The issue of church-advocated standards of conduct and lifestyle is sensitive and often is understood. Frequently this subject is connected with the question, Does the church have the "right" to give counsel in such issues as dress, diet, entertainment, and association? For the person who believes in the Bible, the certain answer is yes, if the church promotes only standards that the Bible clearly defines. Scripture invests the church with the responsibility of directing its members to observe those standards.
If the church is to be faithful to its mission, it must adhere to the whole counsel of God and, in the spirit of that counsel, uphold it as the duty of its members (Acts 20:27, 28, 32). But the church is not authorized to construct arbitrary standards or to enforce oppressively even divine truths (Luke 11:46; 1 Peter 5:1-3).
As in other matters, who and what should be the basis of church standards? 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:3-11 (compare Gal. 5:16, 19-26).
"Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God's ideal for His children. Godliness-godlikeness-is the goal to be reached."- Education, p. 18; compare Isa. 55:8, 9. To embrace a lower standard than that of Christ and His law is to deprive oneself of gospel blessings.
What fundamental Bible principles undergird all Christian standards? Rom. 12:1, 2; Gal. 5:16 (compare Phil. 4:8; 1 John 2:15-17).
The practical result of conversion to Christ is to become like him in character and conduct, through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. This transformation is produced by His Word and His Spirit taking effect in our lives (1 John 2:5, 6). Satan has taught the world to love evil and hate righteousness. It is no wonder, then, that God's children should embrace values and a way of life distinctively different from those of the world.
How do you view God's standards? Why do some people regard standards as burdensome? What can keep us from being either legalistic and self-righteous or lax in observance of Christian standards? How can Bible standards become precious to us, even though they contravene attractive habits?