Acts 15:20 “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”
The early church struggled with the Gentiles getting saved. From the childhood of those who were in the early church, they had heard that they were not to be around Gentiles. God had a different plan than what they had learned. When the Gentiles heard the Gospel, they gladly received it. However, the church of Jerusalem didn't know what to do with these Gentiles, but after much prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit, they commanded the Gentiles to “abstain from pollutions.” In other words, now that they were saved, they were not to do what they used to do before they got saved.
When God saved you, He expected you to live a new life. God didn't save you for you to go back to the old life of sin. The command to abstain that was given to the Gentiles is still the same today for you. God didn't change His Word to allow the believer to live like the ever-changing world around us. Let me share some thoughts about the Apostle James’ sentence to abstain.
First, you are to abstain because salvation is not a license to sin. Just because you are saved eternally doesn't give you the right to live any way you desire to live. You now belong to God, and you should represent the Saviour Who saved you from your sins. To abstain from the world and its lifestyle shouldn’t be an albatross about your neck but a privilege to represent Christ. The new life in Christ should motivate you to abstain from your old life.
Second, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should do. Certainly, the believer has soul liberty, but liberty has boundaries that you must keep so that sin’s bondage doesn't control you again. No, you cannot lose your salvation, but salvation does not mean that you are exempt from sin’s consequences and bondage. Sin always has consequences, and your liberty to do what you want does not negate those ramifications. Just because you are free as a believer doesn't mean you should do what you have the power to do.
Third, there are times when you must shun the places or people that would cause you to do wrong. To abstain means to avoid or shun. In other words, the sentence to abstain means that you should stay away from the places where sin is committed or the people who commit such sins. You will never abstain from sin and worldly lifestyles that you should not do if you don't stay away from those places of sin.
Fourth, there are times when your calling dictates you not do what you could do that might not be wrong to do. There are times when what you want to do is not bad, but it will hinder you from being what God wants you to be. You are saved to serve, and anything that would hinder you from serving the LORD should be set aside. There are many things that I don't do, not because they are wrong, but because they would hold me back or hinder me from serving God to the degree that I could serve Him.
My friend, let me remind you that others are watching you, and to do whatever you want to do could become a stumblingblock to them getting saved. Anything, whether it is an act or it is something that would keep you from telling someone how to get saved, that would be a hindrance from others getting saved should be avoided.