When Questions Become Their Own Answers

By Jeff Laird

At BibleRef, we believe seeking answers is a good thing. That's not merely a preference, it's part of our obligation as Christians. God expects us to examine our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), fact-check what we hear (Acts 17:11), use cautious skepticism (1 John 4:1), and apply good thinking (Colossians 2:8). Those who follow this sincere, faithful fact-seeking will find what they are looking for (Matthew 7:7-8). Namely, the actual truth, rather than worldly opinion or some other error (Ephesians 4:25).

This doesn't mean that all questions are beneficial. In fact, there are times when continuing to ask certain questions becomes its own form of disobedience. As G. K. Chesterton said, open minds are like open mouths: they are meant to be closed, eventually, around something beneficial. It's not uncommon for a person to seek out different opinions, reject the consistent answers, then settle on a view which — conveniently — matches the stance they wanted to confirm in the first place. That kind of "seeking" isn't "seeking" at all, not in the sense the Bible intends. As such, insincerely asking questions (truth-shopping) becomes a spiritual problem in and of itself (2 Timothy 3:7).

However, there is an even sneakier way in which questions become spiritual roadblocks. This is when the questions themselves are clear evidence of a problem. This comes in two forms: a lack of conviction, and an obsession with consequences.

It's good to look at our behavior, and our plans, and ask "is this a sin?" before we actually act. Truth be told, sometimes we'll find ourselves asking that question after we've already acted. Either way, we are supposed to examine our actions in light of our faith. What many Christians don't realize is that our attitude can impact whether some specific act is sinful or not. According to the Bible, acting when we're not convinced that our actions are righteous is a sin (Romans 14:23). This comes up in biblical counselling all the time: if you have to ask more than once if something is a sin, then it is a sin, at least for now, and at least for you! At the very least, you'd be sinning by acting contrary to your Spirit-guided conscience. Acting, when you're still asking is not spiritually wise.

The other warning sign offered by our questions is when we focus on consequences, or how to ease them, when discussing sin. There are times when we clearly recognize a certain behavior as a sin. Why, then, would we entertain thoughts such as "will the consequences be that bad if I do it?" or "God will still forgive me," or "can I recover from it and still serve God?" Those are not the notions of someone seeking to obey God's will — those are the thoughts of a person looking to excuse their sin. The practical application of this is difficult, but crucial: if we find ourselves weighing the consequences of some sin, we we're clearly on the edge of committing it.

No question, in and of itself, is wrong for a Christian to ask. Context is everything, in our own discipleship as well as in Scripture. Sincere queries about sin, consequences, and so forth have a place. The flip side of this is that some questions, in some situations, reflect a spiritual problem which needs to be addressed. The very fact that we're asking them can, at times, provide all the answers we need. Do we repeatedly ask if something is morally wrong? Then, for us, it is. Do we find ourselves looking for the "bright side" of our own sin? Then we need to run from it. Sincere, seeking questions are a legitimate part of our spiritual growth. Using them as an excuse to dawdle around the edges of sin, however, is not.

Image Credit: Veronique Debord-Lazaro; "What?"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Sin-Evil

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Published on 2-28-17