There are those who really believe they can!
Conversations I have had this past week, many with “professing Christians,” have caused this sermon to stand out more prominently than many of pastor's sermons do, and has caused me to ask myself some important questions – in fact, three important questions. They are:
1. Can a person reject God and still be a Christian?
2. Can a person disregard God and still be a Christian?
3. Can a person live a life of willful and habitual disobedience to God and still be a Christian?
Can A Person Reject God and Still Be A Christian?
The key word here is “reject.” What exactly is meant by “reject”?
The term reject is defined as, 1. a verb, “to dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one's taste.” 2. a noun, “a person or thing dismissed as failing to meet standards or satisfy tastes.” So can a person dismiss God as inadequate or inappropriate or not to one's taste” and still be a Christian; or, perhaps identifying God as “failing to meet standards or satisfy tastes”? I believe that for some professing Christians, the answer is yes, and I would point to those conversations I have had this past week as examples of this.
In a conversation I had with a professing Christian, I was told by this person that they felt their ability to separate their faith life from their public life was an admirable attribute. They felt that not only did God not belong in the workplace and even more so through them, but that mankind and man's law were actually higher than and more authoritative than God and God's law. Is this person rejecting God? According to the above definition, yes. They have decided that God law did not meet the standard but that man's law did. They have decided that God does not satisfy the tastes of others in the workplace or public life, and apparently not even their own taste when in the workplace or in public. And yet, they still insist that they are a Christian.
Jesus, however, had something else to say about those who insisted they were truly God's children, while placing man above God when it came to which had more authority. He said in Mark 7:6-8, “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Jesus condemned those who did this, and it is highly doubtful that He would consider as His true followers, those who reject God. I think Charles Spurgeon explained it well when he said,
“To a man who lives unto God, nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him. He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament. He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice.
He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence. To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel.
The Lord hath cleansed your houses, he has cleansed your bed chambers, your tables…He has made the common pots and pans of your kitchens to be as the bowls before the altar— if you know what you are and live according to your high calling. You housemaids, you cooks, you nurses, you ploughmen, you housewives, you traders, you sailors, your labor is holy if you serve the Lord Christ in it, by living unto Him as you ought to love. The sacred has absorbed the secular.”
In another conversation, with a different “professing Christian,” I was told that those who condemn homosexual relationships will have to answer to God for their hate and bigotry, while the loving couples who are involved in committed homosexual relationships are virtually guaranteed entrance into heaven.
I have to admit that I was somewhat shocked that these words would come out of the mouth of a person who professed to be a follower of Jesus Christ, especially in light of God's own words concerning His moral law. God repeatedly condemns homosexuality, whether male homosexuality or female homosexuality, as an abominable sin. Repeatedly.
“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination;” (Leviticus 20:13a)
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:26-28)
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
[with regard to who will not enter heaven] “the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,” (1 Timothy 1:10)
And God is equally clear regarding the definition of marriage – it involves one man and one woman.
But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:6-9)
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2)
Now, while I do understand that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that homosexuals have the right to get married, what the United States Supreme Court, and a great many people in the United States do not understand (and this includes some professing “Christians”), and have an even greater difficulty grasping, is that the United States Supreme Court does not have the power or the authority to over rule God. They are not higher than God, they are not greater than God, and it is the height of arrogance for anyone to believe that they are. They (the Supreme Court and others who look to them as the absolute ultimate law) should also not be surprised when God's people refuse to obey them, or any law or rule or rule maker or enforcer, when they are acting and ruling contrary to God. Acts 5:27-31 provides the true Christian with a pure and reasonable course of action when faced with a situation contrary to God,
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (emphasis mine)
So, again, the question is asked, can a person disregard God and still be a Christian, especially when one disregards the very word of God? Again we turn to the definition of the word to discover its meaning. Disregard is defined as 1. a verb, pay no attention to, ignore, pay no attention/heed to, to disobey; and 2. a noun, disregard; the action or state of disregarding or ignoring something. Indifference, nonobservance, inattention, disobedience. Given the definition of the word disregard, and looking at 1 John 3:4, which says, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” [Note: The Greek word used here to translate “lawlessness' (anomia) is also used to translate the words disobedience and sin], it is clear that one cannot live a life of disobedience to God and still be a Christian.
Can a person live a life of willful and habitual disobedience to God and still be a Christian?
The Bible is God's word to man. It does not merely “contain” the word of God, as some think, but it actually IS the word of God; and a Christian accepts the Bible for what it is, and lives according to what God teaches in the Bible.
A brief side note to those who like to cherry pick passages from the Bible to use as (what they think are) arguments against the Bible. To those I say, before you attempt to do this, read the Bible so you can understand the context of those passages, and take a class in Bibliology so you can understand the difference between civil law, ceremonial law, and moral law. After you do that, we'll talk. Now back to the subject at hand.
We know the Bible is the word of God, quite frankly, because it says so. There is, of course, much more to it, but the basic understanding is here. The Bible states multiple times, “Thus says the Lord,” and “God said,” and “God spoke.” Jesus said to His followers in Luke 24:44-45, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (emphasis mine); and He said in Mark 13:31, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The words of Jesus are Scripture, they are God's words.
2 Timothy 3:15–17 says, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
All Scripture, each of the 39 books of the Old Testament and each of the 27 books of the New Testament, are God's word. Each word was “breathed out by God.” Each word is useful for equipping Christians for every good work. We need nothing more to live our lives for God. There are those who, for one reason or another, believe that Christians should, and should be required to leave their faith at home or in the church. They believe, for one reason or another, that when a conflict exists between the laws of man and law of God, that man must be obeyed and God must be ignored. They believe, for one reason or another, that God belongs only inside a church building, or inside a private residence, or inside the private thoughts of Christians; but must never be allowed into the public square. I say that
it is the height of arrogance for anyone to think they are higher than God, or that they have more authority than God, or that their laws or rules supersede those of God; and when those who believe these things profess with their mouths that they are Christians, then I say, “what does the word of God say about their viewpoints?”
Disobedience to God is sin. Continued, habitual disobedience to God is, well, I'll let God Himself say it. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that He [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him [Jesus] keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:4-10)
If you are going to life a life of continual habitual sin, then you are not a Christian. It doesn't matter what anyone here on earth tells you, because God is the highest authority. He is the Creator, and the creation does not dictate to the Creator. If you come to God, it must be on God's terms, otherwise you are deceived, and if you remain deceived and in your sin – enslaved to your sin, you will face God to give an account for your sin, and you will be judged. 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 gives a vivid description of the judgment that will befall those who continue to reject, ignore, disregard and disobey God. They will be “afflicted” when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)
There is hope, however, for those who with a remorseful heart turn away from their sin and turn to God, through Jesus, to seek forgiveness for their sin, as He will be true to His word and will embrace you and forgive you your sins. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
All Scripture quoted is from the English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers unless otherwise noted.