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I'm really confused now, and I need some help. Why does the Bible talk about the Pharisees when they are referring to something bad? Did they do anything bad, or are they bad or anything?
Not A Pharisee
Dear Not A Pharisee,
The Pharisees were a group of religious teachers that imposed their traditions and opinions upon people. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adding to God’s Word and following tradition instead of truth (Mk 7:10-13). The Pharisees were constantly laying burdens on people that couldn’t be found in the Scriptures (Matt 23:4). The Pharisees were hypocritical because they pretended to be very righteous people, but it was all a public show done out of pride (Matt 23:27). The Pharisees are a great example of what is wrong with much of religion. When we don’t follow the Scriptures, our religion just becomes an act that doesn’t please God.
My question is this: what will happen to Jewish people upon His return who don't believe in Jesus Christ?
Dear Hebrew Hopeful,
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 would rather have had their traditions than God’s Son (Mk 7:9). Today, Jews would be bound by the same rules regarding salvation as every other person on the planet.
When we are born, are we guilty of sin?
Not Born Yesterday
Dear Not Born Yesterday,
The teaching that we are born sinful is a Calvinist teaching called ‘Total Depravity’. Total Depravity means that Calvinists believe that everyone is born completely sinful and depraved. A totally depraved human is incapable of doing good or pleasing God. This is completely false. All babies are born without sin and perfect in God’s sight (even David recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).
Why am I so numb to Jesus' love?
It is impossible to say why you (or anyone else) feel a certain way. Emotions are fickle and can be deceiving. Some people feel that they are saved when, in fact, they are lost (Matt 7:21-23), but whether our heart condemns us or not isn’t what saves us (1 Jn 3:19-21). It is our adherence to God’s Word that saves us (Rom 1:16). If you are doing what God says you must do to be saved, then you can have confidence regardless of how you feel (see “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for further details). Serving God is often an issue of doing what is right without regard to our emotions… showing bravery when we are afraid, working when we are tired, praying when we feel we aren’t heard, and persevering when we are discouraged. One of Satan’s greatest tools to destroy us is that we often don’t feel as we ought, and sin has a way of numbing us to the truth of God’s Word (Heb 3:13). The only way to combat the callusing effect of sin is to choose that which is right and reject that which is wrong. Do that, and we guarantee you will see your heart begin to soften.
If being gay is a sin, why did God make gay people?
Not Happy About It
Dear Not Happy About It,
Homosexuality is such a controversial issue because modern society teaches that people are born homosexual, but this simply isn’t true. You are not forced to have a sinful homosexual relationship. The argument of the homosexual community is that they are born desiring people of the same sex and that they have no choice. That simply cannot be true. God makes it clear that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Cor 10:13). Even if you are born with a predisposition toward homosexuality – you aren’t forced to act upon it. We always have a choice. There is always a way of escape from sin. We often use 1 Cor 10:13 as a proof text that no one is born “gay”. Homosexuality is like all other sins; we sin when we act upon the lust. God does not tempt us to sin (Jas 1:13). It is our own lusts that entice us to do the wrong thing (Jas 1:14-16). One person has a tendency toward anger, another has a tendency toward alcoholism, and some may, in fact, have a tendency toward homosexuality – but that tendency does not force them to sin. We need to put away all filthiness of the flesh and be doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:21-22).