Week 25
Day 169
The Gray Area Principles: Navigating in the Fog

Navigating in the FogI looked for a good “fog” picture on the internet, but they were all blurry (sounds like something Yogi Berra would say). I’m laughing with a deep belly laugh at how goofy I must have looked this past autumn as a friend and I attempted to motor our way out of Barden’s Inlet in dense fog without onboard GPS. Picture the typical North Carolina backwaters—poles with channel markers doing their job, with LOTS of shallow water EVERYWHERE else, and we motor right into a fog bank. He’s on the front of the boat warning me of shallow water, and I’m driving while watching my depth finder read from 20 feet to 2 feet with NO CLUE which direction to steer the boat! Visibility was down to maybe 50 feet, I was listening for other boats with the engine on near idle, and I was looking back and forth from channel side to channel side. If someone had recorded our voyage, our path would have looked like a heart monitor! A trip that normally would have taken 5 minutes took 45 and when we finally motored out of the cloud, we were NOWHERE near where we thought we should be! Good times…

You know where this is going… this REALLY describes life sometimes! Fortunately, as a believer, you’ve got Onboard GPS and a “breadcrumb trail” others have taken that you can follow. Most of the time, LIFE FOG is no problem for a believer – this is where we shine on the stage of life. After all, we have a Big God who wrote the script for the future so He knows where we are and where we are going. He holds us by our right hand (Psalm 73)! He never leaves us, and promises to be with us always, “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We have a cloud of witnesses cheering us on, and we have a church full of folks who love us and are willing to counsel us in all areas of life (and believe me – they’ve all been in the fog before too). 

But, God has certain parts of His training that require you to navigate in the fog without GPS. There are going to be some days where you don’t know “where you are” spiritually speaking. God lets you purposely move into waters and conditions that TOTALLY disorient you! This is by design. Relax – cast all your care upon Him (1 Peter 5:7) and enjoy the ride – it will be a lot slower! The next few days are about embracing some scriptural principles for navigating in the fog. Just a note: if you are not paying attention and being obedient to the CLEAR teachings of Scripture, you don’t need the material we’re about to cover! The channel markers are clear to see – stay in the channel! There is danger outside the clearly defined paths God has marked out for us, and if you’re choosing to run wild then this material will be of no help. Rather, the “Gray Area” principles are for those few times in life where you are in the fog and TRULY want the perfect will of God. He’s in the fog with you… good times!

When life’s fog shows up, just remember these numbers… 6, 8, 10, 14. Let’s start with the 6 today. Corinth was a wild town, immoral, multi-cultural, sailors and prostitutes, religious and secular, wealth and poverty, knowledge and stupidity all wrapped up on a rocky spit of land between two major shipping channels. The church there was as fragmented as the culture. It had to be one of the messiest congregations Paul had ever worked with, and there were lots of “gray areas” and fog banks that the Corinthian believers found themselves in. Paul certainly didn’t want to pull out the old Jewish playbook (Jewish culture was such a clash and such a move backward for Corinth). So Paul developed some clear principles for the Corinthians to follow as they moved through the “gray areas” of life. 1 Corinthians 6:12 is the first:


“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”


“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’­—but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.”


“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” 


“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 


“Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not allow anything to control me.” 


“Someone may say, ‘I’m allowed to do anything,’ but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won’t allow anything to gain control over my life.” 


“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

In the original text, there is a play on the word “lawful” and “brought under the power of.” Paul was stating a very clear principle when it comes to behaviors we might be tempted to enter into. Let’s unpack this verse by using an illustration which will be clear to all of us. Let’s say someone discovers a plant that is common in our native landscape to be a mild hallucinogen similar to marijuana. It can be chewed or smoked with the same effect. There are no laws on the books that say “not” to use it. Lots of people are “doing it.” What do you do? 

According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:12 even though God made all things (including our little native plant example), not everything is helpful or beneficial. Does consuming this plant HELP ME or HINDER ME? On the other side of the coin, can I CONSUME IT without it CONSUMING ME with addiction? Paul wanted NOTHING to take hold of his will except Christ. Addiction causes a division in allegiance.  

Take a few activities or behaviors from our own culture and run it through this little test above. Report your results. Pick activities or behaviors that the Bible IS NOT CLEAR on (Watching TV, Texting, Wearing Gortex, etc…):

Memory Verses
Primary Verse:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.

1 Corinthians 6:12
Secondary Verse:

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14:21, 23
Copyright 2014 Pinedale Christian Church
Back to Essentials Page