When people cannot find a Scripture to defend their religious practices, they often claim, "Well, God never said not to." The idea seems to be that, if God nowhere specifically forbids a practice, it must be acceptable. So we ask, is a practice wrong only if God specifically says not to do it; or does the Bible reveal all the things God wants us to do, so anything that's not included is automatically wrong?
There are 3 principles we must understand. The first principle is that God does not think like we do. Isaiah 55:8 says: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord." We must not assume that God will accept a practice just because we think He should. If a practice is not in the Bible, how do you know God will be pleased by it?
The second principle is that all good works are revealed in the Scriptures - 2 Timothy 3:16,17. If a practice is a good work that God wants us to do, then you can find it included in the scriptures. What about practices that cannot be found in the Scriptures? It follows that, even if God has nowhere specifically said not to do them, the fact is that they are not good works. If they were good works, they would be included in the Bible!
The third principle is stated in Jeremiah 10:23: "It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." Now every religious practice must originate either with God or with man. If God did not invent it, then man must have invented it. But human inventions are not acceptable in religion. In Matthew 15:9 Jesus said: "And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
It follows that, if a practice is not included in what the gospel authorizes for our practice, that practice must be human in origin and makes our service vain. If we go beyond the teaching of Christ to participate in practices that differ from what His word teaches, we do not have God - 2 John 9-11.
Can you find in the Scriptures the things you do in serving God?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 5/2009
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