If you’re curious about Christian behavior, you might be wondering what things Christians can’t do. After all, if you’re committed to your faith you should be trying your best to live in a more righteous way.
Christians are generally expected to be modest and respect and serve others. The goal for their behavior, though impossible, is to live Christ-like (in a similar way that Jesus lived on Earth).
There are certain expectations for us as Christians which include our appearance (yes, it’s true), how we should treat others, and how we should think.
Most of the items on this list are also cultural norms in Western society. This is because Judeo-Christian values helped shaped behavior and governance in western societies.
As a result, behaviors such as lying, stealing, and gossiping are not only discouraged in Christianity but also in secular society (also read my long list of things to pray for).
Understanding Context: What Christians Can’t Do
It is important to understand that the phrase “what Christians can’t do” is not realistic even for those who have the strongest faith. The more appropriate phrase is “what Christians shouldn’t do”.
All Christians, regardless of whether they have been committed to their faith for 50 years or for 1 month, have committed sin and have done things they shouldn’t.
- Have you ever met someone that hasn’t lied?
- How about someone who has never gossiped?
- Is there someone who has never been rude?
The truth is that no Christian is perfect. Many Christians do things they shouldn’t do every day. It doesn’t make our actions okay, nor should it discourage us.
What’s most important is that they are aware of what they shouldn’t do and they commit to stopping those behaviors through self-reflection, reading the Bible (learn when to capitalize Bible), prayer, and accountability to other Christians.
In fact, acknowledging bad behavior and working to improve is what differentiates Christians from many (not all) non-Christians. It is much easier to brush off cheating and ignore it rather than to address the problem and fix it.
Moreover, many people often blame others when something goes wrong. However, true growth comes from those people who look at themselves in the mirror and ask “why did I do that” and “how can I not do it in the future”.
30 Things Christians Can’t Do (Or Shouldn’t Do)
Tell the truth, even if it is uncomfortable. The truth will set you free.
Whether a school exam or on a work deadline, cheating will catch up with you.
Theft is a no no in the Bible and a prosecutable offense in society.
This is a big one. People, no matter how disciplined, gossip. Focus on positive things and talk more about ideas, less about people.
James 1:26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.
5. Instigate conflict
Some of us find enjoyment by making people upset and putting to people against each other. It’s never right, we should promote peace and understanding.
6. Hold grudges
Holding grudges is not Christ-like and it mainly hurts the person who holds onto it.
7. Be selfish
Be helpful and selfless. Want other people to succeed and share the glory.
8. Be flashy
Some of us get addicted to the attention that comes with fancy things. It’s fine to have nice things, but there is no reason to flaunt those things in front of others.
If you’re doing well, help others do well also. Don’t put yourself above others by bragging – we learn this as children in school.
10. Commit adultery
Christians know they shouldn’t do this, yet it still happens all the time. Practice self discipline, and make good decisions for your family.
11. Be rude
There is never a reason to be rude. Even when people are rude to you, respond with kindness (and of course stick up for yourself).
12. Be impatient
Impatience isn’t necessarily a sin, but if it results in hurting other people it is. Practice patience.
13. Hold guilt
Guilt can be very detrimental in a Christian. If we experience guilt from a previous decision or mistake, settle it with the individual and with God, then do your best to move forward.
14. Promote sexuality (by dress or lifestyle)
These days it’s hard to avoid. It seems like less is more and pushing the envelope is rewarded. Sexuality is great, but for Christians, there it’s not meant to be promoted publicly.
15. Be greedy
No one likes being around a greedy person. Share with others and give back to the community.
16. Work on the sabbath (historically)
In Western society many business are still open on Sundays, however, in Germany and many European nations, Sunday is still considered a day of rest.
17. Judge others
No one is perfect, so don’t judge others. Instead help and encourage others.
18. Be lazy
Christians shouldn’t be lazy, but we all know lazy people in and out of the church. In fact, I have to keep myself from being lazy too sometimes.
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
Use respectful and kind language. Cursing isn’t every necessary, especially when we use the Lord’s name in vain. With a good vocabulary there are so many other words we can use.
20. Use God’s name in vain
Treat the Lord with respect and use His name in worship, not in anger.
21. Use drugs
There are drugs that help our bodies and others that harm us or spur addiction. Stay away from drugs that can hurt ourselves and others.
22. Anything in excess
As a general rule, doing nothing in excess seems healthy and it can help prevent addiction in the first place.
23. Have improper relationships outside of marriage
Another thing that Christians shouldn’t do, but it’s very common.
Smoking isn’t illegal, but it does hurt our bodies. We know smoking is not good for us. Treat the body as a temple and ingest healthier options.
1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you
25. Have an unhealthy lifestyle (the body is a temple)
The same goes for food and other vices. Christians should treat their body as a temple and focus on good health and nutrition.
26. Have self-pity
At times in our lives we have all felt bad for ourselves. Life has its ups and downs, if you feel yourself in a prolonged period of self-pity, pray to God to help change your mood and outlook on life.
27. Worship false idols
Christians worship God, not other things. This includes money, gold and other worldly possessions.
28. Be arrogant
Be humble and stay humble, even when life is going well and things are great!
Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord
29. Talk down to others or insult
Christians should never talk down to others or insult others. Does it happen? Yes, but Christians should recognize this and improve they way they treat others.
30. Be violent towards others
Violence is rarely acceptable. Practice kindness even when others are violent.
Depending on the denomination of Christian church, there might be additional things that aren’t allowed. For example:
- Nazarene church historically didn’t allow dancing.
- Seventh Day Adventist church does not allow drinking or smoking (even meat is discouraged unless following the Biblical commandments on food).
- Quakers did not allow men and women to sit together.
- Amish folks do not use electricity.
- Mennonite women must wear special dresses and bonnets. Men must have beards.
These types of rules are said to be “extra-biblical” and can often be traced to cultural norms depending on where the denomination had its beginnings. Extra-biblical means that it is a rule not specifically listed in the Bible as sinful.
These practices are also used by the church to be set apart and not conformed to secular culture.
In my experience, this is one reason people have been discouraged with denominations. Sometimes it seems they go out of the way to make extra rules then practice shunning or condemnation of individuals.
Sin in the Bible is very clear. The principle being that we are all separated from God by our sinful nature and all of us need the grace only Jesus offers through his death and resurrection (my best ways to spend time with God).
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are God’s set of principles in the Bible’s Old Testament
- Thou shalt have no other gods before me
- Honor thy father and thy mother
- Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy
- Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
- Thou shalt not kill
- Thou shalt not commit adultery
- Thou shalt not steal
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
- Thou shalt not covet
One of the things Christians can’t do (or shouldn’t) is to judge others, yet judgement may be one of the harshest criticisms of Christian behavior. If you’ve been involved with Christianity, you’ve surely heard the term “hypocrite”.
Hypocrite is a word often used to describe someone who judges others for their actions, when they do the same actions. As touched on earlier, no Christian is perfect and over their lifetime they will do many things they shouldn’t.
But the truth is that we judge each other constantly. It’s not only natural, but it’s also instinctual to judge. And we don’t just judge people. We judge the weather, other vehicles on the road, and situations in work and relationships. We are judging every day (check out these Christian Marriage Retreats).
The term “judging others” is also often confused with assessing or condemning them. We must constantly assess our surroundings and our relationships.
This is the smart way to live. Condemnation of others, however is not ours to give.
It becomes problematic when we judge others in a condescending or self-righteous way. Too often, we tend to look at others and see mishaps without realizing our own challenges.
A tactful Christian can make other Christians and non-Christians feel at ease, even when discussing things they shouldn’t do. God is our ultimate judge yet we can support each other to improve!
Being a Christian is a life commitment to follow God and serve others. A follower of Christ should use their faith to improve their own life, prepare for their future life in heaven, and positively impact the lives of others around them.
This article focuses on things Christians can’t do, however, let’s not focus on the negative.
There are so many things Christians can do! Whether it be spending time with family, going to a sports game, attending a BBQ, or going camping, Christians have plenty to experience with others.
If you’re a Christian, or considering becoming one, it’s important to learn what God expects from you and how you can better serve Him. Reading the Bible, committing to prayer, and asking for accountability from friends and family can help you avoid the things you shouldn’t do.
Faith, just like other commitments in life, takes time to develop and grow. With practice and support, you can live a more Christ-like life.
Not doing the things on this list will not take away from your quality of life or the amount of fun you have. If anything, it may make a better, more reliable, and more disciplined Christian.
2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.