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He Didn’t Say Not To”


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Everyone should have reverent respect toward God’s authority. We must never be presumptuous concerning anything that we do in our worship or in our everyday life. In word or deed we must “do all in the name of the Lord” (Col.3:17), i.e. by His authority. Thus, what one should do in worship to God is not what one “prefers” but what one is authorized to do in the Scriptures.

Jesus said we “must worship in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24). To worship “in spirit” is to worship with the proper mindset and attitude. To worship “in truth” is to worship as the truth directs. If God has not directed (authorized) or forbid a particular thing in His word then we must not presume that it is O.K. to go ahead and do it. Neither should we assume that just because a thing was permitted under the Old Covenant that God approves of it today as we live under the New Covenant (Heb. 10:1-9).

Many people practice things in worship which are not authorized in the New Testament such as the playing of instruments, dancing, burning of incense, etc. saying, “They did it in the Old Testament.” But where is the authority for these practices in the New Covenant? Why would one practice these things that were permitted under the Old Covenant and not practice others such as offering animal sacrifices, polygamy, etc.?

The most common religious question asked whenever God has not spoken or authorized a particular thing is: “Why can’t we if God didn’t say not to.” The desire or motivation of this question apparently is that one wants to have as broad a liberty as possible to do as many things religiously as he possibly can. But obviously, if one is permitted to practice a thing just because God didn’t order us not to, then such reasoning permits one not only to do the few things God has mentioned in the Bible , but also the limitless things not mentioned in the Bible. In other words, with this kind of reasoning there is no need for the Bible at all, for then it has no authority as one can do anything he desires.

God’s silence is non permissive. One cannot do any Holy Vible unmentioned thing, for one specific thing forbids the thing not specifically mentioned. For example, God’s command to ‘sing’ (Eph. 5:19) excludes to play an instrument, which is not authorized in the New Testament for worship.

Someone ask, “What good then is the Old Testament?” Though we are not under the Old Covenant and must submit to the authority of the New Covenant, there are many lessons that can be learned from the Old Covenant. One important lesson that is seen many times is the very thing we are discussing– God’s silence is non permissive. For example, in Lev. 10:1-2 we read, “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” Notice that the problem was not that they obtained fire from where God had ordered them not to obtain it. The problem was they obtained fire from where God “had not commanded.” God had specifically told them what to do, but in their reasoning they presumptuously did something that God had not commanded. It resulted in the Lord consuming them with fire. Again, one cannot do any unmentioned thing, for one specific thing forbids the thing not specifically mentioned.


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