Ask Your Preacher
A few months ago, I read something I felt was bad about God on the internet. One night, out of nowhere, I had a thought of what I read come across my mind. I asked for forgiveness, and I tried to forget about it. I thought of it again a day ago, and now it is haunting me. Will God forgive me?
Sincerely, Frustratingly Fixated
Dear Frustratingly Fixated,
There is a difference between something popping into your brain and you purposefully dwelling upon an evil thought. Everyone has random thoughts and random ideas entering their mind – it is what you do with those thoughts that matter. The devil placed the thought of betraying Christ into the mind of Judas (Jhn 13:2), but when Judas acted upon those thoughts, he sinned (Lk 22:48).
James explains how sin is conceived in the mind, but then it is brought forth and born when we dwell upon it (Jas 1:14-15). From what you have said, you haven’t sinned yet. However, it is always a good idea to counteract ungodly thoughts with godly thoughts. Do what Paul told the Philippians – dwell upon good things, and the positive will begin to replace the negative (Php 4:8).
If sin, pride, coldness, and self-will are hindrances to walking in the Spirit, why is pride so acceptable among Christians, and should that be okay?
Sincerely, A Humble Heart
Dear A Humble Heart,
In English, we use the word ‘pride’ in three different ways – two positive, one negative. The Bible condemns pride that is arrogant and haughty (Jas 4:6). When someone is “full of pride”, we mean that they are self-willed and unwilling to yield to God’s authority. This kind of pride is always wrong.
In English, we also use the word ‘pride’ as a way of explaining attention to detail. If someone says, “I take great pride in my work,” they mean that they are careful and meticulous to do the job properly. That type of pride is pleasing in God’s eyes. God wants christians to work hard and have an appreciation for doing things properly (Col 3:23).
Lastly, the word ‘pride’ is used to express how we feel about things. When someone is “proud of their child”, they are expressing appreciation… which is perfectly appropriate. Paul constantly showed appreciation for the brethren (2 Thess 1:3). Paul would even single out individual christians, like Priscilla and Aquila, for specific praise and acknowledgement (Rom 16:3-5). This kind of pride is also acceptable.
The word ‘pride’ can be confusing because we use it more broadly in English than it was used in Greek. The context of a situation will tell you whether the word is being used in a moral or immoral way.
Is it okay to listen to “Christian Music”? I know the Bible says to sing and make melody in your heart, but outside of church and worship, can you listen to instrumental Christian music? I feel like it's better to listen to than some of the other stuff that is out there.
Sincerely, Rhythm And Lyrics
Dear Rhythm And Lyrics,
It isn’t inherently wrong to listen to “Christian Music”, but it is worth considering the effects it will have upon your influence, your behavior, and your conscience. You are right, God asks us to worship Him through singing and making melody in our heart (Eph 5:19). God never asks for any instrument to be plucked but our heart strings. That is the worship He asks for, and that is the worship we should give Him - no more and no less (Rev 22:18-19, Deu 4:2).
If you are going to listen to religious music with instrumental accompaniment, you must understand that they recorded it as a form of worship as well as a form of entertainment… which is wrong. Therefore, by buying and actively listening to such music, you may be sending mixed messages to others and supporting an industry that is built upon a false teaching. We have to consider how our behavior looks to others (Matt 5:16). Just because you know anything but acapella worship is wrong doesn’t mean others would.
You also must consider your behavior – are you singing along with the music? If so, are you worshipping God with the words of the song? It is not always easy to discern the line between singing along as a form of entertainment and singing along as worship. You must decide for yourself if your behavior crosses the line between personal enjoyment and active participation in a form of worship God doesn’t desire.
Which brings us to the last question – does it bother your conscience? If you cannot feel completely convinced in your mind that what you are doing is acceptable before God, you have to refrain. Whatever cannot be done in faith is sin (Rom 14:23). If you consider your conscience, your influence, and your behavior before God, only then will you be able to come to a sound personal decision on whether or not you can listen.
Assuming you were baptized by immersion for the right reasons, is there ever a need to be re-baptized? What if there was a period you feel you were not living as a Christian?
Sincerely, Wanting To Be Sure
Dear Wanting To Be Sure,
If you were baptized right the first time (see this post for proper baptism guidelines) – then you don’t need to be baptized again, even if you fell away for a period of time. Consider the case of the man who got caught up in the disgusting sin of sleeping with his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1). The church at Corinth was told to withdraw from that man (1 Cor 5:13). Later on, that same man repented and came back to the Lord. Paul told the church that they should forgive him and his prior punishment had been sufficient (2 Cor 2:6-8). If someone can get caught up in that sort of depraved fornication and not need to be re-baptized, I think we can confidently say that no one needs it.
If someone falls away from the Lord, they must repent and return to God (1 Jhn 1:9). When they draw near again to God, He will draw near to them (Jas 4:8).
In the Old Testament, when asked His name, God tells Moses that it is “I Am”, which I understand to mean that He has always been, is, and will always be. Later, He is called Jehovah… what does the name Jehovah mean?
Sincerely, “I Am’s” Servant
Dear “I Am’s” Servant,
‘I Am That I Am’ is the name God gives Moses for Himself in Ex 3:14. In the Hebrew, ‘I Am That I Am’ is a single word. The word is pretty much unpronounceable in our English language. In English, it would be like pronouncing ‘YHWH’ which sounds like jibberish! So Jewish scholars began to transliterate that word as ‘YeHoWaH’… which eventually became translated as ‘Jehovah’. So in fact, ‘Jehovah’ and ‘I Am That I Am’ are the exact same word - and they do indeed mean that God always has been, is, and will be (Isa 44:6, Rev 1:8).