Can I Or Can’t I?

February 5, 2015

Can I Or Can’t I?

            If you are a genuine Christian you should be growing in your Christian life. It is to be expected that a new believer will be immature, but he shouldn’t remain that way. He learns how to live the Christian life by watching other believers who are more mature. They are his mentors. He observes what they do and don’t do, and patterns his life after them. Many times he doesn’t understand why his brothers and sisters in Christ do or don’t do certain things. He wants to live like a good Christian, but he doesn’t yet have his own convictions about right and wrong. He can’t give a good reason for why he does or doesn’t do certain things.

We shouldn’t leave a new believer at this level. He is in danger. He is still weak. Satan can easily tempt him. It may be that he wants to please and stay in the good graces of his Christian friends. He still has many friends out in the world, however, and he wants to please them too. If he refuses to do what his worldly friends do, they will ask him why. He is embarrassed if he can’t give them a good answer. Perhaps all he can say is “Christians don’t do that.” Some of his friends in the world like to think they are Christians too, and they don’t find anything wrong with doing things the new believer thinks he can’t do. He is left in confusion.

We owe it to new believers to help them grow as a Christian. We call that discipleship. He is in danger as long as he is still controlled by the “I can’t do that” mentality. It isn’t wrong for him to think that way, but as he grows in his relationship with the Lord, he will start saying, “I don’t have any desire to do those things.” He is then ready to give a reason for what he does and doesn’t do. He has reached the I Peter 3:15 level. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” He is also enjoying the “glorious liberty” that Romans 8:21 speaks of. “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”

Some people mistakenly view the Christian life as a lot of do’s and don’ts. It may look that way from a distance, but when you find out what it is, it is something entirely different. Being a Christian doesn’t restrict us. It gives us liberty. A Christian in the right relationship with God can do what he wants to do because he wants to please God above everything else.

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were given just one prohibition. There was one tree that God told them they couldn’t eat the fruit of. It was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17). No doubt they walked by that tree many times and said to themselves, “I don’t see why it would be wrong to eat the fruit of that tree.” For them, it was a test of obedience. They still didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps there was nothing in the fruit of the tree that would be detrimental to them. The reason for not eating of it was that, in so doing, they would suffer the displeasure of God. They weren’t sufficiently motivated by the desire to please God.

Perhaps we could measure our spiritual growth by asking ourselves, “How many things are there that I can’t do?” As we grow spiritually, the list of things we can’t do should get smaller. Our values should be changing. We should begin to realize that there were things we did before we were saved that we no longer have a desire to do. We are less and less limited by prohibitions. We are free to do what we want to because, above all else, we want to please God.

As we grow in our knowledge of the Bible, we learn what is and isn’t pleasing to God. Perhaps there is something God tells you not to do, but you don’t see anything wrong with it. Don’t let that bother you. As you mature more, you will most likely see why it is wrong. It might be something like what we read in Psalm 101:3. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Maybe you now realize that it’s time to change channels on the television when indecent things are set before your eyes. As we grow in Bible knowledge there are also things we realize that we should be doing, like the admonition found in Hebrews 10:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” That should be interpreted to mean faithful church attendance.

There are things that aren’t specifically prohibited in the Bible, but mature Christians can see that it isn’t prudent to do them. You need to trust their judgment until you are more mature and you too will most likely see that it isn’t wise to do them.

Christian maturity brings us more and more to the point where our desires, above all others, are to please God. In Colossians 1:9-10 we see that that was the prayer of the Apostle Paul. “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

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