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).
Temptation and trials – what is the different between the two? Who gives us trials or do we put ourselves in them? Who gives us temptations or do we put ourselves in them? Why do we go through both? Is it a test for us to pass or to build us up spiritually?
The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13). God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin. The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8). However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of. God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18). Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him. God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.
On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1). That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13). The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.
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.
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.