In it I wrote;
“The unity of the Bible is unique when compared other literature in that it was written over a period of approximately 1,550 years, with at least 40 human writers, most of whom did not know each other and were from varying backgrounds (king, fisherman, tax collector, shepherd, etc.). The Bible was written in various environments (desert, prison, royal court, etc). Yet its theme of the fall of mankind, God’s plan for reconciliation and redemption of mankind, and return to the original relationship between God and mankind, flows through the entire bible allowing any passage to be viewed in the context of the entire Bible
Because of its length, diversity of literary styles, and human interpretation many passages when taken out of context can be used to justify almost anything. When taken out of context people can be duped, hurt, and deceived.There are some passages of scripture that are taken out of context more than others. Most of the time they are not used to hurt or deceived but they may have that effect others both Christians and non-Christians.” We must avoid forcing scripture to fit our own lives and circumstances. It not only sets us up for disappointment, but discourages new Christians as they come to know the character of God.When we make scripture about us and our material good, we set ourselves up for spiritual failure. Paying attention to the context of a verse, and even better yet, the context of the Bible as a whole, alleviates this problem, and allows us to know God more fully and truthfully."
It’s okay and even Scriptural to condemn sin in the body of Christ, but you need to be Scripturally accurate about what is sin, and what is not. That’s where many Christians fall short. It’s not who is right, it’s what is right: the Bible.
When our differences, even in Biblical interpretation, become a point of condemnation, rather than conversation or conviction of the Holy Spirit, the enemy wins more ground in the battle to divide and conquer.
Here are 5 things Christians often condemn and what the Bible actually says: (From 5 Things Christians Often Condemn and What the Bible Actually Says by Alicia Purdy
At some point or another, every person in the world has looked at another person and drawn conclusions about them based only on what they’ve observed. It’s not bad. It’s human. As Christians, however, being “human” isn’t the point, being spiritual is. Remember, you are not a natural being having spiritual experiences, you are a spiritual being experiencing the natural world. And the natural and the spiritual worlds will always conflict. No surprise there!
But within the body of Christ, the conflicts run deep and wide over any number of things: Are spiritual gifts still in effect today? Should Christians ask Mary to pray for them? Are there still apostles? Did God predestine who would get saved or is salvation freely available to all who would choose it?
1. Is Smoking a Sin?
There are no clear Scriptures in the Bible about smoking cigarettes or smoking anything else, just to put that issue to rest upfront. Smoking is not a “sin” however, it will certainly destroy your body, shorten your life and the lives of the people you love, and keep you trapped in an addiction.
You know who would love to see all of those things happen to you? Satan.
Many Christians secretly condemn smoking as a sin or judge smokers for being spiritually immature or carnal. While smoking is a sign of being stuck spiritually...where the Bible is silent, we must be too. Is smoking a carnal behavior? Yes. Is it smelly and rude? Yes. It is part of the “old nature” peeking through? Yes. Is it a dangerous addiction that can lead to a spiritual stronghold or a stumbling block? Yes.
The Bible does say to “put away” these things and “embrace the new nature” (Colossians 3:5-12), but it’s not a sin. Put your stones away.
Accusing in Others What We Excuse in Ourselves
Here’s the biblical truth:
There is none righteous, no, not one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, no, not one. – Romans 3:10-12
We all have carnal behaviors we need to crucify and because of Jesus Christ, we are still considered worthy. Thank you, Jesus! You’ll never be able to condemn someone into quitting cigarettes, but the Holy Spirit can convict them. That’s His job. You can pray for them, just as someone out there is praying for you. The Bible says your job is to:
Bear with one another and forgive one another. If anyone has a quarrel against anyone, even as Christ forgave you, so you must do. (Colossians 3:13)
It also says:
If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)
This means all—even the smokers!
2. Are Tattoos a Sin?
The book of Leviticus holds the prize as the most-used reference for legalistic, traditionally-minded or aging Christians everywhere and there’s even a go-to verse for tattoos. It’s Leviticus 19:28:
You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord.
That argument, while antiquated and out of context is still used to point to the Lord’s desire that “cuttings in your flesh” not be made. However, even if you got a tattoo with a picture of your mother after she’d died, Levitical law was fulfilled by Jesus Christ which means it’s not a sin, although many Christians wrongly condemn tattoos that way.
But wait. Isn’t your body a temple of the Lord? Yes. And He’s so happy every time anyone invites Him in!
The Heart of the Tattoo Matters
“Don’t be conformed to this world,” Paul wrote in Romans 12:2. Are tattoos conformity to the world’s systems? What if someone with a lot of satanic tattoos gets saved and never gets more, but someone who is more mature in Christ gets a cross tattoo as an expression of their faith? If you observed them both on the street, who would you naturally think was the sinner?
These are the same issues the Pharisees were bogged down with. They were so absorbed with the outward perfection that they “neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith,” Jesus said. (Matthew 23:23)
God doesn’t care about tattoos in the grander scheme of things. He cares about the Kingdom. He was very clear about anything pertaining to the outward man when he said, “The Lord does not see as a man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Did you vote for Donald Trump? Did you vote for Barack Obama? Did you vote for who deserved it on their merits? Are you pro-life? Small government? Should anyone be able to marry whoever they love? Are you fiscally conservative, but socially moderate? Do you think the government should stay out of women’s healthcare? Should illegals get driver’s licenses? What do you think about “the wall”?
Christians can’t even agree on which translation of the Bible is the most accurate, let alone how to proceed politically. And yet we all have our opinions about how a “Christian” should vote; and we condemn those who don’t vote one way or another.
Paul said this:
...for you are still worldly. Since there is envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not worldly and behaving as mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)
How Would Jesus Vote?
At the end of the day, no matter how you “feel” or what your experiences are, your primary responsibility as a Christian blessed with a civic choice is to make choices that reflect the principles of the Word of God.
God isn’t unclear about His feelings on how to prioritize any of the issues we fight over. You just have to know the Word well enough to hear what He has to say. Most Christians won’t stop talking about their opinions long enough to hear God’s opinion on these matters.
Should a Christian be a Democrat or a Republican? What if a Christian were just a Christian, in all the fullness of knowledge, maturity, and relationship with the Lord and His Word? How about, instead of condemning incorrect political views, we all commit to: “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
4. Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin?
“Christian liberties” are always going to be a hot topic within the faith because they’re areas where the Bible isn’t explicit. We love clear delineations; and yet the Bible is vague on the subject of drinking alcohol.
Paul advised Timothy to drink wine to help an upset stomach (1 Timothy 5:23) and Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12).
But some argue that the wine consumed in Bible times wasn’t the same strength as the wine produced today. “Do not be drunk,” Paul wrote. “Because it’s reckless…” (Ephesians 5:18)
So is drinking “wrong” or sinful? No, not according to the Bible. Yet Christians love to criticize and condemn each other for how we each handle it, and label it as carnal or sinful. There are plenty of other actions Christians do that can be more damaging and addictive than drinking, such as gossip, slander, unforgiveness, jealousy, and rebellion.
A Sip of Wisdom Regarding Drinking Alcohol
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says: All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything.
And there’s the point! Is drinking a potential stumbling block? Yes. Is it a potential slippery slope? Yes. Do you have an enemy who would love to use your drinking to ruin your life or the life or someone else? Yes. Is drunkenness a problem for Christians? Yes.
If you drink are you drunk? No, not necessarily. Where is the line? That’s between you and the Holy Spirit. In 1 Peter 5:8, we’re reminded to: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Also, the Bible advises in Proverbs 23:29-30: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long at the wine, those who go to seek mixed wine…
The bottom line: You’ve been set free from the law through Christ, so don’t let anything enslave you ever again.
5. Is Homosexuality a Sin?
God doesn’t judge Christians on a “sin scale.” There is no “worse” or “better” sin or struggle in His eyes—so why is there in our eyes? Why do so many Christians feel more comfortable around people who are unsaved than a homosexual who has received Christ?
Even if a gay person has received Christ and is still working through the sanctification process in their sexuality or is still struggling with same-sex attraction, many Christians wrinkle their noses behind closed doors. Why is that? Maybe there’s a stronger “ick” factor because of social programming, but in God’s eyes all sexual immorality, including heterosexual lust or an affair, is the same.
Most Christians find homosexuality to be so repugnant that they can no longer even look at a rainbow without seeing the homosexual agenda when, in reality, the rainbow is the symbol of God’s promise to send Jesus Christ one day.
Not every rainbow is a Pride flag and not every homosexual is lost in their sin. Some homosexuals are Christians. They just have very different struggles than most, ones that are incredibly difficult to overcome.
Condemning a homosexual who has received Christ but hasn’t renounced their sexual sin, or criticizing a pastor for not taking a “stronger stance,” or trying to press someone to change something the Lord hasn’t gotten to yet isn’t biblical thinking.
The Holy Spirit knows what needs to be addressed and when. Trust Him. For someone who is truly a “new creature in Christ,” those old things will pass away and all things will become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17-22) When? As soon as Jesus is done perfecting all your stuff, they’ll probably be all set too!
Remember: Conversation, not condemnation.
If your desire is truly to see the Kingdom of God grow, you must love people as Jesus does. You must see them as He does. He is longsuffering to us all. Thank the Lord He has been patient with you and me in our own areas of struggle sin, as we all fight the flesh and run the race that is set before us!