There are two crucial questions to ask yourself when you want to do anything. These two questions are important because they will help you understand your heart and motivations in the matter. By asking these questions, you will test yourself to see whether the thing you want to do is good, evil, fruitful, or profitable. If the thing is not fruitful, or profitable, you’ll want to ask yourself if it’s evil. If it’s not evil, but also not fruitful or profitable, then what’s the point in doing it?
By working through these questions you’ll determine whether you want to do the thing to please God or to please your flesh. You don’t need me to tell you that pleasing your flesh at the cost of not pleasing God is likely sin (but I just did, anyway).
The greatest question to ask when you seek to do anything is “why.”
Why do you want to do it?
Why do you think you should do it?
Why do you think you’re allowed to do it?
Why do you think you’re not in sin when you do it?
If you can sincerely bring yourself to ask yourself the “why” questions, you’ll soon understand your heart on the matter. The “why” questions are essential for any type of decision you can make but are vital to ask when your choice concerns something someone else believes is immoral or wrong or evil.
Not everything that another person calls “evil” is actually evil. For example, many in the secular world believe it is evil for Christians to proclaim the Gospel and God’s judgement against sin. If you belong to Jesus Christ according to His word, then you know that it is not an act of evil to proclaim the Gospel and God’s judgement against sin; it is an act of love and kindness. So, not everything that another person calls “evil” is evil. However, the accusation of something labelled as evil is one worthy to ask the “why” questions about.
For example, if the thing you want to do is to get a tattoo, and another Christian, whom you know and love, tells you the thing is evil, ask yourself the “why” questions. Your asking might look something like this:
Why do I want to get a tattoo?
Why do I think I should get a tattoo?
Why do I think I’m allowed to get a tattoo?
Why do I think I’m not in sin when I get a tattoo?
I don’t know what your answers are, but love tells me to believe all things; so, I will assume you are asking these safe questions with sincerity and honest introspection.
Let’s assume you pass the “why” question test and your conscience is not rumbling against you. The second greatest question you can ask yourself when you want to do something is “must.”
Must I get a tattoo?
Must I believe I should get a tattoo?
Must I think I’m allowed to get a tattoo?
Must I believe I’m not in sin when I get a tattoo?
Again, I don’t know what your answers are, but love tells me to believe all things; so, I will assume you are asking these safe questions with sincerity and honest introspection.
These questions might seem redundant to you if you’re reading them without the intent to answer them. However, if you’re asking the questions that you might answer them according to truth, then the questions of “why” and “must” are deeply relevant to you. Espcially concerning the “must” questions, you will understand that if you “must” do something, it is either a command of the Lord or it is something that allows you to fulfill a command of the Lord.
Remember, we’re using the example of tattoos only as an example, and I make no judgement against anyone who has or wants to have a tattoo. I have no tattoos, but many of my closest friends and most godly of Christian brothers do have tattoos; I neither judge them for their tattoos, nor envy their tattoos, nor do I chastise them for having tattoos.
Asking these questions will help you to understand your heart in the matter. Do you want to do something that is unfruitful or unprofitable? Though the thing may not be evil in-and-of-itself, if you insist on doing the thing, even though it may not affect other people, your insistence may be sinful. Why must a person insist on doing something that is unfruitful and unprofitable?
The principle of the “why” and “must” questions can be applied to virtually anything you may want to do. Sometimes you won’t need to ask the questions because the thing you want to do may be obviously inherently good or evil (sinful). Remember: all sin is evil, and all evil is sinful.
So, if the thing you want to do is evil, for the Christian who strives to love God and man, you will not do it, even if it is easy to do or benefits you to do what you’d classify as future good. If the thing is good, for the Christian who strives to love God and man, you will do it even if it challenges you or stretches you to uncomfortable levels.
By utilizing this mindset, any question of whether something has a physical or mental effect on the Christian who consumes it becomes irrelevant. And, if the one asking these questions does so with genuine honesty and sincerity (triple emphatic), then they will come to the answer which adheres to truth and not answers which adhere to pleasing the flesh. However, should someone believe that they’re permitted to do something which other brothers or sisters in Christ warn them is evil, and those brethren are not speaking sinfully, then the way of love says not to do that thing. Who knows if you may be convinced to agree with your brother or sister in the future?
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lastly, if you work through the “why” and “must” questions and you do not care about the answers, or if you don’t think the questions are relevant to you, or if you hate the answers you give and determine in your heart to do the thing, I plead with you to consider that you are entering willfully into sin. The Lord’s children must not do such a thing! Perhaps, however, you are not one of the Lord’s children. So, if you do not belong to the Lord Jesus Christ through repentance of your sins and faith in His atoning work on your behalf, I ask you why you seek to understand if you’re permitted to do a thing?
Do you seek permission from someone to do a thing in which your conscience already condemns? Do you seek the validation of men to do something your conscience condemns? If so, you’re already aware that the validation of men is lesser and inconsequential compared to the justification of God. So, I plead with you not to do such a thing; not to willingly sin against God and your own flesh. The Lord numbered each hair on your head, and the Lord has measured each breath you inhale into your lungs. He has numbered your steps and He knows your transgressions.
Won’t you come to the Lord God according to His word and means? He has given His Son as the sacrifice to save sinners from their sins. Are you a sinner in need of salvation? Are you one who understands the weight and gravity of your sins against God and man? If so, you can come to Jesus and He will receive you into His flock. He won’t turn you away or forsake you. You can belong to the sovereign Lord. Turn from your sin and trust in Jesus and He will save you. He does not need anything from you, but He will give you everything you need for life and godliness according to His word, and by following His Word and obeying His voice, you will have life in His name.
He extends His hand of kindness toward you now, in the moments before His open palm of charity becomes a fist of wrath.
Come to the Savior. Why? Because you must come to Jesus Christ if you are to be saved from the wrath you’ve incurred against God for your sins.