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Having guidelines suggests there is a specific desirable goal that is achievable through applying yourself. The Bible is our guidebook for living, and as we will be judged by how we have lived our lives compared to what it teaches, it makes good sense to live according to what it says (Jn 12:47,48; Heb 4:12). Along with the guidebook, we need a growing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s voice so He can direct us in the way we should go. Jesus summed this up as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mk 12:30,31). This means God is to be Number One in our lives and we should live by the golden rule of “doing to others as we would like done to us” (Lk 6:31).

Once we become Christians we are the property of Christ –
He gave His life for ours that we “might no longer live for ourselves” (Rom 6:2; 2 Cor 5:15; Gal 2:20). Consequently, it is our responsibility to make Him Lord, walk in the truth, listen

Your children ‘read’ you for their guidelines for living. What do they see?

to His voice and wholeheartedly obey (Jn 10:27, 14:23,24; 1 Jn 1:6).

Here are some examples of the way the Bible instructs redeemed children of God to live, or the things we should avoid:

* we can’t serve two masters (Mt 6:24);

* live God-honouring lives (Rom 12:9-21; 1 Pet 3:9);

* don’t love the world (1 Jn 2:15-17);

* we must put to death the old lifestyle with its selfish ways and put on the new nature, with its desires reflecting God’s (Col 3:1-25);

* live by the Spirit’s direction, developing Godly fruit (Gal 5:16-26);

* put on spiritual armour to resist the devil’s temptations and attacks (Eph 6:11-18; Jas 4:7,8);

* transformation will come as we renew and fill our minds with the truth (Rom 12:1,2; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 4:8,9);

* our faith must affect all parts of us, especially our tongue (Jas 1:26, 4:11);

* do not make money your god (Heb 13:5);

* what we reap in life will be the outcome of what we sow (Gal 6:7,8);  

* as we relate to unbelievers we need to guard against the influence they exert and protect all our relationships (Prov 4:23; 1 Cor 15:33);

* we should only marry a person of like values and cultivate godly family relationships (Ps 1:1-6; 2 Cor 6:14,15).

The Scriptures cover guidelines on many other topics too, including Bible reading, prayer, confession of sin when we go wrong, church fellowship, witnessing by lifestyle and words, obediently submitting to His ways, resisting temptation, focusing on Christ rather than the situations that would

Don’t ignore what is provided for our benefit – the wisdom of the Bible

pull us down. Why not make it a lifetime habit to discover more virtues in the Bible and then with God’s help endeavour to live by them, for knowledge without corresponding action is pointless (Jas 1:22). Although the Christian life is not about following rules, there are principles we should observe so we can live pleasing to God

While some people say the observing of rules can lead to legalism, the keeping of His commands indicates our love to Him and “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it” (Mt 19:17, 25:34; Lk 11:28; Jn 14:15,21, 15:10; 1 Cor 7:19; 1 Jn 5:3). One of the reasons for this resource was the ongoing desire to know what God’s views were on various matters so the complier could walk in God’s favour.

God has given mankind a conscience to know what is right and wrong and a knowledge of Him in their hearts (Rom 1:18,19, 2:14,15). Yet many people are confused, live in ignorance or deception, believing there are numerous pathways to heaven, but the Bible is clear – Jesus is the only way (Prov 14:12; Isa 30:12; Jn 14:6 ; Act 4:12; Eph 2:8,9).

Three broad guidelines for living

In essential matters of the faith that involve principles of right and wrong (morality), where the Bible teaching is clear, these must be strictly adhered to, maintaining total purity in mind and action (Mt 5:27,28).

What guiding principles do I live by?

Convictions are our reasoned understanding and interpretation in non-essential or amoral issues (that do not involve right or wrong) where we have the freedom to choose and have different views within the boundaries of Bible principles, while still considering whether they will bless or harm others. Will they bring us closer to Christ?

Preferences are personal choices made where the Bible is silent, however they also must not contravene Biblical principles and should always be motivated by love.  It is important not to make convictions and preferences into absolutes that everyone should obey.

See also: boundaries, conscience, counsel/counselling, guidance/divine, principles, spiritual disciplines.