This seems to be the only question that matters for some Christians as they make decisions on any course of action. It might be asked by a teenager who wants to do what "all" his or her peers are doing. It might be asked by an adult who has one foot in the Lord's camp and the other in the world.
When asked in such a context, often a false presupposition underlies this popular question. The false presupposition is that the way of holiness and righteousness is the way that oppresses the human spirit, and takes away joy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Psalmist wrote, "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11). Jesus said, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
This meditation is a call to go beyond asking, "What's wrong with that?", and to ask, "What is most to God's glory?"
Consider the temptation of Jesus Christ in the wilderness by Satan. One of the enemy's temptations was to suggest to Jesus that He turn some stones into loaves of bread. Suppose Jesus had based His response to the temptation solely on the question, "What's wrong with that?" Jesus, though truly God, was and forever is also truly human. According to His human nature, Jesus experienced desire (Luke 22:15), thirst (John 19:28), and hunger (Mark 11:12). He became hungry during His forty day fast and ordeal involving wild animals (Mark 1:13) and intense spiritual warfare in a harsh environment. Would there have been anything intrinsically wrong with Christ exerting His omnipotence to provide needed food for Himself in this situation? Was His need not legtimate? Which of the Ten Commandments would He have broken in transforming those stones to bread?
Jesus Christ understood that, although using His power to provide a satisfying meal for Himself would not be a sin in itself, it would go against the unique calling He had as the Messiah, the great High priest of God's people. Not "...a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses", but One Who "...was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."(cf. Hebrews 4:15)
Just as the Lord Jesus did, we must learn to apply in faith the precepts, statutes, and judgments of God's word. Jesus went beyond simply asking "What's wrong with that?" He answered Satan by referring to the imperative precept of Deuteronomy 6:16, "You shall not tempt the LORD your God (as you tempted Him in Massah.)" At Massah, the people had shown lack of faith, perversely asking God's servant Moses if he had brought them out of Egypt only to die. They did this in spite of God's oft repeated promise to bring them into the very land of promise, the land promised long ago to their forefathers. Whereas they tested God in their hunger and thirst, Jesus determined to trust His heavenly Father through His. And the Father surely met His needs! After His fiery trial, after the disappointed tempter fled from presence of the Son of God, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11).
As we make decisions about what we will read; what we will buy or sell, listen to or watch; with whom we will socialize, where we will go and what we will say or do, there is more to be asked than "What's wrong with that?" Many choices may not be wrong in and of themselves: there is surely a place for socializing, reading, buying and selling, chatting and all the rest. As we read in 1 Timothy 6:17, "God gives us richly all things to enjoy". However, questions like "How will this advance the cause of the Gospel?" and "Will my heavenly Father take delight in this?" and "Am I doing this in love?" show that we are beginning to have a spiritually mature attitude: one that better equips the child of God against temptation.
September 5, 1999
Pastor Keith Graham
Go to Contemplations Page
Go to Pastor Graham's Teaching Page