Ask Your Preacher
I made a horrible decision when I was eighteen. I had an abortion even though I knew with every bit of my being that it was wrong. I was weak, and I made a decision that has sickened me ever since. The Bible says God will forgive anything if you are truly remorseful, and I am saved and have been baptized, but I struggle with the notion that I do not, and probably will never, feel like I am truly forgiven. Maybe it's the fact that I am so horrified by what I did that I know I deserve hell. I'm assuming I will feel that way for the rest of my life and rightfully so. I'm scared of God's wrath and of hell's fire so much that I have an irrational fear of dying and facing God only to be turned away. I don't want to seem like I have no faith in God's boundless mercy, but can I ever forgive myself? Should I even forgive myself? I just would like your opinion; I am too close to my preacher to bring it up; I'm so ashamed. Thank you.
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 – you are not alone in this struggle. 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.
How do you know if you are getting a dream from God, and not just you or the devil?
Dear A Dreamer,
The days of dreams and visions have passed. In the past, God spoke to various people through dreams, visions, and prophecy, but today He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). Now that we have the complete and perfect Bible – there is no need for God to give people individual dreams or visions. It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).
We are sure that your dreams mean something, but they don’t mean anything supernatural or prophetic. What you had was not a vision. Prophets have visions, and there are no more prophets since we have the perfect and complete Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10). The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14). It is perfectly normal for our minds to make mental connections as we pray, study, sleep, etc. Those mental images aren’t visions; they are just your own thoughts as your mind meditates upon what you have said, read, or heard.
God bless you, brethren. My question today is how important is it to have a clear conscience? I have the tendency to be a critic, especially of myself. Even when I do something right. I often replay it in my head and feel like I could've done it better. I find it hard to be satisfied and pleased with the amount of love I show people, the sharing of the gospel (or lack thereof), my thoughts, my devotional life, the amount of time I spend in prayer and in the Word, etc….
Dear Critical Thinker,
There is a difference between being dissatisfied with past choices and having conscience problems. The word ‘conscience’ refers to that part of your mind that prompts you to do what you think is good and condemns you for doing what you think is bad. Paul said that he had a clear conscience… even though he had attempted to kill Christians (Acts 23:1). The reason Paul could have a clean conscience after doing such reprehensible things is because when Paul did it, he did it in ignorance (1 Tim 1:13). As soon as Paul realized that he was sinning, he changed.
This is exactly what you are describing in your life. You try your best, and when your conscience prompts you – you act. Sure, there are mistakes made along the way, and in reflection, you could do better, but that is true of all of us. The key is that you are listening to your conscience and keeping a soft heart that is open to the Lord’s teachings (1 Tim 1:5).
How can I live a more stress-free life, so I can move on in my life?
Bundle Of Nerves
Dear Bundle Of Nerves,
A stress-free life is impossible, but a Christian has tools to deal with the ups and downs of life that change everything. We are told that we can pray for a quiet and tranquil life (1 Tim 2:1-2). Matt 6:33-34 says that if we seek the Lord, He will take care of us and care for our needs. Ps 55:22 also teaches that we can cast our burdens upon God, and He will sustain us. And lastly, Rom 8:28 gives us the confidence that God will cause all things to work together for good for those who love Him. Christianity doesn’t mean a stress-free life, but it means a life where we can have peace through the trials (Php 4:7).
Am I awesome?
An awesome God made you in His image and that is some awe-inspiring news. Here is some more:
God says that Christians are His people, an elect race, and a royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9). Christians have a hope of heaven as their anchor (Heb 6:19). You don’t get much more awesome than being on your way to heaven and a chosen child of God!