to my own life and time,first is to be consumed by keeping his perspective in every area of my own life,so that it will be a reflection,and so i can grow better,and not compromising,and keeping the standards,and giving him time within my day, refresh daily,so that my thoughts and conduct will be as to what he expects,living a life that is well pleasing unto him first.
Thank you,for getting my thoughts processed upwards

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