Is Playing Ball Conforming to the World?

Paul says (Romans 12:2), “Be not conformed to this world,” and John says (1 John 2:15): “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, I am well aware that there is a line of distinction between the world and disciples of Christ; but just where, in all cases, I do not know. For instance, there is here in Midway a baseball club, and they meet Saturday evenings to play. I do not belong to the club, though I have played a few times, and I find it excellent to develop one’s muscles. For no other purpose would I participate. It has its evil associations; but they play here in town, so there is very little ungentlemanly behavior. Now, do I cross the bounds of a Christian life when I share the sport with them? Am I “conformed to this world” in so doing?

 

We were never in a baseball club, and know but little about them, but suppose the right or the wrong would depend largely upon the sort of people that compose them and the manner in which they are carried on. If decent, well-behaved young men that are most of their time confined to indoor work, as clerks, get together occasionally and in a gentlemanly manner, so that nothing improper shall be said or done while the game is going on, we do not see that there would be any more harm in that than in the jovial running on, extravagant talking and laughing, and slang style that is usually indulged in by young people when they are together. But where wicked, profane, and obscene young men get together in such plays, we think Christians should keep out of them; and not only out of such plays with young men of that character, but Christians ought as far as possible to keep out of the society of such men at all times, except to endeavor to teach and influence them to better things. Just simply as a matter of pastime, Christians should not associate with such people. Their own morals will be corrupted by such association. Every child of God should be striving every day not only to grow better himself, but to make others better, to exert an influence over all around for good. But there is a lack among the members of the church in these matters when with the wicked, the vulgar, and the rude. Instead of exerting an influence over them for good, they are too apt to partake with them in their wild ways, rather than so act as to win others from their folly. We think whether a young man who is a member of the church should play in a baseball club, or others of a similar character, or not, should depend upon his own character as much almost as theirs. If he can go among them and improve them by his association with them, he might without impropriety go among them, and might even, do good in so doing.

But if a Christian is disposed to love wild company him­self and to fall into the habits of the low and vicious, then for his own sake he had better stay entirely away from evil influences. A Christian should be careful never to go into any societies unless he can either receive good from them or impart good to them. If no good is to result either way, then make that a reason for staying away. Nothing is more blighting to a Christian’s character than evil associ­ation, unless he has strength enough in himself, derived from God’s divine appointments, to overcome the evil. If he is weak enough for the worldly influence to overcome him, he had better always keep away from them. Before a young Christian goes into a baseball club, or any other social club, he should consider first whether he be able to resist any bad influence any association with them might bring upon him and come out unscathed. In the next place, he should consider whether he is able to exert any good in­fluence upon them that will have any tendency to elevate them and turn their attention in any wise to the religion of Christ or not. If he decides that the character of those persons is such that they are beyond the reach of good in­fluences, he should keep away from them.

Elisha G. Sewell

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The Condition of Adam Before the Fall

Please give in the Gospel Advocate your understanding of the condition of Adam before his fall. In other words, was he immortal before he violated his Maker? Did he lose both temporal and spiritual life? If so, did not the Savior die, not only a temporal, but a spiritual, death, to consummate the at-one-ment for the human family? I have my ideas of this question, resulting from a careful study of the Bible. A brother and myself, differing to some extent about it, agreed to refer to you for the sum of your investigations, thinking you might assist us and perhaps others occupying similar positions. My position is, in short, that he was subject to mortality even in Eden, but the fruit of the tree of life could, and did, perpetuate his life, counteracting his tendency to mortality. What say you?

These questions are so near the border line of speculations that have a tendency to draw men’s minds from the more practical requirements of religion, that we answer them cautiously. Some things, we think, are revealed about the death of Adam. These we try to answer. The death that Adam died clearly was that he became mortal.

Mortality is death. Death is suffering, decay, corruption. What we call “death” is the final result of a state of death that we are undergoing here. The biblical use of the term immortality is not eternal existence merely, but the opposite of mortality — freedom from suffering, decay, corruption. This corruptible must put on incorruption; this mortal, immortality; so death (our present state) will be swallowed up in victory. Man was without corruption, or mortality, before he sinned. Whether he was kept so by eating the fruit of the tree of life or whether it was inherent in him, we have no means of determining. The cutting off from the tree of life corresponded in time with his becoming mortal, or entering into the state of death. It is probably a legitimate inference that the continuance to partake of the tree of life would have perpetuated existence. Man became physically a dying being. He sinned. To sin is to separate from God, is to unite with the devil. This is to breathe the atmosphere of death, is to drink in the life of the evil one. His life becomes our life. The life of the evil one is a living death. Deliverance from the service of the evil one is life, is union with God. Whether it required the spiritual death of Christ, or how far he suffered or died spiritually or in his divine nature, we have no means of determining; so anything we might say would be unprofitable speculation in things not revealed. We only know he did not die as a spiritual being, in the sense of sinning against God, and being united to the evil one. How a being can spiritually die without separation from God and union with the evil one, we know not. Christ’s death opened the way for our escape from union with the evil one for a reunion with God. The devil is the ruler of this world. Its atmosphere is impregnated with a spirit of rebellion against God. We imbibe the spirit of rebellion. Christ died to deliver men from this evil influence. He calls him into his church, in which a different atmosphere prevails, so man may breathe a different spirit. Finally this church will repossess this world. The atmosphere will be purged of the spirit of sin, with which it is surcharged, and men will cease to breathe the rebellious spirit and will be less in love with sin.