What direction is your faith taking you? As you “grow in faith” do you find yourself taking more and more stands for righteousness? Speaking your mind about what is right and what is wrong? Fighting and winning more battles against bad habits?
Or do you find yourself experiencing more freedom? Becoming less concerned about what is “right and wrong” and more concerned about people? Experiencing less fear of an unseen enemy? Feeling more love and understanding of differing view points?
As our faith deepens and expands as believers what direction will our faith in Christ take us? True faith empowers us with the freedom to do whatever the hell we want. The Apostle Paul is very clear about this in Romans 14.
“I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.”
I’m pointing out something that I think a lot of new Christians DO NOT realize. Your faith, as it grows, will eventually lead you to a place of freedom to partake in whatever you want. It is the believer with the weak conscience and lack of faith who abstains from eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor. 8).
We are talking about a type of Moral Relativity here. What’s good for me may not be good for you, because your faith is not as strong and tested as mine.
However, you are right to abstain for now:
“But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Again, my point is this: True Faith will lead us toward love and freedom and away from fear. Those who choose not to partake (in whatever) are afraid that somehow by doing “this” or eating “that” they’ll lose God’s blessing.
In The Beginning
Confusion about abstaining from certain things in our lives usually come from our conversion experience. When many people come to Christ they stop certain habits like drinking, gambling, smoking, cursing, etc. Sometimes they are convicted to give up certain pursuits they feel convicted were fueled by intense selfishness. Like a friend of mine who gave up songwriting when he got saved because it was an obsession for him that damaged his relationships with others.
God will help you grow beyond those things. The last things he wants is for people to think that the act of quitting smoking and drinking is what defines their Christian Faith. The reason you felt compelled to quit is because you were using these substances as a sort of Idol or God substitute. But don’t think for a second that EVERYONE who smokes or drinks is worshiping another god. On the contrary! Many of us use alcohol as a means of celebrating the life God gave us.
It is easy to see why many well meaning Christians think of abstaining as a good thing. It seems like the “right” thing to do. “God helped me quit drinking when I got saved, now I’m going to find other things to stop doing to prove how much of a Christian I really am. I don’t want the devil to get me.”
But guess what?! The Devil did get you as soon as you began to believe that the object of the Christian Faith is to abstain from shit!
Faith, Dear Baby Christians, will lead you toward freedom and selfless love not self-inflicted bondage. Faith in Christ allows us to get over ourselves and frees us to focus our energy on others. Jesus taught us that pure religion IS clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, helping widows and orphans, NOT avoiding the needy for fear of associating with “sinners.”
What if we went out into the world armed with the knowledge that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ?
What if we believed that every good gift comes from God?
What if, like Paul, we were “convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself”?
Imagine how these truths could change the way we interact with the world and others. We are not afraid of sin rubbing off on us. We are not going to judge someone who has different convictions as we do.
So what direction is your faith taking you? I pray we all continue in our pursuit of love.
Fear has no place in love and therefore no place in Christianity.