Someone asked me the other day, “How do we know if an action is a sin or just an action in which we choose not to do or like because of unfamiliarity or breaking a tradition?”
This is what I find when people are within a battle of the mind. They do not participate in a certain activity or lifestyle because they believe it to be sin, so they choose to avoid it. Regardless if it is something just taught or if it is in the Bible they stay clear of it in fear of promoting or committing sin.
For example, years ago I knew someone who would not shave her legs. She was very strict about this conviction. She was taught that it was a sin to shave or remove hair from her body. This was a cultural tradition passed on from her family. When she got married, her husband understood, but being a man it was difficult to see her point. Every time she shaved her legs, she felt condemned, depressed and guilty for disobeying what she felt was a sin. However, over time she was able to break that tradition and walk cleanly shaven without remorse. What she thought was a sin was actually only an unfamiliar action or preference of a man and not the word of God. She was able to break from it to please her husband. In turn she found freedom and revelation. I am sure she looks back on this and thinks of it being silly to think what she did or how she viewed it.
The same goes with just about anything else. Sin is an action that goes against the Word of God. It is an action which causes hurt to either God, ourselves or to another individual. Sometimes we can see sin and know it is a sin because it goes against the Bible. We all know the ten commandments. We all know that murder, to lie, to steal or commit adultery is against God’s teachings but what about some of the actions we might question? Sometimes we might think we know the action is sin because we judge or come to a conclusion that it is a sin due to our cultural difference or unfamiliar territory. It could be how we were taught, how we were raised or told that it was wrong whether it was truth or not. What we may think is true to God’s word however, may not always be true but man taught. This is when the battle of the mind takes place and strongholds are set. This is when people want to argue over petty differences of what they think sin is. Whether it is shaving the legs, watching television, going to the movie theater or wearing long white sleeve shirts, get the picture?
Wearing a low-cut blouse showing cleavage for example, is it a sin? A motive must be determined in this action. Is the wearer clueless that this causes attention to be drawn to her breast or is this what she is seeking? Are there underlying issues of needing others to love her? Does the exposing of the breast cause a man to lust after her or cause him to dwell on unclean thoughts? Is she the cause for another man’s sin? These are all questions one must ask themselves when making daily decisions of choice. If a woman exposes her breast, we can all come to the conclusion that sin will most likely follow regardless if she thinks it causes sin or not or even if she thinks it is not her fault. Human nature takes its course. If you are a Christian and you wish not to commit sin then it is best not to wear revealing blouses. Now, let’s go back to the unshaved legs. Is the unshaven or shaven legs causing anyone to sin? I doubt it. God I don’t think really cares if you shave your legs or not but what He does care about is pleasing your spouse and having a great relationship of love. If the unshaven legs is causing division then it is a sin in your marriage because you are unwilling to part with a tradition or preference instead of pleasing your spouse in which God has joined you with. Does this make sense?
Whether it is sin or not it is often determined by viewpoint and tradition or preference choice. The next time someone wants you to go over your comfort zone with an action, or you choose to go against what you have been taught think twice about it. You might be just limiting yourself on receiving revelation or freedom. Think about whether it is just a preference of yours because it is an action you were taught was wrong. Is this action against God and the Word will determine if it is truly sin or not. We cannot rely on our feelings of how we feel because the woman who didn’t shave her legs felt guilty about doing so. Sin doesn’t always make us feel bad but good, so don’t rely on how you feel to determine if it is sin or not. We must determine sin by the outcome of the action and the effects it might have on not only ourselves but others. If it causes abuse, division, harm to others or oneself, promotes the opposite of Christian living then my friend it is a sin.
Prayer: Lord grant us wisdom to determine what is best in our lives when it comes to choices in life. I pray that you lead and guide us into all truth and show us your loving ways. Continue to pour out your grace and mercy upon us when we fail to do what you have asked. In Jesus Name, amen.
New International Version Romans 8:5-9
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.