How do we know what is right and what is wrong? How do we base decisions on the grey areas of life from the Bible? The Bible doesn’t address each and every issue of life so how can we find out what God would have us do in areas of right and wrong and know that we are making the right decision?
Knowing Right from Wrong from the Bible
The Bible does not cover each and every issue in the Christian’s walk and so we must use wisdom to discern the will of God and whether something is right or something is wrong. If we can understand the basic principles laid down by God Almighty, then we can know whether something is right or whether something is wrong. For example, the Bible does not say that abortion is wrong precisely, but we know that God formed us in the womb and calls us by name before we are born (Jer 1:5) and we also know that God is the giver of life and is the only one who has the right to take life (Exodus 20:13). By our knowing these facts we understand that God is pro-life and the fact that our days are numbered by Him shows that He alone decides when a human being should die (Psalm 139:16, Job 14:5, etc.).
There was a No Swimming sign up at a sand pit many years ago but there were some children swimming in this pond. They were disobeying the sign. That sign was posted because there was a sink hole in it and so it was a danger for anyone to swim in it. One of the children began to flounder in the water and began to drown. Now, we know that we are to obey those in authority (Rom 13) but we also know that God wants us to take a higher principle when a human life is at stake. So should a person disobey the No Swimming sign and not save the child from drowning? Of course not! The point is that someone saved the young child from drowning and had to instantly discern that the value of the human life was of infinitely higher value than disobedience to the No Swimming sign. Now if the children had obeyed the sign in the first place, they might not have nearly drowned. The same principle applies to trying to find what is right and what is wrong where the Bible is silent. The Bible doesn’t say “You shall wear seatbelts” but since we understand that we are to obey those who are the governing authorities we should wear our seat belts because it’s the law and it‘s a known scientific fact that seat belts save lives (Rom 13:1-3).
Biblical Answers of Right and Wrong
If someone asks you what the Bible says about gambling, you can not find a specific answer about this in the Scriptures per say, but you can find Scriptures about loving money more than God (2 Tim 3:2), about greed (1 Tim 6:9), about coveting (Exodus 20:17), and about storing up treasures on earth instead of in heaven (Matt 6:19). For example, Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” When we want to know whether something is right or wrong, we simply have to consult the Bible in areas where the question lies.
Should a Christian vote or not or should a believer run for political office? That is a question that I have heard many times and the Bible appears to be silent in this area, but if we look closely at Paul’s teaching on how a Christian should live in society we can turn to Romans chapter 13:1 says, “for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Every citizen has a legal right to vote so we are more than free to not only vote but to participate in running for office. Why? Because “The authorities that exist have been established by God.“ If someone complains about the politician and yet doesn’t vote, then they have no excuse because they could have voted for someone else or they could have voted for someone in the first place (if they chose not to vote that is).
Another example is that we can know with certainty that we should not cheat on our taxes by reading Romans 13:6-7, “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” We pay must pay our taxes and pay what is our fair share because “the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.”
To decide if we should drive just over the speed limit or not, Romans 13:3-5 is very clear, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” You don’t need to be nervous looking in your rearview mirror if you see a police car coming and your doing the speed limit, “for those who do right” but if you’re speeding, “be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.”
Proverbial Wisdom in Proverbs
There are 31 Proverbs. This seems to coincide nicely with the fact that there is one for each day of the month (give or take a few days, like February and those with 30 days in them). If a person reads a chapter a day, in a year’s time they will have read the entire Book of Proverbs 12 times. This book is called Wisdom Literature because of the fact that so much wisdom can be found in it. The point is that a great way to learn the mind of God is to read His Word daily. Someone that is in the Word of God every day has the Word of God in them and can make good decisions based upon the moral principles laid down by God the Holy Spirit through the men and woman (Ruth) who wrote the Holy Bible. This website, What Christians Want to Know, is dedicated to discerning right from wrong in difficult areas and subjects in the Christian’s daily walk with Christ. Just type a key word in the Search Box and you can find answers to many different subjects not specifically addressed in the Bible.
Prayer is a key element in knowing the will of God when you are trying to determine if something is right or wrong. So is godly counsel from Christian friends, pastors, deacons, elders and Sunday school teachers. There is a multitude of safety in such counsel (Prov 24:6, 24:21, 11:14). I hope you noticed that my Scriptural references were from Proverbs. Solomon was said to be the wisest man on earth and his Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are deep wells of wisdom for us. They are just waiting to be mined. Even James says that if we lack wisdom about something, we can pray to God for it (James 1:5). We can know right from wrong. We simply have to be immersed in the Word of God. Get into the Word of God and the Word of God will get into you!