Ask Your Preacher
It troubles me that God caused an evil spirit to come on King Saul. I don't know another place in Scripture that says He does this. Does God do that today?
God Is Good
Dear God Is Good,
God caused that evil spirit to come upon Saul because Saul had turned away from the Lord (1 Sam 16:14). Saul had failed to serve the Lord, and God withdrew His blessings from him and rejected Saul as king (1 Sam 16:1). God didn’t randomly curse Saul; Saul had made choices that earned punishment. As far as whether God does that today, Rom 1:21 says that God allows the hearts of the wicked to be darkened, and He removes His protection from them. How God does that, we don't know, but He does warn that He punishes the wicked.
How do I know I am filled with the Holy Spirit?
Dear Feeling Empty,
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit. Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
Why do I keep repeating the same sin even though I try to turn it over to God? I feel so weak and shameful.
There are two pieces to the puzzle of repetitive sins:
1. How many times can I ask for forgiveness for the same sin?
2. How do I remove this sin from my life?
The answer to the first part is simple. You can ask for forgiveness an innumerable amount of times. Christ told Peter that we should forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Matt 18:21-22). Paul was forgiven of his sins even after killing christians and actively persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:16). As often as we truly repent, God is ready to forgive (Lk 17:4). It is quite possible to truly repent of something and then find yourself doing that same thing not minutes later. It happens in arguments all the time! You say something mean, apologize, then find yourself upset again, and again use rash words. The repeating of the cycle is not necessarily an indication of false sorrow.
However, the second part of your question deals with stopping this cycle. God will forgive you for stumbling again into the same sin, but only if you are truly attempting to change your mind. Paul reminds us that we are to do everything we can to flee from the slavery to sin (Rom 6:1-2, Rom 6:12-13). Without knowing what sin you are caught up in, I can’t give specific advice, but I recommend getting help if it is as consuming as you say. Many sins can become addictions that are very hard to break. Here are some things to consider:
1. Are you trying to change all on your own? God says two are stronger than one (Eccl 4:9-10). In the case of sin like pornography, many people try and struggle through it alone without seeking help because of the shame involved in it becoming known. This rarely, if ever, works. Telling someone, even just one trusted friend, and using things like Covenant Eyes accountability software can make all the difference in such circumstances.
2. Are you putting yourself in compromising situations? People with drug and alcohol addictions are often tempted back into their old habits by drinking buddies or parties where drugs are made available. You may need to cut off certain people and habits from your life in order to escape that sort of sin. Remember, Christ said it would be better to remove even your own hand if it would free you from a sin (Matt 5:30).
Removing sin from our lives is a constant struggle. God is ready to forgive you ‘seventy times seven’ as you fight to defeat this sin, but you must look yourself in the mirror and make sure you are taking the steps necessary to change your life.
How do I let go of guilty feelings that haunt me all the time for any and all wrong I've done throughout my life, regardless of how wrong the act. I've repented and asked forgiveness and honestly feel remorse. I know Jesus forgives and forgets, but how do I forget? It keeps me from feeling like I bettered myself by doing right, and I am not worthy of God's blessings. I feel He should bless others who are more worthy.
Please guide me in the right direction to accept my forgiveness from our Savior.
What you are asking is one of the most difficult things in life – forgiving yourself. Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people 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).
- 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.
- Another way to look at your problem is to remember that saying, “I can’t believe God will forgive me” is the same as saying, “I don’t believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough”. That may sound harsh, but our forgiveness is based upon Jesus’ blood (Col 2:14). It is an act of faith in Jesus to accept our own forgiveness.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time… just like all areas of growth.
My friend invited me to go a Jewish church, and I feel kind of funny about going since I am a Christian, and I don’t know anything about their type of services and what they believe. Should I go? Don’t they follow the first five books of the Bible and don’t believe in Jesus? I thought we weren't under the Laws of Moses in the Old Testament since Christ came.
Not A Jew
Dear Not A Jew,
There isn’t anything wrong with visiting a Jewish church as long as you understand that they are lost and need our help. Paul used to visit the synagogues to preach Jesus to them (Acts 18:4). The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. Jesus says that Christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deut 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those that love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they decided to keep their traditions instead of accepting God’s Son (Mk 7:9).