After spending seven weeks looking at those so-called “7 deadly sins”, I thought today we’d step away from all that stuff that made us all GUILTY, and take a look at something more useful.  Like ‘how to tell right from wrong’.  Every now and then we need a good old “HOW TO” message.

And let’s start out with something obvious…it’s not always EASY to TELL right from wrong.  Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances.  Such as “It is a sin to tell a lie”!  You’d all agree with that, right?  That’s the NINTH COMMANDMENT…”You shall not bear false witness…”.

When we study the Book of Joshua, we always find that part about the PROSTITUTE named Rahab from the City of Jericho, who protected the two spies that had snuck into the city.  When the guards came looking for those men, she said that she had NOT seen them.

Did she do right or wrong…by telling a lie?  The Bible tells us it is a SIN to tell a lie, and yet, BECAUSE she lied, the lives of those two men were SPARED!  So is it okay to do the WRONG thing, if you are doing it for the RIGHT reason?

Like I told you, this is not always an EASY thing to DO.  And it’s gonna be even MORE difficult, for our KIDS that are growing up right now in the public school system, where they’re being told that EVERYthing is SUBJECTIVE; that what is right for ONE person, may NOT be right for someone else, or is a different SITUATION.

In other words, these kids are being taught that there is NO such THING as ABSOLUTE RIGHT or WRONG…that there is NOTHING that is ALWAYS right, or ALWAYS wrong.  They’re taught that everything depends on the SITUATION.  And the immature child is left as the ultimate judge.

Is it any wonder kids are confused?  They’re not CAPABLE of MAKING those kinds of objective decisions.  Most ADULTS aren’t capable of making those objective decisions.

So as I see it, even though we live in a very IMmoral society, I don’t believe most immoral ACTS were committed out of a spirit of real BADNESS.  I think most immoral acts are committed simply because nobody ever explained to those people that some things ARE wrong, and some are right.  ALWAYS!  In SPITE of the circumstances.

Generally speaking, you would not be here today, in a fundamental, conservative Bible Church, unless you had a sincere desire to DO what is right.  But, just having a general acceptance of basic Christian philosophies will not be enough to solve the problem of right or wrong.

As Paul said in our text this morning, there are some things we are NOT supposed to do.  Ever!  But many people still DO these things, as Paul confessed that he himself had done so, out of IGNORANCE!  Out of simply not KNOWING any better!

So it seemed to me that, if we were faced with a situation LIKE that, it would be great if we had some kind of a TEST we could use, to see if this is something we SHOULD, or should NOT do.

If you’re the kind of person that ONLY crosses the street at a marked intersection, and ONLY when the light is green, then you would have no need for an anti-jaywalking law.  But if you’re the kind of person that just charges across the street ANYwhere you happen to be, without first looking for traffic, then you desperately NEED to be told about the anti-jaywalking law.  Because, like it or not, it is there to save your LIFE!

So I’m gonna give you all a situation that I want you to imagine yourself in.  A situation that’s pretty common in society today.  I could have chosen anything, but this seems to be really common today, so we might as well look at it.  And some of you might say you’re too old for this…or maybe too YOUNG, to be affected BY it.  But I’m not so sure about that.  And anyway, I want you all to play along with me.

I want you to think of the ONE person in this world that you think is extra special.  The most attractive, the most interesting, the most sensual.  In other words, I want you to think of the person you consider to be the PERFECT person, of the opposite sex.

And now, since I KNOW that all you MARRIED people are obviously now thinking of your WIFE, or HUSBAND, that’s great, but I want you to think of someone ELSE!  Someone you are NOT married to, but greatly admire, and find very attractive.  MAKE someone up if you have to, but think of who you’d say was a PERFECT MATCH!

Okay?  Now I want you to imagine that this PERFECT person just invited you, to meet them at a secluded hideaway, for a weekend rendezvous.  I’m talking about EXTRA-MARITAL activity.  And don’t say you can’t DO that because you’re not married.  This just means that you’re going to have an intimate relationship with someone you’re NOT married to.

And if that person you’re thinking of is WOODY ALLEN, I want you to think of someone else.  I want this to be a REALISTIC test.  TEST!  Remember, that’s what we’re talking about, a TEST to see if something is right or wrong.  And most of you have all gone galloping on ahead of me, and you’ll miss what I’m trying to do.

I want you to think of someone who, if they made this offer to you, you’d be tempted.  And remember, there’s a HUGE difference between being tempted, and actually SINNING!  We’re told that JESUS was tempted, in ALL points, as we are, but without sin.

So here’s the scenario: this WONDERFUL person, who you greatly admire, has just invited you to go away with them for the weekend.  WHAT should you DO?  The WORLDLY answer would be “everybody’s doing it, why can’t I”?

So here come the SIX tests to determine if this thing is right or wrong.  The FIRST test is the “COMMON SENSE” test.  Maybe there was a time when people could engage in this kind of activity, without a lot of worry about your physical safety, but if so, that time is long gone.

It’s no longer a concern that you might catch a disease that will cause you some embarrassment, and need some medication to get rid of it.

Today, a single contact like that, will put you at risk of catching a disease that can KILL you, and that you might spread to those that are CLOSE to you, before you even know that you HAVE it.

It’s a slang expression today that a good-looking person is “to die for”, but are you willing to take that LITERALLY?  Are you sufficiently attracted to this other person, to be willing to die a horrible and an agonizing death, to be with them for a short time?

And the obvious answer TO the “common sense” test is “don’t be SILLY”!  Macho people might TALK about being willing to give up their lives for some MOVIE star or someone like that, but when faced with the REALITY, the only acceptable answer is “don’t be silly”!  So you turn to this PERFECT person there beside you, waiting for your answer, and you say “Sorry, but NObody’s worth THAT”!

But, as you all know, common sense isn’t as common as it used to be, so you decide “YEAH!  I’m willing to risk my life, and the lives of everyone in my family, to spend a weekend with this person”.

Test number two is the “sportsmanship test”, the “that’s not FAIR” test.  So you show up for this meeting, and find that there are FIVE other people who have ALSO been invited.  You ALL are going to share an intimate weekend.  Are you going to now yell “That’s not FAIR!”?

Or are you going to wait until you meet your WIFE, or your HUSBAND, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, whoever you’re involved with…the other half of who makes up you, as a couple…you find THEM, also at this little secluded hotel…and they say “well, since it was okay for you to do this, then it must be okay for ME to meet somebody here TOO!  NOW are you going to yell “that’s not FAIR”?

Is this something that’s alright for you to do, but not the one that’s close to you?  In the “sportsmanship test”, the SAME rules have to apply to EVERYONE.  And if you’re not comfortable with that, then it’s definitely NOT the thing for you to do.

Okay, the third test is the “Publicity test”.  Is this something you are willing to do, only as long as you can keep it a SECRET?  If you knew that the very next Sunday, the pastor was going to announce to the whole congregation just what you had done, would you still be willing to do it?

The ‘publicity test’ can be a real problem.  There may be all sorts of things you’d like to do, as long as nobody KNOWS you’re doing them.  But if you know they’re going to become common knowledge, would that change your mind about doing them?  And if so, it wasn’t something that you should have been doing in the first place, or even thinking about doing!

The fourth test is the “most admired” test.  Think about someone you really admire and look up to.  A person of the same gender as yourself; someone like Albert Schweitzer, or Mother Teresa.  Someone you really respect and admire.  Now put THEM in that same situation.

If you knew that THEY were going off to this hotel to cheat on their husband or wife, would you still look up to them?  Or would you maybe think LESS of them, for giving in to this weakness?

A couple years ago, a congressman named Jonathan Edwards, a guy with a real “all-American boy” reputation, was found to have been carrying on an affair with a staffer, while his wife was at home battling breast cancer.  As soon as that news came out, he was ostracized, and lost his office.

If that was something that caused you to change your thinking about HIM, then it’s probably not something you should get involved with.

The fifth test is the “foresight test”.  We have the ability to extrapolate certain facts, and going forward with them, see where they’re likely to end up.  I mean, I don’t have to actually drive my car at 90 miles an hour into a tree to know what would happen if I DID!  We can do basically the same thing with other facts.

So, if I go off to this hotel with this person I admire, WHAT will be the eventual outcome?  Well, I might contract a deadly disease and die, after first infecting my family WITH that disease, and then suffering in agony for maybe several years.  And of course, my wife, who I truly love and admire, would probably divorce me, and rightly so, since I have violated my marriage vows.

Or, if for some reason she didn’t divorce me, we would never again enjoy the same degree of trust we now share, and a pleasant relationship will be deeply strained.  My children would never again have the same degree of respect for me that they have now, and THAT would be a HORRIBLE thing to lose.

My friends, who I enjoy spending time with, would all look at me differently, if I were to give in to this temptation.  And then, of course I’d have to give up this fantastic position HERE, as your pastor, because I would have lost the trust and respect of all of you.

Quite simply stated, my LIFE would be RUINED, by this one brief encounter!  So, by the “foresight test”, would this be a good idea?  Most definitely NOT!

Now, we could use any situation, and temptation, to commit any SIN you can think of, and submit it to those same five tests.  And if any ONE of them were to give you a NEGATIVE answer, then you should AVOID that thing, whatever it was.

But I told you at the start that there were SIX tests.  And the LAST one, which should probably have been the FIRST one, is the one that became a ‘catch phrase’ lately.  It is called the “what would JESUS do?” test.  THAT is the question that we need to answer.  And fortunately, we already HAVE that answer.

On the issue we’re looking at, a brief, meaningless extra-marital affair…what would Jesus do?  And He has already TOLD us.  He said “If you are even THINKING about doing that…if you are trying to find some way to JUSTIFY doing that…or looking for some way to make it work…then He says you have already GONE far BEYOND just being TEMPTED, which is NOT a sin, and have become GUILTY of HAVING the affair, even if you NEVER actually DO it.  Even if you never COMMIT the sin, the fact that you WANTED to, means that you are ALREADY guilty!

WHAT He actually SAID was, in Matthew 5:28, “If you LOOK at a woman…” (or a man, you ladies can be guilty too)…if you LOOK at another, to LUST after them, you are ALREADY GUILTY of the sin…even if you NEVER follow through.  Just WANTING to, made you guilty.

He said “If you’re ANGRY enough at someone, to want to INJURE them, even if you NEVER lay a HAND on them, you’re guilty of MURDER, because you harbored HATE in your heart.

So okay, now this is getting serious.  Just a moment ago, we were all NICE people, just playing MIND GAMES!  Now all of a sudden, we’re all adulterers, murderers, and by extrapolation we’re THIEVES and IDOLATORS…because we have all seen someONE, with someTHING that WE desired for ourselves.

And THAT is the sin of COVETOUSNESS, and that, we’re told in Colossians 3:5, is IDOLATRY, which God HATES.

Now, all of a sudden, we’re all SINNERS!  And what do all sinners need?  They need a SAVIOR!  When we finally realize that we are all Sinners, isn’t it a JOY, to look into God’s Word, and find the words…”For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish…”

“PERISH”, that means “to die”.  And THAT is the penalty for ALL sin.  Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is DEATH”.  But then, “God gave His Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting LIFE”!

God KNOWS that we ARE sinful people.  And He knows we NEED a Savior.  And He GAVE us a Savior!  He GAVE us Salvation.  It’s a GIFT!  You can’t EARN it, and you can never be GOOD enough to DESERVE it.

But you CAN HAVE it, simply by confessing Christ as YOUR Savior, and ASKING for it.

And we find another promise, in 1st John 1:9…”If we CONFESS our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVES us our sins, and to CLEANSE us of ALL unrighteousness”.

But please notice that John uses the words “we” and “us”.  WHO does that REFER to?  WHO is ELIGIBLE to have their sins FORGIVEN like that?  To be CLEANSED like that?

ONLY the REDEEMED!  ONLY those who have ACCEPTED the Sacrifice of God’s only Son, on the Cross of Calvary…who have been WASHED in that Blood…and been SAVED by GRACE, through FAITH!

THOSE are the ONLY ones who have the RIGHT to come again and again, to be FORGIVEN, and RE-forgiven…to be CLEANSED, and RE-cleansed.  ONLY the REDEEMED!

But here’s some GOOD news.  WHO can ACCEPT Christ, and BE Saved?  Jesus told us THAT, too.  Remember?  He said “For God so loved the WORLD…”!  That’s not this PLANET that we live on…it’s the PEOPLE that make up the world.

It’s such a SIMPLE statement, that you likely LEARNED it in Sunday School, and yet it’s so PROFOUND it has ETERNAL consequences…”For God so loved the world, He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Now do you get it?  Who can come?  “WHOSOEVER”.  And just in case you don’t understand that word, it means EVERYBODY!  ANYbody!  NO one is EXCLUDED.

IF you realize you NEED a Savior, then you can come TO Him.  It doesn’t matter if you think you’re not GOOD enough.  Believe me, you’re NOT good enough.  NOBODY is!  NONE of us.  But that doesn’t matter.  God LOVES you, ANYWAY!

And He wants to save you…forgive you, MAKE you His OWN!  And all you have to DO, is LET Him!  Are you willing to DO that?

We’re going to go into a time of invitation and decision.  And I’m going to invite you to become a part of the family of God.  So if you can look at your life, in light of those six tests I gave you, and realize that you, just like all the rest of us, have fallen short, and need a Savior, then will you finally accept Him today as YOUR Savior?

OR maybe you HAVE accepted that incredible gift, but for a while you walked away from Him?  You don’t need to get SAVED again, you’re already Saved, but what you need to do is to REDEDICATE yourself TO Him, to START OVER, and walk in HIS paths again.

There are likely MANY here this morning that NEED to do that.  And He’s always willing to RECEIVE you again.  You may have walked away from HIM, but HE has never left YOUR side.  So come BACK, and be made WHOLE again!

Or maybe you’re carrying a BURDEN on your heart, and it’s wearing you down.  We have another promise…that you can “Cast all your cares on HIM, for He cares for you”.  That’s 1st Peter 5:7.

You don’t need to carry that load alone.  Let HIM come beside you, and ease the burden.  No matter what the burden, He’s there to help, if you’ll allow it.

The whole POINT of this message was…we are ALL sinners!  Whether you have COMMITTED the sin, or just THOUGHT about doing it…we’re ALL guilty.

But HE is a WONDERFUL Savior, and we can ALL be FORGIVEN!  So please don’t even THINK of leaving here this morning, without being made WHOLE again.