Question:

Is it true that if you don't know if something is a sin that you should not do it if it makes you feel convicted? So what is the difference between feeling guilty or feeling convicted?

Sometimes I put a lot of thought into something that I bought. I bought the entire collection of a television series. I never felt guilty for watching it but recently I have felt as if God might be displeased for me buying all the seasons. Like I'm doing something bad to myself for owning the shows. I don't let this show influence me into something bad. I feel like if God won't answer my prayers or as if I'm less acceptable to His eyes for watching it. I don't feel horrible about it, but I do think about it a lot. When I watch it I don't feel guilty at all. I just put a lot of thought into it, you know? Is it my conscience or is it just me over worrying? So is it a sin for me watching it? Is God trying to tell me through my conscience that I should not buy these types of movies or shows? Or am I thinking too much about it?


Answer:

I believe you are referring to: "It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:21-23).

The context is about how to handle people who have strong religious convictions when they convert to Christianity. For example, Jewish people grow up their whole lives avoiding eating pork. Christianity teaches that all meat is equal. It would be hard for a Jewish Christian to make the transition. Or a Gentile Christian could have always seen meat as connected to idolatry because that was the only place where meat was cheap. It would be hard to remind himself that idols are nothing after rejecting them.

The rules are that Christians are to avoid causing offense to new Christians and new Christians are to avoid taking offense when they are still learning. If something you are doing doesn't offend your religious beliefs, then you have nothing to be concerned about -- assuming you aren't sinning out of ignorance. If you firmly believe something should not be done because of your religious beliefs or if you aren't certain, then you should not do it until you are certain that it is all right. In other words, you don't follow the crowd; you do things because you know it is right.

This passage isn't about feelings. It is about what you know to be right or wrong. What you currently know could be wrong because you weren't taught correctly in the past. But the general rule is that you stick to what you know until you are confident that you now learned differently.

In this case, it isn't a matter of religious conviction. You can't state clearly that there is some law of God that you are breaking. It more appears that you have feelings of guilt because you are enjoying something you know is merely temporary. It appears to me that you are just over thinking matters.