Roy E. Cogdill
The third principle is this: Does it have a weakening influence on others, and will it become a stumbling block to them? A lot of people say to me, "I do not care what others think about what I do." If you care what is right, and you are a Christian, then you do care what they think, because you care what the affect of what you do is upon another. Paul taught that if a man can eat meat that has been sacrificed unto idols, and it did not violate his conscience, then it was not wrong for him to eat it. He could eat it with a good conscience, nothing wrong involved in it. Yet if when he ate that meat he caused another brother to stumble and violate his conscience, by so doing it would be wrong for him to do it. Let me read the passage. The word of God is plain on it if we can simply get it before us. In 1 Cor. 10, I read from the 23rd verse. The Apostle Paul said, "All things are lawful; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no man seek his own, but each his neighbors good. Whatever is sold in the shambles, eat, asking no question for conscience sake; for the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, If one of them that believe not biddeth you to a feast, and ye are disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake: conscience, I say, not thine own, but the others; for why is my liberty judged by another conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give no occasion of stumbling, either to Jews or to Greeks, or to the church of God: even as I also please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved." (1 Cor. 10:23-23)
Paul said, "I am not talking about my own conscience, but the conscience of the other. Do not lead the other man to offend his own conscience." Now turn with me back to 1 Cor. 8, this time verse 7: "Howbeit there is not in all men that knowledge: but some, being used until now to the idol, eat as of a thing sacrificed unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not condemn us unto God: if we eat not, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better." It is a matter of indifference. You do not have to do it. You are not any better if you do it, or any worse if you do not do it. It is a matter of utter indifference. You are at liberty to eat it if it doesnt violate your conscience, but do not let this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. "For if any man see thee which hath knowledge sit at meat in the idols temple, shall not the conscience of him that is with thee be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols?" He will see you eating, and he will say, "There is a man that knows. Maybe I am wrong when I think that it is wrong to eat meat, and I will just go ahead and eat it because my brother is eating it." You embolden and encourage him to violate his own conscience by your example. That is what he is talking about. "Through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish for whom Christ died." When you sin so against the brethren, and would weaken their conscience, you sin against Christ: "Wherefore," (here is the way a Christian feels about a thing like that) "If meat causes my brother to offend, I will eat no more meat while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." Now that passage is often misapplied. It doesnt mean what a lot of people try to make it mean. A lot of people try to make that passage mean this: We will just use Brother Moody for an example. Well say that Brother W. S. Moody thinks it is wrong to chew gum. Some people do. I knew a preacher one time that did. We will say that he does. I think it is all right. It would be wrong for Brother Moody to chew it. He thinks it is wrong, that is the only reason why it would be wrong. There is no other principle involved in it, but it would be wrong for him because he would violate his conscience if he did it. It would be all right for me, because it would not violate mine. But if I chewed gum before Brother Moody, setting an example, and he looked at me and said: "Now there is Brother Cogdill. He is chewing gum. I think it is wrong to chew gum, but I do not know, I guess if he does I can, and he ought to know." So with a question in his heart he goes right ahead and chews gum. I have lead him to violate his conscience, havent I? I have lead him to do the thing that he is not persuaded is right. I have lead him to violate his conscience. The Bible teaches that is a sin. Who is the cause of it? I am. By my example. That is what Paul is talking about here. I cannot afford to lead another brother into sin. But here is the way a lot of people want to apply that thing. They say, "Now Brother Moody thinks it is wrong to chew gum. If you chew gum he will become offended at you. He will take offense at your chewing gum, therefore you cannot chew gum because Brother Moody thinks it is wrong for you to chew gum, and he will become offended if you do." That is not what the passage teaches. It does not say to "offend"; it says, "cause my brother to offend." To offend what? To offend his own conscience by doing the thing, by following the example I have set. That is what the passage is teaching, Otherwise, it would make a God out of every crank on earth, wouldnt it? If you just had to quit doing things because somebody thought you ought not do it, and that is what the passage teaches, then it makes a God out of every crank in the country, and you would have to go around trying to please people wherever you went. You just could not live a Christian life on that basis.
But you cannot afford by your example to lead another to offend his own conscience. So I cannot by exercising my liberty in the chewing of gum, I cannot afford to encourage Brother Moody to do it in violation of his conscience. Now I might be able to teach him, and show him that it is not wrong, that there isnt any principle involved in it, and help him to become strong where he is weak in that respect, so that he might engage in it. That might be different. That would be a different proposition. But as long as his conscience is weakened, as long as he violates his conscience in doing it, if I lead him by my example to go ahead and do the thing, thinking that it is wrong, violating his own conscience when he does it, I have led him into sin, That is what the Bible teaches about it. I am telling you what Paul said about it, and it applies to anything, I dont care what the example is, whether it applies to chewing gum, or anything else. It does not make any difference. Let me give you for sake of clarity on that point, and forgetting about the personal thing involved, a little personal experience that will demonstrate that. I went one time in the town of Greenville, Texas, where I lived, to see a picture show. It was a good one I thought. It was the old story by Wallace, Ben Hur. I enjoyed it. I did not see anything in the world in it that I thought was vile, ugly, suggestive, or hurtful in any way. If there was anything wrong about it I was unable to discern it. I am sure that there are a good many pictures of that caliber that have been made back through the years. I am sure of another thing. I am sure of the fact that a whole lot of them are not conducive to anything that is worthwhile. I am sure of that too. I have seen somewhere the moving picture industry would, for the sake, purely and only, of injecting an advertisement into the middle of it for the liquor industry, put a drinking scene in it when there was no cause for it, no excuse under heaven. Surrounding it with everything sophisticated, and everything elite, and everything conducive and encouraging, and just make a liquor drinking scene out of it. The moving picture industry has become one of the greatest advertisements for liquor drinking that there is on the face of the earth, and there cannot be any question about that, They will inject a scene like that into an otherwise innocent and harmless picture without the least excuse under heaven for doing it. There is another thing while I am talking on that point. The moving picture industry owned by the Jews has become the greatest medium of Catholic propaganda in this country, and that cannot be denied. If you do not think so you just take stock of some of the Catholic pictures that have been made that teach Catholic traditions and doctrines, and give them prominence, and glorify them and clothe them with respectability. If you do not think so you just keep your eyes open the next time you go to see one. And the newsreel: if any opportunity is afforded to give any kind of religion any sort of notice and credit at all, it will be Catholicism, If they put a Protestant scene in it will be for the purpose of ridicule. It is never on any other basis. "Going My Way," was the name of one, wasnt it? Was that the Bing Crosby picture? I did not see it. I heard about it. I know about it. Bing Crosby himself was educated for a Catholic priest, the whole family Catholics. He played a part that became him, and one that he sincerely believed in, No wonder that he could act in it sincerely, and it was a highhanded piece of Catholic propaganda. About two years ago when I was coming back from Kentucky, I missed a train connection in New Orleans on the way to Houston. I was there for several hours, and as I went through the city, walking around between trains, I noticed a picture, "The Song of Bernadette." I had heard a little bit about it. A certain star was in it, I believe her name was Jennifer Jones. I decided that I would go in and see the picture. I went in and sat down. I stayed as long as I could stand it, and it soon became so revolting to me because of the downright Catholic propaganda that I could not stand it any longer. I had to get up and walk out. That is just one of the examples. It is entirely obvious to anyone who stops to think about it. The Catholics have control over it, and they are using it in every possible way for their own glorification, for their own good, and have at every chance where the occasion was present, discredited every other kind of religion. But there is another thing that the motion picture industry is responsible for, the average picture is so based upon sensuality, and so full of things that are sensual that it could not possibly be conducive to anything righteous and good upon the part of anybody, either young or old, Somebody may say, "Well, I got a good moral out of it." Well, you might fish a good biscuit out of a slop bucket, but that would be a poor place to go for one. If you want morals I would not advise that sort of a place to find them. Moving pictures within themselves are not wrong. It is the wrong that is made out of them. They should be educational and they should be helpful, and they should certainly be innocent recreation and entertainment: Sometimes I have seen pictures that I thought were, and were as wholesome as any book that you could read, or any paper that you could read: Of course, what can be said for the motion picture, industry along that line can be said for the daily newspaper: A lot of them are so full of filth and rubbish and things of that kind that you cant get any good out of it, and you would be a lot better off if you did not fill your mind with things of this kind: There is a lot of the literature that is found on the average magazine rack and the drug store rack that is too filthy and rotten for any person who respects himself and the truth to allow it even to come into his home: We all know that is so:
Everything in the world that becomes an advantage to the devil in allowing him to get into our hearts and minds is wrong: I went to see this picture at Greenville, thinking that I had not done anything wrong, or that I was not violating any principle, and if I did, I dont know what it was. But you know there was a woman in the congregation who came to me after that, and I am telling you the story purely for the purpose of getting the reaction that came from it. She said, "You know my circumstances, Brother Cogdill: I am a widow, and I sew for a living: I have a boy about eleven years old. In the first place, I do not have the money to let my boy go to the picture show as often as he would like to go: In the second place, I do not think that it would be good for him to see a lot of pictures that he wants to see, and go as often as he wants to go: I have tried to curb and direct and discourage him to some extent along that line, and restrain him from it for his own good: He has argued with me all the time that I am too strict about the matter, and that I am old fogey and old fashioned about it, and rather narrow minded: But the other day he was down in town and he saw you go to the picture show: He came home and said to me, Mother, Ive told you all the time that you were narrow minded about that thing; that you are just old fashioned and narrow minded about it, and that there wasnt anything wrong about it, and now I know that you are. I saw Brother Cogdill go, and he would not have gone if there is anything wrong about it! "
Now he didnt stop to think about the kind of picture that I went to see. He didnt stop to weigh anything connected with it: He was justifying himself in wanting to go three or four times a week to see just any kind of a picture that came along, no matter what kind it was, how suggestive, how vulgar, or how evil it might be. It was all right for him to go see them because I went to see the one: Now I will just grant you that in seeing the one picture I did not do anything wrong whatsoever, yet if my going to see that one picture led somebody to see one that would be bad for him, my example was heading in the wrong direction, wasnt it? Could you deny that? Would you do it? If by my example I was perfectly innocent in the thing I did, and the attending circumstances were of such a nature that it contributed to someone else doing wrong, then I am doing wrong in the example I set: That is what Paul is talking about in this passage. I cannot afford by my example and through my influence, even in the exercise of something that I might be at liberty to do, I cannot afford to destroy somebody else; for when I do, however innocently it may have been done, I am responsible for the harm that is wrought. I have to guard my influence and that is true of every Christian.
The next principle is: Is it destructive to your body? Now a lot of people come to me and say, "Preacher, I want to know do you think it is wrong to do this, or wrong to do that?" Sometimes they ask me about the use of tobacco. Is it wrong to use tobacco? 0r wrong to dip snuff? Or wrong to smoke cigarettes? Is it wrong to do such? Well, I think this principle might help us to determine something along that line. What is it? Is it harmful to your body? Did you know that when you do a thing that is harmful to your body that you have sinned in the sight of God? That is what the Bible teaches: The Bible teaches that if you are a Christian your body belongs to the Lord: Paul said, "Ye are a temple of the living God; therefore, glorify God in your bodies:" Your body belongs unto God as well as your soul: You have not the right to engage in anything, I care not what the practice is, if it is harmful to you: Of course, what harms one person may not harm another: That is readily accepted. I cannot eat cucumbers: I just cannot digest them: I found that out. I just cannot eat them because they are harmful to me, poisonous to my body, and it is wrong for me to do it. Well, I need to eliminate those practices that I know are harmful to me, and within the realm of good Christian judgment exercise myself to the very best of my ability in such a way as to insure the continued strength of my body that I might be able to serve God with it, and do all the good that I can while I live in the world:
The passage on that principle is 1 Cor: 6:19-20: "Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body." Then again: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor:10:31) And it is wrong for a man to sit down at the table and gorge himself with food enough to be harmful to him, eat something that he knows is harmful to him, or engage in any other practice that he knows is destructive to his physical strength. You sin when you do it: If you are doing something that is harmful to your body, then you just remember that God condemns the man that knowingly practices a thing of that kind, and it is sinful in Gods sight:
Principle number five: Does it conflict with your duty as a Christian? People sometimes ask me, "Is it wrong to be a member of this, or wrong to belong to that?" I might answer that question by simply asking you this question: will it conflict with your duty as a Christian? You do not have any right to put yourself under any circumstance, you do not have the right to form any kind of an alliance, you do not have the right to get yourself into any sort of a position where anybody can interfere with your duty to God, because your duty to God comes first. "But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt: 6:33) Then again: "No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier:" Sometimes people say to me about fraternal organizations, "Do you think that a Christian can belong to a fraternal organization?" A particular one, or any of them, it doesnt matter: Of course, there are some objectionable features in some of them that you might not find in others: Ill tell you this: I do not see how a man who is a Christian, who believes with all of his heart in the Lord Jesus Christ, who wears the name of Christ and is trying to honor the name of Christ can be a member of a fraternal organization in which prayers are offered that cannot be offered in the name of Christ: I cannot reconcile that, and I dont believe any other Christian can. Aside from those special considerations: Anything wrong with a fraternal order? Question: Does it interfere with your duty as a Christian? When the time comes that you have to choose between the fraternity and Christ, the fraternity and the church, your duty to the Lord or your duty to the other, what kind of a choice would you make? What would be your attitude about it? Would you put the fraternity above the church? If you do, it is wrong. There isnt any doubt about it: A principle would be violated: II Tim. 2:4, "No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier:" When a soldier is in the United States Army he just has to bring his other business to a close: Paul refers that very point end applies that principle to the church of the living God. Who needs to be anything but a Christian? There is all of the good in Christianity that you can find in anything on earth, and there is none of the bad in it that you can find in all of the rest of them. Why be anything but just a Christian? Christ is an all-sufficient Savior, the church an all-sufficient institution, the word of God an all-sufficient revelation: Christianity ought to be enough, if we make out of it what God intends for it to be:
Another principle: Does it create an inordinate fleshly appetite? Does it do that? You know the Bible teaches that Christians ought to exercise self-control. "Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth: For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry; for which things sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience." A Christian is to be governed by the will of Christ, subject to the authority of Christ, and not to live on a fleshly basis, satisfying the appetites of the flesh: Titus 2:11-13, "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in the present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." Did you notice that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts?" Self-control is one of the cardinal requirements of Christianity, I cannot afford to lose the control of myself: I cannot afford to lose the control of my body. I cannot afford to cultivate any kind of an appetite that will get the control and mastery of me, neither can you: Sometimes people ask, "Is it wrong to do this thing over here?" Well, that might be determined by this very principle: The principle is: will it cultivate an inordinate, fleshly appetite: For instance, if a man takes a shot of morphine, or some other kind of dope, for some purpose, he likes the effect of it, and he readily agrees to another, and another, and another, and another. The first thing you know he has become a dope fiend, so addicted to it that he has lost control of himself: Morphine is not the only thing that will do it: Liquor will do it: I have seen strong men, otherwise, cry like babies because they could not quit the liquor habit. I have had them cry and tell me, "Brother Cogdill, I would like to be a Christian: I would like to be saved. I would like to be in the church, but I cannot quit drinking liquor." It had eaten away their will until manhood was gone, and the ability to do the thing that they really wanted to do was gone: They actually didnt have the power of self-will and self-control to the point that they could do that which they deep down in their hearts wanted to do: I would be ashamed to admit, to have to admit, that I had a habit that I couldnt break. I do not care whether it is drinking coffee for breakfast or smoking a cigar after dinner: It would not make any difference. You think about a man who professes to be a Christian and to live a Christian life, and he in the possession of himself and his faculties and able to control himself and direct his life, think about a man like that to be weasley and measly enough to have to admit that "I just cant quit it:" The tobacco habit, the coffee habit, any other kind of a habit: "I just cant quit it: It controls me, It is the master . I just cant quit it:" Id be like the old man: Id quit it every once in a while, anyway, just to be sure that I could, if for no other reason, The thing that gets that kind of control over you is a mighty dangerous thing. You ought to beware of it, I dont care what it is.
The next principle: Will it bring you under weakening association and influence? Heres the passage: 1 Thess: 5:21-22, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." Again in 1 Cor: 15:33, "Evil companionships corrupt good morals:" The principle: "Evil companionships corrupt good morals." You know a man cannot just constantly associate with evil without being affected by it: I dont care how revolting cursing is to you, you can listen to it until it gets to where it sounds all right: Sin is a process of education. Righteousness is a process of education, and you can educate yourself to sin, or you can educate yourself to do right. Certainly you can! You need to be careful about the influences that are being brought to bear upon your heart and life, careful that you are not submitting yourself constantly to influences and associations that will destroy you and bring you into captivity to sin. "Evil companionships corrupt good morals." I feel sorry for the man who tries to live the Christian life with the predominant influence of his life coming from the devil, and the devils crowd: He just has a mighty hard time: In fact, he just cannot make a success of it: What you need in order to live a Christian life is to have your friendships, and to have your associations and your ties with those who are in the Lord, respect the truth, respect the church, that are trying to do right, and will help you to try to do the thing that is right, rather than forming your ties and connections with those who do not respect the Lord, and care nothing about his church, or about heaven or your soul.
The final principle in this lesson: Does it bring upon you an unequal yoke and place you at a disadvantage in serving the Lord? We go back to II Cor: 6:14, "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers." To what does that apply? It applies to anything, business, marriage, or social affairs, It applies to any kind of a relationship that you can form, that places you under obligation to somebody else who doesnt care anything about the Lord, and doesnt care anything about the church so that they can interfere with your duties as a Christian. People say to me once in awhile, "Is it wrong to marry outside of the church? Is it wrong for a Christian to marry a person who isnt a Christian?" There is one answer to that question that I can be positive about: That answer is this: Whenever a person, if he is a Christian, tries to serve one Lord, marries a person who isnt a Christian, and allows that person who isnt a Christian, to interfere with his duty to Christ, that is wrong: That is wrong, and you cant go to heaven and permit that: You can just he positive about it: A person who is a Christian united with one who isnt a Christian that permits that relationship to interfere with his duty to the Lord cannot be pleasing in the sight of God in doing wrong. It is an unequal yoke. Now if you can keep it upon such a basis where that isnt true it would be another problem. There would be some other question about it, but that is the major consideration, and about that I can be positive: When you allow your companion to interfere with your duty to God in any respect you are displeasing God. Christianity requires that you put the Lord first.
What can I do, and what cant I do? Number one: Does it destroy your identity as a Christian by causing you to be regarded as of the world? If it does it is wrong. Number two: Is the practice questionable in your own mind and therefore an offense to your own conscience? If so it is wrong: Number three: Does it have a weakening influence on others and will it become a stumbling block to them? If it leads another into sin then it is wrong, about that you can be positive: Number four: Is it destructive to your body? If it is then it is wrong: Number five: Does it conflict with your duty as a Christian? If so then it is wrong: Six: Does it cultivate an inordinate fleshly appetite? If so then it is wrong: Seven: Does it bring you under weakening association and influence? If it does then it is wrong. Number eight: Does it bring upon you an unequal yoke and place you at a disadvantage in serving the Lord? If so then you better stay out of that kind of a relationship: Now there you have some of the principles of the word of God, not all of them, but as many as we will have time to discuss and perhaps more than we should have talked about. It gives you an idea of what the Bible teaches, and how the Bible deals with this problem. If you will get these principles down and make your own personal application of them you will not have to be running around to some preacher asking him what he thinks about something, God has given you the way of finding out for yourself whether it is right or whether it is wrong:
But will you remember with me that the first thing that Christianity demands of you is that you separate yourself from the world: The gospel is a call, it is an invitation to leave the world behind, and to come and enlist in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ, to separate yourself from sin, its love, its practice, and its guilt, and through obedience to the gospel to be one of the called out body of the Lord, the church of the living God, honor him by the life that you live and by the service that you render, and to be honored by him when he comes again to receive those unto himself who have loved his appearing, Will you become a Christian? Will you give yourself to God? Will you come out of the world and be separate, be a member of the called out body, the church of the Lord, obey the truth? May God help you to come while tonight we invite and urge that you do so: Let us stand and sing the song of invitation!