The Problem(s) with Standards

I have had standards all of my life.  I suppose most people have.  My parents had them and as a result we kids had them too.  My dad didn’t wear facial hair and to this day believes I shouldn’t either. My mom did not wear slacks and neither did my sister.  I could take my shirt off while working outside in the fields or in the garden, but shorts were not permitted. Those were our standards and I lived by them. We had standards in the schools I attended and I also had them on my first job!  All of us are familiar with standards.

Christian standards are necessary for several reasons.  Some are simple obedience to a Biblical Command.  Fornication is not permitted because the Bible clearly teaches that it is not to be “once named among you” (Ephesians 5:3). My standard about not drinking alcoholic beverages is based on several passages, including “wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).  So some standards are simply our obedience to a specifically stated command of Scripture.  Other standards are applications of Biblical principles.  Our standards of dress for ladies is based partially on the principle of modesty.  My wife and daughters look for, invest in, and wear clothes that are full enough, high enough, and long enough to satisfy this principle.  The reason applications will sometimes vary in this area is because it is a principle that has a more general and open application rather than a set-in-stone one. Isn’t music that way? I have been in hundreds of Independent Baptist churches now all across the USA and around the world.  Each of them has varying styles and preferences of music because these standards are based on principles. Wouldn’t it be wise and Christian-like to obey the clear commands of Scripture? Of course it would. Wouldn’t it also be wise and Christian-like to continually think through the Bible’s principles and apply them to our daily lives?  Of course it would.

There are other reasons for Christian standards. Some of my standards are unique to me because they are my protection in an area of weakness. For instance, I never use the internet without an accountability filter.  This helps me to protect my purity!  In my home, we have some standards that are responses to destructive (or potentially destructive) cultural practices. Our children are not permitted to stay overnight with others. I have counseled many teens who were introduced to internet pornography while spending a night with other teens who had access to unfiltered internet material.  So we have a standard to help protect us in this area.  Some standards are simply a desire to help a weaker brother.   All of these are valid reasons to have standards.

We should carefully study God’s word and continually be applying it to our live.  We should pray for the Spirit to direct and lead us and we should obey His leading. We should defer to weaker brothers and sisters when it is in our power to do so.  We should love those who are more strict than we are and we should love those who are less.  Standards are necessary burdens that can certainly advance the cause of Christianity in my life, in my home, and even in my culture (Compare Acts 15:28-29).

However, standards also pose a problem! Or perhaps I should say problems.  Here are five potential problems:

  1. Standards can destroy our joy.  When I am so “strict” that I no longer have the joy of the Lord, my standards aren’t advancing but are rather hindering.  Examine yourself. Are you always grieved by people who don’t embrace your standards?  Do you assume that people who don’t embrace your standards are not as spiritual as you are? Do you criticize them and speak evil of brothers and sisters who don’t  embrace your positions? It is not possible to have a critical spirit and to be judgmental and have the joy of the Lord at the same time! Standards have the potential to destroy our joy.
  2. Standards can discourage us and those around us. I have a pastor friend who is retired now but who has little joy because of his standards.  He cannot rejoice in souls being saved because he had a tendency to examine whether the music or dress or presentation meets his standards. I know some evangelists who can be like that!  As a result, they become burdened and the standards that were supposed to make them more like Jesus actually robs them of faith and joy. So they are discouraged and others around them become discouraged too.  I have seem pastors lose their joy and entire churches follow them simply by allowing their standards to become the entire focus of their life.  That is not the purpose of standards at all.
  3. Standards can distance us from spiritual growth.  They distance us from spiritual growth when we begin to depend on them for our righteousness. Am I right with God and have special standing with God because of my personal standards. NO! I am right with God because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been placed on my account (cf. Phil 3:1-9). They distance us from spiritual growth when they cause us to omit weightier matters.  For instance, I know men who would never listen to an upbeat, toe-tapping song, but are angry, bitter men who have driven their children away from God! Wouldn’t something be wrong in this matter? Of course it would. Always remember that each of us has a tendency to overlook the weightier matters. Check out Paul’s teaching to the church at Ephesus in chapter 4. He deals with issues of anger, honesty, the tongue, bitterness, kindness, and forgiveness. I would argue that these are weightier matters that we too often overlook in favor of our personal standards. When this happens, we distance ourselves from spiritual growth.
  4. Standards can divide us from Godly believers and from the ones around us who need Christ. I often am amazed at how many believers are suspect of other believers in the same town who attend a sister church that has slightly different standards.  I will often ask if there are any other “good” churches in town. “Well,” I am told, “there are five independent Baptist churches but not really any good ones.” Upon further examination, I am told that it is because their ladies don’t dress like ours or their music is different from ours or they don’t observe communion like we do and so forth.  When this happens, our standards have divided us from Godly believers. Furthermore, when our standards divide us from the world around us that needs Christ, that is especially saddening. Jesus said that the world would know we are his disciples by our love one for another – not because of our standards.  We have to continually keep our standards in the right perspective and make sure that they are not hindering us from reaching out to the world around us with the gospel.  In many of my meetings, the church struggles to reach people because they no longer have any connection at all to those who need Christ the most.  In other words, if I have all the standards in the world, but have no impact on those who need Christ this most, something is wrong.  The answer is not that I have to change my standards necessarily, but rather that I need to keep them in the proper perspective lest they separate me from other believers as well as from the lost around me.
  5. Standards can diminish our Christlikeness rather than make us more like our Savior.  I always flinch when I am around a person who has dotted more spiritual “i”s and crossed more spiritual “t”s than you can count, but who are harsh, and ungracious, and unkind, and unloving, and who are known for their judgmental and critical spirit to others who don’t follow their personal standards.
  6. Standards can define us.  When we become known more for our personal standards instead of our love for God (it is the greatest commandment) and our love for one another (the second greatest commandment and the key to showing the world that we are disciples of Jesus) we are defined by the wrong thing. The early church was know for “having been with Jesus” and for the power they had in prayer and for the power in which they preached the gospel and for turning the world upside down. Read this gently and wisely: we don’t know much about their music or their dress or their style of worship, but we do know that they could pray down house-shaking and life-changing and miracle-producing power. We do know that they regularly saw souls powerfully converted and added to their number. We do know that their impact was felt from the palace of Caesar all the way to the barbarous island of Melita.  And on an on I could go.

Dear friend, don’t be offended by my statements.  I am for standards and believe in them and have them in my own life. They are often necessary burdens! However, they are not to be the focal point of my life. Jesus is! They are not to be the goal of my life. Becoming like Jesus is.  They are not to be the defining issue of my life. The gospel is. And so forth.  Would you join me in praying that we will all develop the standards that we need? And that we would all think clearly about our standards so that they do not hinder the work of God that is so desperately needed in this generation?

I hope you will!

Thanks for reading,

Your friend,

Dave

53 thoughts on “The Problem(s) with Standards

  1. Pingback: The Problem(s) with Standards – Sharon Rhyne

  2. Wow brother Young! I’ve been saved for 15.5yrs, faithful member to FBC in Menomonee Falls and I’ve never heard the possibility of standards being a problem. Its definitely an eye opener and something I wish I would’ve thought of or considered well before now. Raising four teens who don’t see standards as their parents do isn’t easy and I can see why. I’m definitely not offended by the 5-6 reasons listed, and I appreciate how you give God’s truth without extras, just down to earth without the unnecessary “watering”. The challenge for us I suppose is where to start after reading this including another four children who haven’t quite hit teen years yet, but the pressure is on just the same 😦

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    • Thank you for the comment above! I love your church and appreciate how your pastor, who is more strict than some, still loves people and works with others in our movement who differ from him in different applications. I respect him greatly for always speaking well of others and have learned much from him. I am super glad you are a member there and that you are thinking in terms of how do I teach my children about these matters. Pray for wisdom because your heavenly Father promises to give it if you will ask. Remember Deuteronomy 6? Moses tells the parents in his generation to continually and diligently teach God’s Word to their children. He infers that we should do it in the normal course of our lives – sitting in the house and walking through life and going to bed and getting out of bed and so forth. He instructs them to give answers to their children who ask for them. It is a wonderful chapter and will provide some answers for you. When your children don’t understand why you have certain standards, you should be able to explain to them why you do. Review the first part of my blog for some ideas and help there. Some matters will be obedience to a command, some will be an application of a principle, some to protect, some to avoid a cultural error, and some to avoid offense. All are valid. However, never make your children think that they are “righteous” because they keep a certain set of standards. We are “righteous” because of Jesus Christ. He alone can make us righteous. That is a wonderful truth. We always give our children permission to ask about our standards and we always promised an honest answer. Some of our standards are just our preferences and have nothing at all to do with the Bible! We are honest about that! My Bethlie and I have found that if we model a loving, gentle, Christlike spirit in our standards, and if we continually teach and talk, we are able to influence our children to do the same! May God give you wisdom as you raise those children and as you seek to please Christ. Thank you so much for reading!

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    • You have never heard of standards being a problem in 15 years because it is not based upon Biblical principles. This entire article is devoid of Scriptural backing. Biblical Standards will never divide true Christians, but rather unify. Following Biblical standards will never destroy true personal joy, but rather increase it. Following Biblical Standard will never discourage us because of the standard itself. Following Biblical Standards will never diminish our Christlikeness as Christ himself has set the Biblical standard and followed them throughout his ministry and has commanded us to do likewise. The only issue that causes problems with standards is that often Christians mistakenly conclude that one with standards is spiritual. Standards will not make one spiritual, however, spirituality will produce the standards as one walks and fellowships with Christ.

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      • Hello Mike: Thanks for reading my blog and for commenting. I know what you are saying, but I do gently disagree with you. The problems I listed as “cans” are all problems that I have seen in others and experienced myself. And please know that I am not against standards. I have more than most do! Lots more in fact! I have seen people with Biblical standards divide from other people with Biblical standards over those Biblical standards. I have seen people with Biblical standards get them out of line and become critical and harsh and lose their joy. All of us know of people who had the ultimate in “high” standards who were apparently not very Christlike as evidenced by the fact that they ended up in jail for molestation. And they even preached hard about their standards and called you out if you didn’t have any. So, it it is possible to follow Biblical Standards and not be Christlike. You and I both agree on the last one – at least to a certain extent. The question that line raises, however, is simply this: if spirituality will produce the standards as one walks and fellowships with Christ, is the one spiritual before they had the standards or only after? The answer to that question has very interesting logical and Scriptural implications. At any rate, I am honored you would read the blog and take the time to think out loud in your comment. I trust that you will also continue to see the Lord and grow in Him. Your sincere friend, Dave

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      • Once again we disagree, which as I mentioned in another post, is really irrelevant. What is relevant is does God agree, and does His Word support the view. You would assert that God given commands(A Biblical Standard) cause division amongst true Christians? I would contend otherwise. I do not see any Scriptural backing for your claim, but rather many to the contrary. I see multiple verses demanding separation from the wicked. I see multiple commands of God to have Biblical standards. I see multiple verses commanding Christians to use discernment on who they associate with.
        You would contend that a standard caused a division. I would contend rather the sheep separated themselves from the goats. You would assert that it is bad when 2 saved split company over Biblical standard, and I would contend that 1 is standing upon the Word of God and following the command of God not to have close fellowship with believers living in open sin. Thing is your whole article asserts that standards cause separation amongst believers, and that Scripturally is not the case. Biblical standards, that are in fact Biblical, can be used as tools to separate the spiritual from the carnal Christian. Separation from the carnal Christian is a Biblical Command I Corinthians 5:11. Never have 2 spiritual men split over a Biblical standard. When 2 are agreed they are in harmony. Biblical standard will bring harmony amongst the spiritual. If 2 are not agreed then only 1 has the Biblical standard the other a man made standard or neither standard is Biblical.
        As put forth one who is spiritual will have standards. If they don’t have the standards then they would not be spiritual as spirituality will produce simultaneously the standards. You would assert, it seems, that it is possible to be one who is spiritual yet live in open defiance to God This stance has absolutely no founding in the Word of God. Spirituality and standards go hand in hand, as spirituality grows so will the closer ones standard align with the word of God. One will not, can not, and does not grow spiritually without bending his will to the will of the heavenly Father.

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      • Mike, why would you think I would disagree with I Corinthians 5:11? I certainly agree we should not eat with a believer who is a fornicator, who is covetous, who is an idolater, who is a railer, a drunkard, or an extortioner. People who are engaged in these matters are not breaking standards, per se, but are actually living in sin against God. That would be quite different from someone whose music standards or dress standards or facial hair standards differ from mine. -Dave

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      • I can see you have deleted my post with multiple Scriptures showing that there is in fact no Biblical basis for your article. That is your prerogative as it is your blog and God will hold you accountable for those led astray with unbiblical teachings. I would ask that you ask yourself these questions before I leave, concerning the issue. Why is it I can write entire blog on a topic that is supposedly Bible based in theology yet cannot offer up 1 verse to back said theory. Am I ready to accept that many Christians will now lower their standards or cease standing for God as a direct result of my theory. Lastly, why is it I delete post that challenge me to prove Biblical truths when as a Christian I am called to stand for truth.
        I don’t personally know your or your church, and the only reason I even bothered is because I personally know folks corrupted by this unbiblical article. Individuals very dear to me who are living in open sin and used you unbiblical article as basis for continuing in their open defiance of God, condemning those who would attempt to lead them into the right path. Hoping against hope you were simply a poor writer and did not in fact believe such I am saddened to find you in fact do. I would encourage you to think carefully before continuing along the path that you have now entered for it is dangerous ground upon which you now tread. I pray you give serious thought before you as a pastor steer your church down such path and become another community club devoid of the power of God.

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      • Actually Mike, you are wrong. No one deleted your post. I have to approve all posts and because I have a family and a ministry and many responsibilities, I only check on the blog a few minutes every other day or so. I don’t know you nor do I know the situation you are talking about. I think you somehow missed the fact that my article is FOR standards. I have them, and for all I know, mine is likely higher than yours. My warning of potential problems actually seems to be proved by the situation you are referencing and by your own spirit in the above comments (I am saying that gently because perhaps your tone is different than it comes across in the above statements). I hope it is. May I suggest that someone who is living in open sin and in defiance to God will not be changed by agreeing to adopt your standards, my standards, or even the Bible standards. They have a heart problem and not a standard problem. The Pharisees were like that. They had all the standards one could possibly have but “were inwardly full of dead mens bones.” Standards will not fix a person who is living in open sin. It will take more than standards to repair that. At any rate, I still suggest that you may miss the part of my blog that defends and believes in standards. Please feel free to email me if you would like to discuss this matter further. I will answer as I have time to do so. And consider reading part two that will be posted in a day or so! -Dave

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  3. Excellent article!!!! Absolutely loved it and have always wondered or more like have been grieved at the critical spirit of others in this area. It’s like it’s all or nothing! I have learned so much about what not to do, or how not to treat others as they are growing in the Lord! Thanks!

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  4. The Lord wants us to be a peculiar people. We are not to look or act like the world. In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord tells us not to learn the way of the heathen. As a saved woman, my Lord wants me to look and be feminine. That is the way He created Eve. I am not to wear that which pertaineth to a man because it is an abomination! The music that I listen to should not have a rockn roll beat like most music called “Christian” these days. My body is the temple of God. He most certainly cares about what I wear, what I listen to, how I wear my hair, where I go, the people that I fellowship with, what version of the Bible I read. There is only one Word of God, and that is the King James Bible. The Bible is full of standards. Applying these standards, biblical truths to our lives will help us to have a closer walk with the Lord. Walking with Jesus requires that we live holy lives, separated from the world, set apart for Him. “They were first called Christians at Antioch”. We are to purify ourselves as we see His second coming approaching. The Lord did not have long hair or facial hair. Why do believers want to ride the fence? Living for the Lord takes sacrifice. Saying no to the world is not easy but it is the right thing to do. The Lord has standards for men and women. He made us to look different from each other and when we as believers decide that standards don’t matter or standards can become a problem for us, we are getting pretty close to corrupting God’s way. We are to be separated from the world and sanctified to God. There is only one way, one truth, one life and the Lord shows us this in His infallible Word. Why would He bother to preserve His word? Every Word of God is pure. It is our Standard!

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    • Lorina: I understand why you would have many of the positions you mentioned above, but I am not sure on what you would base your teaching that Jesus did not have facial hair. History would show that Jewish men wore beards (even Bible history – Aaron as in Psa 133:2). Isaiah 50:6 would indicate that Jesus did too. Is that a position you base on a specific passage?

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    • I have been where you are spiritually, concerning the keeping of standards. The problem with such an attitude is that your standards have become a measure of righteousness, even if it is not the foundation of it. When I realized how much I was hurting myself and my family, it took a lot of prayer and grace from the Lord to give me a change of heart and love those who may not hold the same standards I did. I still have my standards, but they are no longer my focus. And oddly, my mi istry has grown. Ive been more effective as a witness because ive been less judgmental, and I’ve been more helpful as a mentor and discipler because I can better relate to someone where they are to help them to grow closer to where they should be.

      2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

      And I don’t see how you can say some of the things you do: Jesus had his beard plucked from his face. Isaiah 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

      Also, if the King James Version is the only Bible, what about other languages? Do they not have the word of God in German, Spanish, Korean, etc.?

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      • Zac comparing ourselves with others is unwise. However, do not confuse comparing our lifestyle and others lifestyle with what the Bible commands as one in the same. I am not the standard, the word of God is. If another fails to follow the word of God then that person is living in sin. No one is perfect, but scripturally there is a difference between a sin of failure where Satan defeats you and a sin of willingness in which you no longer care and choose to continue In sin. Christ commands us to judge with love and to separate ourselves from close fellowship with those who refuse to live according to His guidelines set forth in His word.I Corinthians 5:11.

        As pertaining to the KJV do some research on how the KJV was translated. Do some more research on how these other false translation were done. Do a research comparing key verses between them. Look into the qualifications of the men who did the translations. Once done with a through investigation you will have no doubt as to why the KJV is the Bible preserved for God’s people in the English speaking language. If you have the time to learn greek then that will also clear up some of the reason the KJV is the version which God preserved for us.

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  5. I really appreciate your take on this issue. As I have grown and been through various trials in life, I have found my ideas of standards to have shifted considerably. Rather than focusing on what clothing a person is wearing, or movies they watch, what ink they have or don’t have on/in their skin, I listen to the way they talk about others. Do they give the benefit of the doubt, or do they assume they know someone’s motives for certain actions, words, or even inaction? Do they speak in a forgiving way, do they acknowledge that they are not God, having only a portion of the story in any given situation? These are the ‘standards’ which I choose to use when assessing if a person “grieves” me (another word for offense), or whether I feel safe with them. And yeah, I walk out of a church and don’t return if the focus is heavy on the condemnation–I’ve had enough of that and don’t see it in the Bible so I don’t think I should see it in the body of Christ.

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  6. I am often amazed how Christ brought together 12 men who all had different standards, personalities, struggles, etc. He knew that in this life we would need to be surrounded by other people and not just those who are like us!

    Your ability to challenge people without making them feel inferior is amazing!

    Thank you for taking time to show the dangers of standards all while showing their importance!

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  7. This is so true, thank you for taking the time to put this into a much needed article.

    Do we live for Christ or to the expectations of man?

    God bless you, Phil 4:4

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  8. Great explanation and understanding of a topic that can be so controversial….may I be known by my relationship with my God foremost and not my relationship with standards!

    I come from a background where standards are often more important that the heart or one’s personal walk with Christ. As a result standards became the “proof” of spirituality as the greatest defining feature of growth. If you did not match up with these standards exactly, your salvation may even be questioned. For years I lived with either a “holier than thou” attitude because I had “higher” standards with those around me, or the other extreme, I struggled because I could never quite meet the standards set by others which were not my own. When preferences take precedence over the Word of God, spiritual struggle is inevitable.

    Reminds me of a message I heard in Bible college differentiating between standards and convictions and how often those two words are misused. The speaker explains how “convictions” are those clearly drawn and undisputable lines in scripture and “standards” are based off those convictions. While convictions are unchanging Bible truths, standards can differ within those convictions according to the individual. One can only separate on the issue of standards so much, even from other Christians until there is no one left, and that is certainly not going to be an option in heaven!

    So yes, standards are important but they are not the main goal or focus of my life. First Corinthians 13 can be applied to this area as one can have all the “spiritual i”s and “t”s crossed,” but without love, those standards mean nothing! Thank you Brother Young for your testimony and desire to live the Word you preach!

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  9. I have never considered standards a problem or a burden.
    1. That which is borne or carried; a load. Hence,
    2. That which is borne with labor or difficulty; that which is grievous, wearisome
    or oppressive.

    To me, it is a joy to honour God by implementing standards when his commands and principles are revealed. To say they are a problem or a burden doesn’t seem right to me.
    I hear a lot of talk that people with standards look down on others who don’t have their standards. They say those with high standards are not loving and kind. I have not encountered that at all. In my experience, the people with higher standards are the most loving, caring, humble Christians I know. The Christians with low standards or those who have dropped their standards are the ones who trash talk those with high standards. They call them legalistic and Pharisees.

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    • Hello Penny: Thanks for your comment. Acts 15 is where the early church leaders called standards “a necessary burden,” and I borrowed the idea for my blog. I believe it is wrong for Christians to trash talk those with higher standards and vice versa. I think that may be why Jesus placed so much emphasis on our loving one another (John 13-17). Because of the nature of our ministry, God had to really grow us in order for us to do this (and we are still growing). I serve with and love some who are much more strict than I am and I serve with and love some who are far less strict than I am. We love each other and encourage each other and can even discuss our differences kindly and graciously and still love each other. I appreciate all those in my life who exemplify this matter and wish I were better at it myself. I am continually seeking the fruit of the Spirit in my life so that I can! Again, thanks for reading and for commenting. Your sincere friend, Dave

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  10. Great article and gracious understanding of what can be such a controversial topic….may I be known for my relationship with my God foremost and not my relationship with standards!

    I came from background where personal standards or preferences were often held on the same level as Scripture. The result was either years of pride because of my “higher standards,” or struggling because I did not meet the exact standards of those around me which I did not have personally. Standards often defined where you were spiritually and were considered the basis for growth. This high-pressured environment lead to outward conformity with little to no heart change since standards are not an equivalent to a life-changing relationship with Christ.

    When you understand the balance as this article, you know both the importance of standards yet the place they have in the Christian life. Reminds me of a message I heard in Bible college clarifying the difference between standards and convictions. Convictions were those undisputable, unchanging principles in the Bible while standards were the personal applications of a conviction. So while standards may differ, they are still based within those concrete convictions.

    May we be gracious in our personal application of standards and mindful of the standards of others as well. One can only separate so much from even other Christians before there is no one else to separate from and that’s certainly not going to be an option in heaven!

    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity….and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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  11. you nailed it! I used to live thinking my spirituality is based on WHAT I DO!-Wrong it is 100% based on the finished Holy work of CHRIST!

    What helped me was Colosians 2:6 “AS ye have therefore recieved Christ Jesus the Lord; so walk ye in Him” did u trust in your works? the words of your PRAYER? or 100% trust Jesus through the prayer?
    I can do a prayer (which can be called a “physical work” but NOT TRUST/DEPEND on it.

    The moment you and I trust in WHAT WE DO! Christ’s Death Burial and Resurrection and Him as OUR LIFE-is WORTHLESS. So lets not push on Christians to FOCUS or LOOK on Standards or how you r running the “christian life” (Hebrews 12:1&2) which is btw FLESH, LOOK and REST in Jesus’ Live 100% and you will see standards in your life that is LED by Him and His words.

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  12. Thank you great article. I agree, our standards can get in the way of loving our neighbors
    I believe standards are very important, but we need to be careful to teach others and our selfs God’s standards are the ones that are important.

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  13. Excellent article. I want to translate it into Spanish for our ladies meeting. BTW Dave i remember you from Pensacola Christian College. I was a student there and graduated in 1993. My name is Yolanda Thompson from Chile, South America. In fact I still live here.

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  14. Can one be a true Christian and still have poor standards? Do Biblical standards separate true Christians In the last few days I have heard several sermons indicating that you can and they do. I ask, is this in fact true? Does the Bible support this new concept that many preachers are bantering about?

    To start with let us lay down what exactly is meant by the term, Biblical standard. A Biblical standard is not a standard of preference or conscience. It is a standard laid down because there is irrefutable doctrinal support for it in the scriptures. For instance, if one believes men’s hair should go no further than the top of his ear and another contends it should go no further than the bottom you have a standard of preference. On the other hand there are many other standards that should be common place amongst true Christians, and I will name a couple.

    Modesty- The Bible clearly states in Exodus 24:82 & Isaiah 47:1-3 that the thigh is nakedness. It also commands us to be modest in I Timothy 2:9 and repeatedly refers to the shame of revealing our nakedness to others throughout Scripture. Hence if one has set the standard that it is a sin not to at least go soul winning frequently and to not frequently mentor other baby christians, he has set a Biblical standard. If ones standard fall short of this he has set an unbiblical standard.

    Spiritual service-In Matt 28:18-20 the Bible clearly records a direct command of God telling us to win the lost and then train them. All throughout Scripture this is reiterated over and over again that a Christian is to be actively trying to win souls, spreading the gospel, and mentoring baby Christians. Hence if one has set the standard that it is sin not at a minimum he is going to soul win consistently and mentoring on a consistent basis other baby Christians. He has set a Biblical standard, and if ones standard fall short of this he has set an unbiblical standard.

    The Scriptures literally have 100’s of areas I could list that show clear, decisive Biblical Standards. Issues such as movies, amusement parks, music, relationships, alcohol, and so on. All clearly defined in Scripture as to where the Biblical Standard is to lie, and honestly I don’t think most struggle to see where they lie it’s simply a matter of accepting what they are and applying them in their personal lives.

    Let’s tackle this 1st concept 1st. In that last few days I have heard several preachers put forth that one can have a spiritual inner man and yet display poor Biblical Standards. Is this true? Does the Scripture support such? Is this even logical? I would contend “no” on all accounts, but does my opinion really matter? Let us go to the Scriptures on this one. In Matt 23:27-28 we see Jesus condemning the Pharisees for their outward actions but poor inner spiritual man. I Sam 16:7 we see again God looking past the pleasing outward and on the inward man. We can see the Biblically that the outward man can be in line but the inward man corrupt. However, does the Scripture support the opposite? Prov 23:7 tells us that as a man thinks so is he. John 14:26 tells us the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. Matt 6:24 tells us a man can only have one master. John 15:5 speaks of abiding in Christ with us being the branches. John 1:12 tells us the saved have become the children of God. All through the Scriptures we see that the inner man is what God looks upon yet man looks upon the outward. All through the Scriptures we see that God wants to have a loving and good relationship with his children. All through the Scriptures we see the principle that what’s on the inside will come out. So can scripturally one continue throughout life with unbiblical standards and yet be spiritual on the inside? No, of course not, certainly one can be disciplined and have standards yet be spiritually dead. However, if one is in fact spiritually thriving he will be walking with God, enjoying fellowship as intended with his heavenly father. Can one have a thriving fellowship with his earthly father yet reject his teachings? No, they cannot. Can a Christian continually break the commands and guidelines of God and expect God to bless them? No, they cannot. Will God draw near and bless those who continually deny his teachings? No, he will chasten them to draw them back to Him. Scripturally, if a man is spiritual on the inside then the fruit of such will be evident on the outside. Not because he has “Standards” but because he loves God so much and enjoys such sweet fellowship with him that he will live a life according to the word of God simply because he wants to. Nowhere in Scripture do you find this new teaching that a man can be “Spiritual” yet sinful.

    Now on to the 2nd question, do Biblical standard separate true Christians? I believe this has already been answered in the 1st portion. No, true Christians are not separated by Biblical standards because they are not living by a simple set of Standards. True Christian’s are living Christ centered lives which means they have placed God’s Word as the standard by which they live their lives. There is harmony and single mindedness that gives them sweet fellowship with each other. However, Standards do separate the true Christian from the saved and wayward man. Certainly standards cause separation in our churches today. Why? Because hypocrisy and mediocracy are the norm. Woe to the man who gets a hold of God and seeks to stand for righteousness. Woe to the woman who follows the Biblical standard of modesty. Woe to the youth who believes in faithful service. Yes, standards do separate and so be it. I Corinthians 6:17 say come out from among them and be ye separate. Luke 12:51 God says he came to divide. I Peter 2:9 Says we are a peculiar people. Yes, the standards followed by the truly spiritual will bring division, and separation. Not separation between Christians but separation between the Spiritual and the simply saved. Churches across our nation are filled with spiritually dead, decrepit, lazy Christians who feel they are spiritual because they fill a pew. The Scriptures are clear, the Spiritual will soul win. The spiritual will be modest. The spiritual will mentor. The spiritual won’t partake in sinful movies and music. The spiritual will not straddle fences. The Spiritual will take a pay cut to be faithful to church. The Spiritual will take a stand for righteousness. The Spiritual will live by the standards of God simply because they want to, and not simply because they set a standard.

    This newfangled teaching is simply heresy, straight out of the pits of Hell. Do not be deceived, fellow Christian, we are called to be separated from the world. So be it, if the churches have become so spiritually weak and sin laden that the truly spiritual must be separated even from the fellow saved because the saved are yoked with the world. Let not others sin dissuade you. Let not the cold heartedness and spiritual deadness of fellow Christians weaken you. Make a choice, may it be said of you as Paul put it. That you have done all to stand. Let it be said of your house as Joshua put it, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. Do not believe the lie of Satan that one can be right with God yet openly defy the laws of God. Stand firm, stand separated, and if you must, stand alone. Seek God above all else and follow his laws, and if by such you cause separation and division. Then so be it.

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  15. I appreciate your strong stand in defense of godly standards over the years, but I think that you may have made a mistake by not distinguishing between whether your list of problems applies to both standards derived from God and those derived from men or just to those derived from men. I started to write an explanation in this comment section, but it was so long that I just posted it on my blog instead. I hope that you have time to read it at: http://www.increasinglearning.com/blog/standards

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    • Hello Bro. Fortenberry: Thanks for your comment and thanks for drawing attention to the difference in how different standards can be approached differently and can make a difference as well. I appreciate your thoughts very much. It would be very true that “man-derived” standards and “God-commanded” ones should be differentiated. I will be following up my blog later addressing that very matter. I have thought through Acts 15-16 where these matters were addressed in the local churches of the first century and will also be discussing that in a coming blog. Thanks for your writing. Your blog has a ton of great material! Your sincere friend, Dave

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  16. Thank you for this post. I’ve been there, where devotion to my standards limited my abilities as a Christian because they took a higher priority than my love toward God and toward his children.

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  17. What I gleaned from this article is that standards are good, we should have them, but we should beware that they do not cause us to unknowingly become pharisaical. With that I wholeheartedly agree having observed it too often.

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  18. This is a well thought out and well written post. Thank you for shooting straight. Just want to add that “becoming like Jesus” can also turn into it’s own sort of self-righteousness standard. When the “law of being good like __________” (fill in the blank with any good or great person, including Jesus) we can and often do project our “best self” onto them as an alternative to locating the “best self” directly on the me-self. The idol of self whether centered in the “me” or in the “fave admired person” is still a problem.

    So that said I don’t want to be all negative. I do think Jesus is a good example, but impossible to match. Thus, instead how about “Christ IN me, Christ THRU me”?

    In this way I am not pursuing an example, but living by giving. The doctrine of *Union with Christ* has taught me so much in this regard. I am learning to see that grace, gospel grace, sacrificial grace, union with Christ grace, is not something I need to live up to, but I am free to live out to and for others. Big diff. I am not a convict on parole who must be a good boy, but rather I am a guilty man, now made innocent and permanently set free IN Christ, I am now free to have Christ who is IN me be himself to others THRU me with liberality, with fidelity and with creativity. I am free to be what I should be because I have been set free. I want to be.

    Thanks again. Grace and Peace.

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  19. This is an article that may teach or set people looking for reasons to join or do something which their flesh is wanting to do like u said to have wisdom and knowledge while reading this article. Thanks for this and I wanted to say something on the long hair Issue this standard I don’t know but is the scriptures that point out that Jesus said that men that have long hair will not get to heaven. Or men who make bredlocks this short hair standard is is such a boma hug.

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  20. Brother Young, my husband and I are missionaries, and we have dealt with these issues for years. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for bringing this to light. Your article was very needed, and you speak for so many of us who really have no voice in the matter. I know you, as an evangelist, have seen what we do, as we travel around to hundreds of churches. One church says women should not wear pants, but their music may be a little more liberal. Another church says music has to be very conservative, but their women can wear pants. So who is right? Both are very good churches with people who love God. And that is only two of the MANY issues we deal with as missionaries. If we don’t fall in line exactly with what the church believes, often times we don’t get their support. This is one reason why it takes so long for missionaries to get to the field. And if you dare change your mind on anything, you get dropped! You also lose good friends who think you have gone liberal. I pray that your article opens the hearts and minds of people who have given in to letting these standards and issues rule their lives and churches. Let us let the love of Christ rule us!

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  21. …wow Dave, there’s a lot going on in these comments here, huh. I’m keenly aware of your allusion to your ‘ 1st job ‘ & its standards(having spent time there undergrad & postgrad & on staff there before my military time the past 10+ years)…. & NOW those standards are a changing so much w/the new prez & such. But, as time passes all standards WILL change like languages break down naturally w/time. I remember the preacher boys class at our alma mater. When I was a freshman — wow, what a bunch of great God-filled excited men in our class who didn’t have to record Christian service they would do & no requirements for the class- but things changed & at 1st it felt like the standard bar was getting raised… but, did it? (that would be an interesting thing to argue here) …suffice it to say, standards, they tend to break down, entropize…. IN ACTUALITY, the real deal, truth fact of the matter is that standards are different with every institution man has set up, in every part of the world, country, or even the STATE, church, or college/university you may find yourself in here in just our country, let alone in the world!!! In America, certain styles of music are considered anathema in churches, but you goto Africa or Afghanistan & you will find Christians dress, music styles, food, drink, etc all are radically different & acceptable — but that doesn’t make those Christians carnal or even or bad/evil of whom you should separate yourself from, now does it? I found your 4th point the most salient in this topic : Standards can divide us from Godly believers & from the ones AROUND US who need Christ. THE REAL QUESTION ABOUT STANDARDS IS BEST PUT THIS WAY — How do my standards affect my effectiveness for Christ to those I am trying to reach ? With that said, everyone needs to realize that Christ was lovingly sent to just the Jews, God’s chosen people & they had a set of standards HE DEFINITELY SEEMED TO BUCK AGAINST… yes some of those standards were wrong & put there in the evil priests & Saducees & Pharisees attempt to lord over the people in ways they should never have & that God had never intended with the insititution of the Mosaic law…but the law was to protect the Jews & help them realize they need God & the Messiah — today, standards are not serving that purpose, because Jesus has come & fulfilled the law, & prophecies to those whom the standards were set up for : the chosen people, the Jews. STANDARDS FOR US SHOULD SIMPLY BE TO HELP US EFFECTIVELY AFFECT THOSE TO WHOM WE ARE REACHING IN OUR WORLD GOD HAS PUT US IN. ‘Be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord’ is way more important than being stiffnecked & sticklers with our standards for our ‘members only’ club of whatever church or Christian so-called organization we are a member of…. GENERALLY, CHRISTIANS WHO ARE ENAMOURED WITH ARGUING ABOUT STANDARDS ARE TOO BUSY ARGUING ABOUT STANDARDS & SHOULD GET BUSY DOING WHAT GOD COMMANDED THEM TO DO, IF THEY REALLY LOVE HIM THAT IS…..feed his sheep & lambs.

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  22. Pingback: The Potential of Standards – Part 2 in a Series | The Dave Young Blog

  23. I respect your family and preaching, and have been greatly blessed by your ministry. With deepest respect, I have to suggest that it may have been better to not start a series on standards with “the problems.” This article was published online for a couple of weeks before a follow up article, and thus caused confusion for many, and gave fodder to those who would like to justify their unbiblical lifestyles. I notice that those people are not commenting on, liking, or sharing your second article on standards…they jumped on the first one and ran with it.

    May I submit that the problem isn’t the standards. Looking at the state of churches in our country, the problem is people have thrown out the standards! No respect for God’s holiness and how it should change their lifestyles.

    While I agree with the potential for fleshly attitudes like those you articulate here, the real problem is the motives and hearts behind the standards. My love for Jesus should determine my standards. A love for Jesus and standards go together. We can’t have one without the other!

    I understand you have seen examples of people who have the standards without the love, but the answer is not “love” without the standards. We are deceiving ourselves if our “love for Jesus” doesn’t change the way we live!

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    • Hello “concerned” – thanks for writing. I understand your sentiments. However giving standards to people who don’t love Jesus will not make them love Jesus. This first article was written for those of us who “emphasize” standards. We have to confront the “problem(s)” because the problems I listed have the potential to lead us into error all the while we are fighting to have standards. That potential error is of great concern to me because it can hinder the cause of revival and evangelism. As you would appear to know, I am not and never have been an enemy of Biblical standards. Thanks for commenting, Dave

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