Years ago, I led a Bible study session in which some of the youth asked a simple question, “How much can a Christian sin and still be a Christian?” Interestingly, this question isn’t answered directly in Scripture (for a variety of reasons that I’ll go into in a bit). However, it brings up a major quandary: Have you ever wondered why specific things in Scripture seem inconclusive or that God is ominously silent on certain issues? Why might that be?
While there are several reasons why God might hide information from humanity for a time, I’d like to focus on three major reasons why some things in Scripture appear to be left largely unaddressed or unanswered. The first reason isn’t really a reason at all, but rather a reality:
We often ask loaded questions.
In the case that my youth kids brought up to me, they presupposed that a follower of Jesus had a limit of sin, which also presupposed that a follower of Jesus could pursue sin as long as it wasn’t ‘too much.’ These presuppositions are flawed at the core! A believer is not to pursue sin! (Romans 6:1-2) At the same time, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Obviously, such an answer doesn’t directly answer the question, because the question included presuppositions that were completely false! It would be like asking a hockey player how many bulls he rides while he climbs the cliff in his hockey game. He could answer directly by saying, “None,” but it would give you the wrong impression that he climbs cliffs while playing hockey (among other things)! Instead, to answer you, the hockey player has to instead explain what really happens in his sport - he cannot give you a direct answer to the question. A questioner that imbeds wrong presuppositions within their query asks an illegitimate question. They’ll be disappointed.
A second reason that the Bible may appear silent on a given issue is that God may have already answered our question, but we either don’t like the answer or else we have trouble accepting it. Again, if the reason that someone asks how much sin they can commit and still be a Christian is because they have a sordid past that haunts them, then they need to review passages like I John 1:9. The Bible is clear that if a believer repents of their sin and lives for Jesus in the Spirit, then they are in good standing with God. Do you believe this, or do you doubt God? If God says He forgives, and you’ve done what He’s asked of you, then believe what He says about you.
So, the Bible may appear silent if God’s answer to our question is clouded because of our own unbelief.
Finally, the most common reason that some information is hidden from us is the reality that we would misuse the answers to our questions. For the sake of argument, let’s say that there is an actual number of sins that a Christian can commit and still remain saved. If there were a solid answer to that question (and I’m not saying that there is), whatever answer we unearthed would absolutely be used by our fleshly selves to give us license to sin. We would use the information to make a boundary line for ourselves so we would be sure of our salvation, and then we would intentionally sin right up to the line… and probably go across it!
By giving us that specific information, God would be giving us the very means of disobeying Him, leading to our own undoing!
There are many questions that the Bible doesn’t directly answer, like:
Why did God make me this way?
Why is (name sin here) wrong?
Why didn’t God stop (insert painful situation here)?
And many others, including a host of scientific and cosmological questions.
Humanity has struggled with these and others throughout the ages. However, there is an answer to all of them, if we are willing to accept it. This one-size-fits-all answer is found in Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10, but it may not be the super-answer to everything that you’ve been looking for:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (KJV)” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (KJV)”
At the end of the day, fearing God is the answer.
To conclude his musings on the futility of human endeavor for its own sake, Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13 states, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Though we may not discover the exact informational answers we want this side of glory, fearing God is the answer that informs what attitude we need to have and what we actually need to do.