An acquaintance of mine, who is a famous psychologist, told me that an amazingly high percentage of Christians with mental problems trace their conflict to the fact that they have not been able to live in their present society because their minds have been programmed by their old church thinking. The ideas of right and wrong in some old denominations are so different from present society that sometimes when a person leaves his denomination he develops mental problems. Naturally, his church leaders say it is because the Devil got him because he left the safety of their fold.
But some social workers say it is because the person is confused about the difference between what the church says is right and what he has learned is right from society.
To make it even more complicated there is a difference between 1.) what the church says 2.) what society says and 3.) what God says.
elders have the right to make any rule they want. If they want to make a rule against eating meat then they have a perfect right to make it a standard for their group (Rom. 14:2). Fish Friday is an example. They can dictate if church will gather on Saturday or Sunday (Rom. 14:5-6). They have the temporal authority to decide if it is right or wrong to drink wine (Rom. 14:21). In other words, they can set all kinds of rules of conduct and as long as you attend there you should obey them.
However, keep in mind that you are finding favor with the men -- not God.
Unfortunately many churches and many denominations teach that their rules are God's rules, and that is not right. The Bible calls them "weak in the faith" (Rom. 14:2). In other words, some church officers are so weak in the faith that they do not know the difference between the rules of God and rules of their church; but the same Bible tells you to keep their rules as long as you are with them, to keep them from stumbling.
Remember, keeping the rules of other people is to keep them (the weak ones) from stumbling. You are free in Jesus Christ to do whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do in your own environment. You are NOT FREE when you are in someone else's environment.
For these reasons it is obvious that some friends had a right to enforce Fish Friday. In other words, as long as the hierarchy or their church set up meatless Friday, and you were a member, then you were obliged to keep their rules and not eat meat on Friday.
If they told you it pleased God -- they were wrong.
If they said it pleased the society and leaders of the church -- they were right.
This explains why some old members are presently having such difficulty. They have now been told that it is all right to eat meat on Friday. They had spent their whole lives abstaining from meat on Friday, thinking they were finding favor with God. Now, they are discovering that it was to find favor with men -- and that is a hard lesson. Some of the recent changes in denominations are a healthy sign.
A word of caution!
Many church leaders flatly state, and some imply, that you must keep all their rules to be saved!
Nothing could be further from the truth!
You must keep their rules to be in good standing with them, but your salvation is a matter between you and Jesus Christ! No denominational or sectarian group has a right to interfere with your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do not believe anyone who indicates that your relationship with God is at stake if you do not do what they say.
Almost every preacher has been asked the question, "Why do you teach that (certain thing) is sin when the church down the street believes it is not?" Naturally he will have a "pat" answer to justify his position.
If our analysis of the answers is correct, then most of the arguments are because many groups have not noticed the difference between: 1.) What Moses said
2.) What Jesus quoted from Moses
3.) What Jesus said
It is amazing that Christians have mental problems with self-condemnation and guilt complexes over things about which preachers still disagree. A very forceful pastor or a strong family tie is indicated in the case of many Christians who suffer from mental problems.
(except religious workers). He gave another chance to every sinner he ever met. Our God is the God of another chance.
Jesus never condemned anybody
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