The art of christian living

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A Christian's freedom is a precious gift that must be carefully guarded. Christ has redeemed us from the slavery of sin. Through grace we have received and still receive forgiveness for our sins for the sake of Christ. Those who believe in Christ are not slaves of sin, but are rather free children of God. Neither are we slaves of men. We have only one Lord in whose name we have been baptized and who has shed His blood for us. Through the power of His Word everything is clean to the cleansed: food, drink, the workweek and Sunday, marriage and celibacy, industry and technology, the automobile and the subway, newspapers and television, etc. "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude, for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4,5).

True freedom does not sanction abuse, the breaking of God's Commandments, or the promotion of evil. True freedom means love and responsibility. The ability to discern what is right and wrong forms the needed basis for the Christian way of life, but in addition to this we must also know how to use our freedom.

An example: A Christian may with a good conscience own a television set and watch television programs. He of course selects the programs he watches, avoiding that which is not compatible with faith. A Christian, however, cannot always isolate himself from evil. He confronts the unbelieving world in his place of employment, on the streets and also on television. It is important that he knows how to relate to it. Sometimes it may be advisable to watch some inferior program in order to become acquainted with the subject matter so that he will be able to help his fellowmen understand it in the proper way. Such viewing is not sinful.

If a person continually subjects himself to sinful irritants, such behavior indicates that he has not learned the art of Christian living, even though he believes that he is able to separate the good from the bad. Such a person will continually be defending himself, whereas he should be attacking evil with all that is good and right. In other words God's Commandments are not only prohibitions. He who refrains from evil does not yet keep the Commandments, but remains dull and inactive in his relationship to his fellowmen. The Commandments have a positive content: love and purity. Our thoughts should constantly be centered on this content and we should constantly practice it. When using Christian freedom in such a way that this is not prohibited, we are using it properly.

The art of Christian living also includes the proper use of time and energy. Nothing that in itself is not wrong, must take up so much of our time and energy that we are not able to use God's Word and participate in the worship services and activities of the congregation. It is also wrong for parents to leave their children at home to shift for themselves and possibly go hungry, while they themselves go to church. In the life that God has intended for us there is an order of precedence for matters, but at the same time a proper balance must be maintained.