Should A Believer…?
In almost thirty years of pastoring, I have never been asked the question which heads this article by someone wanting to know what he or she should do personally. It has always been asked (without exception) by someone wanting to tell other people how to live. Such a haughty, self-righteous, pharisaical spirit is abominable. However, for the benefit of any who may be troubled by the religious rules imposed by men, I offer the following.
Should believers watch television, go to the movies, dance, or play cards? Is it right for a Christian to have a glass of wine, chew tobacco, or smoke? Is it wrong to do business with those stores which sell such products? Should Christians wear shorts, go to a public swimming pool, or go mixed bathing. (For you who are not aware of Bible belt terms, "mixed bathing" refers to men and women, or boys and girls swimming together.)
Such questions are endless. I personally know people who question the spirituality of anyone who likes boxing, horse races, baseball, basketball, or football, --of anyone who eats pork, red meat, or catfish, -- and of anyone who drinks coffee, tea, or Coca-Cola! I am not exaggerating. I really do know such people.
The Word of God alone and in its entirety is our rule of life. The Book of God does not permit any believer or groups of believers (churches, pastors, elders, synods, or private believers) to prescribe laws, rules of life, standards of godliness, etc., to any child of God, other than those things specifically set forth in Holy Scripture. Those who do so violate the plain prohibition of Revelation 22:18.
Entire systems of works based religion have been established and gained popular acceptance by inventing extra-biblical taboos for "Christians." Adventism is a classic example. All men by nature are legalists and love legal religion, any religion that gives them something to do or not to do by which they can distinguish themselves from others and make themselves "holier" than others. That religion which says, "touch not, taste not, handle not," no matter what denominational name it wears, is nothing but "a show of wisdom in will-worship" (Col. 2:21-23).
Each servant of God, each child of God, stands or falls before his own Master. We have absolutely no business in trying to govern the lives of God's children. That is the work of God the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you are thinking -- "If we do not, by some means, try to regulate people's lives, what is there to prevent them from drunkenness, lasciviousness, fornication, adultery, etc.?" That is the thinking of every legalists. Because he must be governed by law, he presumes that everyone else must be. The believer is governed and constrained by the love of Christ, seeks to honor God in all things, and endeavors to mold his life to the Word of God.
Our energies and efforts would be far better spent if we would seek to love and serve one another, rather than rule and judge one another. I ask the reader to weigh these thoughts by only one criteria -- Are they or are they not in total compliance with both the spirit and the letter of the New Testament.
Grace Baptist Church of Danville - Grace For Today Radio Message #732
2734 Old Stanford Road - Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor -Telephone 606-236-8235 - Email firstname.lastname@example.org