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*Frequently asked questions*
The Bible, the written word of God, is our sole authority in answering all questions pertaining to our spiritual life. However, in reading the Bible, we must keep in mind that the Bible is not written like a book of science where each statement is exact and complete in itself, nor like a book of law where the goal is to elaborate matters in sections and sub-sections so as to avoid loopholes. The Bible is written for the heart, and can be understood in its proper sense only by those who are spiritually minded (1Co.2:14), and who desire to do the will of God once it is revealed (Jn.7:17). Those who want to argue against the word of God can always find arguments, and those who do not want to obey what God says can appear to find words of God themselves to support their stand. Please read the following with an open heart and a willingness to know God's ways and obey them. - Jacob Ninan
1. Can you explain what you mean by compulsive behaviour?
Compulsive behaviour is one in which people feel compelled to do certain things which they think are beyond their ability to stop. Many excuse their behaviour by saying that they were born that way, circumstances made them that way, the devil makes them do certain things, or that they can't help themselves. The message they give is that they are not responsible for their actions. On the other hand there are others who know they are doing something wrong but feel helpless to extricate themselves from their bondage.
2. You seem to imply that all compulsive behaviour is wrong. Is that so?
What anyone considers to be right or wrong depends on how sensitive his or her conscience is. We all know that by doing something wrong repeatedly we can lose the sense of being wrong that we had about it in the beginning. The opinions of people around us as well as what we consider to be norms in society can influence our conscience. But getting to know God closely through His word and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit can refine our conscience and give us true values. When we read the Bible and understand God's mind better, our own thinking will get shaped. It is important to understand God's mind rather than to search the Bible for words, because the Bible does not address all matters literally but teaches us the principles that we need to know for a full and satisfying life on earth.
But to begin with, don't you think that anything over which we have no control makes us something less than what God wants us to be, in terms of free will and choice? Of course some types of behaviour are less harmful than others. But does that mean that those less harmful modes of behaviour will not do us any damage? When God says something is wrong for us does it not also imply that it is harmful for us?
3. Can you give some examples of compulsive behaviour?
We could perhaps group them into areas like substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, smoking, over eating), sexual indulgence (pornography, fornication, adultery, masturbation, homosexual behaviour), money related (gambling, uncontrolled shopping, shop lifting), emotional extremes (outbursts of anger, depression), etc.
4. If people who do some of these things are enjoying themselves, how can you say they are wrong?
Certainly we don't want to pick on anyone. But think of the enjoyment as a very brief affair which finally leads to all kinds of complications and misery in life, and possibly an eternity of suffering from which there is no way out. Isn't it good and necessary to warn people about this?
When God warns against such behaviour in His word, isn't that sufficient reason for us to take things seriously? On the other hand, we just have to look around and see the misery of people who have got themselves tied into knots that seem to be impossible to be freed from.
5. We all have our weaknesses. Why do you make so much out of them?
If we want to be the complete man or woman that God wants us to be, we need to be free from things that distort the full potential of our life or hold us back from enjoying it. Do you want to live with your 'weaknesses'? Wouldn't you rather enjoy the best that God wants to give to us?
6. I smoke a couple of packs of cigarettes every day. Are you saying God will send me to hell for that?
Your question is whether I consider smoking cigarettes to be a sin. Let me ask you another question. If God were to tell you that He would take you to heaven, will that mean that you wouldn't have any problem with smoking? Will you say that smoking is OK even when you end up with a racking cough or lung cancer? The point I am making is that irrespective of the issue of sin, is it good for you to smoke, and is it good for you to be addicted to smoking? Granted that some forms of compulsive behaviour are worse than others, in terms of their moral position as well their adverse results, it may be agreed that all forms of compulsive behaviour make us less than the persons that we can be.
7. I drink a little just on social occasions. I think I have good control of myself.
Perhaps so. But can you guarantee that you will have the same control after you have had some terrible disappointment in life? In other words, when the circumstances put their pressure on you will you be able to stand? Wouldn't it be better if you kept away from such possibilities by closing such doors? Think also about how others who don't have your self control may follow your example of drinking and get caught in the addiction. Just look around and see how many lives are being ruined and what miseries are being caused because of drinks, drugs, etc.
8. I think you are being legalistic about some of these things. Why don't you just keep quiet about the things the Bible keeps quiet about?
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, " And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, ..." (1Co.7:35). Am I trying to put restrictions on you, or trying to tell you what is good for you? Think about it. If people take advantage of the silence of Scriptures to indulge themselves, is it not good to show them a better way?
I have come across a group of Christians who forbid using musical instruments in the church because they are not specifically mentioned in the New Testament. There are other Christians who say that masturbation is alright because the Bible does not specifically mention it as a sin. This kind of argument is not correct, because the Bible is not meant to be a book where every subject is addressed. It is foolish for us to take the Bible's silence either as a permission or as prohibition without trying to apply God's principles to different situations.
9. Surveys have shown that about 10% of Americans have a homosexual orientation, and medical research has indicated that in a lot of cases they are born with their brains already programmed for such a lifestyle. Do you think they are wrong when they live out their natural lifestyle?
It is becoming politically incorrect to say that homosexuality is sinful. People are even scared to say it is abnormal. Actually no conclusive evidence has been shown to prove that some are born with such an orientation! The statistics quoted above have also been shown to be incorrect. If you look around objectively you can see that as years go by the tendency among the masses is to break down rules of moral behaviour little by little so that people no longer consider as wrong what people have considered as wrong for hundreds of previous generations. You will also see the tendency of the media to hype up anything that goes in this direction. As a result of all the media hype many people are fooled into believing what has been wrongly interpreted or not really proved.
10. More and more Christians are getting enlightened to see that homosexuality is an alternate way of life. Why are you gay bashing?
Certainly Jesus does not bash gays or anyone else for that matter. He died for them (and for others). He loves us all. He did not come to blame, but to save (Jn.12:47). We can't afford to judge anyone either. Even if we have not done certain types of sin it does not mean that we will not do them given the right background and the opportunity. All I am saying is that according to the Bible and common sense, certain actions are sinful and bad for us.
11. Will you also say that masturbation is a sin?
I know many Christians are saying that because masturbation is not specifically warned against in the Bible it is alright, or at least it falls into a different category of sin. First of all this is an argument from silence, and that is not valid. At the risk of becoming unpopular let me say what I believe is good. Think about the fruit of masturbation. Is it an act of self control which is a fruit of the Spirit? The more a person indulges in masturbation, the less control he or she will have, and ultimately it may end up in an uncontrollable addiction. Does it lead you to better purity in your thoughts and in your relationship with the others? Remember Jesus said that if we looked at a woman with lust it would be just the same as committing adultery with her? (Mt.5:28). Paul warned Timothy to flee youthful temptations (2Ti.2:22), and not to play around with them.
12. I have tried and tried to control myself, but I always fail at the end.
But still there is hope. Don't you believe that even if you can't win the battle against the odds, Jesus is strong enough to fight on your behalf and give you the victory? Surely He is almighty, and, on top of that, He longs to help you (Is.30:19). He says when He hears your cry He will answer you. Why don't you go to Him and tell Him about your problem as plainly and honestly as you can? Tell Him you want to be free even though you have failed so far. Be sure He Hill listen to you and answer you (1Jn.5:14,15).
13. Many times I thought God had delivered me. But then I get caught unexpectly and I fall again.
We must recognise that we are very weak against our own lusts. Even after we are born again, our 'new man' needs time and constant exercise to become strong. This includes taking time to feed ourselves spiritually by reading and meditating on God's word, spending time in prayer before God and also learning to pray at all times till it becomes our nature, having fellowship with other Christians who are also serious about their life with God (2Ti.2:22), avoiding circumstances and friends that may tempt us again, etc. Remember also that Satan will be very keen to get us back who have been snatched out from his hands. He will attack us when we are weak or when we are least expecting it. Little by little we will learn to be alert. Don't feel too bad if you fall. Confess your failure, get forgiveness from the Lord and go on to victory. Remember, don't lose the war, even if you lose some battles.
If you have got entangled in an addiction, you need help. Sometimes you may be able to get help from God directly when you humble yourself and seek Him. You will have to confess your sins, foolish decisions you have made in the past, and decide to forsake wrong and sinful habits. You can claim forgiveness and victory in Jesus' name because He has won it for you on the cross. Tell the devil and all his demons that they have no hold on you anymore because Jesus has purchased you at Calvary, washed away all your sins with His blood and justified you as though you had never sinned. Change your lifestyle to godly ways.
But if you are not able to handle things yourself, get in touch with others who can help you. Maybe someone can counsel you, pray for you and stand with you. There are also special support groups who have the experience to help out. Don't think there is no hope. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost everyone who goes to Him (He.7:25). He will not turn away a single person who goes to Him (Jn.6:37).
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