One of the earliest letters to the church was from the apostles to new Gentile believers, and in it, the authors said, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality” (Acts 15:28-29, ESV).
Rather than weight down new believers with endless rules like the Jews had, Paul simply commanded, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ESV).
It was the Holy Spirit’s inspiration speaking through them, saying, “Come on, church. Whether or not there’s a specific law about it, don’t engage in things if you’re not certain whether they’re biblically compromising. I’ve often hear young people ask me a question like “How far can I go into the things of the world and still be a Christian? Like, okay, I know I can’t have sex, but can I do this?” For adults, it’s often questions like “I know I can’t get drunk, but do three beers count as drunkenness? How about two beers? How close can I get to the world?”
That’s totally the opposite of what the Holy Spirit is calling his church into! We should be saying, “How close can I get to Jesus? What can I let go of to get closer? If there’s any former association in my life that has a sense of dabbling in the old way of living, how far can I get from this?”
In the church, we should hear the Word of the Lord and say to ourselves, “I want to be circumspect in heart. I want to be pure in my conscience. I want to obey the Word of the Lord. I will stop at nothing to win the prize for this race I am running.”