Does “abstain” mean we have the freedom to choose to follow or not?
Good day brother Jeffrey,
I need your help with this translation of Acts 15:20-29 because I do not have the knowledge to read this. I just came across one preacher who said the word "abstain" means to choose not to partake. We have the freedom to choose to follow or not, but I strongly believe that eating blood is a sin. I need your insight on this brother Jeffrey.
Thank you and God bless the La Vista Church of Christ.
"But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (I Thessalonians 5:21-22).
By this preacher's argument, then there is no sin. It would be optional whether to avoid sin or not.
The Greek word apecho has a wide variety of meanings, but when used in the middle voice, such as in I Thessalonians 5:22 or in Acts 15:20,29, the word means to give up something or staying away from something. In English, "abstain" means to "restrain oneself from doing or enjoying something." Since we all have free will, it is always your choice to get involved in sin or to stay away from it. But with choice comes accountability. "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation" (Romans 2:5-8).
"Abstain" is not permission to sin if you want to.
The church in Jerusalem wrote a letter to their brethren. While telling the brethren that they did not send out men to teach that the Gentiles had to follow the Law of Moses, they wanted to make it clear that it wasn't that they were living without any rules. "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood" (Acts 15:19-20). They urged that three things be avoided that were a particular problem in Gentile society: idolatry, fornication, and the eating of blood.
I would hope that this preacher is not arguing that idolatry or fornication is optional (I Corinthians 6:9-10). If these things are intrinsically wrong, then so is the eating of blood.
Thank you so much for a very crystal clear explanation, brother Jeffrey. Ever since the Old Testament, the eating of blood has been forbidden, but he won't accept it. Deuteronomy 12:23 and in the Book of Leviticus say very clearly "do not eat blood." His argument is that Acts 15 is silent in saying "Do not eat blood" and now he is touching another topic regarding the silence of the Scripture. He doesn't understand the concept is there already and they are staying in their old practices of sin. I forgot to ask him if idolatry and fornication are optional or not in his opinion.
I will grasp this opportunity, brother Jeffrey, to ask for help regarding "Patriarchal age, Mosaical age, Christian age." Do you have a detailed study on this topic?
Again, thank you so much for your time and effort in helping me answering my questions. I'm praying that this preacher will not become a false teacher.
God bless you and your family.