Ask Your Preacher
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.
Why did certain rules change when Jesus was around? Before Jesus, the evidence of God being present was the destruction and conquering of other religions, lands, and cities (along with some pretty amazing miracles). Some of the miracles were acts of God to actually destroy these other religions. When Jesus came around, He preached that people should love their enemies and focused His message toward their communities. This doesn't make sense. If Jesus was preaching the essence of God, and we are supposed to love our enemies, then why did God eradicate pagan religions using the Israelites? And why would He choose to use some of the people from these religions in His divine plan and lineage of Christ?
Dear Mixed Messages,
God did a lot of things in the Old Testament, and destroying pagan nations was only part of that picture. It is important to understand why God destroyed those nations. God was protecting the Israelites because they were His people, and when they faithfully served Him, He destroyed their enemies to protect them. It is important to understand that the Old Testament was a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25). The Old Testament taught people about the gravity of sin, the justice of God, the sinfulness of man, and our need to place our faith in God. All of the Old Testament stands as an example of how God treats sin and how seriously we must take it. As we read the Old Testament, we get a clear picture of how much trouble we would all be in without forgiveness... but we also see that God tried time and time again to save people. In fact, the entire book of Jonah is about God sending a prophet to try and get the pagan city of Nineveh to turn away from their sin before it was too late. He also accepted the harlot Rahab when she turned from idolatry and joined the Israelites (Heb 11:31).
Jesus did teach that we should love our enemies, but He also preached railing judgments against wicked men (read Matt 23 for Jesus' feelings about the Pharisees). Jesus showed kindness to a penitent adulteress (Jhn 8:3-11), but He also made a whip and cast out all the moneychangers from the temple (Jhn 2:15). Jesus certainly taught love, but He also taught justice – the exact same things you see in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament and in the New, we see a consistency in God's character. The only difference is that Jesus brought forgiveness in a way that never could happen before He died on the cross.
I don't belong to a church. I grew up in church but stopped going, but I still seek God every day; I always look for Him. And sometimes I dream, and He's in my dreams, guiding me, telling me He's taking care of me from this day forward. And in my most recent dream, He let me into heaven, but I never really saw His face. Is He talking to me?
Dear Hearing Voices,
If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves (Pr 3:5).
Now let’s address the issue of not belonging to a church. The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at email@example.com or read “Finding A Church” for biblical parameters for finding a congregation.
How does God talk to us? I have been a christian for several years now; I pray to Him everyday; I read my Bible and go to church, but I do not hear God. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
Dear Feeling Deaf,
God speaks to us through His Word. If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves or any "voice" that some churches tell us to listen for (Pr 3:5). Trust God’s Word, and it will be a lamp to your feet (Ps 119:105).
Any recommended Bible verses about believing in yourself and your ability to make the best and right decision? And trusting your inner self and goodness?
Dear Inner Compass,
Ironically, the Bible is full of verses on that topic, but they all say the opposite. God tells us that we shouldn’t trust ourselves to direct our paths. Jer 10:23 says that man will fail if he tries to run his life without God’s direction – we can’t trust our own wisdom. Pr 21:2 says that we all think that we are doing the right thing, even the axe-murderer rationalizes his behavior… but obviously, just because we believe we are doing the right thing, that doesn’t mean we are. We should have no confidence in our flesh (Php 3:3); all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
So, if we shouldn’t believe in our own abilities, and we shouldn’t trust ourselves – what should we do? Pr 1:7 says that all wisdom begins with fearing God. When we humble ourselves before God and accept His Bible – we can confidently live by faith. When we throw away our confidence in the old man and latch onto the teachings of the Lord, we put on a new man that finds confidence in God (Col 3:5-10).