“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but [I will not be mastered by anything and not all things edify].” 1 Corinthians 6:12;10:23 (combined)
Our culture (and family experiences & instruction) greatly influences our view on whether certain behaviors are virtues or vices. The authors use the example of believing friends of theirs from other cultures who sometimes fellowship around a “pint of ale” and how that conflicted with their Christian upbringing and experience. Moreover, different cultures both in the present and past, though agreeing that vices (sins) are equally bad, may disagree on the severity of the “sin.” Thus, we must seek to read the Scripture with “open” hearts and minds allowing the Holy Spirit to speak (reveal) to us what are objective Biblical (Kingdom) values not simply cultural values.
1. What are some Western virtues (ie. punctuality, efficiency & time management, etc.) and vices (ie.sexual immorality, greed, etc.) oft spoken about and lived out in our culture?
2. Are these vices or virtues based on Scripture?
3. Do you agree (disagree) with the authors’ assertions on the 5 Western virtues (p. 182-186 self sufficiency, fighting for freedom, Pax Americana, leadership and tolerance) that are either non-Biblical or anti-Biblical?
4. With Paul’s instruction above in mind, how have these cultural values influenced your faith and lifestyle in positive or negative ways?
(Discuss your views/thoughts)
“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
Paul and other NT writers use “the clothing metaphor” in teaching believers to “take off” vices and “put on” virtues in their walk with Christ. In their minds, “pursuing godliness was like changing one’s filthy rags for beautiful robes.” (p. 180) Western believers have a tendency to emphasize vices and deemphasize virtues. However, “In Scripture, the godly life is portrayed as a lifelong work, not a list of don’ts.” (p.182) Furthermore, virtue should be actively pursued through spiritual disciplines of Bible study & prayer and godly habits. Dr. N.T. Wright states, “Virtue is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right.” (p. 236)
Is our Bible study and prayer as believers simply something we do to “feel good” and “righteous” about our spirituality? Am I experiencing more of the presence of Christ by the Holy Spirit in my daily walk from spending alone time with God? If not, what can I change (do different) in my times of prayer & Bible study to better connect and hear from God? Am I growing in the fruits of the Spirit and Christ-like character…Is my mind being “renewed” to think and act more like Jesus?