We hate sin, but we certainly like to flirt with it. You have probably witnessed this in the lives of other Christians as well as your own life. We have a deadly tendency to want to get as close to sin as we can without falling in. This temptation starts in childhood and progresses throughout adolescence and is full grown in adulthood. How far can we go? For example, teenagers and even young adults are often curious as to how much physical contact they can have with their boyfriends or girlfriends and still be pure. I understand the concern. I appreciate their desire to honor God in their behavior, but might we be cloaking a more sinister desire? See, if my goal is to see precisely just what behavior I can participate in without falling completely into sin, what is my true motivation? Maybe I am trying to rationalize what I really know to be sinful behavior.
Here is the bottom line, when we rationalize sinful behavior, we are in a sense practicing legalism. Legalists say here is a list of things to do and here is a list of things not to do. If you will do the good things and avoid the bad things, God will be happy. That kind of a system denies the richness of our salvation. Legalists want to know the details of those lists. They say, tell me precisely what I can and can’t do. That really misses the point of our life in Jesus Christ.
As we grow and mature in Jesus, our attitude will change hopefully. We don’t want to get as close to the edge of sin without falling in, rather we want to run from anything that has even a hint of sin associated with it. All of this is not to say that there are not definite sins we should avoid. There are absolutely many things Christians should not participate in. And it is not legalistic to say so. The primary point is that we should not seek to make a list, rather the truth of 1 Corinthians 10: 31 should guide us. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This verse occurs within a context of Paul settling a dispute among the Corinthians. Should Christians eat meat sacrificed to idols? Not exactly the kind of question we would ask today, but the principle is the same. They wanted to know specifics. Paul, tell us precisely, in detail what we can and cannot do. Paul is clear to tell them that they were missing the bigger picture. It is not about rights and freedoms. He says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” In short it is not about the legalistic do and don’t list, it is about doing all things to the glory of God.
First Corinthians 10:31 is the solution to every sin flirting question we have ever asked. Can I kiss my girlfriend? Can I hug my boyfriend? Can I get a piercing? Can I wear this shirt? Can I go dancing? Can I watch that movie? Can I eat or drink that? Plus a thousand other questions we ask ourselves when we are thinking about participating in some activity or making a decision, but we are not exactly sure when they become sin. My point is simply that when we are fixated on asking these questions we actually miss the more important truth. If we are seeking to please and glorify God in everything we do, we don’t need an explicit list of do’s and don’ts. We seek him first above all else. To desire to glorify Christ in every moment and every decision of life is the very goal of sanctification. Make no mistake, I am not there yet. I still ask those questions, well what about this and what about that? My prayer is that as I grow deeper in my walk with Christ, I will avoid like the plague all of those areas that even have a hint of sinfulness attached to them. Let’s never see how close to sin we can get without falling in, rather let constantly be moving away from sin toward our savior.