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Sin according to the Bible: Hamartiology II

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Question #1:


I'm troubling with unwanted thought I want to be pure with the Lord but some kinda wicked thoughts coming to me and I don't know how to get rid of it I would like some of your advice please. Thank you

Response #1:

Good to make your acquaintance. Let me assure you that this is an incredibly common problem for our brothers and sisters here in the devil's world – you are by no means alone. Here are some links which will give a bit of guidance on this problem (do feel free to write me back about this after you've read them):

Sin according to the Bible: Hamartiology I

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

BB 4A "Our New Orientation as Reborn Believers"

Imitating Christ

Sin and Spiritual Transformation

The Battlefield (in SR #4)

Techniques of Virtue Thinking

Walking with Jesus

Satan's Techniques of Temptation

Spiritual Warfare I

Spiritual Warfare II

Fighting the Fight III: False Teaching, Local Churches, and the Truth

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #2:

Hi Mr. Robert,

Thank you for your advice. I learned that I should fix my thoughts unto Jesus and have faith in him.

Response #2:

You are very welcome.

That really is the main point: if we "think about the things above" (Col.3:2), we will be less plagued by unwanted thoughts about the things here below. Spiritual growth is the key to becoming better at this day by day, so please do commit yourself to that course. That is why we are here on this earth after salvation in any case, namely, to grow spiritually in Jesus Christ through hearing and believing His truth, in order to be able to pass the tests that come our way to assay our faith, and then to help others do the same through the mature functioning of our spiritual gifts. This is what brings eternal reward. Please see the link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church".

In Jesus Christ who is our all in all.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I hope all is well. It's been a while since we last talked. I have been doing better spiritually but still have my stumbles like I had today so, I'm in need of some more clarifications. So I was reading something today and Hebrews 12:8 was in that reading. When I read the verse, it put me in a panic and I immediately was asking myself "has God disciplined you lately?". God has definitely set me straight on many things in the past, including recently however, I feel like I'm not grasping something correctly about the verse. I know the context of Hebrews is addressing Jewish believers so my understanding is that those who aren't disciplined aren't saved. I read through Hebrews 12 a few times and that's the only explanation I can come up with regarding that verse while the other ones seem to be referring to the Christian walk. I obviously sin everyday and every night when I pray, I ask God to forgive the sins I committed that day and to help me do better but whenever I realize I sin, I try to confess it right after I'm aware I've committed it. I guess I worry about the times I sin and don't feel anything or don't feel anything until I reflect on it at a later time and it really scares me. So my question is, does God discipline us every time we sin? Is it spiritually dangerous to feel convicted with some sins but not too with others though I know I am committing them and should not be doing them? Does this verse show who is a Christian or who isn't because of Gods discipline? What exactly does God's discipline typically entail? I'm not so sure that if someone you love gets murdered that its your fault because of sin, I think its more of a conviction and trying your best not to do it next time. It just seems impossible to me to be chastised for every single sin we commit and sometimes I don't know if I have been disciplined so its just made me worry. I know believing on Jesus' finished work on the cross is what saves a person so does this verse prove ones salvation or is it about sanctification and growth? Any clarifications you have would be extremely helpful.

Response #3:

Good to hear from you.

To answer your question, a good part of spiritual growth is getting to know God the Father, and getting to know Jesus Christ our Lord through the truth contained in the Bible. God is absolutely righteous, but He is love itself as well. We can see who He is and what His plan is all about simply by looking at the cross. It is true that a terrible judgment awaits all who reject the Gift of Gifts and His work in dying for the sins of the world (justice), but consider that Christ, who is God, became a human being as well, and after the most difficult life of ministry, and after the most intense suffering human "justice" could deliver, died in the darkness of Calvary being put to spiritual death for the sins of us all, of everyone, every single sin, large or small, of every single human being from the garden of Eden to the end of the millennium. This is ineffable and mind-boggling – this is grace, this is love.

Therefore it is good and right to understand that God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ relate differently to those who have accepted the sacrifice and who have been born again into the family of God to become part of the Bride of Christ than they do to those who have not. God is your Father.

So I think you are thinking about this the wrong way. "We all had human father", as Paul says in this context, and we only had/have them because God gave them to us. He created the family for many reasons, one of which was to teach us about Himself and about the principles of love and responsibility. Even if we are orphans, even for those whose fathers were far from perfect, we all have the idea of what a perfect father would be like, and I hope we all understand that our heavenly Father is perfect. A perfect father is not looking to destroy his son/daughter; a perfect father is not some sort of precise accountant who spies on his children at all times in order to be able to punish them for everything they do wrong – as if that were the objective. A perfect father, even only a good one, will have it mind for his children to grow up safely, to learn the difference between right and wrong, to be prepared in every way for the world as it is . . . and discipline will be used to serve those purposes. That is, a perfect or even a good father will only be really hard on his son/daughter when it is important to be so. If he sees us razing a playmate – he may let us do so and let the playmate smack us one – so that in this way the natural consequences of our actions, our experience, will teach us. He may ask us on the way home from the playground, "what did you learn?" He may correct us if we think we've been wronged, asking, "was it right for you to raze your playmate?" If we do something really foolish, we may be grounded, we may be spanked, we may have some toy or privilege taken away – not to hurt us but to teach us not to do "that" again. And as long as we don't run away from home or do something else equally as rebellious, as long as we are responding, even if our response is sometimes not all it should be, not only will he continue to love us, but he will continue to train us to help us prepare for life. Do we imagine that our heavenly Father is any different – except to the extent that He is infinitely better than any human father could ever dream of being? We have the expectation that our perfect/good human father will love us almost no matter what; do we think that our truly perfect heavenly Father will do less?

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:7-8 NKJV

Our heavenly Father sacrificed His one and only dear Son on our behalf – before we even belonged to Him. That is so far beyond even a perfect human father's love it cannot be described. Now that we do belong to Him, is His purpose only to make us suffer when we fail? God disciplines us for a purpose, just as a good human father will let us have our head for a while – until we cross a line – or will in many cases let the natural consequences of our actions do the talking for Him.

A perfect or even a good human father will also often treat different children somewhat differently for just this reason, namely, with an eye on the objective, not to serve some abstract principle of justice (Christ died for our sins; so it is not a case of "paying" for them as we never could and He already did). If my son/daughter is stubborn as a mule, very direct and painful punishment might be necessary for some actions; whereas if he/she is more sensitive, a well-placed word from me might be enough to make him/her realize the wrong and the imprudence of some action. If you get a hangnail you might not otherwise have gotten but for some sin, and the Spirit helps you to connect the two, I wouldn't complain that the discipline is too lax: if you respond in the right way, then it was just right, right? In fact, I would rejoice whenever I was mercifully treated. Rest assured: any son or daughter who keeps doing things they should not and is getting worse rather than better, will end up in the woodshed sooner or later.

The lesson here for believers is to make every effort to grow spiritually, to pursue sanctification, to be hard on oneself (so that the Father doesn't have to step in), and to accept what discipline comes when we do mess up knowing that it is being administered in absolute love and for the purpose of our edification and spiritual safety.

You can find out more about this at these links in BB 3B: Hamartiology:

IV. God's Dealing with the Sins of Individual Human Beings
    1. God's Justice and Mercy
    2. God's Forgiveness of Sins
    3. The Natural Consequences of Sin
    4. The Fact and Purpose of Divine Discipline
    5. Principles of Divine Discipline

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for answering my question. It amazes me that some of the things I read are so black and white when it comes to these issues. It basically said that if you haven't seen God's discipline in your life that you aren't a Christian which seems to make sense in the context of that section but are we always aware of God's discipline? I think sometimes but a lot of times, I think we brush it off (at least that's what I come up with from my experience) as whatever. I guess its hard for me to grasp because even unbelievers have to learn from their mistakes so its just hard to differentiate between the two for me cause I am not sure if these are God's discipline or natural consequences but as you pointed out, sometimes God uses the natural consequences for His will which makes sense. Thank you for being so patient with me and my responses. I've determined that what I've experienced is just Calvinistic and fundamentalist thinking which I'm not condemning but, it certainly has proved harmful for me. I have mild OCD and sometimes when someone says something that bothers me, I tend to obsess over it like what I've previously mentioned with the 'you prove your not a Christian if you _____' teachings that are common online. It worries me when I think like that because I know I could never be 'good enough' so I just have to throw off their teachings cause it is destructive to me. So its just been a long deprogramming of all these rules and it helps tremendously to talk to you, to actually hear a balanced/realistic view instead of an irrational/somewhat legalistic view. Thank you so much though!

Response #4:

You're very welcome. There seems to be a lot of "you're not a Christian unless you do/say/think/act/smell like I do" nonsense out there in the ether these days (posted in many cases by people of whose status as Christians I myself am in doubt). The evil one has a big hand in this, no doubt. But God knows everything, of course. Perhaps one of the reasons why this is currently being allowed is to inoculate true Christians on the issue of the security of their salvation through their faith in Jesus Christ:

(3) May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be praised, who has in His great mercy caused us to be reborn to a hope which lives through Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead, (4) and to an inheritance which will never be destroyed, defiled, or dimmed, but which is being guarded in heaven for us, (5) who are ourselves also being kept safe by God's power and by our faith in Him to an ultimate deliverance ready to be unveiled at the end of time.
1st Peter 1:3-5

We are safe as long as we have faith – and we certainly know whether or not we truly do believe in Jesus and have our hearts set on following Him faithfully. Now is the time to sort these things out; not once the Tribulation has begun and we are being hit by all manner of attacks, physical and spiritual. Perhaps it is best to think of the present times as the calm before the storm (though for many of us they seem far from calm!). It's a common military axiom that the more you sweat in peacetime, the less you'll bleed in wartime. One can imagine that the Lord has the same thing in mind for those us who do belong to Him and intend to stay true no matter what the dark times ahead hold for us. To stand fast in faith when the going really gets tough, we're going to need to take as many rough edges off now as we can; we're going to need to have some of these basic things straightened out, not just academically (where we can answer correctly on a multiple choice quiz), but solidly in our hearts – so that when we encounter the kind of "flak" you are running into, we will be accustomed to sailing through it without slowing down or turning back or being overly upset. In other words, the situation to come will demand spiritual veterans to successfully negotiate. So every one of these kinks that gets worked out now will mean less chance for spiritual disruption in the future. If it is any consolation, we are all being tested and trained in similar ways, as the scripture itself assures us:

(8) Stay sober and stay awake [on guard]. Our adversary the devil roams about like a roaring lion, looking for someone he can devour. (9) Resist him, strong in your faith, remembering that your fellow believers in this world are undergoing the exact same sort of suffering [that you are].
1st Peter 5:8-9

Keep fighting the fight in Jesus Christ who is our "prince leader" (Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb.2:10; 12:2), the Lord of hosts.

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi again Dr. Luginbill,

I do have some more questions for you that I hope you won't mind answering. I'm almost done with my study of the New Testament and am currently in 1 John. This has to be the most confusing book I have read in the New Testament and I just am not sure how to reconcile it. Most of the resources I have pulled all have differing opinions which makes it frustrating to understand what John is really talking about. To me, I feel like the book is about Christian fellowship and identifying false teachers and is not teaching a loss of salvation or a litmus test of who is saved/unsaved. It seems to me that John is writing about how sin alienates a believers fellowship from God and that if we are "walking in darkness" or sin that we are then out of fellowship with God, not salvation. Nor do I think that this means one was never saved as he seems to address the book to believers. This is basically my interpretation that I believe is right based on other scriptures but still some of the sources opinions I used seem to advocate various different meanings. What is probably the most confusing is how in chapter 1, he says if we say we have no sin then we are a liar only to then say that no one in Christ continues in sin only to reiterate the former in the last chapter. Many say this means one can go from a state of saved to unsaved through sin, some say that these people were never saved as they weren't back to walk in 'darkness' because no believer could ever do so, others bring up the fellowship thing which I agree with. I also heard that this is referring to 'continuing in sin', that no believer will continue to sin but sin occasionally in ignorance. The 'practice of sin' is what they say believers don't do but this doesn't jive well with me because what constitutes practicing? Sinning once a day? Once a week? Every minute? Every hour? Every few hours? That just doesn't make sense to me. Some also say that if you know you are about to commit a sin but do it anyway that that proves you aren't saved based on what 1 John says but I thought all sin no matter what was habitual in that sense as we rely on ourselves instead of God whether we realize it or not?

Another issue I have comes from 1 John 2:15. I think we should try to not love the ways of the world although I think we all stumble with this one. Many teach though that this is THE litmus test for true/false believers but I remember Paul exhorting his fellow believers to not love the world as well with no threat to their salvation in mind. 1 John 3 also presents some issues to me as well. Vs 5 makes it sound like if you sin you don't know God which is what many of my sources point out as being false Christians but when I read it, it doesn't say they "never" knew God just that they don't see or know him while they are sinning (I hope that makes sense, please correct me if I'm wrong). Vs' 7-10 also says that if you do not practice righteousness that you are a son of the devil, is it possible for a Christian to be a "child of the devil"? I mean we all sin and sin is not righteousness so in that sense, don't we all belong as "children of the devil" in that sense though we are redeemed by Christ? Lastly, 3:11-18 also make it seem like love is like determines if your faith is genuine. This one really bothers me because at times I can be so unloving and indifferent but mostly I hate the bad things people do but I genuinely care about them as a person and their well being. What does it mean in v. 14 when it says "Anyone who does not love remains in death", what does death mean here? Dead in their sins? The word 'truth' is also used a number of times in this book and I was just curious as to what it means if we belong/don't have the 'truth' in us? Is this a Christian/fake Christian/non Christian scenario, a temporary scenario of our rebellion with no affect on our eternal salvation or does it mean something else?

I realize this is a lot of information but my goal throughout reading the New Testament is just to understand it as a whole and when I see some things that don't seem to fit together, then I need some more guidance as the Bible does not contradict itself. Maybe I'm just reading it wrong because the "outcomes" or "consequences" John describes are just really harsh and hard to read without your conscience going nuts. So if you can help me understand this, I would greatly appreciate it!


Response #5:

Hello Friend,

1st John is indeed one of the more difficult epistles to interpret. Even though the Bible is the work of the Holy Spirit, in using human authors He did now waive or override their personal ways of expressing things. There is blessing in this in that we have the truth from many different perspectives (human writers) yet it is all blessedly the complete truth (inspired by the Spirit). It does result in the need for careful and orthodox interpretation – which is one way the Spirit uses the manner in which scripture is constructed 1) to veil the truth from all who are not really interested in it (akin to our Lord speaking in parables), and 2) to give a useful rule of thumb to all believers who do want the truth: if a ministry is "good at" making the truth clear, it is godly; if it is not (whether not interested in trying or clearly indulging in reading personal likes and dislikes into scripture, e.g.) then it is to be avoided.

I have written a number of things on 1st John that deal directly with these very questions you ask, so I will point you to those links below. Let me just say by way of overview that it is true that we who are "in Christ" are perfect . . . "positionally"; being in bodies of sin and in the world of sin and under fire by the evil one, we are not and never will be "sinlessly perfect" in terms of our experience. These two things are complements rather than contradictions (together they frame the main parameters within which the battle of the Christian life is fought), and that is one key in the interpretation of 1st John. As one seminary professor once put it, those "problem passages" later in the epistle are giving the "Christian job description": these passages describe how Christians should behave, so that we are motivated to mold ourselves into this pattern and to avoid and eschew the opposite. There are a number of verses earlier in the book (you mention some of them) which make it abundantly clear that sin continues to be an issue for Christians after salvation, but that there are ways of dealing with it and getting back on track (i.e., confession with the Lord Jesus being our Advocate). Indeed, claiming to be sinlessly perfect makes God out to be a liar . . . in John's words.

Also please note that 1st John 5:16 shows undeniable that there is sin which does not result in death.

Here are those links (and please do feel free to write me back about any of this):

1st John: Text and Interpretation

Sinlessness and 1st John

Sin and Spiritual Transformation

The Myth of Sinless Perfection

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Good morning Dr. Luginbill,

I hope this email finds you well. Does Gal 5:19 apply to a non-believer or carnal believer, specifically as it relates to Gal 5:20?

I guess I want better clarification of a carnal believer versus a non-believer. This passage seems to highlight they are one and the same.

Thank you again and I hope you and your family are doing well. God bless you and may Christ continue to grow your ministry.


Response #6:

Good to hear from you as always. As to your question, I would say that, while Paul does not discriminate here (works of the flesh are works of the flesh whoever does them), the direct contrast in the passage is between a Spirit-filled life which the believer ought to be living, and a list of undeniable symptoms of a life not being lived in the Spirit – of which the unbeliever is incapable, but which the believer must respond to the Spirit to carry out. Suffice it to say that believers who are careless about carnality get into all sorts of trouble, and sin, when it conceives and should it then come to full fruition (Jas.1:15), "brings about death". That is to say, continuing down the path of sin leads eventually to the sin unto death or apostasy (depending on the individual believer's reaction to events in backsliding and spiritual decline). Paul provides this list as good "check" for anyone who may be assuming he/she is "doing fine" but in fact is lying to his/her conscience and the Spirit about a pattern of gross sinfulness, because "those who make a practice of such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven" (Gal.5:21) – because choosing sin over obedience over time erodes faith, and only believers are saved.

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

1) I noticed that you tend to say that God will not allow more than you can be tested, but isn't that temptation? I looked up that verse and saw that the Greek translation for temptation is "test" but I found myself relying on my own strength when I believed that he will not allow more than we can bear until I read that it was temptation and that it was a misquoted verse; 2 Corinthians 1:8 has Paul talk about how he went through all these bad things so he wouldn't rely on himself but on God. Unless I'm missing something here.

2) Since I’m an immature believer who needs "milk" does that mean I’m not mature at all? I just figure that in three years, despite my hindrance in my walk with Christ, that I would have to know somewhat better than the ones who have just came to Christ.

Response #7:

In Greek the word peirasmos means either temptation or testing. There is a difference, to be sure, but it is not necessarily the strict categorical distinction that our English usage might lead a person to suppose. That is to say, a temptation can be a test and a test can involve us being tempted to do or not do something we should or should not do. James assures us that God does not "tempt us" into sin (Jas.1:13), and we can rely on that. But that does not mean that we are not going to be tested in all manner of ways by virtue of being Christians; and just by being here in the world infested by the devil and inhabiting bodies infected with sin we are going to be tempted continuously in all manner of ways. Whatever the trouble we face in this life, we need to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves.

The main point I try to make about 1st Corinthians 10:13 is that God does not put us into situations where what we are facing is impossible, objectively speaking, for us to bear up under. That does not mean that we are not confronted with severe testing from time to time. Job no doubt did feel that he was being asked to endure too much – but if he had only hung in there another little bit, deliverance was right at the door. The more we grow, the more our capacity to endure testing grows, and we can expect for the Lord to take us just as far as we are willing to go in this life in faithfully following and serving Him – that is the way that He is honored and that is the way that rewards are won.

However, the capacity for passing tests comes from genuine spiritual maturity and then putting that maturity and the truth believed on which it is based into practice. Spiritual maturity is not a matter of "time in grade". Believers grow by believing the truth; that requires exposing themselves to the truth, listening to the teaching of the truth, believing truth taught, remembering, meditating and applying that truth, and being persistent in passing the tests that come to challenge that truth. In our Laodicean age, there is very little truth being taught, very little interest in learning/believing/applying the truth by most Christians, and, as a result, a very small percentage of genuinely mature believers out there in the church-visible (not that many don't talk a good game anyway). We all need to keep growing and keep moving forward. If we stop and let down it will probably result in sliding backwards. This is a race that can only be effectively won by continuing forward momentum.

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 24:23-24 NIV

Solomon was talking about secular, literal work, but this principle certainly also applies to spiritual growth.

So please do not be down on yourself. You may be further along than you know, and even if you were very far along it wouldn't change what you should be doing – which is what we all should be doing every day: growing spiritually, walking with Jesus Christ, and helping others do the same.

In the Name of the One who died that we might live with Him in glory forever, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hey Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for always having a soft answer. It makes it easier to tell you things. I like that you are level headed, since I'm not sometimes. It's good to know that having an opinion isn't necessarily a bad thing. That's one less thing for me to worry about. I want to ask something if it is not too weird. You don't have to answer if you don't want. [details omitted]

Response #8:

You're very welcome, and thanks much for your kind and encouraging words. As to advice from Christian websites about dads et al., in my opinion there are father in name and fathers in fact. A step-father who is a real dad in love and action is worth more than many bio-dads who are not worthy of the name.

When it comes to other people, it is important to remember that just as we "are who we are" so they "are who they are". We can pray; we can be civil; we can wish and want the best for them. But we cannot change them. Our good-feelings do not necessitate appropriate reciprocation on the part of others. If we think otherwise, out of emotional pressure, we are going to be disappointed. Blessedly, our Christian hope "never disappoints, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom.5:5 NKJV).

Anyway, that is my opinion – since we have been talking about opinions lately. And here is another one. I do realize that conventional therapy, Christian and otherwise, tends to want to go back and revisit terrible things that have happened in the past so as to make our peace with them. The thing is, however, we cannot change the past. I do realize that each person who has had something bad happen in the past (and that includes most people who have lived on this earth any length of time – not to minimize your experiences at all: some have suffered less, but some have suffered more) has to find a way to cope/deal with those experiences. But for a Christian, realizing that God is in control, that God is superior to everything, no matter how terrible it seems at the time or in retrospect, and that any true comfort we are ever going to receive is going to come from the Holy Spirit (cf. 2Cor.1:3-7), it seems to me that "forgetting what lies behind" and instead "straining towards the [course] ahead" is the only way to continue to "drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus" (Phil.3:13-14).

For all who can receive this, I find it the best policy, one that is biblically based. What I really do counsel against, however, for those who do feel the need to revisit past traumas in some way (that is, to get them finally straightened out in the head and heart and know where to "put them", so to speak), is getting actively re-involved with the people, places and circumstances of that trauma. To me, this seems like the worst sort of idea, and it doesn't take a very active imagination to contemplate all sorts of things that can go wrong with such a procedure (at the very least it invites all sorts of behaviors and thought-patterns which are anathema to spirituality and to the peace to which the Lord has called us).

I do wish you peace in all these things, and will pray for your peace on this – as well as for you wisdom in guidance in Jesus Christ who is our entire life and our entire reason for living.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Are evil thoughts ever unforgivable?

Response #9:

Jesus Christ died for all sins – for every single sin of every single human being who has ever lived or ever will. In fact, the only sin for which He did not die, the only sin for which He could not die, was the sin of rejecting Himself as the only possible Substitute for sin. Everyone has to stand on something before the Lord on that great day to come, and we will either stand on our own works (which are insufficient in every way) or on the work of the Lord – which is sufficient unto salvation for everyone and will result in the salvation of everyone . . . everyone that is who fled to the Lord for salvation and deliverance from judgment for sin.

A long way to say that there is no sin which may not be forgiven.

But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.
Psalm 130:4 NIV-1984

For I will not contend forever,
nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
and the breath of life that I made.
Isa 57:16 ESV

Sin is forgiven when believers turn away from it and back to the Lord by confession of their sin (1Jn.1:9). That does not mean necessarily an immediate end of divine discipline, but it does mean that the believer is restored to full fellowship with the Lord and that whatever "pain" endures is for the spiritual edification of the one forgiven. God forgives. Our part is to accept the truth of what He has said to us on this matter and not be of "little faith" and not doubt His promise to forgive. That merely compounds our problems. We are supposed to "forget what lies behind" (Phil.3:13) – beyond making a mental note not to go down that false path again (whatever it was).

If you have had evil thoughts, thoughts in which you indulged (instead of rejecting them when they bubbled up), confess them and start combating them by filling your mind and heart with the truth of the Word of God. This takes some effort, but spiritual growth and persistence will give you victory here. And, again, please consult previous links on all this. For an overview of sin in all its particulars, please see: BB 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin.

Yours in our merciful and forgiving Lord Jesus Christ – the One who died for all of our sins.

Bob L.

Question #10:

What is the difference between God and the Holy Spirit? What is forgivable?

Response #10:

God, who is "one" in essence, exists in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (please do read the link: "The Trinity").

In terms of forgiveness, Jesus died for all sins, so all sins can be forgiven. Our part as believers is to ask for that forgiveness through confession whenever we do sin (and of course repent of our previous bad behavior and take actions to try and avoid falling into the same trap in the future). The "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is the sin of rejecting the gospel (see the link) – and Jesus could not die for the sin of rejecting His own death for our sin (obviously). That is a sin only unbelievers can commit through their refusal to accept the Gift of Him.

Please read the following scripture: Luke 15:11-32. I think you will see clearly when you do that the Father is eager to have you return to Him – as He always is when believers turn away from sin and back to Him.

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ – the One who died for us.

Bob L.

Question #11:

Is it possible for a blasphemer seek forgiveness (please don't give an example)?

Response #11:

Yes. That is what He tells us (1Jn.1:9); and He never tells us anything that is not true: Jesus Christ died for all sins (except the sin of rejecting Him) so that all sins can be repented of, confessed, and forgiven. The whole plan of God is all about forgiveness – for those willing to be forgiven in Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ.

I am going to rescue you from this people (i.e., Jewish opponents) and from the gentiles to whom I am sending you to open their eyes so as to turn from darkness to [the] light, even from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of [their] sins and a share among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
Acts 26:17b-18

Here is a good link on this: in BB 3B "God's Forgiveness of Sins".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through whose mercy we all stand,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dear Bob:

All of your wise counsel from the word of God is so True and rings a bell. I write this mail out of sheer compunction this morning and I spent a sleepless night yesterday, as I felt I should not have burdened you with the previous mail detailing my troubles as the saints all around the world are going through these situations and its nothing new. I did not plan on writing you a mail actually in a couple of days, as there are other things that require your immediate attention and use of your time. Yet I wrote you that mail in a spur of the moment without much thinking...may be I did just as an act of accountability to my Godly shepherd as part of my spiritual growth. I hope you get what I am trying to tell you. I am mindful of your time...So I am sorry for that. I have read a verse that says not to place too many demands on leaders than what they can take at a given time...guess its in James...am not sure. Bob, Last evening after work, I read your article on "Perseverance in the latter days of Laodicea" and that write up alone ministered to my pressing needs. I prayed in the Spirit that you should put off responding to me until tomorrow your time, so I would have a chance to mail you to not worry about my situation and only intercede for me as you have already given me Godly counsel from the Word in that Q&A e-mail trail well in advance.

I am fully aware that you get to read lots of e-mails of this type on a weekly basis and it certainly has the potential to drain you emotionally and can be very exhausting, add to it the need to respond because you care and love the brethren, but I take relief from the fact that God has trained you for exactly this. I know you faithfully make every attempt to help people in every way you can, especially in times of crisis and emergencies. I know for a fact that it is unrealistic to expect a minister in Christ like your good self to spend all your time and expend all your energy with us, showing us your constant attention. I am learning to place my expectations upon God and pray that my wife does the same — He will always be faithful to His promises in His Word and will never let each of us down. As God personally calls the weary and burdened to come and receive his rest in Matt:11:28.

I love you very much Bob and its just that I don't want you to be worried too much about my present situation. I will be alright, In fact I already am doing better. I will watch out for those red flags and humble myself even more and spend more time on my knees and meditate on the Word and not forget to wear the complete armor of God and be dressed for battle into the foreseeable future. Moreover James 5:7-11 says it all. I see the fruit of the Spirit takes its lawful time to ripen within a growing believer which is necessary. I will correct my flaws and be renewed in my mind as per your divine counsel. Yet I might bother you sometime again if I feel like my head would explode/implode if I did not whine about it to you.

Above all, I certainly have a teachable and cooperative attitude to show you my understanding of the verse..."Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17).

Much Love...In Him Who Loved Us Eternally,

Response #12:

I'm happy to hear from you, my friend. Please feel free to write any time – and thank you for all your good words.

We're none of us perfect (Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10).

Also, we're accountable to the Lord, not to any human being or human institution. He is the One to whom we must give account.

This life is not easy, especially for Christians, but the fight we are fighting will result in "an eternal weight of glory" that far "exceeds these light afflictions" (2Cor.4:17) – as long we "hold fast", "unwavering until the end" (Heb.10:23). No doubt that "end" will come through more shot and shell than most believers today currently imagine or are aware, standing on the threshold of the end times as we do. All the more reason for those of us who are already under heavy fire to recognize that this is the Lord graciously preparing us for what is to come. No one finds such "boot camps" pleasurable at the time, but the preparation they provide can be invaluable, at least for those who respond to the training as they should.

In hopes of rejoicing with you before the judgment seat of Christ.

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi Bob,

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
1st John 4:18 KJV

The one who is perfect in love cannot fear, and at the same time fear has to do with punishment. Because Jesus Christ was perfect in love, He went to the cross to take God's punishment. Yet could it have been possible for Him to be both perfect in love but yet in fear because of the punishment He was about to receive?

Response #13:

I'm quite sure that our Lord never committed the sin of fear. He never committed any sin whatsoever – otherwise He would not have been qualified to bear our sins (which He most certainly did – praise God!).

I would make a distinction between feeling distress – a normal human emotion in the face of pending terrible events – and giving into sin (so as to fear, or run away wrongly, or any manner of other possible sinful reactions, internal or external).

Also, it is important to understand that "fear having to do with punishment" is speaking about a person, unbeliever or immature believer, knowing or feeling that they are guilty before God and going to be punished for their actions (which certainly did not apply to our Lord – He was judged for our sins); but there is also such a thing as godly fear which is a very good thing (e.g., Ps.19:9; 111:10), not a cowardly lack of trust in the Lord or being motivated out of guilt, but a deep respect and reverence for the Lord and His majesty. Our Lord had that "good fear" to a perfect degree.

The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:2-3a NIV

In the One who endured everything for our sakes, Jesus Christ our Savior.

Bob L.

Question #14:

I have repented and apologized before but then I do the same sin again. As a single teen I struggle with ___

Response #14:

We all have areas of weakness that plague us; that does not mean we have to stop fighting the fight. We may fail many times before we begin to win the victory, but if we persevere in spiritual growth and in our determination to follow Jesus Christ, we will get there. Clearly, it is better to get there sooner rather than later; it is better to conquer sin than give into it. And we can stop sinning – although everyone stumbles in something sooner or later. Chronic patterns of sin are hard to break and take special effort, prayer, and determination – we have to take responsibility for our own actions, recognize that we are in fact in charge of our own free will (even though it may be terribly tested and easily compromised in certain areas of weakness), and then fight as hard as necessary to win . . . no matter how difficult that may be. But an essential part of winning the victory is not to deem ourselves defeated forever when and if we suffer another defeat. We have to get serious about winning, but we also have to realize that we are going to have defeats. That information should not reduce our desire to win over sin; rather it should give us even more determination to fight since we know that God forgives, that Jesus loves us and is for us, that there can be victory down the road, and that all of our efforts are not for naught. So whenever we sin, we should immediately confess, determine willfully not to do so again, and take any and all reasonable steps to avoid falling into the same trap in the future. And there are plenty of things we can do. For example, a recovering alcoholic should probably avoid hanging out in bars – if he/she doesn't want to lapse back into drinking again.

Part of spiritual growth is learning how to thread the needle between putting pressure on ourselves to do better and not being so down on ourselves when we do fail to meet our own expectations that we end up crippling ourselves and compromising our spiritual growth. This is a fight, this Christian life, and it will be until we stand together before the Lord in resurrection. Fight the fight. Try not to lose any round; but if you do lose try not to let that destroy your intention to win the next one. Pressures and troubles and temptations often change over time and with time, but we will never be free of them as long as the evil one opposes us here in this life. Learning now how to handle the pressures of sin, the load of divine discipline, and the nagging guilt of conscience – without taking yourself out of the fight by hyper-neurosing over past false steps – is an important part of growing up spiritually. A Christian has to learn to steer a middle course, not considering sin of no import on the one hand and not allowing occasional lapses to paralyze him/her on the other. God does forgive, and He will provide the discipline necessary to induce the corrective action we need; our part is not to beat ourselves up about the past but to severely discipline ourselves in terms of our behavior, to do the good and avoid the bad, moving forward:

(12) [It is] not that I have already gotten [what I am striving for], nor that I have already completed [my course]. Rather, I am continuing to pursue [the prize] in hopes of fully acquiring it – [this prize for whose acquisition] I was myself acquired by Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I do not consider that I have already acquired it. This one thing only [do I keep in mind]. Forgetting what lies behind me [on the course] and straining towards the [course] ahead, (14) I continue to drive straight for the tape, towards the prize to which God has called us from the beginning [of our race] in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Again, the key to all this is spiritual advance through spiritual growth. No Christian can "win" anything by sitting in his/her foxhole. We have to get up and get out and move forward in spiritual growth. In order even to have lasting success in sanctification (the defense of the Christian life), we need to be "attacking" by putting the truth into our hearts through learning and believing and applying the doctrines of scripture as taught by a reliable teaching ministry. Only then will we possess the necessary "ammunition" to fight this fight the way it must be fought.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

You see I have thoughts at times. I think this is because of the constant stuff I watch on computer it gets to my head but I keep saying I'm not gonna do these things.

Response #15:

I do understand. As said before, 1) if something is influencing you in bad ways, it's not a bad idea to stay away as much as possible from the bad influence; and also 2) the best way to counter "bad thinking" is with "good thinking". How to do the former is obvious (turn off the bad TV show/website/song. The latter requires two things: 1) having good material in your heart ready to hand; and 2) aggressively accessing that material, especially when under pressure to "think bad thoughts".

To put it another way, if you spend your time reading the Bible, accessing a good teaching ministry (you are certainly welcome at Ichthys!), and generally not putting "vile things" before your eyes (Ps.103:3), you will be placing a good store of truth in your heart for ready access just as you will be putting less "vile" material in your heart to bubble to the surface when you least desire it to do so.

The second part is also key: at any given moment, we are the ones who do the thinking. Since we inhabit a sinful body, the sin nature will fight us when we do desire to "think good thoughts" and when we do desire to "avoid bad thoughts". It is easy to give in to the sin nature; it is often difficult to fight it. But "the battleground of the heart" is indeed the key place where the Christian fight is fought, and as Christians we all have to learn how to fight this fight. As I say, the more "ammo" we have the better we are equipped to do so; and the less of a toe-hold we give the enemy (by exposing ourselves to "vile" things), the easier our task will be. But it will always be a struggle to combat negative emotions and various lusts and to put in their place thoughts and meditations pleasing to the Lord (Ps.1:1-2). We will never be perfect in this, but we certainly can get to the place where we do not feel "controlled" by "bad/sinful" thought-patterns.

You can win this fight. But you do have to choose to fight it in the godly way (learning, believing, and applying the truth of the Word of God, and loving His Word more than you do the world).

Please see the links: "Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions According to the Bible?" and "The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle".

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

I just want the Trinity with me always. I think I just watch too much bad things.

Response #16:

Sounds like a good application to me! It is easier said than done to resist the subtle temptations of this world – especially in our modern culture where we are bombarded by "vile things" through all conceivable media. Even if we stayed completely away from TV, radio, internet, email, phones and the like (an absolute impossibility without becoming a hermit), there are still signs, magazines, flyers, mailings, music with questionable lyrics in every store . . . and of course people all around us who are either in league with or influenced by the devil who will be testing our good applications of the truth with how they look, what they say, what they do. We cannot go out of the world, nor should we try (1Cor.9:5-10); but we can learn not to love the world (1Jn.2:15-17). Here two good links to help with that: "Strangers in the Devil's Realm" and "The integrated Satanic world-system" (both in SR 4).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the truth and the light of this dark world.

Bob L.

Question #17:

Is it possible to commit blasphemy (if it is possible today) out of your own heart like in the case of mental adultery?

Response #17:

One can pray silently, so I suppose the opposite is true as well. However, just as there is a difference between an actual prayer, even a silent one, and a fleeting thought that is not heart-felt or truly deliberate, the same would be true, in my opinion, in the opposite case as well.

For all sin, the answer is confession; if one is not sure something is a sin, there is no harm in making a general confession in my view; after all, we all commit many "sins of ignorance".

Once a person confesses a sin, that sin is forgiven. Period. Tying oneself up with guilt over things done in the past and long since confessed and forgiven is of no particular benefit. We can rest assured that our heavenly Father will provide whatever divine discipline we need to impress upon on us the importance of staying away from such things in the future (if we don't "get it"). In the case of chronic sins, what is needed is to get serious about the fact that we are in control of our own free will, and to decide to get tough on ourselves so as to stop doing whatever it is we are doing (or start doing whatever it is we should be doing). The Spirit will help us in the fight; but we have to engage seriously on our side to appropriate that help.

Finally, everyone fails from time to time. But the dedicated Christian gets up where he/she has fallen, repents (that is, changes his/her thinking about ill practices in a responsible and effective way), and moves on so as to accomplish what the Lord has put us here to do: grow spiritually, pass the tests of maturity, help others do likewise through ministry. That is the only way to win the three crowns.

In our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

The reason I still am confused about the unforgivable sin is because I hear someone had a near death experience and encountered Jesus. And He showed her someone in hell for stealing from church and opening a seminar against the Holy Spirit. Is there anything like that?

Response #18:

Here is what I read in scripture:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

Believers are saved; unbelievers are not saved. Believers go to heaven; unbelievers go to hell. Sin is a negative for believers in every way because it compromises our spiritual momentum, results in divine discipline, and can, over time, erode our faith. However, there is a means to recovery from sin: confession, repentance (being determined to change our mind), and taking charge of our own free will to do better in future. If that is followed up by spiritual growth, then no spiritual catastrophe can stop the believer not only from getting to heaven but also attaining a good reward that glorifies Jesus Christ.

As to this "report", as I often tell people, Christians should be very leery about believing third party reports. That is to say, you and I did not hear or see or dream this; nor did the person who told you about this even experience it first hand. So we are very far removed even from the person who allegedly had this experience – and it is always extremely dangerous to put the least amount of faith in such things. Christians are supposed to believe the truth of scripture, not random people who tell them things that other people saw/heard/dreamed which are not in scripture at all.

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8 NKJV

This verse applies to the situation you relate. Even if an angel appeared to us while awake and told us something contrary to the gospel as it is clearly related in scripture we ought to believe scripture, not the angel. In fact, the elect angels of God never say anything contrary to the Bible – obviously – but twisting the truth is the devil's stock and trade. The servants of the evil one, seen and unseen, are always trying to unsettle believers, and what better way to do so than to make up stories which may have biblical trappings and a grain of truth but which also contain poison seeds as well (as in this case you relate)? No one is going to hell for stealing – although no doubt there are many thieves in hell. People in hell are there of their own choosing, having determined to prefer their own will to the will of God, having determined to reject the Gift of gifts, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, because they are unwilling to accept God's sovereignty by so doing. We who have gratefully put our faith for salvation in Jesus Christ, the only way to be saved, are safe no matter what, as long as we "hold fast [to that faith], firm until the end" (Heb.3:6).

The answer to becoming so solid in the faith that we are no longer "swept to and fro by every wind of false teaching" is spiritual growth; it all comes back to spiritual growth. When you commit yourself to the process of growing in the Lord by hearing, learning and believing His truth, many of these issues which plague you now will begin to dissipate:

(11) Christ Himself appointed some of us apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (12) in order to prepare all of His holy people for their own ministry work, that the entire body of Christ might thus be built up, (13) until we all reach that unifying [goal] of belief in and full-knowledge (epignosis) of the Son of God, that each of us might be a perfect person, that is, that we might attain to that standard of maturity whose "attainment" is defined by Christ; (14) that we may no longer be immature, swept off-course and carried headlong by every breeze of so-called teaching that emanates from the trickery of men in their readiness to do anything to cunningly work their deceit, (15) but rather that we may, by embracing the truth in love, grow up in all respects with Christ, who is the head of the Church, as our model. (16) In this way, the entire body of the Church, fit and joined together by Him through the sinews He powerfully supplies to each and every part, works out its own growth for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16

Here are some links on the issue of "third party reports":

Third party testimony

Beware of third party reports I

Beware of third party reports II

Beware of third party reports III

Beware of third party reports IV

Beware of third party reports V

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Can you tell me about human forgiveness and church hypocrites?

Response #19:

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are to forgive others even as God has forgiven us (Matt.6:12-15; Lk.11:4); that is the proper Christian attitude, namely, one of love, mercy and forgiveness, no matter how we may feel we have been wronged. When it comes to other people forgiving us, well, that is between them and the Lord. We confess our sins to Him, not to them:

Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
Psalm 51:4a NKJV

If others do not forgive us, that is regrettable and may negatively affect our relationships with said people but it doesn't have to influence our own spirituality. We are forgiven when we confess to the Lord (1Jn.1:9). Just to add: no third party (like a priest) can forgive a first party's sin against a second party; only God can forgive sin so as to restore the relationship between the believer in Jesus Christ, and only the wronged human party can show forgiveness to the person doing the wrong – so as to reflect the love, mercy and goodness of Jesus Christ. Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology has a great deal of information on all of these related subjects (see the link).

As to hypocrites in the church-visible today, there certainly is a plethora. A lot of this comes from the legalism that is so prevalent and virulent in many groups today. Groups which teach "sinless perfection", for example, must of necessity be hypocrites because in truth no one in a human body has ever been sinless (with the sole exception of our dear Lord Jesus); therefore people in such groups either have to wallow visibly in their failure or else whitewash themselves to appear to be following the "perfect standard" they proclaim. Note also that inevitably such "perfect standards" are always somewhat arbitrary and fall far short of the actual biblical standard. That is because in order to be "perfect" such groups have to redefine what perfection is – to the benefit of their own strengths and in denial of their many weaknesses. There is much written about this at Ichthys. The links "Legalism Past and Present" and "Legalism Past and Present II" will lead you to many more such links.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Can you also tell me about purposeful sin, is it forgiven? And when I say this I mean willful sin from the Bible.

Response #20:

"Willful sin" or "purposeful sin" or, as I call it, "sinning arrogantly" is deliberate sinning as opposed to sinning in ignorance. All sin is culpable. Adam sinned arrogantly; Eve sinned ignorantly; both fell from grace and became spiritually dead as a result. Jesus Christ died for all the sins of all mankind, whether ignorant or arrogant. About the only thing we can say in terms of the difference is that cognizance is held to a higher standard than ignorance (cf. Lk.12:48). So we can expect divine discipline to be more intensive in cases where the believer knew exactly what he/she was doing and acted with due consideration and no mitigating circumstances – and also that continuing in such a pattern without confession and genuine repentance will have grave spiritual consequences. But God forgives us all of our sins when we confess in truth (i.e., confess with the intention of not going back to our mistakes rather than having every intention of doing so). Here is a link on that: "Sinning Arrogantly" (in BB 3B).

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ the righteous One,

Bob L.

Question #21:

I always feel like there is a twisted side to me and I don't want it. I have – issues and I did it because I thought I had the excuse I like it but I have to quit. I just knew I was quitting in the future so I thought it was okay for now. Is it?

Response #21:

Every believer is responsible before the Lord for what we do and what we fail to do. If we sin, we need to confess. Confession assumes we are serious about turning from the wrong and toward the right. Plenty of people have issues with chronic sin of all sorts. Sin is still sin. God knows what we have trouble with, why we have the trouble, what the mitigating circumstances are (if any), and how serious we really are about putting sin aside. If we are cavalier about sin, that is a problem; if we are in a cycle of sin-confess-guilt-sin-confess-guilt, obviously that is doing our spirituality no good. When it comes to sin, as mentioned before, we do have control over our free will, and we can do what needs to be done to pull away from sinful behavior, whatever it is (even if that will take some hard choices and serious self-discipline on our part, as in avoiding things that may contribute to our failing: alcoholics should stay away from bars, remember?). The question is, how serious are we? The Lord is patient; the Lord is merciful, the Lord forgives – and there isn't a believer on the planet who hasn't benefitted greatly from His kindness, love and long-suffering attitude. However, it is also true that "whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb.12:6). Just as we have a healthy respect for our human fathers even though we love them and they love us, and would think twice about doing anything that would anger them greatly, so it is good and proper to have a healthy, reverent fear of the Lord (Ps.19:9). Both of these things are true in respect to a good human father (loving and yet intolerant of outrageous behavior), and they are certainly both true of our perfect heavenly Father. I think this Psalm of David sums up this dual aspect of our relationship with God perfectly:

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:12-14

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello, I hear you are a very wise one when it comes to the Bible and God. I have a problem and I need your help. I have once lied to the Father or at the very least gave a excuse for what I did. After that happened I feel like I lost my heart, my conscience was blank and did not care if I went to Hell. I want to return back to the Father, Savior and Holy Spirit, but I feel like it is too late. Like I committed the unforgivable, and I feel like there is no saving me. I want to feel God Jesus and the Holy Spirit's love again. I am only a teenager, but I still feel this sin is held against me. If I could say one thing to them is I want to change and come back to you. Please give me information on it so I can feel their love like I did before. I don't know what is wrong with me. Thank you.

Response #22:

Dear Friend,

Guilt is a very powerful emotion, and for Christians it very easily can transmogrify into something very harmful. The fact is that the "unpardonable sin" is the sin of rejecting the gospel, the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord, the sin of refusing to believe in His perfect Person and His work for salvation on the cross through which we are saved (see the link for more details). That is to say, the only unforgivable sin is the sin of unbelief. No one who desires to have a saving relationship with the Lord is ever refused – as it is very clear that you do so desire; or better put it is clear enough to me that you have never lost your faith in the Lord. All believers are saved; only unbelievers are lost:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

The Christian life is all about what we believe through faith, not about what or how we "feel". It is very easy for Christians to give into their emotions and allow how they feel to lead them. That is a mistake. If we feel "good" but are out of the will of God, what good does it do to feel "good"? If we feel "bad" but are really doing what God wants us to do, we are wrong to feel bad even if we are under pressure from the evil one. What counts is the truth, and the truth may only be ascertained from the Bible and learned, appreciated and applied through the Holy Spirit. The more we advance in the Christian life, the more we are going to be tested on this one point, so it is an important one to understand. For more on this please see the two links:

The Battlefield Within: Fighting the inner spiritual Struggle

Who Controls our Thoughts and Emotions?

From time to time, all Christians fail, stumble, sin (Rom.3:23; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10). Divine discipline does come to us when we sin, but that punishment comes from a loving Father who is trying to help us do better (Heb.12:1ff.), not from some angry pagan god trying to destroy us. We need to appreciate that fact even as we learn to turn away from sin and questionable behavior of all kinds – for conscience' sake but also out of reverence for God. When we do sin, God has provided a solution: confession. After all, Christ has already died for every single sin we will ever commit; He has paid the entire price. God loves us more than we can know, and He most definitely is willing to forgive us our sins based on Jesus' sacrifice when we do recognize our errors and turn away from them and then confess:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:9 NKJV

God is faithful. Our part is to trust Him that when He says He will forgive us that He is telling the truth, and not give in instead to our emotions because we feel bad and guilty about what we have done. We may well feel bad and we will certainly regret the divine discipline we receive for all such transgressions, but that is different from allowing our emotions to lead us away from the basic truths of the faith which we have to embrace through faith. Jesus is our Lord and He cares for us. He loves us so much that He died for our sins, paying a price beyond what we can imagine. He did not do that because He wanted to destroy us. God want all to be saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9) – how much more will we who have fled to Him to take refuge in Him through the blood of His Son not be saved through that sacrifice (Rom.5:9)? Our Lord always welcomes back the prodigal son; He always goes in search of the one straying sheep and the one lost coin. No matter how bad we have behaved, if we do believe, then we are believers and all believers are saved. There is no limit on the grace, the goodness, the love and the forgiveness of our God; the only limits are the ones we mistakenly place upon ourselves (often out of misplaced guilt). Anyone who has any doubts about that need only look to the cross.

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
John 3:17 NKJV

Here are few more links which may be helpful to you (and do feel free to write me back about any of this):

Salvation and Sin

Sin according to the Bible: Hamartiology I

Sin, Salvation and Forgiveness: Claiming the Mental and Spiritual High-Ground

Struggling with Salvation . . . and Relatives

Sin and Salvation, Confession and Forgiveness

Salvation Lost and Found

Have I Lost My Salvation? (III)

Doubting Salvation and Questions of Sin

Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness II

Sin, Atonement and Forgiveness I

Being Saved: Security, Apostasy, and the Sin unto Death

Fighting the Fight II: Struggling with Sin, Doubt, and Severe Testing

Fighting the Fight I: Accountability, Faith, Sin, Forgiveness, and Reward

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who died to save us, not to condemn us.

Bob L.

Question #23:

Thank you for that, I just have one main problem. Lately I have been having times were I lose guilt and care for committing this sin. I feel this is because I usually worry most of the time. I still pray and repent I just don't feel the Holy Spirit inside me like I usually do, and I like to feel the Holy Spirit in me. Then when I give up like that I have negative thoughts which I believe are caused by the devil. Then I have personality changes were I'm depressed, careless, annoyed, tired, my heart changes with my emotions constantly. Can you explain these issues to me?

Thank you

Response #23:

Please do have a look at the links I sent to you. The solution to these matters has to do with learning and believing the Word of God. The Christian life is not about how we feel but about what we know to be the truth by faith – and then aggressively applying that truth to our lives and our circumstances in spite of our feelings. We have to learn, as Christians, to "encourage ourselves in the Lord" as David did under great stress and pressure (1Sam.30:6). Naturally, if we do not know encouraging Bible verses, we cannot remember them and think on them; and if we have not been taught what they mean, even knowing the verses will not help necessarily; and if we don't actually believe what the verses say, then they also cannot help us for that reason. The Holy Spirit makes use of the truth we have stored in our hearts through faith; if that store is very low, so also will be the level of support we are able to muster when things get rough. That is why spiritual growth is so important for every Christian, but it has to come from the person in question, and it has to come from the inside out. Likewise, we have to learn how to meet the trials of faith with the shield of faith, deploying it by managing what we think and how we are determined to feel about what we are doing and experiencing.

If you have sinned, confess and you will be forgiven.

If you are being disciplined for sin, know that a loving Father is treating you as His own dear son.

If you are having trouble turning away from sin, know that this is a question of your own free will and while none of us will ever live "sin free", you can, in fact, do much to change your behavior (as we all should definitely do). Your free will is in your own hands. Take responsibility for your own behavior, confess, repent, determine to do better, and the Spirit will help you. The Spirit won't do it for you – it's all about free will here on earth – but you will be helped if you do make the effort. And in all of these things please remember that the farther you get down the road of spiritual growth, the better things will become. That process requires sustained effort, just as "fighting the fight" against sin and the attacks of the evil one requires effort on each and every occasion. The Christian life is not automatic or easy, but it is blessed and inestimably rewarding both now in this life and certainly even more so in the life to come.

There is much to say about all of these issues, but as I say there is much already written for you to read about them in the links provided last time. Please do devote some time and effort to that (it's really the only way to make progress), and then do feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Robert,

One last issue I have to discuss with you. Would I be over this when I'm a little older, because sometimes I think it is just while I'm a teen.

Thank You

Response #24:

The Christian life is not a matter of chronological growth but one of spiritual growth. The only limits are the ones we put on ourselves. There are plenty of adults, even those of the "golden years", who are still spiritual babies – because they have never bothered to put themselves under the discipline of a teaching ministry and set themselves to learning the depths of the doctrines of the Bible, believe and meditate on them, apply them to their lives, and pass the tests that come to those who have grown up, becoming then useful to the Lord for their own ministries for the benefit of the entire Church. That is the process, that is how rewards are won for all eternity, but that is also something most believers today find too onerous to engage in – to their great spiritual peril.

I think you will find that if you do "get cracking" with the Word of God in the correct way, that the problems with this issue and other such issues will begin to subside more rapidly than you might now think: but you have to "arm yourself" (with the truth) before you can expect to fight the fight effectively. As I say, it does take seriousness, effort, dedication and fight – as in fact anything in this life worth doing certainly does as well. It is beyond ironic to my way of thinking that Christians will endure all manner of difficulties to be successful in sports or business or any manner of personal endeavors, but when it comes to the most important thing in the world after salvation, they are generally entirely unwilling to lift their little finger to even touch it.

Hoping for better things for you, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

I do believe; I just think I became a Christian out of fear instead of faith. I still love the Father, Savior, and Holy Spirit. One other thing, if slander isn't unforgivable then why are there groups that do it and can they be forgiven?

Response #25:

If you believe in Jesus Christ, accept Him as the Son of the Father, the Savior of the world, God and man in one unique person forever who died for the sins of the world . . . then you are a believer. It is very difficult for any of us to completely and correctly "parse" our emotions and motivations, especially after the fact, but it is fair to say that fear of death and judgment is and is meant to be a large part of the motivation for all human beings to question their otherwise natural proclivity to want nothing to do with God. This is all explained in part 4B of Bible Basics: Soteriology: the Biblical Study of Salvation (see the link). In terms of your situation, however, if you do have faith in Jesus Christ and accept Him as God and Savior, then you are most definitely saved! And that is true regardless of how you were "feeling" when you committed your life to Him. God wants everyone to be saved. He doesn't make it tricky or difficult to be saved. He makes the issue very clear, and it will be made very clear at the last judgment how that unbelievers did not want a relationship with Him no matter that He paid the price for all their sins through judging His own dear Son in their place. The fear of God is a good, a legitimate and, as it turns out, a necessary thing for believers who want to grow up spiritual; but godly fear is that of the reverence of an obedient child has for a loving and just father, not irrational terror in the face of arbitrary power. We know who we have believed, and we know that God is good and that God is love and that God is for us in every way. Our part is to respond to Him through hearing, learning, believing and living by His truth to the honor of Jesus Christ who died that we might have eternal life.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16 NKJV

As to your last question, God deals with everyone individually. Groups aren't saved; people are saved . . . or not. When it comes to salvation, God does not honor membership in any group nor does He penalize it per se. People are saved or not based upon the individual relationship they have with Jesus Christ being born again by grace through faith . . . or lost for failing to respond to the gospel. See the link: Aspects of the False Doctrine of Institutional Security. As to slander, well, slander is a sin and if it is committed by a believer it has to be dealt with just as any other sin: repent, confess, ride out the discipline, make a note not to be tricked or tempted into going down the same road again. Slandering the Holy Spirit (if that is what you mean), aka blaspheming the Holy Spirit, is the sin or rejecting the gospel. The Spirit makes the truth that Jesus is the Savior of the world clear to the hearts of all who hear the gospel; therefore rejection of the gospel message is in essence calling the Spirit a liar; that is not only blasphemy but blasphemy of a sort that results in condemnation . . . because of rejecting the one way in which sin, death and judgment may be avoided: by accepting Jesus Christ as our Substitute through faith. See the link: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Yours in our dear Savior, the Head of the Church and the Bridegroom of the Bride.

Bob L.

Question #26:

Was Moses punished or disciplined for the murder he committed? And was Paul for his involvement with the persecutions of early Christians? It seemed that David was chastised pretty severely for his similar action of murder. Why the difference amongst the three in the way God chose to deal with them?

Response #26:

All three examples find all three individuals in different statuses, and it is clear that God deals with us differently based upon where we are spiritually:

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48 NIV

Paul was an unbeliever when he persecuted the Church, albeit a very self-righteous and religious one; Moses was apparently a believer but not as spiritually advanced as he would later become when he "thought he was doing a good thing" in killing the Egyptian; David was a mature believer without any excuse whatsoever when he committed adultery and had Uriah murdered. God's discipline reflects these statuses. That said, there is a lot we do not know about the situations and results in all three cases. In Moses' case, for example, we don't know very much about his early life but the conclusion above seems to fit the facts (cf. Heb.11:24-27). In any case, while it was obviously part of the plan of God and worked together for good, being exiled from Egypt and having to become a fugitive in the desert was certainly a consequence of the murder. Paul never entirely and actually forgot what he had done (e.g., Acts 22:4; 1Cor.15:9; Gal.1:13; 1Tim.1:15-16), but in true hero-believer fashion he purposefully and effectively "forgot what lies behind" and concentrated on moving forward spiritually instead (Phil.3:13). We know from the events recorded in the Old Testament that David received fourteen years of incredibly intensive discipline for what he did. What all have in common is that in spite of these deeds God used them all mightily, and their failings did not keep them from becoming three of the greatest believers who ever lived – something we all ought to remember when we fail or are feeling down about past mistakes.

P.s.: David also had messed up in a less serious way when he went to Gath with his men the second time; that did result in the misfortune of Ziklag being sacked, but if not for that, David might have ended up at Mt. Gilboa. So God always works everything out for good for those who love Him (Rom.8:28), even our failures and the discipline they entail for our ultimate good.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

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