Drawing the line
‘But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the King’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested … that he might not defile himself’ (Daniel 1:8).
I’ve found that as I’ve grown older, it’s got harder to live a Christian life, not easier. Especially as a teenager, one of the hardest things is knowing just where to draw the line concerning temptations – like those associated with alcohol, relationships, parties and so on.
I’m preparing to go to university and probably the most important thing to do before going is to establish personal boundaries in certain areas. I need to know where to draw the line from the start, as Daniel did.
But how can we do this? It doesn’t need to be tackled alone – we have God’s Word. It can be applied in all situations in life and is as relevant today as the day it was written. It’s been given to us for a reason – to guide us and give us understanding, so we should use it!
To some degree, ‘drawing the line’ has to be a personal matter because we each have our own personal weaknesses and temptations. It’s not the same for everyone.
Yet at the same time, if we are Christians, we must be guided by God so that our choices are acceptable to him. While the Bible doesn’t specifically say, ‘Thou shalt not go to the pub’, there are principles about which the Bible is very clear.
In the world but not of it
In John 15:18-19 Jesus says, ‘If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’.
Christians are not like everyone else. I’ve heard some say they go to the pub because it shows their friends that they’re not really all that different from others. But that’s just it – we are different to them, and people need to see that. If the Christians people know are living exactly the same way as they are, how will they ever realise that they’re living in sin?
It’s hard to live as a Christian and stand out from the crowd in living a godly life. But remember that, throughout the ages, God’s people have survived far worse opposition than anything we face today. It’s never impossible to survive in this hostile world as long as we keep our faith in Christ.
Living a holy life
God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:13-16). To follow Christ in our lives and actions, we need to live holy lives. It’s become a bit of a cliché but we still need to ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ If Jesus returned and found you drinking in the pub, or watching a TV programme full of swearing, how do you think he would feel?
We need to be holy because he is holy. Think why we are living our lives for Christ and remember what he has done for us. We no longer fear punishment for our sins, but he didn’t take that punishment for us so that we could carry on sinning – assuming that God will forgive us regardless!
No, we need to be consciously trying to avoid sin. Psalm 1:1-3 says, ‘Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper’.
So take courage! God prospers us when we try to live holy lives for him. And when you are tempted, resist the devil, for we have the promise of God’s Word – ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7).
A lamp to our feet
Here are some specific instructions from God’s Word to help you live a holy life:
Know what the Bible condemns as sinful. ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Don’t get drunk. ‘Do not be drunk with wine’ (Ephesians 5:18). ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1). ‘But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way … They err in vision, they stumble in judgement’ (Isaiah 28:7).
Avoid sexual immorality. ‘Now the body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-1). ‘Marriage is honourable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge’ (Hebrews 13:4).
Don’t watch or listen to things that are impure.’Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead, and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; remove your foot from evil’ (Proverbs 4:23-27).
Don’t swear.’You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain’ (Exodus 20:7). ‘Woe is me for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5).
Don’t conform to this world.’I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ (Romans 12:1-2).
Do seek God’s help when tempted. ‘No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it’ (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Don’t be fearful or ashamed when people taunt or persecute you.’For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps’ (1 Peter 2:21). ‘Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity’ (1 Timothy 4:12).
Looking to Christ
The most important thing to remember is to look to Christ, and not yourself. I’ve been told many times that the Christian life gets harder as you get older, so there’s no way we can do it on our own. But praise God that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).
University, school or college is an amazing opportunity for evangelism – not by preaching sermons but through your life. However you chose to draw your line and live for Christ, stick to it. People are watching you and you are Christ’s ambassador to this world. Let’s do it well, in him and for him.