Ask Your Preacher
Does God understand our own personal faults even if we don’t?
Ps 1:8 says that God knows even our secret sins. God is aware of all that we have done in this life; He is even aware of the number of hairs on our heads (Matt 10:30). God weighs our hearts (Pr 21:2) because everyone feels that we are living good lives, but that doesn’t mean we actually are. That is why it is so important that we let the Bible be the lamp for our feet (Ps 119:105). Many people will plead ignorance on the Day of Judgment, but God will render to each of us according to a higher knowledge of our lives and hearts (Pr 24:12). All you can ever do is let the Bible be your faithful guide (Rom 10:17), and don’t lean on your own understanding (Pr 3:5).
I'm a christian who hasn't smoked or drank alcohol in ten years and started back up about five months ago. I've prayed and prayed. I feel very condemned... what can I do?
Off The Wagon
Dear Off The Wagon,
The only thing to do is to repent and get back to the same habits that kept you clean for ten years. God tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 Jn 1:9). Assuming that you have properly taken the steps to become a christian (read "Five Steps To Salvation" for details on what it takes to be saved), confession and repentance are all that is needed. Pr 24:16 says that a righteous man may fall seven times, but he rises again. Just get back up and keep trying. Ten years is a wonderful success story. You did it once; you can do it again.
Hello, I think this is my fifth question to you guys. I am a bit new to Christianity. I feel really out of place in church and appreciate all the answers so far. I have read the Bible but don't fully understand it; I'm workin’ on it. I had an experience with God where He showed me that He was real, and I started reading directly after that. This question revolves around will. After my first experiences with God, I felt a dramatic change in my life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to follow the rules to a tee. I wanted to do God's will and have His will done through me. I would've done just about anything, and I could strongly sense God controlling and leading my life. He was presenting opportunities and challenges and speaking to me on a very normal basis. This feeling slowly dwindled, and I don't know how to get it back. Furthermore, to be quite honest, I don't really WANT to get it back. At the present, I don't want to get close to God by doing His will, studying, or even praying sometimes. I would rather do my own will. I know it's wrong. I know our relationship with God is the only thing on this world that really matters, but for some reason, I just don't really feel like doing it.
But I would like to feel like doing it because I know I should. That was the single greatest feeling I've ever experienced, but for some reason (I don't really know why), I just don't seem to want it anymore.
Not In The Mood
Dear Not In The Mood,
Our closeness to God isn’t defined by how close we feel to Him or by any personal revelation we think we receive… the Scriptures are our compass, not our emotions. When the Bible was perfectly completed, all prophecy and individual revelations were done away with (1 Cor 13:9-10). Paul told Timothy that he was approved by God when he rightly handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Col 1:5 says that we have hope through the Word of God, and Eph 1:13 says we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of salvation.
Many people wholeheartedly believe that they are pleasing to God but will be condemned on the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:22-23). Feelings can be deceptive, but God’s Word is unchanging, unbiased, and able to rightly divide our lives and character (Heb 4:12). If you want to know whether or not you are pleasing God, compare your life to the Scriptures. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).”
It is very common for people to have an initial burst of enthusiasm when they first learn about Christ. Matt 13:20-21 tells about the person that has an unrooted love of God – that is true for lots of folks. The key for you is that you need to be different. You need to put out the effort even when you don’t feel like it. We are defined by what we do when it is hard, not when it is easy.
Part of your problem may be that you aren’t amongst a group of people that are feeding you the Word of God. Many churches teach emotionalism but not Scripture, and that leaves you feeling defeated the first time things get difficult. If you would like help finding a congregation near you that faithfully stands by God’s Word, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help you locate one.
I am nineteen and would call myself a faithful christian for a couple years now. I am fearful of judgment, though, because I still occasionally sin in ways that I repented of and asked God for forgiveness. As I first grew, I tried stomping out sin in my life. I have, by the power of God, overcome a lot of ensnaring sin. I know this is how it's supposed to be, and one doesn't become perfect overnight, but I still stumble in ways that will always be my weaknesses. I don’t feel that Christ's blood doesn't have the power of forgiveness or that God isn't faithful to forgive, but instead I feel that I've already asked for forgiveness too many times after baptism and repentance.
1 Jn 1:9 says that God is prepared to forgive us if we confess our sins, and Matt 18:22 says that God will accept our honest repentance an infinite amount of times. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps 86:5). Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people (us here at AYP included!) hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God’s standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20), so even if you don’t feel forgiven, that doesn’t mean you aren’t.
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God’s teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn’t about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time… just like all areas of growth.
Hello, I have a question about sacrifice. I have read where the Israelites had to make sacrifices on certain days to atone for their sins. I am also aware that the sacrifice of Jesus has made this unnecessary. But I do not understand how taking the best portion of your livelihood and burning it would atone for your sins. I also do not understand how Jesus' sacrifice atoned for all the sins of the world.
How does destroying the most precious things equal forgiveness from God? How does Jesus’ perfect sacrifice save us? What do these acts actually DO?
Dear Sacrificially Stymied,
The Jewish sacrifices of bulls and goats never did atone for sins (Heb 10:4); all they did was teach that forgiveness from sin came with a cost. God teaches us that when we sin, the wages of that sin are death (Rom 6:23). The Jews learned that lesson by making sin offerings. When the sinner laid their hand upon the head of the innocent animal, they symbolically transferred their sin to that beast (Lev 4:27-29). However, animal blood never was enough to truly pay for sin. It took the God’s Son’s blood to pay the price for our sin; only Deity’s blood was enough to cover the tremendous cost of sin (Heb 10:10).
Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to pay for our sins because God is both a merciful and a just God. By personally paying the price for our sins, God showed Himself to be both just and the justifier of the faithful (Rom 3:25-26). Like a father paying the price for his son’s mistakes, Jesus paid the price for our mistakes.