Monks, Monasteries

Monks (and sometimes nuns) follow human traditions, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, often living in strict obscurity, practising self-denial and religious rituals of prayer and contemplation. This is called asceticism – the belief that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state.

Various religions, including Christianity have had such people who practice monasticism whereby they cloister themselves away from the world, withdrawing to dedicate their lives to pious pursuits and ‘better themselves’. However, the Bible states the key to the Christian life is faith rather than rule keeping and as temptation largely originates from

  Believers are to be 'salt' in society   – Matthew 5:13

within the emphasis is on a changed heart rather than removing oneself from any possible external source (Gal 3:2,3; Jas 1:14). The Bible calls on us to be holy and separate from sin, but not sin (1 Cor 5:9,10; 2 Cor 6:17; 1 Pet 1:15,16).  It’s a case of being in the world but not of it as Jesus taught, who Himself ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mt 9:11; Jn 15:19, 17:14-16; Rom 12:2). He mixed with the people around Him with the intention of influencing them with the values of God’s Kingdom. We too, should live with balanced healthy relationships – intimate one-on-one heart interaction with God, together with strong accountability and special times of fellowship with like-minded fellow believers, and also meaningful connection with those currently not in the Kingdom so we can 'live Christ' before them. 

A monastery or abbey is a building or group of buildings comprising the living quarters and work places for the monks or nuns that facilitated self-sufficiency and service to the community.

While we all should submit to God’s will and calling on our lives (after all He is our master), there is no biblical precedent to adhere (often formalized through vows) to man-made rules and the requirement to withdraw from secular society as monks and nuns do.

The Pharisees lived by many man-made rules and their efforts lead to a self-righteous attitude of what they considered was being in good standing with God, but were seriously deluded (Lk 18:9-14). Self-discipline is highly desirable yet it must be rightly directed in ways approved of by God.

See also: chastity, relate, rules, self-discipline, self-righteousness, vow.