- But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 29: 7-9)
- And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Matthew 24:4-5,24-25)
- Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:1-6)
- See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
- Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 )
In your walk with Christ sometimes you got be aware of spiritual gray zones. These are areas in which it’s not clear if something is wicked or innocent. It can also be areas where a teaching is not confirmed to be consistent with the Gospel and the character of God. At such an instance its useful to know what a ‘Gray zone’ means.
Meaning of Gray zone: (Noun) An intermediate area between two opposing positions; a situation, subject, etc., not clearly or easily defined, or not covered by an existing category or set of rules. (Oxford Dictionary)
One might wonder that what is so dangerous about spiritual gray zones. Due to highly ambiguous nature of these things its better to give out a few examples. Here we go:
- Mr A, is a Christian guy who wants to do great things for the Lord God. He wants to perform miracles of healing so as to help the sick and dying. Now even after years of going to church, going to Bible studies and having five hours of daily prayer and also, fasting twice a week, he is unable to heal anyone. Suddenly Mr A, gets to know of a secret group that claims to be Christian and say they can teach anyone to heal within 3 days. However their condition is that he donates a very large sum of money to an offshore bank account of theirs and also sign a no refund clause. Further more, they want him to not discuss with anyone in his local church about this. He thinks whether to do a little ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ or if its wrong to not speak to his church people and leaders about this. He gets a call from an unknown number asking him to ‘not delay his conversion from day-to-day but rather donate in the next 2 minutes or his time of ‘grace’ will depart from him forever’. Mr A is now totally confused since he never took down his preachers phone number.
- Miss J, is egged on by her friends to marry a man who is given to womanizing and drug abuse. They claim the only way for this man’s soul to be saved is by Miss J marrying him and using her influence as a wife to preach the Gospel to him. Miss J doesn’t like that idea. But her friends tell her that all preachers tried to bring a change in that sleazy man but nothing happened and say that only genuine love will convince that man to accept the Gospel. She is not aware that her friends are promised a fortune by this impious man who knows that by his character itself, he won’t be able to convince her to marry him. Miss J is scared of using marriage as front to preach the Gospel or to let this man’s soul slip into hell forever.
- Preacher Z, is approached by people of another church. They say they got a gold bracelet with the name of their church on it. And they promise to send him a generous tithe each month as long he wears the gold bracelet on his right hand. Now preacher Z is in need of some serious funding for his new missionary project in Namibia. He ponders that if it’s all a matter of wearing a gold bracelet without any change in what he preaches, then what could possibly go wrong.
Let me explain the dangers of each of the above examples. In the first example, Mr A stands likely to be scammed big time if he donates a big sum of money abroad. And if he later contacts law enforcement or legal resources there is very little scope to get his money back. Also if he were to hide things from his preacher, then when he gets scammed, even the preacher and the church to which he belongs will be surprised at his lack of vigilance and eventually this can affect his reputation.
For the second example, if Miss J were to marry the womanizer, there is no guarantee he will ever accept the Gospel. Besides, when he eventually will cheat on her, none of those scheming friends of hers will help. And if she approaches her church they will offer prayers and sympathies but will find it difficult to mend their marriage.
And for the third example, if Preacher Z takes the gold bracelet, it can bring disgrace and controversy to his church and denomination at large. This holds true especially if the other church that gave the bracelet of gold, turns out to be a cult or a heretical organisation. People can and will think of him endorsing their false doctrines.
In cases of spiritual gray zone’s here’s what you can do:
- Do not act on your impulses but think what could be the long-term consequences. Also think how would you deal with those consequences.
- Do not be over secretive that you don’t take counsel from the right person of God as want to hide things from him or her.
- Do read the Bible on a regular basis. Read the various parts of it pertaining to wisdom and discernment, instead of only going for your favourite verses. This should help you remember the counsel of the Bible if in case there is a very quick decision to make or you don’t have access to a faithful and wise preacher of the Gospel. Reading the Bible regularly needs discipline and setting the right priorities to use your time, though.
- If it’s too good to be real, do not had over money nor time nor your emotions etc to such things or people. Instead research it. If you cannot research it, then like I said earlier don’t be too shy to get counsel from the wise people of God available to you.
- Pray about it for clarity from God. This is where you ask God to deliver from all lies because he the God of truth and not chaos.
Just to let you know, I too faced a very dangerous spiritual gray zone around 2009-2010. I would preach and minister to a growing group of teenagers and those in their early twenties. Some prefer to call them youth or young adults. The point is these youngsters had problems of the spiritual sort; false gods, drinking, smoking, false relationships etc. So myself and some of my contemporaries were given leadership over them. And due to various reasons these youth were comfortable to reach to us for their problems and we would help to come out of their bad habits. We would intercede for them, fast for them and when they are with, lead them in praise and worship of Jesus. This caused lots of lots of youth who at time wouldn’t come to church to come to us instead. It was a nice opportunity for myself to slowly and steadily get them attend church without any forcing.
However, this didn’t sit well in due course of time with the main Christian circle I was in. They accused us of ‘meeting the needs of the youth so that they don’t come to the main body’. They asked to ‘stop preaching the Gospel since that is what fulfills the needs of the youth and this will cause them to reach out to the main body’. It took me a day or two to come to a decision after praying and my reply to them was “Why do you want me to not follow the commandment of God?” So they asked what commandment and I replied “The great commission to preach the Gospel”. Followed by “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16)” They were horrified at my reply and asked me will I reconsider and follow their ‘authority’ in this matter and only do praise and worship with the youth. Remembering some of the youth, who said that the main body was not that effective in counseling them, I said no to the main body and that’s the last they interacted with me. Later I found that almost all the youth never ‘integrated’ in to the main body consisting of married adults. My point is, I had to make a decision to follow God’s commandment or the opinions of man, even if that is of the elders when it was all a gray area to me.
Christ be with you, as you overcome the gray areas of your life!
The Gospel is not a mere message of deliverance, but a canon of conduct; it is not a theology to be accepted, but it is ethics to be lived. It is not to be believed only, but it is to be taken into life as a guide. (Alexander MacLaren)
”Man’s greatest honor and privilege is to do the will of God. This was what the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. He once said that only those who did His Father’s will would enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 7:21). He also said that His true brothers and sisters were those who did the will of God (Matt. 12:50).” – Zac Poonen
Jesus himself said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. (Matthew 5:3)
Who are then the poor in Spirit?
The poor in Spirit are those who realise that their good works cannot send them to heaven but only the grace of God.
The poor in Spirit are those who know that keeping the law is nothing to boast of but rather is a thing to be humble about.
The poor in Spirit are those who know that they cannot save themselves but only the Lord God can.
The poor in Spirit are those who realise that all their riches of wisdom and knowledge are still inferior to the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The poor in Spirit are those who believe that this world has nothing lasting to offer them and look for life that is eternal in the Lord’s will.
The poor in Spirit are those who despise what is sinful and seek what is holy in their thoughts, words and actions.
The poor in Spirit avoid false and deceptive gains but seek the truth about the will of God for their life.