Determining What Is Right in the Gray Areas
by Gil Rugh
The Bible commands us as Christians to do many things. It is clear that God’s children are to search the Scriptures, walk by the Spirit and praise God for all things. There are many other positive commands the Lord gives us in His Word as well.
On the other hand, there are many things the Word commands us not to do. We know from the Scriptures that immorality is wrong. When we are faced with the temptation to commit immorality, we don’t have to stop and analyze the situation and pray about whether or not we should participate.
Then there are many things about which the Bible gives no direction. Areas of conduct that the Scriptures do not directly address are neutral in and of themselves. We refer to them as “gray areas” because they are not recognized as being inherently right or wrong.
The most complete consideration of “Christian liberty” is found in 1 Corinthians 8–10. The Corinthian church was full of immature, carnal Christians who were occupied with living their lives in the gray areas, using their liberty—or misusing it.
All of us have questions about these areas from time to time, but often those who are the most immature are the most preoccupied with indulging in things which are questionable.
Based on what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians and Romans, there are a number of questions we can ask ourselves to determine what is right for us in a particular situation. These include:
1. Will it be a stumbling block?
2. Will it raise questions about motives?
3. Is it profitable?
4. Will it edify others?
5 Will it be for the good of others?
6. Is it for the glory of God?
7. Will it be offensive?
8. Will it result in the salvation of souls?
9. Will it master me?
10. Will it promote peace?
11. Does it violate my conscience?
Keep in mind these are questions each of us should ask ourselves to evaluate our own conduct. A list of questions such as this poses a danger because we may be tempted to evaluate the lives of others with it. We may think other Christians are doing things they should not do, but if something is not directly addressed in Scripture, it is not our job to evaluate whether someone else should or shouldn’t do it. This list is not perfect, but it is a good starting place. Each person should evaluate his or her own conduct with questions like these and the whole of Scripture.