I saw a rather alarming claim on Facebook this week. Someone said that "the Bible was supposed to be words of encouragement." What they went on to say was that people shouldn't tell them what the Bible said was right and wrong because GOD LOVES EVERYBODY. Because we can't know what God wants from us.
Do these people read the Bible?
Of course God loves everyone. God doesn't approve of everything those people do. Actually God hates quite a few things. And He tells us what they are; He's not trying to be a mystery.
What part of the Bible do they read to be words of encouragement? The part where Jesus says we need to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily? (Luke 9:23) The part where it states we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God? (Rom. 3:23) There is nothing in the Bible to make us feel good about ourselves because it's not there to exalt us, it's there to exalt Christ. We aren't supposed to feel good about ourselves when we read the Bible.
Of course the promises of the Bible are comforting; but they are based on God's character, not our own. And there are some powerful verses that you can grab a hold of to encourage yourself in life but usually the mantras are used out of context (think Philippians 4:13).
The Bible tell us what its purpose is. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
It does not say that all scripture is designed to make us feel good about ourselves and validate whatever choices we feel like making. It never says that.
Of course God loves us (John 3:16). There is forgiveness for our sins (1 John 1:9). But there is sin; everything is not ok. It tells that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9). Don't even get me started on the Christians who say to follow your heart; that's the stupidest advice I've ever heard. We are to keep our heart (Proverb 4:23). We are to rule our spirits (Proverbs 25:28).
The Bible is not a feel-good book. That's not the purpose of the Bible.
-doctrine- what we believe. We are supposed to determine what we believe based on what the Bible says.
-reproof- censure for a fault. The Bible tells us when we mess up.
-correction- like a course correction. The Bible brings us back in line with the truth.
-instruction in righteousness- personal instructor. The Bible teaches us the right way.
None of that particularly sounds encouraging to me. Instead I see a lot of "the Bible is going to tell me where I'm wrong." My ways aren't God's ways so it stands to reason that I'm going to need corrected a lot. That's not inspiring to me but it is necessary. If I go my own way I make a mockery of what Christianity is supposed to be. If I go my own way I represent Christ poorly to the world.
We need to get rid of this notion that the Bible is a happy book designed to make us think happy thoughts about ourselves and others. Hebrews 4:12 has this to say about the Bible, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asuder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
The Bible is supposed to pierce us and show us our sin. So yes, it's fine to state that sins are sins. It should be done in love but it should still be done. Don't use the Bible as an excuse to allow anything you want. Read it and see what it actually says.