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Is it wrong to _____? How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, or anything else—is right or wrong?

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In the first place, Christianity is not a list of taboos. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ has already suffered and died for all our sins in order that we might be freely forgiven and saved, through an obedient trust in Him.

In the second place, it is not our right to pass judgment on someone else and his activities. As the Bible says: “Let us not therefore judge one another any more; but judge this rather, than no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way” (Romans 14:13).

Most of us are quick to criticize others, but it is far more important to be sure our own conduct is pleasing to the Lord. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (I Corinthians 11:31).

Of course, it is very important for a real Christian, one who has been saved through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to live a life that is honoring to his Savior and that is helpful to his fellow Christians and to those he should try to lead to Christ. In order to evaluate particular activities and problems, God has established a number of general principles in His Word for our guidance. Some of these are as follows:

If there is a specific warning or commandment in Scripture dealing with a particular matter, then there is no question.

Thus, murder, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, theft, etc. are always wrong; such sins as these are clearly and definitely condemned in numerous Scriptures.

When there is no specific Scriptural reference, it is good to ask, not whether a certain thing is wrong, but rather, if it is definitely good.

The Bible says, for example, to “redeem the time” (Colossians 4:5). Our few days here on earth are so short and precious, in relation to eternity, that we ought never to waste time on selfish trivia, but to use it only on that “which is good, to the use of edifying” (Ephesians 4:29).

A good test is to determine whether we can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use the particular activity for His own good purposes.

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). If there is room for doubt as to whether it pleases God, then it is best to give it up. “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God.

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (I Corinthians 6:19, 20). This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies.

We must evaluate our actions not only in relation to God but also in relation to their effect on our family, our friends, and other people in general.

Even if a particular thing may not hurt us personally, if it harmfully influences or affects someone else, it is wrong. “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak… We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 14:21; 15:1).

Remember, finally, that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and nothing else can be allowed to take priority over our conformity to His will.

No habit, or recreation, or ambition can be allowed to have control over our lives. Only Christ has that authority. “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (I Corinthians 6:12). “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).

More information

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  • Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
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Excerpt from The Bible Has the Answer, by Henry Morris and Martin Clark, published by Master Books, 1987

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