“I know this is wrong, but…” “I know the Bible says, but in my case…” “I know that Scripture says not to, but I’ve been praying about it, and…”
WE love to look for ways to get around clear commands of God. In general, we are pro-Scripture. But what do we do when those verses call us to sacrifice? What do we do when those verses show us that the thing we want to do, the thing we desire, is wrong? How often do we look for a loophole? How often do we try to find a way to excuse what we want, in our circumstances?
I can think of a woman, a believer, who was in a marriage that had become frustrating. She was not abused. Her husband had not committed adultery. She just was not getting all she wanted out of the marriage. The wife let others around her know that, she had prayed about the situation, and God had given her a peace about divorcing her husband to marry another man she thought would satisfy her more. She claimed that the Lord had told her, in prayer, that his commands about marriage, divorce, and remarriage simply did not apply, and he was giving her special permission to do something else.
In many cases, we want such a dispensation for disobedience. We want to be able to go our own way and have God tell us, “Oh, it’s OK for you.”
This all came to mind in my reading through 1 Kings 13. There is a really odd little passage here about an unnamed prophet who went from the southern to the northern kingdom to prophesy against Jeroboam. God gave that prophet a clear command not to eat or drink within the borders of the northern kingdom. But then along came another man who said he had heard something different.
1 Kings 13:15-18 –
15 Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” 16 And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, 17 for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’ ” 18 And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” But he lied to him.
The unnamed man of God knew he was not allowed to eat while on this mission. The other prophet flat lied. The unnamed man of God knew what his marching orders were. But he decided that he would rather have his restrictions lifted. So he chose to believe a lie.
What happened next? The unnamed man of God was killed by a lion as a result of his disobedience. And we all feel it was not fair. But we have to learn that God is showing us all that his actual commands are binding. His word is our command. And we do not get a special dispensation from him to disobey him when we find it convenient.
Thankfully, we live in the era of a closed canon of Scripture. That means that God is never, no not ever, going to speak to a Christian a command that contradicts anything that he has already commanded in his word. During the days of the unnamed man of God, new revelations were still forthcoming. It would have been tremendously hard to know if someone might have a new word from God. But, thanks be to God, we are not getting new words from God today. His perfect, completed, inspired words have already been written. Our job is to know, love, and obey those written words of Scripture, and not let anybody throw us off by claiming that God has given them permission to disobey the word.