Episode 064 | Is This Ok?
Can Christians get help from hypnotists and mediums? What about marrying someone who is divorced or reading the “other” books from the bible? Sometimes things just aren’t quite black and white, especially when you’re trying to follow Jesus. Listen in as Pastor Matt gives real answers to tough questions about what is and isn’t sin.
It’s the age old question when it comes to morality and doing the right thing: “Is this ok?”
In the episode following Pastor Matt’s very honest answer to a question about whether or not remarrying after divorce is a sin, Pastor Matt talks further about why his response may have surprised some people and why it’s necessary to understand what a big deal divorce really is.
This topic leads the way to a discussion about the very real difference between sinning and doing the wrong thing and a better question to ask instead of “Is this a sin?”
The conversation continues as the group goes over whether we should follow Christian leaders or just Jesus, who you should confess to and what to do when you know people who attend a church that doesn’t believe in the trinity.
As the “is this ok?” topics continue, Pastor Matt, Tim Hawley and the newly married Stephanie Schaefer talk through how to approach the “banned” books of the bible, hypnotists, TV mediums and tarot cards and where to draw the line with drugs and alcohol.
This Week's Topics
My husband left me and after my divorce, I became a Christian. Does this mean that I can not remarry because if I do I would be committing adultery?
As Christians we should understand the seriousness of divorce. We cannot un-one what God has made one, however there are some situations that are out of our control. According to Jesus, in this situation the where a woman is divorced because she was abandoned by her husband, remarrying would not be considered adultery. While there is a difference between the sins we committed before we start following Jesus and the sins we commit after, we are all sinners and we all deserve judgement. But by the grace of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross we are forgiven. The Bible takes divorce more seriously than our culture does. But as Christians we cannot live our lives by American culture and what it says about things like divorce, because we aren’t going to stand before the U.S. Supreme court on judgement day, we will stand in front of Jesus and his ruling is final.
From your message a few weeks ago, you stated something to the effect that we should only follow Jesus and not follow you. But twice in 1 Corinthians, Paul says to imitate him. Isn't it ok to follow a Christian leader?
That is true. Unlike our culture where we have a tendency to idols out of celebrities and leaders, Paul needed to advocate for his own authority in this situation. He is worthy of following because he is following Jesus. It is good to follow after those who are genuinely following Jesus, and it is good to follow your pastor as a spiritual leader. But keep in mind that people should only follow their pastor as he follows Christ, and we should always keep our focus on Jesus, because people fail and fall.
Who exactly do you need to tell your sins to to allow them to be acknowledged and truly forgiven by God?
James 5:17 says to confess your sins one to another. We should confess to a brother or sister in Christ and look for a solid Christian leader to speak to about it, because sometimes after confession there are some steps we must take. Repentance is multidirectional, we turn away from the wrong and turn toward the right. This is why we need to be in community group and have a Christian leaders who can speak into our lives when we confess.
How should I explain our reasons for believing/celebrating things like Christmas, Easter and the trinity to Christian family members who don't?
While the exact holidays of Christmas and Easter aren’t referenced in the Bible, Christ was born and he did die and rise again, so we celebrate those days. As Christians we believe in the trinity. Again, not because the specific term is referenced in the Bible, but because it is a clear description of the way God is depicted in the Bible. Jesus says in Matthew 28.18-19 “All authority has been given onto me… therefore go out and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” There are verses where we see the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit moving as unique individuals. There is one God who exists in three persons because he is, by nature, a relational God. We shouldn’t try to change a church who denies the trinity, instead we should run from them. People who deny the trinity, deny the deity of Jesus and we should not affiliate with them.
My friend, who used to be a believer, says that I should read the banned books of the Bible, especially the Book of Thomas and the Book of Enoch. Why were they omitted from the Bible in the first place?
The book of Thomas was not found until much later than the text of the Bible, and is more a list of sayings than anything else. It is important that we focus and study on the books that are included in the Bible before expanding out into texts that are not included.
Is seeking help from a hypnotist biblical?
Hypnotism has been known to help some people with certain issues. However, it is a dangerous thing to surrender ourselves in unconsciousness to someone else. It all depends to the hypnotist’s motives and their beliefs but it is likely wise to stay away from this. Jesus is someone we can trust with all that we are going through all the time. We should look to him to help us in what we are going through.
Is it ok to listen to TV show mediums who claim to be gifted by God?
Most of the people we see on TV are just using what they call “gifting” as a form of manipulation. Deep inside human beings is the feeling we need to be led, God puts that inside of us. Some people look to take advantage of this, and they tell people what they want to hear and they manipulate and use them. In the rare case that contact with the spirit world is real, it is from evil and not from God, so beware. The Bible condemns the use of mediums for this very reason.
A couple of family members of mine (who are believers in Christ) periodically go and have an older woman "read their life" through a deck of playing cards instead of Tarot Cards. The woman claims to be a Christian and claims this is ok because she’s not using Tarot Cards. What are your thoughts?
We cannot trust a person who is practicing any form of reading into people's lives. What good will come from a person flipping cards over? As Christians we listen to the spirit of God and we trust the Spirit of God alone. In John 10.10 Jesus says the devil has come to steal and destroy but that he has come to give you life to the fullest. As Christians looking for answers we should go to church, get in a group and listen to the Debrief. Card reading is not from Jesus.
Is my desire to pursue a better career to provide for my family the wrong decision?
Our kids don’t need more money, they need more of us. The time we have with our kids while they are in our homes goes by quickly, so we should do things with our children while they are around. We should include them in activities such as fishing or going to the beach, activities that allow relational time with the kids. We should get rid of the things that inhibit relationship (video games, smartphones) and join our children in doing what they like to do. Wanting to provide for a family is a good thing, but we shouldn’t be focused on owning more things but free ourselves to invest in our families by spending time together.
Where should we be drawing a line when it comes to things like drugs/alcohol? Is it ok or sinful?
Alcohol can be okay when it is used properly. Jesus turned water into wine, and Jesus used wine in the last supper. Having a drink is fine as long as we stop when we begin to feel its effects on our mind. We shouldn’t use marijuana, or any other drugs that instantly intoxicate us because these are mind altering drugs that immediately affect our brains. For those who rely on alcohol or marijuana to relieve stress it is important to begin to deal with the pain and fear that we are running from, rather than masking it with drugs. We should embrace the struggles of life and to work through them, so we can enjoy the blessings of life.