Denying one's faith

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Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
If a Muslim background believer is threatened with beheading unless he recites the M prayers, is he denying Christ by saying the prayer, assuming he remembers it from his BC years?
What about a Christian young person in a threatening environment. Is it permissible for him or her to learn the M prayer by rote, so as to be able to escape death by repeating it in a crisis situation?
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
If a Muslim background believer is threatened with beheading unless he recites the M prayers, is he denying Christ by saying the prayer, assuming he remembers it from his BC years?
What about a Christian young person in a threatening environment. Is it permissible for him or her to learn the M prayer by rote, so as to be able to escape death by repeating it in a crisis situation?

I can only assume that this is a real thing for you, so I imagine petitions are needed as well as thoughts.

Yes, it is an act of denial. As for saving of life, the friends of Daniel never took that way out. Peter denied Him, and it pained his conscience severely. Denial doesn't save one's life; it causes you to lose it.

But by losing one's life, one gains it.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Professing Christians should have "counting the cost" (Lk.14:27-28) taught them somewhere quite close to the beginning of their so-called walk of faith.

Whose life is it, after one has acknowledged Christ died for it? Col.3:3, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Gal.2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

These are not attitudes to develop, and to arrive at after some late date and long enjoyment of the passing pleasures of this life. But to follow Jesus is to take up one's cross and [prepare to] die, Mt.10:38, "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."

All sins may be forgiven, but some sin or other is one man's (apostate) final turning back to the world. And he may still be protesting that he has not really, just maybe outwardly. Jas.4:4, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

The warnings are there, and plenty. It seems easy to say from the comfort of our houses, in lands where Christianity has had a long presence; and we may not wish to face the test of faith that is dangerously (to the body) present in other places. But to say otherwise is to betray today's martyrs, and even our own kin from generations past, who laid their lives down for the Name of Jesus; to make us beneficiaries (still in this world) of their sacrifice.
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
If a Muslim background believer is threatened with beheading unless he recites the M prayers, is he denying Christ by saying the prayer, assuming he remembers it from his BC years?
What about a Christian young person in a threatening environment. Is it permissible for him or her to learn the M prayer by rote, so as to be able to escape death by repeating it in a crisis situation?

It's a sin, even if committed in fear. It's a worse one if prepared for in advance, instead of preparing oneself to trust that Christ will, on the last day, give back the life-breath that the the enemies of Christ take away.

But if someone has committed that sin, they are as eligible as any other sinner to repent and to be duly restored to Christian fellowship. There have been at different times in church history when rigorists barred deniers of the faith from ever being restored to Christian fellowship, but the courts of the church through the ages have consistently ruled that deniers of the faith can repent and be forgiven just like other sinners can.

If you know someone who has recited the prayers to save their life, know that they are not beyond Christ's power to save. They, too, can repent of that sin like Peter did and enjoy Christ's mercy.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
I can only assume that this is a real thing for you, so I imagine petitions are needed as well as thoughts.

Yes, it is an act of denial. As for saving of life, the friends of Daniel never took that way out. Peter denied Him, and it pained his conscience severely. Denial doesn't save one's life; it causes you to lose it.

But by losing one's life, one gains it.
It is not a real thing as in imminent. But it does occur in my general geographic area. It is relevant at the moment because I'm teaching and discipling some young folks who feel the pressure to 'act Muslim' for some advantages. As things are developing, they will face exactly this situation within their lifetimes.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
It is not a real thing as in imminent. But it does occur in my general geographic area. It is relevant at the moment because I'm teaching and discipling some young folks who feel the pressure to 'act Muslim' for some advantages. As things are developing, they will face exactly this situation within their lifetimes.

Will answer more
Check back
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Does Elisha's "Go in peace" to Naaman apply here (or anywhere)?
I don't think it applies. The general's official function (accompanying his idolatrous king, and doing the part of a menial servant, literally filling the role of a cane when the king bowed and he had to stoop with him) he wishes the LORD might regard as nothing, since he has no more thought of the idol in what he does.

Naaman also had nothing to say, to confess in that idol temple. A stone has no will of its own, but especially no tongue. If the rocks could cry out, they would praise the true God. Naaman is no more revering the idol, than are the timbers and decorations stolen from God to give the idol shelter giving honor to that thing.

It is different, I think, when Jesus has said of our mouths, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven," Mt.10:32-33. Naaman wanted assurance his actions would not be regarded by the all-seeing God as confession.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
@Leslie

Dear sister,

I feel so deeply for you, and I will pray for you and your brothers and sisters.

Pr. Bruce has spoken well already on this, and I second every word of it. Hebrews is clear with many examples: to draw back and disown the faith is an especially dreadful sin, and although as said that those who deny the faith may possibly be restored, still many times those who commit it do not come back. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is pleased to just let that person die in their sins.

Hebrews 10:37–39:
37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Do your brothers and sisters in the faith have access to the Word? If so, the book that would be most helpful is Hebrews. It was written to Jews under pressure to go back to the old Judaistic ways. The message of Hebrews is simple but glorious:

"Christ is better."

Better than property
Better than earthly peace
Better than civil freedom
Better than life on this earth

Renew yourselves in why it is you came to Christ. Wasn't Islam empty? Didn't you find that no matter what you did, you never felt that you were at peace with God? Didn't it fail in making good men out of bad ones? Didn't you continuously feel that you were in your sins and worthy to be condemned? And when you heard of Christ, didn't He cause you to see the ugliness of your sins, that you were worthy to be judged, but didn't you also rejoice to see that all your sins may be forgiven, and that you may be made perfectly righteous, all as a free gift? When your eyes were opened, did you find that you loved God the Father, and that you loved God the Son, and you wanted to do all in your power to please Him?

Was there a counting of the cost at the beginning? Hadn't you weighed everything out and determined that even though you could lose your life for Christ, that He was worth it? And has it weighed on you that an eternity of endless joy with the Father, Son and Spirit and all the church in heaven is worth the difficulties here in this world? And that whatever your difficulties in this life for being a Christian, that it's a far smaller weight than eternal damnation?

How valuable is the forgiveness of your sins? Is it something you can do without? How valuable is Christ? Can you see yourself living without Him and being happy and finding contentment? If so, that's a dreadful place to be in.

Christ is everything to the Christian. He is our "our righteousness, our wisdom, our sanctification, our redemption."

Can you afford to go without His righteousness? Then you have no merit to eternal life.
Can you live without His wisdom You become a fool.
Can you live without being made holy? You become an outsider.
Can you live without redemption? It leaves you in the power of the devil.
Can you afford to be cut off from the Vine? You will shrivel and die.
Can you live without the Bread of Life? You will die in the wilderness.
Are you not willing to be His Bride? It leaves you as an adulteress.
Can you live without the Passover Lamb? You are still in your sins if so.
Can you deny He is God in the flesh as the Muslims would have you do? Then there is no sacrifice for your sins, but only a fearful expectation of judgment.
Would you dare not worship Christ when the angels are made to praise Him?
Can you afford to rebel against the highest of all Kings? This will invite His wrath.
Can you afford to forsake Christ as your Priest? He will not pray for you.
Can you afford to deny the one who reconciled you to God? Then you are an enemy.

To forsake Christ is to trample His precious blood, as though it were no better than a pig's. It tramples the Son, infuriates the Father who sent the Son, and outrages the Spirit who brings Christ to us. The Lord has promised to punish such forsaking severely.

Hebrews 10:26–31 - "For if we sin willfully [that is, forsaking the faith] after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

However, countless brothers and sisters who have gone before you will testify that the battle is far more than worth it. All that the apostle Paul endured were momentary light afflictions, and that the sufferings of this world are not to be compared to the glory that will be ours'.

Remember Abraham, who left Ur because He was looking to Christ. He was looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. Remember Moses, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and would rather endure affliction with the people of God than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. Remember the apostles who most all were martyred because they saw the risen Savior. Remember the martyrs of the early church who went to their deaths with joy for the sake of Christ.

Not only this, but all of heaven is shouting and cheering for your perseverance. Hebrews 12, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. All the saints of ages past and all the angels of heaven are watching, cheering, pleading before God now in heaven that you be granted success. Could all the martyrs who have died speak to you now they would not have words to express what a reward they have received in exchange for their lives.

Are you trusting in Christ? Are your brothers and sisters? Then as Christ said to Peter, "Satan has desired to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail." Satan cannot stand before the prayers of the God-Man whose resurrected body stands in the presence of the Father.

The prayers of Christ the High Priest will not fail to be answered. Live by faith in the Son of God. If so, He prays for you, and you may be confident of success.

As for your Muslim persecutors, remember that Christ is set as the ultimate authority, with a name above every name. They too are responsible to bow down to Christ, and to submit to Him, for He is the King over all kings. He will deal with the persecutors of the church. Perhaps He will convert them as Saul. If not, who can describe the fury of a king whose queen has been abused and violated? May God have mercy on them. He will deal with them. In this life, the next, or both.

May I encourage you.... these are the things God has said. The warnings are real. But also, think deeply upon Christ, why it is you came to Him, what made Him lovely to you, why He is better than all you gave up or will endure, and drawing near to Him in prayer and the Word and fellowship. Renew your faith and love and dedication to Him. Take the book of Hebrews and digest it. Christ had you in mind when He gave this book.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
This reminds me of one of my favorite Psalms. Ps. 63:3-4

Since better is thy love than life,
my lips thee praise shall give.
I in thy name will lift my hands,
and bless thee while I live.

Christians count persecution as joy, as it's an opportunity to confess Christ before men and testify to his Lordship over their lives. Better is his love than life.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Some months ago I asked on the PB whether keeping a burka in one's car (sort of like a fire extinguisher) to put on when travelling through a hostile M area was, in effect, denying one's faith. As I recall, no one had any problem with the ethics of this. Isn't wearing a burka the equivalent of falsely stating 'I am Muslim'? I see some difference, but not a lot, between that and reciting a prayer when it is demanded.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Manner of dress is, arguably, a cultural thing. Culture and dominant religion usually go hand-in-hand, that is they mutually support the other. Christians, who are frequently not dominant, are not obligated to renounce every cultural practice they may have grown up with; any more than they should pick a "Christian name," in preference to their birth name.

Obviously, there are some cultural practices that converts must reject. Foreigners have to decide, when they go into an alien culture, if they are better off adopting certain practices that seem "neutral" to them; or if they are more likely to be ridiculous in the eyes of the natives by so doing. The goal of the missionary is a respectful hearing.

The issue of wearing a burka or a djellaba or a hijab may be dictated by similar concerns, or lack thereof. In the cultural West, where those traditional garments are rare, they are more clearly a statement of identity. Elsewhere, those same garments may not explicitly confess much of anything, beyond a desire to conform to social standards, not give needless offense, or possibly to offer the wearer the safety of anonymity.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
Some months ago I asked on the PB whether keeping a burka in one's car (sort of like a fire extinguisher) to put on when travelling through a hostile M area was, in effect, denying one's faith. As I recall, no one had any problem with the ethics of this. Isn't wearing a burka the equivalent of falsely stating 'I am Muslim'? I see some difference, but not a lot, between that and reciting a prayer when it is demanded.
Is the wearing of a burka something that Christian women do as a matter of course? If they do not wear it and it is an indication that the woman is Muslim then it doesn’t seem right to wear one. In Iran on the other hand all women are required to cover their hair by law so it’s not so identified with Islam. These are complicated situations for sure.
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
In my cultural context, wearing a burka or hijab means 'I'm a Muslim, not a Christian'. Because of this, I won't let my girls wear even a head scarf wound around their heads in the Muslim manner. [Muslims and Christians both wear head scarves, but the manner of wearing them is different.]
At times of civil unrest in M areas, not far from here, driving through, even on main roads, invites violence against one's person and vehicle if the occupants are dressed as Christians. If they are dressed as Muslims, then they will be allowed to pass unhindered. This was the context of my asking whether keeping a set of M clothing in the car for occasions such as this is ethical.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The attackers are clearly hooligans. Their religious veneer is just that, and while I recommend you always to obey the dictates of your conscience, I myself would not consider the simple evasion of identification as a convenient target under their excuse that "those must be Christians," to be strictly a case of denying my Lord.

Avoiding troublemakers is not the same thing as refusing to suffer for Jesus' name, by confessing a lie. The attackers are behaving not as soldiers for a holywar, but as gang members, like street thugs in a western metropolis.

Whereas, in the ordinary walks of life, around your neighbors in civil society, the pacific signals we give away by our dress can be a useful identity marker. That comes to an end when differentiation is used as an excuse for unprovoked violence. I'm thinking of cases where a gang attacks an innocent person who was wearing the "color" of their enemy.

Suppose the society generally went to civil war, and the sides used traditional dress-distinction as a kind of "uniform" for identification. Again, I can't help but think that covering up as a way of making good one's escape is nothing like exercising your freedom to dress as a Christian does in peacetime.

Islm locates sin outside the man; it makes woman into the embodiment of temptation, and man into sin's target. Hence, patriarchal Islmc societies often order women into invisibility. Christianity identifies the individual heart--man's or woman's--as the source of sin; and this attitude liberates woman, which may find visible expression in her manner of dress. The NT puts a bit of a brake on this idea going off the rails too (e.g. 1Tim.2:9).​

Leslie, I haven't had to live your scenario, or make such choices. I pray you have God's peace in your decisions.
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
In my cultural context, wearing a burka or hijab means 'I'm a Muslim, not a Christian'. Because of this, I won't let my girls wear even a head scarf wound around their heads in the Muslim manner. [Muslims and Christians both wear head scarves, but the manner of wearing them is different.]
At times of civil unrest in M areas, not far from here, driving through, even on main roads, invites violence against one's person and vehicle if the occupants are dressed as Christians. If they are dressed as Muslims, then they will be allowed to pass unhindered. This was the context of my asking whether keeping a set of M clothing in the car for occasions such as this is ethical.

I would agree with @Contra_Mundum. I think you make a good distinction between generally dressing in a way that says you are Muslim, versus wearing a disguise to avoid being accosted by vigilantes. It comes down to a matter of what you are or are not saying by wearing the clothing in a given context.

I will add: While Jesus sternly warns us not to deny Him before men, to not fear men who can only kill the body, he does not bar us from saving our lives from persecutors. In Matthew 10:23 he even advises his disciples to flee persecution in a given town; and Paul followed that counsel several times so that he could keep on proclaiming Jesus. Even as you faithfully mark yourself out as a Christian by your dress in your daily life, know that our King does not take the suffering of His people lightly and that he does not demand that you send yourself into danger needlessly.

May God bless and preserve you as you seek so diligently to follow Him in a place were His people face such danger!
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I cannot improve on the advice you have received here, but my heart truly aches for you. May Christ be glorified by your steadfast faith.
 
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