“He Didn’t Say Not To”

By Paul Smithson

A commonly asked religious question whenever God has not spoken to authorized or forbid a particular thing is; “Why can’t we if God didn’t say not to.”  For example someone may say, “I know in the New Testament God says sing in worship, but He didn’t say not to play an instrument—  so why can’t we?”  If one is permitted to practice something just because God didn’t speak to forbid it, then one is not only permitted to do the few things God has mentioned in the Bible, but also the limitless things not mentioned in the Bible. This makes the Bible superfluous, allowing one to do anything desired.

However, God’s silence is non permissive.  Presumptuous is the attitude that says God will accept something when He is silent on the matter.  One cannot do any unmentioned thing and one thing specified by God excludes all other things not specifically mentioned.  For example, in the New Testament God is specific as to what kind of music we are to have in worship.  He only says to “sing” (Ro. 15:9; 1Co. 14:15; Ep. 5:19; Col. 3:16: He 2:12; 13:15; Ja. 5:13) which excludes instrumental music.  If God has not authorized a particular thing in His word, then we must not presume that it is okay to go ahead and do it.

Some people reason that as long as a thing is done in worship to God, He will allow it even though He has not authorized it.   Consider,  Nadab and Abihu generic cytotec.  These “sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord”(Lev. 10:1-2).   God had specifically told them what to do in their worship, but they presumptuously did something that God “had not commanded.”  It resulted in God consuming them with fire.  When God told them what to do, He didn’t have to tell them what not to do as His silence was sufficient.  We must respect God’s Word and His silence.


About the Author
Paul Smithson is the evangelist for the Westwood church of Christ in Tullahoma, TN