"Can a Christian ________________?"

It seems the longer I am working in ministry, the more I hear in this world the question “can a Christian_____________ (fill in the blank)?  This question often has the blank filled with such thoughts or positions as “be Pro-Choice”, “support so-called homosexual marriage”, or the question includes specific activities that one might want to participate in.

For a long time, I took these questions as an open door to question a person’s salvation (or the authenticity of their profession)!  But I have grown to understand that even born-again Christians can take a position, or engage in activities that fly in the face of God’s Word, and do it without even recognizing the err of their ways.  How?  It goes back to a combination of issues, rooted in a few basic and fundamental elements:

Preaching of the Word (2 Timothy 4:2):  Many professed Christians, as sincere as their profession may have been, do not sit under God-fearing, God-glorifying, God’s Word-based preaching.  Far too many pulpits across this nation have been compromised by the disease called “political correctness”, where moral relativism often overrides the Bible.  Where “church growth” is measured only in numbers and totally offerings made, not in the spiritual growth and maturity of her members.

How can we expect a new or spiritually immature Christian to grasp the truth, if the truth is regularly compromised, or sugar-coated?  The answer should be glaringly obvious…

Lack of Intentional Discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2):  Hand-in-hand is Christ’s commission to His church – and contrary to what some believe and practice today – was NOT to go grow mega-churches with lots of people and multi-million dollar budgets!  His commission to the church was to go make disciples.  Making disciples is not a magic formula, or the latest “program”.  Jesus set the example – it is by living life, together in relationship, talking about God’s Word, and living God’s Word – together.

It means allowing those less spiritually mature to actually SEE you making decisions, being willing to discuss when you have made bad choices or have recognized your errors.  It means being true to the Bible in our words and deeds.  It means constantly seeking to become more like Christ, and to put to use the transplanted heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) God has promised to His people.

It means showing the discernment of the Spirit (Matthew 7:15-20, 1 Corinthians 12:3, 1 John 4:1-3).  In that spiritual growth and discernment, you begin to recognize what is right and what is wrong, according to God’s Word, even when the specific named position or activity is not explicitly listed in the “dos and don’ts” of the Bible.

A General neglect of the Bible (Matthew 4:4, Jeremiah 15:16, 2 Timothy 3:16-17): God’s Word is “sufficient”, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  It is complete, and can equip, teach, correct, and help us to become more righteous.  Jeremiah referred to “drinking” the Word of God, which brought him joy because it opened his eyes to the truth that he belonged to God.  Jesus in Matthew 4:4 compared the Word of God to nourishment that sustains life.

In general, Christians do not spend the time in reading and praying through the Bible.  We can make many excuses, but the fact of the matter is – neglect of God’s Word is due to our priorities being not focused on God.  Even many preachers and pastors will secretly admit that they don’t spend as much time in the Word as they should or would like!  But for many, the lack of emersion in the Bible leads to thinking and actions being void of God’s point of view.

I have often said (and heard said) that if a professed Christian has to ask if he or she can do something as a Christian, the answer is probably “you shouldn’t”!  The fact that you have to ask in the first place is a sign that the spirit is already telling you “no”, but you are trying to find a way around it.

As to positions on moral issues (abortion, homosexuality/”homosexual marriage”, etc.), again, to you truly believe the Bible?  Do you take it for what it says (the full council of scripture), or do you prefer to pick-and-choose, and interpret according to your emotions and fleshly desires?

When we spend time in God’s Word and prayer, the Lord will apply and engrave it in our hearts.  We are better equipped to recognize (discern) the truth, and as we grow in Christian Grace, we no longer are deceived when scripture is taken out of context, misquoted, or completely abused.

Words have meanings.  Words in context have much more meaning.  Are you willing to set aside your own desires of the flesh, your own emotions, and accept God’s Word?  If you pick and choose, you are really saying that the Bible is not trustworthy.  If that is your belief – then maybe its time to ask “am I a Christian”?

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