I am currently working on a series concerning prayer; as a continuation of the Christian Life series; and I will begin publishing those articles soon, but I wanted to quickly cover a topic that I have related to in other posts, but that is so extremely important that I want to be sure I leave no stone unturned, so to speak.
Throughout my Christian walk with God, I have had to deal with problems in my own life, I have seen others deal with problems in theirs, and I have read the Bible stories over and over again as it regards the struggles that Christians go through. When we read the Bible, we must understand that those stories are indeed given to us as object lessons, and I speak of the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc., but understand also that the Bible is not just an instruction manual—it is The Word of God.
Listen to what Paul said: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”(Heb. 4:12). So the Bible does not just instruct, but it will show you what things are in your own heart and life that need to be dealt with; it will tell you what is right, what is wrong, and it will show you whether your intentions are good or evil in the sight of God. It separates the action from the will and the will from the intent, and tells us where our loyalty lies as far as God is concerned. Paul goes on to say, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do”(4:13). This means that God literally sees everything within our hearts. Many think that they can hide from God; they believe that God cannot see what they are doing or hear what they are saying, but God sees everything we do, He hears everything we say and even our very thoughts, and He knew what you were going to do long before you ever did it. That means also that when things happen in your life, God knows whether or not you are sincerely penitent regarding sin.
Jesus had problems as far as the self-righteous Pharisees and Scribes and many others trying to trip Him up in His words, trying to tempt Him, trying to stop Him from preaching the gospel, but Jesus had no sin nature, and those kinds of difficulties are going to come to all of us so long as we try our best to live for God. Satan will try to stop you in any way he can; he will try to bring you down at every turn; he will try to accuse you, condemn you, tempt you, and overthrow you so long as you are living for God. But take heart, Christians, for as Jesus said, if they hated Him they will hate us also; moreover, if Satan is busily trying to bring you down, it is only because he knows that you are a threat to his kingdom, for so also did he do to every single prophet, priest, apostle, king and man of God all the way through the Bible and throughout time.
But the kind of problems that I am referring to are the kinds of problems that we have which are a result of the sin nature. And, yes, as Christians we still have a sin nature within us. It is not supposed to dominate us, but it is still there in every one of us. Even David; a man after God’s own heart, and a man who was constantly held up as an example of righteousness; still, had problems with sin, and if God had not dealt with the sin in David’s life, and had David not repented of his sin, he too would have lost his way just as many others have, and just as any of us will if we do not leave those burdens at the cross. I have had people ask me things about particular issues, and I will use as examples nicotine, alcohol, and drugs(whether illegal drugs or prescription), and we could use 101 other examples, as well, but I will just use those three things for now.
The questions will nearly always be asked in such a form as this: “Do you think smoking is a sin?” or “Do you think drinking moderately is a sin?” or “Is it a sin to take certain drugs?” etc. First of all, if a person is asking that question, most of the time it is because they already know that they shouldn’t be doing the thing, but they are looking for someone to tell them that it’s okay to do it. Then they feel like they have an excuse to fall back on. “Well, so and so told me that it’s okay to do.”
Please don’t be one of those people! If any part of your conscience is telling you that the thing is wrong, or even questioning it at all, turn the thing over to God, repent of it, and move on.
Paul said, in the 14th chapter of Romans, “And he that doubts is damned if he eat, because he eats not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin”(vs. 23). And therein lies the answer to every question like those above, “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind”(vs. 5). James would say, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”(Jam. 4:17).That should put things into perspective for us. If you have any thought that it may be wrong to do; then it is wrong to do!
If you are unsure as to whether something is sin or not; then go to God and ask Him, sincerely wanting to know whether it is or not; sincerely wanting to know what He says and what He wants for you, and do not just assume that you already know. God will teach you what you need to know concerning the things that you ought to do and ought not to do. And if you are unwilling to do that; if you turn a deaf ear to God’s leading; if you sear the conscience and call good evil and evil you call good, then you are just not going to make it like that. How can God do anything in your life, if you refuse to put down those things that bar your access to Him?
Now, I have made the statement in other places on the site that if you go to God with a problem such as drug addiction, and you ask God to forgive you and to help you get free of that thing, and you turn right around and take the drugs again the next day, do not get discouraged, do not give up hope, and do not take the position that, “well I asked God to help me be free of the thing, and I’m still doing it, so God must not be going to help me.” He will help you. Just keep asking!
And do not let anyone come along and tell you that “you are just doing the drugs on purpose” or “you could quit if you wanted to” or “you just aren’t trying” or some stupidity such as “I don’t do that, so you shouldn’t either”.
The Apostle Paul also said, “Who are you that judges another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Yea, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand.” And God is the judge of us all, and no one else is. I know that if we commit a crime against the law of the land, then we are subject to the judges of the land, but when it comes to moral law, which is the law that never changes, let God be the judge of every man and woman.
Listen to me, Christians, those things wherein people judge you are lies, they are of the spirit of Satan, and that person who is telling you those kinds of things; they are in worse shape than the one who is addicted to the drugs and wants to stop but can’t.
Satan has manipulated untold millions into believing that it is hopeless for them because they do this or do that, or he will tell them that they have gone too far; that their sin is too great. Those things are not true. Jesus died to save you, Jesus died to forgive you, and Jesus died to set you free, and He will do every one of those things as He has said, if you will only believe. Paul would have been the man to know this as well as any, for, by his own testimony, before his conversion he persecuted God’s church and wasted it. He hated the name of Jesus, and he hated all those who were preaching in that name, and he was prepared to do all he could to blot out that name from Israel. And, wonderfully so, if Jesus Christ could save Paul, for that is what He died for, then how much more can he save any one of us if we will simply believe Him.
Now, it is not wrong to say that a particular thing is wrong to do. It is not wrong to point out that stealing is a sin. In fact, the Bible already tells us that. It is not wrong to point out to people that smoking can cause cancer and therefore it is a dangerous and potentially deadly thing to do. It is not wrong to say that drinking, even moderately, has killed people; because many who thought that they could drink just a little and not hurt anyone, wound up drinking more than they thought they had, got in a car and wrecked into someone else, injuring or even killing them. The Lord through the prophet, Habakkuk, said, “Woe unto him that gives his neighbour drink, that puts the bottle to him, and makes him drunken also, that you may look on their nakedness!” And the word nakedness here does not mean in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense; meaning that the person has become drunken, and their deepest, most wicked thoughts and desires come spewing out, and, indeed, when a person is drunk, they will boldly say and do many things that they would be ashamed of saying or doing otherwise. Much of the darkness of one’s heart is made manifest by the tearing down of defenses by the numbing effects of alcohol.
To label sin as sin is not to judge, but to condemn another person because they do particular things or say certain things; well, that just is not our place to do. Even Jesus said, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”(John 3:17-19) And if Jesus did not come to condemn, then who are we to condemn others. When He gave the command, and it was a command, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”(Luke 6:37) He was not speaking there of labeling sin as sin, for we are supposed to do that, and, in fact, the Bible already does that for us. However, what Jesus was saying was, bring your own sins and failures to God and let Him clean you up first, then you will be able to see clearly to help others through their difficulties. The command not to judge starts with oneself. If you judge yourself to be righteous, holy, and just, then you have broken the commandment that Jesus gave there, for you have judged God’s servant, or else you have judged Satan’s servant, but either way you are guilty of judging. God is the one who sees our hearts and knows our thoughts and intentions, and He is the only one who can properly judge anyone, including me.
The fact is, the problem that causes these works of the flesh that I have mentioned in some people, and the same problem that causes self-righteousness and hypocrisy in other people is that we get our eyes on the problems and on our own ability or lack thereof to overcome those problems, and we don’t keep our eyes on Christ. The fact is, we are all failures, and whether we admit to our own inabilities or not will not change the truth. Jesus, on the other hand, never failed and He never will fail, and so if we look to Him, rather than ourselves, the works of the flesh will begin to just fall away.
And let me point this out very quickly, as well; if you manage to stop, through your own efforts, doing the drugs or the cigarettes or the stealing or whatever it might be; then it really will not do you any good as far as heaven is concerned, and because God cannot recognize or approve of my righteousness or your righteousness or anyone else’s; He will only recognize and approve of the righteousness of Christ. And so you are not going to get into heaven based on the things that you do or don’t do; you will only get into heaven by following and obeying the will of God through Christ.
The Apostle Paul said: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteems any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean”(Rom. 14:14). So here is the answer to all of this: stop worrying about what everyone else is doing or not doing. And stop telling everyone else what they should do and shouldn’t do, stop preaching your laws and methods and good works to everyone around you, and start telling them, “Your answer is Jesus. Your hope is Jesus. Your faith should be in Jesus. Jesus can save you, Jesus can heal you, Jesus can make you pleasing to the Father, and Jesus can set you free.” And if there is anything in your own life that is not right, or if you are not sure whether you should be doing something or not, go to God and ask Him as David asked: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”(Psa. 139:23-24).
And why do you behold the mote that is in your brother’s eye, but perceive not the beam that is in your own eye? Either how can you say to your brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in your eye, when you yourself behold not the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of your own eye, and then shall you see clearly to pull out the mote that is in your brother’s eye(Luke 6:41-42).
There is only one problem with this statement, as is spoken by the Lord; we cannot do this ourselves. We cannot cast the beam out of our own eye, and we cannot pull the mote out of our brother’s eye.
But God, through Jesus Christ, can do both.