Biblical Answers to Spiritual Questions

Assurance of Salvation

To have assurance of a future with God in heaven all you have to do is believe in His Son. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” You have to be His child and the Word of God says in John 1:12 “as many as received Him to them gave He right to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

1 Corinthians 15:3&4 tells us what Jesus did for us. He died for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead on the third day. Other Scriptures to read are Isaiah 53:1-12, 1 Peter 2:24, Matthew 26:28&29, Hebrews chapter 10:1-25 and John 3:16&30.

In John 3:14-16&30 and John 5:24 God says if we believe we have eternal life and simply put, if it ends it wouldn’t be eternal; but to emphasize His promise God also says those who believe shall not perish.

God also says in Romans 8:1 that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible says that God cannot lie; it is in His innate character (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18&19).

He uses many words to make the promise of eternal life easy for us to understand: Romans 10:13 (call), John 1:12 (believe & receive), John 3:14&15 (look – Numbers 21:5-9), Revelation 22:17 (take) and Revelation 3:20 (open the door).

Romans 6:23 says eternal life is a gift through Jesus Christ. Revelation 22:17 says “And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” It is a gift, all we need to do is take it. It cost Jesus everything. It costs us nothing. It is not a result of our doing works. We cannot get it or keep it by doing good deeds. God is just. If it were by works it would not be just and we would have something to brag about. Ephesians 2:8&9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Galatians 3:1-6 teaches us that not only can we not earn it by doing good works, but we can’t keep it that way either.

It says “did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith… are you so foolish, having begun in the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh.”

I Corinthians 1:29-31 says, “that no man should boast before God… that Christ is made unto us sanctification and redemption and… let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

If we could earn salvation Jesus would not have had to die (Galatians 2:21). Other passages which give us assurance of salvation are:

1. John 6:25-40 especially verse 37 which tells us that “him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out,” that is, you don’t have to beg or earn it.

If you believe and come He will not reject you but welcome you, receive you and make you His child. You only have to ask Him.

2. 2 Timothy 1:12 says “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.”

Jude24&25 say “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen.”

3. Philippians 1:6 says “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

4. Remember the thief on the cross. All he said to Jesus was “Remember me when You come in your kingdom.”

Jesus saw his heart and honored his faith.
He said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42&43).

5. When Jesus died He finished the work God gave Him to do.

John 4:34 says, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work.” On the cross, just before He died, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The phrase “It is finished” means paid in full.

It is a legal term that refers to what was written over the list of crimes someone was being punished for when his punishment was completely finished, when he was set free. It signifies that his debt or punishment was “paid in full.”

When we accept Jesus’ death on the cross for us, our sin debt is paid in full. No one can change this.

6. Two wonderful verses, John 3:16 and John 3:28-40

both say that when you believe you will not perish.

John 10:28 says never perish.

God’s Word is true. We just have to trust what God says. Never means never.

7. God says many times in the New Testament that He imputes or credits Christ’s righteousness to us when we put our faith in Jesus, that is, He credits or gives to us Jesus’ righteousness.

Ephesians 1:6 says we are accepted in Christ. See also Philippians 3:9 and Romans 4:3&22.

8. God’s Word says in Psalm 103:12 that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

He also says in Jeremiah 31:34 that “He will remember our sins no more.”

9. Hebrews 10:10-14 teaches us that Jesus death on the cross was sufficient to pay for all sin for all time – past, present and future.

Jesus died “once for all.” Jesus’ work (being complete and perfect) never needs to be repeated. This passage teaches that “he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Maturity and purity in our lives is a process but He has perfected us forever. Because of this we are to “draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:25).

10. Ephesians 1:13&14 says the Holy Spirit seals us.

God seals us with the Holy Spirit as with a signet ring, putting on us an irreversible seal, not able to be broken.

It’s like a king sealing an irreversible law with his signet ring. Many Christians doubt their salvation. These and many other verses show us God is both Savior and Keeper. We are, according to Ephesians 6 in a battle with Satan.

He is our enemy and “as a roaring lion seeks to devour us” (I Peter 5:8).

I believe that causing us to doubt our salvation is one of his greatest fiery darts used to defeat us.
I believe that the various parts of the armor of God referred to here are the Scripture verses which teach us what God promises and the power He gives us to have victory; for example, His righteousness. It is not ours but His.

Philippians 3:9 says “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

When Satan tries to convince you that you are “too bad to go to heaven,” respond that you are righteous “in Christ” and claim His righteousness. To use the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God) you need to memorize or at least know where to find this and other Scriptures. To use these weapons we need to know that His Word is truth (John 17:17).

Remember, you have to trust God’s Word. Study God’s Word and keep on studying it because the more you know the stronger you will become. You must trust these verse and others like them to have assurance.

His Word is truth and “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

You must fill your mind with it until it changes you. The Word of God says to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,” like doubting God. Ephesians 6 says to use that sword and then it says to stand; don’t quit and run (retreat). God has given us everything we need for life and godliness “thorough the true knowledge of Him Who called us” (2 Peter 1:3).

Just keep on believing.

Do Our Loved Ones in Heaven Know What's Going on in My Life?

Jesus taught us in the Scriptures (the Bible) in John 14:6 that He is the way to heaven. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” The Bible teaches us that Jesus died for our sins. It teaches us that we must believe in Him to have eternal life.

I Peter 2:24 says, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree,” and John 3:14-18 (NASB) says, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (verse14), so that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life (verse 15).

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (verse 16).

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge (condemn) the world; but that the world should be saved through Him (verse 17).

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the only begotten Son of God (verse 18).”

See also verse 36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life…”

This is our blessed promise.

Romans 10:9-13 ends by saying, “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Acts 16:30&31 says, “He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’

They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.'”

If your loved one believed he or she is in heaven.

There is very little in Scripture which talks about what occurs in heaven before the Lord’s return, except that we will be with Jesus.

Jesus told the thief on the cross in Luke 23:43, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.”

Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that, “if we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord.”

The only clues I see which indicate that our loved ones in heaven are able to see us are in Hebrews and Luke.

The first is Hebrews 12:1 which says, “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses” (the author is speaking of those who died before us – past believers) “surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This would indicate they can see us. They witness what we are doing.

The second is in Luke 16:19-31, the account of the rich man and Lazarus.

They could see each other and the rich man was aware of his relatives on earth. (Read the entire account.) This passage also shows us God’s response to sending “one from the dead to speak to them.”

God strictly forbids us from trying to contact the dead as in going to mediums or going to séances.
One should stay away from such things and trust in God’s Word, given to us in the Scriptures.

Deuteronomy 18:9-12 says, “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out these nations before you.”

The whole Bible is about Jesus, about His coming to die for us, so that we might have forgiveness of sins and have eternal life in heaven by believing in Him.

Acts 10:48 says, “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His Name everyone who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins.”

Acts 13:38 says, “Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”

Colossians 1:14 says, “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His Beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Read Hebrews chapter 9. Verse 22 says, “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

In Romans 4:5-8 it says the one who “believes, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,” and in verse 7 it says, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered.”

Romans 10:13&14 says,” Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord wills be saved.

How shall they call upon Him in Whom they have not believed?”

In John 10:28 Jesus says of His believers, “and I give eternal life to them and they shall never perish.”

I hope you have believed.

Do Our Spirit and Soul Die After Death?

Although Samuel’s body died, the spirit and soul of someone who has died do not cease to exist, that is, die.

The Scriptures (the Bible) demonstrate this over and over again. The best way I can think of to explain death in Scripture is to use the word separation. The soul and spirit are separated from the body when the body dies and begins to decay.

An example of this would be the Scriptural phrase “you are dead in your sins” which equates to “your sins have separated you from your God.” To be separated from God is spiritual death. The soul and spirit do not die in the same way as the body does.

In Luke 18 the rich man was in a place of punishment and the poor man was at Abraham’s side after their physical death. There is life after death.

On the cross, Jesus told the thief who was repentant, “today you will be with me in paradise.” On the third day after Jesus died He was physically raised. Scripture teaches that someday even our bodies will be raised as Jesus’ body was.

In John 14:1-4, 12 &28 Jesus told the disciples that He was going to be with the Father.
In John 14:19 Jesus said, “because I live, you shall live also.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Scripture teaches clearly (see Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Galatians 5:20 and Revelation 9:21; 21:8 and 22:15) that consulting with spirits of the dead or mediums or psychics or any other form of magic is sin and grievous to God.

Some believe this may be because those who consult the dead are actually consulting demons.
In Luke 16 the rich man was told that: “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”

In 2 Samuel 12:23 David said of his son who had died: “But now that he is dead, why should I fast?

Can I bring him back again?

I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Isaiah 8:19 says, “When men tell you to consult mediums and psychics, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God?

Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”

This verse tells us we should seek God for wisdom and understanding, not wizards, mediums, psychics or witches.

In I Corinthians 15:1-4 we see that “Christ died for our sins…that He was buried… and that He was raised on the third day.

It says this is the gospel.

John 6:40 says, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.

Do People Who Commit Suicide Go To Hell?

Many people believe that if a person commits suicide that they automatically go to Hell.

This idea is usually based on the fact that killing yourself is murder, an extremely serious sin, and that when a person kills himself there obviously is not time after the event to repent and ask God to forgive him.

There are several problems with this idea. The first is that there is absolutely no indication in the Bible that if a person commits suicide that they go to Hell.

The second problem is that it makes salvation be by faith plus not doing something. Once you start down that road, what other conditions are you going to add to faith alone?

Romans 4:5 says, “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

The third issue is that it almost puts murder into a separate category and makes it far worse than any other sin.

Murder is extremely serious, but so are many other sins. A final problem is that it assumes that the individual did not change his mind and cry out to God after it was too late.

According to people who have survived a suicide attempt, at least some of them regretted whatever they did to take their life almost as soon as they did it.

None of what I have just said should be taken to mean that suicide is not sin, and a very serious one at that.

People who take their own life often feel their friends and family would be better off without them, but that is almost never so. Suicide is a tragedy, not only because an individual dies, but also because of the emotional pain that all who knew the individual will feel, often for an entire lifetime.

Suicide is the ultimate rejection of all the people who cared about the one who took their own life, and often leads to all sorts of emotional problems in those affected by it, including others taking their own life also.

To sum up, suicide is an extremely serious sin, but it will not automatically send someone to Hell.

Any sin is serious enough to send a person to Hell if that person does not ask the Lord Jesus Christ to be his Savior and forgive all his sins.

Does God Stop Bad Things From Happening to Us?

The answer to this question is that God is omnipotent and omniscient, which means He is all powerful and all knowing. Scripture says He knows all our thoughts and nothing is hidden from Him.

The answer to this question is that He is our Father and that He cares for us. It also depends on who we are, because we do not become His children until we believe in His Son and His death for us to pay for our sin.

John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. To His children God gives many, many promises of His care and protection.

Romans 8:28 says, “all things work together for good to those who love God.”

This is because He loves us as a Father. As such He allows things to come into our lives to teach us to be mature or even to discipline us, or even to punish us if we sin or disobey.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “whom the Father loves, He chastens.”

As a Father He wants to bless us with many blessings and give us good things, but it doesn’t mean nothing “bad” ever happens, but it is all for our good.

I Peter 5:7 says “cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”

If you read the book of Job you will see that nothing can come into our life that God does not allow for our own good.”

In the case of those who disobey by not believing, God does not make these promises, but God says He allows His “rain” and blessings to fall on the just and the unjust. God wishes for them to come to Him, becoming part of His family. He will use different means to do this. God may also punish people for their sins, here and now.

Matthew 10:30 says, “the very hairs of our head are all numbered” and Matthew 6:28 says we are of more value than the “lilies of the field.”

We know the Bible says God loves us (John 3:16), so we can be sure of His care, love and protection from “bad” things unless it is to make us better, stronger and more like His Son.

Faith and Evidence

Have you been considering whether or not there is a higher power?

A power that formed the Universe and all that’s in it. A power that took nothing and created the earth, the sky, water, and living things?

Where did the simplest plant come from?

The most complicated creature… man?

I struggled with the question for years. I sought the answer in science. Surely the answer can be found through the study of these things all around that amaze and mystify us. The answer had to be in the most minute part of every creature and thing.

The atom!

The essence of life must be found there. It wasn’t. It wasn’t found in the nuclear material or in the electrons spinning around it. It wasn’t in the empty space that makes up most of everything we can touch and see.

All these thousands of years of looking and no one has found the essence of life inside the common things around us. I knew there must be a force, a power, that was doing all this around me.

Was it God? Okay, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to me? Why not?

If this force is a living God why all the mystery?

Wouldn’t it be more logical for Him to say, “Okay, here I am. I did all this. Now go about your business.”

Not until I met a special woman who I reluctantly went to a Bible study with did I start to understand any of this.

The people there were studying the Scriptures and I thought they must be searching for the same thing I was, but just haven’t found it yet.

The leader of the group read a passage from the Bible written by a man who used to hate Christians but was changed.

Changed in an amazing way.

His name was Paul and he wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Those words “grace” and “faith” fascinated me.

What did they really mean? Later that night she asked me to go see a movie, of course she tricked me into going to a Christian movie.

At the end of the show there was a short message by Billy Graham.

Here he was, a farm boy from North Carolina, explaining to me the very thing that I had been struggling with all along.

He said, “You can’t explain God scientifically, philosophically, or in any other intellectual way.”

You simply have to believe God is real. You have to have faith that what He said He did as it is written in the Bible. That He created the heavens and the earth, that He created the plants and animals, that He spoke all this into existence as it is written in the book of Genesis in the Bible. That He breathed life into a lifeless form and it became man. That He wanted to have a closer relationship with the people He created so He took on the form of a man who was God’s Son and came to the earth and lived among us.

This Man, Jesus, paid the debt of sin for those who will believe by being crucified on the cross.

How could it be so simple? Just believe? Have faith that all this was the truth? I went home that night and got little sleep. I struggled with the issue of God giving me grace – through faith to believe. That He was that force, that essence of life and creation of all that ever was and is. Then He came to me. I knew that I simply had to believe. It was by God’s grace that He showed me His love.

That He was the answer and that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for me so that I could believe. That I could have a relationship with Him. He revealed Himself to me in that moment. I called her to tell her that I now understand. That now I believe and want to give my life to Christ. She told me that she prayed that I would not sleep until I took that leap of faith and believed in God.

My life was changed forever.

Yes, forever, because now I can look forward to spending eternity in a wonderful place called heaven.
No longer do I concern myself with needing evidence to prove that Jesus could actually walk on water,
or that the Red Sea could have parted to allow the Israelites to pass through, or any of the dozen other seemingly impossible events written in the Bible.

God has proven Himself over and over in my life. He can reveal Himself to you also. If you find yourself seeking proof of His existence ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Take that leap of faith as a child, and truly believe in Him.

Open yourself up to His love by faith, not evidence.

How Can I Become a Better Spiritual Leader?

The first priority is being a good pastor or preacher or a spiritual leader of any kind is to not neglect your own spiritual health.  Paul, an experience spiritual leader, wrote to Timothy, whom he was mentoring in I Timothy 4:16 (NASB) Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching.”  Anyone in spiritual leadership must constantly guard against spending so much time doing “ministry” that his own personal time with the Lord suffers.  Jesus taught his disciples in John 15:1-8 that fruit bearing was totally dependent upon their “remaining in Him,” because “apart from me you can do nothing.”  Make sure you spend time reading the Word of God for personal growth every day.  (Studying the Bible to get ready to preach or teach does not count.)  Maintain an honest and open prayer life and be quick to confess when you sin.  You will probably spend a lot of time encouraging others.  Make sure you have Christian friends that you meet with regularly who will encourage you.  Spiritual leadership is the job of a limited number of people in the body of Christ, but it does not make you more valuable or important than anyone else serving in the body.  Guard against pride.

Probably the three best books ever written on how to be a spiritual leader are I&2 Timothy and Titus.  Study them thoroughly.  The best book ever written on how to understand and deal with people is the Book of Proverbs.  Read it frequently.  Commentaries and books about the Bible can be helpful, but spend more time studying the Bible itself than you do reading books about it.  There are excellent study helps online such as Bible Hub and Bible Gateway.  Learn to use them to help you understand what individual verses actually mean.  You can also find Bible Dictionaries on line that will help you understand the meaning of the original Greek and Hebrew words.  The Apostles in Acts 6:4 (NASB) said, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  You will notice they put prayer first.  You will also notice they delegated other responsibilities to stay focused on their primary responsibilities.  And finally, when teaching about the qualifications of spiritual leaders in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, Paul puts great emphasis on the leader’s children.  Make sure not to neglect your wife or children because you are so busy doing ministry.

How Can I Overcome Pornography?

Pornography is an especially difficult addiction to overcome. The first step in overcoming being enslaved to any particular sin is to know God and have the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

For that reason, let me go through the plan of salvation. You must admit you have sinned against God.

Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

You must believe the Gospel as given in I Corinthians 15:3&4, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

And finally, you must ask God to forgive you and ask Christ to come into your life. The Scriptures use many verses to express this concept. One of the simplest is Romans 10:13, “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” If you have honestly done these three things, you are a child of God. The next step in finding victory is knowing and believing what God did for you when you accepted Christ as your Savior.

You were a slave to sin. Romans 6:17b says, “you used to be slaves to sin.” Jesus said in John 8:34b, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” But the good news is that He also said in John 8:31&32, “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'” He adds in verse 36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

2 Peter 1:3&4 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” God has given us everything we need to be godly, but it comes through our knowledge of Him and our understanding of His very great and precious promises.

First we need to know what God has done. In Romans chapter 5 we learn that what Adam did when he deliberately sinned against God has affected all of his descendants, every human being. Because of Adam, we are all born with a sinful nature.

But in Romans 5:10 we learn, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Forgiveness of sins comes through what Jesus did for us on the cross, power for overcoming sin comes through Jesus living His life through us in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul says in Romans 5:10 that what God did for us that saves us from the power of sin is even greater than what He did for us in reconciling us to Himself.

Notice the phrase “much more” in Romans 5:9, 10, 15 and 17. Paul puts it this way in Romans 6:6 (I’m using the translation in the margin of the NIV & NASB), “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

I John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Putting the two verses together, our sin nature is still there, but it’s power to control us has been broken.

Secondly, we need to believe what God says about the power of sin being broken in our lives. Romans 6:11 says, “In the same way, count yourselves as dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” A man who was a slave and has been set free, if he does not know he has been set free, will still obey his old master and for all practical purposes still be a slave.

Thirdly, we need to recognize that the power to live in victory does not come through determination or will power but through the power of the Holy Spirit Who lives in us once we have been saved. Galatians 5:16&17 says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.

They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Notice verse 17 does not say that the Spirit cannot do what He wants or that the sinful nature cannot do what it wants, it says, “that you do not do what you want.”

God is infinitely more powerful than any sinful habit or addiction. But God will not force you to obey Him. You can choose to surrender your will to the will of the Holy Spirit and give Him complete control of your life, or you can pick and choose which sins you want to fight and end up fighting them on your own and losing. God is under no obligation to help you fight one sin if you are still holding on to other sins. Does the phrase, “you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” apply to an addiction to pornography?

Yes, it does. In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul lists the acts of the sinful nature. The first three are “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery.” “Sexual immorality” is any sexual act between individuals other than a sexual act between a man and a woman who are married to each other. It also includes bestiality.

“Impurity” most literally means uncleanness.

“Dirty-minded” is a modern day expression that means the same thing.

“Debauchery” is shameless sexual conduct, a total absence of restraint in seeking sexual gratification.

Again, Galatians 5:16&17 says, “live by the Spirit.”

It has to be a way of life, not just asking God to help you with this particular problem. Romans 6:12 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

If you do not choose to give the Holy Spirit control of your life, you are choosing to let sin control you.

Romans 6:13 puts the concept of living by the Holy Spirit this way, “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”

Fourthly, we need to recognize the difference between living under law and living under grace.

Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
The concept of living under law is relatively simple: if I keep all of God’s rules then God will be happy with me and accept me.

That is not how a person is saved. We are saved by grace through faith.

Colossians 2:6 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.”

Just as we could not keep God’s rules well enough to have Him accept us, so we cannot keep God’s rules well enough after we are saved to make Him be happy with us on that basis.

To get saved, we asked God to do something for us we could not do based on what Jesus did on the cross for us; to find victory over sin we ask the Holy Spirit to do something for us that we cannot do ourselves, defeat our sinful habits and addictions, knowing that we are accepted by God in spite of our failures.

Romans 8:3&4 puts it this way: “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

If you are really serious about finding victory, here are some practical suggestions: First, spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God every day.

Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Second, spend time praying every day. Prayer is you talking to God and listening to God talk to you. If you are going to live in the Spirit, you are going to need to clearly hear His voice.

Third, make good Christian friends who will encourage you to walk with God.

Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Fourth, find a good church and a small group Bible Study if you can and participate regularly.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

There are two more things I would suggest for anyone struggling with an especially difficult sin issue like a pornography addiction.

James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

This passage does not mean talking about your sins in a public church meeting, although it might be appropriate in a small men’s meeting for people struggling with the same problem, but it seems to mean finding a man you can totally trust and giving him permission to ask you at least weekly how you are doing in your struggle against pornography.

Knowing that not only are you going to have to confess your sin to God but also to a man you trust and admire can be a powerful deterrent.

The other thing I would suggest for anyone struggling with an especially difficult sin issue is found in Romans 13:12b (NASB), “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

A man trying to quit smoking would be extremely stupid to keep a supply of his favorite cigarettes in the house.

A man struggling with an alcohol addiction has to avoid bars and places where alcohol is served. You don’t say where you view pornography, but you must absolutely cut off your access to it.

If it is magazines, burn them. If it is something you watch on television, get rid of the television.
If you watch it on your computer, get rid of your computer, or at least any pornography stored in it and get rid of your internet access. Just like a man with a craving for a cigarette at 3 am will probably not get up, get dressed, and go out and buy one, so making it extremely hard to view pornography will make it less likely you will fail.

If you don’t eliminate your access, you’re not really serious about quitting.

What if you do slip up and view pornography again? Immediately accept full responsibility for what you have done and confess it immediately to God.

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

When we confess sin, not only does God forgive us, He promises to purify us. Always confess any sin immediately. Pornography is a very powerful addiction. Half-hearted measures will not work.

But God is infinitely powerful and if you know and believe what He has done for you, accept full responsibility for your actions, rely on the Holy Spirit and not your own strength and follow the practical suggestions I have made, victory is certainly possible.

How Can I Overcome the Temptation of Sin?

If victory over sin is a great step in our walk with the Lord, we might say that victory over temptation takes it a step closer: that of victory before we sin.

First let me say this: a thought which enters your mind is not in itself sin.
It becomes sin when you consider it, entertain the thought and act on it.
As discussed in the question about victory over sin, we as believers in Christ, have been given power for victory over sin.

We also have the power to resist temptation: the power to flee from sin. Read I John 2:14-17.
Temptation can come from several places:
1) Satan or his demons can tempt us,
2) other people can draw us into sin and, as Scripture says in James 1:14&15, we can be 3) drawn away by our own lusts (desires) and enticed.

Please read the following Scriptures concerning temptation:
Genesis 3:1-15; I John 2:14-17; Matthew 4:1-11; James 1:12-15; I Corinthians 10:13; Matthew 6:13 and 26:41.

James 1:13 tells us an important fact.
It says, “Let no one say when he is tempted ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” God does not tempt us but He does allow us to be tempted.

Temptation comes from Satan, others or ourselves, not God.
The end of James 2:14 says that when we are enticed and sin, the result is death; separation from God and eventual physical death,

I John 2:16 tells us that there are three major areas of temptation:

1) the lusts of the flesh: wrong actions or things that satisfy our physical desires;
2) the lusts of the eyes, things which look appealing, wrong things that appeal to us and lead us away from God, wanting things which are not ours to have and
3) the pride of life, wrong ways to exalt ourselves or our arrogant pride.

Let’s look at Genesis 3:1-15 and also at Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4.
Both of these passages of Scripture teach us what to look out for when we are tempted and how to overcome those temptations.

Read Genesis 3:1-15 It was Satan who tempted Eve, so he could lead her away from God into sin.

She was tempted in all these areas:
She saw the fruit as something appealing to her eyes, something to satisfy her hunger and Satan said it would make her like God, knowing good and evil.
Instead of obeying and trusting God and turning to God for help, her mistake was to listen to Satan’s insinuations, lies and subtle suggestions that God was keeping ‘something good’ from her.

Satan also enticed her by questioning what God had said.
“Has God indeed said?” he questioned.
Satan’s temptations are deceptive and he misquoted God’s words.
Satan’s questions cause her to mistrust God’s love and His character.
“You will not die,” he lied; “God knows your eyes will be opened” and “you will be like God,” appealing to her ego.

Instead of being thankful for all God had given her, she took the only thing God had forbidden and “gave it also to her husband.”
The lesson here is to listen to and to trust God.
God does not keep things from us that are good for us.
The resulting sin led to death (which is to be understood as separation from God) and eventual physical death. That moment they began to die physically.

Knowing that yielding to temptation leads down this road, causing us to lose fellowship with God, and leading also to guilt, (Read 1 John 1) should certainly help us to say no.
Adam and Eve did not seem to understand Satan’s tactics. We have their example, and we ought to learn from them. Satan uses the same tricks on us. He lies about God. He portrays God as deceptive, a liar and unloving.
We need to trust in God’s love and say no to Satan’s lies.
Resisting Satan and temptation is done in large part as an act of faith in God.
We need to know that this deception is Satan’s trick and that he is the liar.
John 8:44 says Satan “is a liar and the father of lies.”
God’s word says, “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
Philippians 2:9&10 says “be anxious for nothing.. for He cares for you.”
Be watchful of anything which adds to, subtracts from or distorts God’s word.
Anything which questions or changes Scriptures or God’s character has Satan’s stamp on it.
In order to know these things, we need to know and understand Scripture.
If you do not know the truth it is easy to be misled and deceived.
Deceived is the operative word here.
I believe that knowing and using Scripture correctly is the most valuable weapon God has given to us to use in resisting temptation.

It enters into almost every aspect of avoiding Satan’s lies.
The best example of this is the Lord Jesus Himself. (Read Matthew 4:1-12.) Christ’s temptation was related to His relationship to His Father and the Father’s will for Him.

Satan used Jesus’ own needs when tempting Him.
Jesus was tempted to satisfy His own desires and pride instead of doing God’s will.
As we read in I John, He also was tempted with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Jesus is tempted after forty days of fasting. He is tired and hungry.
We are often tempted when we are tired or weak and our temptations are often about our relationship to God.
Let’s look at Jesus’ example. Jesus said He came to do the Father’s will, that He and the Father were one. He knew why He was sent to earth. (Read Philippians chapter 2.

Jesus came to be like us and to be our Savior.
Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” Satan enticed Jesus to follow his suggestions and desires rather than God’s.

(He tried to get Jesus to meet a legitimate need by doing what he said instead of waiting for God to meet His need, thus following Satan rather than God.

These temptations were about doing things Satan’s way, rather than God’s.
If we follow Satan’s lies and suggestions we cease to follow God and are following Satan.
It’s either one or the other. We then fall into a downward spiral of sin and death.
First Satan tempted Him to demonstrate (prove) His power and deity.
He said, since you are hungry, use your power to satisfy your hunger.
Jesus was tempted so He could be our perfect mediator and intercessor.
God allows Satan to test us to help us become mature.
Scripture says in Hebrews 5:8 that Christ learned obedience “from what he suffered.”
The name devil means slanderer and the devil is subtle.
Jesus resists Satan’s subtle trick to do his bidding by using Scripture.
He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
(Deuteronomy 8:3) Jesus brings it back to the subject, doing God’s will, putting this above His own needs.

I found Wycliffe’s Bible Commentary very helpful on page 935 commenting on Matthew chapter 4, “Jesus refused to work a miracle to avoid personal suffering when such suffering was part of God’s will for Him.”

The commentary emphasized the Scripture which said Jesus was “‘led up of the Spirit’ to the wilderness for the specific purpose of allowing Jesus to be tested.”
Jesus was successful because He knew, He understood and He used Scripture.
God gives us Scripture as a weapon to defend ourselves against Satan’s fiery darts.
All Scripture is inspired by God; the better we know it the better we are prepared to battle Satan’s schemes.

The devil tempts Jesus a second time.
Here Satan actually uses Scripture to try and trick Him.
(Yes, Satan does know Scripture and uses it against us, but he misquotes it and uses it out of context, that is, not for its proper use or purpose or not in the way it was intended.) 2 Timothy 2:15 says to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God,…rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The NASB translation says “accurately handling the word of truth.”
Satan takes a verse from its intended use (and leaves part of it out) and tempts Jesus to exalt and display His Deity and God’s care of Him.

I think he was trying to appeal to pride here.
The devil takes Him to a pinnacle of the temple and says “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down for it is written ‘He will give his angels charge concerning you; and on their hands they will bear you up.'” Jesus, understanding the Scripture, and Satan’s trickery, again used Scripture to defeat Satan saying, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

We are not to be presumptuous or test God, expecting God to protect foolish behavior.
We can’t just randomly quote Scripture, but must use it correctly and properly.
In the third temptation the devil is bold. Satan offers Him the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will bow down and worship him. Many believe that the significance of this temptation is that Jesus could bypass the suffering of the cross which was the will of the Father.

Jesus knew that the kingdoms would be His in the end. Jesus uses Scripture again and says, “You will worship God alone and serve only Him.” Remember Philippians chapter 2 says Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross.”

I like what the Wycliffe bible Commentary has to say of Jesus reply: “It is written, again pointing to the totality of Scripture as the guide for conduct and basis for faith” (and may I add, for victory over temptation), “Jesus repulsed the mightiest blows by Satan, not by a thunderbolt from heaven, but by the written Word of God, employed in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, a means available to every Christian.” God’s word says in James 4:7 “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Remember, Jesus knew the Word and used it properly, correctly and accurately.
We must do the same. We can’t understand Satan’s tricks, schemes and lies unless we know and understand the truth and Jesus said in John 17:17 “Thy word is truth.”

Other passages that teach us the use of Scripture in this area of temptation are: 1). Hebrews 5:14 which says we need to be mature and be “accustomed” to the Word, so our senses are trained to discern good and evil.”

2). Jesus taught His disciples that when He left them the Spirit would bring all the things He taught them to their remembrance. He taught them in Luke 21:12-15 that they should not worry about what to say when brought before accusers.

In much the same way, I believe, He causes us to remember His Word when we need it in our battle against Satan and his followers, but first we have to know it.

3). Psalm 119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”
In conjunction with the previous thought, the working of the Spirit and the Word, the memorized Scripture remembered can both forewarn us and give us a weapon when we are tempted.

Another aspect of Scripture’s importance is that it teaches us actions to take to help us resist temptation.

One of these Scriptures is Ephesians 6:10-15. Please read this passage.
It says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age; against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The NASB translation says “stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
The NKJB says “put on the full armor of God that you may be able to resist (withstand) Satan’s schemes.”

Ephesians 6 describes the pieces of armor as follows: (And they are there to help us stand firm against temptation.)

1. “gird yourself with truth.” Remember Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.”

It says “gird” – we need to bind ourselves with God’s word, see the similarity to hiding God’s word in our hearts.

2. “put on the breastplate of righteousness.
We protect ourselves from Satan’s accusations and doubts (similar to him questioning Jesus’ deity).
We must have Christ’s righteousness, not some form of our own good deeds.
Romans 13:14 says “put on Christ.” Philippians 3:9 says “not having my own righteousness, but the righteousness which is through faith in Christ, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

According to Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:27 says “we are clothed in His righteousness.”

3. Verse 15 says to have “your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel.”
When we study to prepare to share the gospel with others, it strengthens us and reminds us of all Christ has done for us and encourages us as we share it and see God using it in the lives of others who come to know Him as we share.

4. Use the Word of God as a shield to protect yourself from Satan’s fiery darts, his accusations, just as Jesus did.

5. Protect your mind with the helmet of salvation.
Knowing the Word of God assures us of our salvation and gives us peace and faith in God.
Our security in Him strengthens us and helps us lean on Him when we are attacked and tempted.
The more we saturate ourselves with Scripture the stronger we become.

6. Verse 17 says to use Scripture as a sword to fight Satan’s attacks and His lies.
I believe all of the pieces of armor relate to Scripture either as a shield or sword to defend ourselves, resisting Satan as Jesus did; or because of its teaching us as in righteousness or salvation making us strong.
I believe as we use Scripture accurately God also gives us His power and strength.
A final command in Ephesians says to “add prayer” to our armor and to “be watchful.”
If we look also at the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 we will see that Jesus taught us what an important weapon prayer is in resisting temptation.
It says we should pray that God will “lead us not into temptation,” and will “deliver us from evil.”
(Some translations say “deliver us from the evil one.”)
Jesus gave us this prayer as our example of how to pray and what to pray for.
These two phrases show us that praying for deliverance from temptation and the evil one are very important and should become a part of our prayer life and our weaponry against Satan’s schemes, that is,

1) keeping us away from temptation and
2) delivering us when Satan tempts us.

It shows us we need God’s help and power and that He is willing and able to give them.
In Matthew 26:41 Jesus told his disciples to watch and pray so they would not enter into temptation.
2 Peter 2:9 says “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly (righteous) from temptation.”
Pray that God will rescue before and when you are tempted.
I think a lot of us miss this vital part of the Lord’s prayer.
I Corinthians 10:13 says that the temptations we face are common to all of us, and that God will make a way of escape for us. We need to look for this.

Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus was tempted in all points just as we are (i.e. the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life).

Since He faced all areas of temptation, He is able to be our advocate, mediator and our intercessor.
We can come to Him as our Helper in all areas of temptation.
If we come to Him, He intercedes on our behalf before the Father and gives us His power and help.
Ephesians 4:27 says “neither give place to the devil,” in other words, don’t give Satan opportunities to tempt you.

Here again Scripture is there to help us by teaching us principles to follow.
One of those teachings is to flee or avoid sins, and to stay away from people and situations which might lead to temptation and sin. Both the Old Testament, especially Proverbs and Psalms, and also many New Testament epistles tell us about things to avoid and flee.

I believe a good place to start is with a “besetting sin,” a sin you find difficult to overcome.
(Read Hebrews 12:1-4.)
As we said in our lessons on overcoming sin, the first step is to confess such sins to God (I John 1:9) and work on it by resisting when Satan tempts you.
If you fail again, start over and confess it again and ask the Spirit of God to give you victory.
(Repeat as often as necessary.)
When you are confronted with such a sin it is a good idea to use a concordance and look up and study as many verses as you can on what God has to teach on the subject so you can obey what God says. Some examples follow:
I Timothy 4:11-15 tells us that women who are idle may become busybodies and gossips and slanderers because they have too much time on their hands.

Paul encourages them to marry and be workers in their own homes in order to avoid such sin.
Titus 2:1-5 tells women not to slander, to be discrete.
Proverbs 20:19 shows us that slander and gossip go together.

It says “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”

Proverbs 16:28 says “a whisperer separates the best of friends.”
Proverbs says “a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who has a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”
2 Corinthians 12:20 and Romans 1:29 show us whisperers are not pleasing to god.
As another example, take drunkenness. Read Galatians 5:21 and Romans 13:13.
I Corinthians 5:11 tells us “not to associate with any so called brother who is immoral, covetous, an idolater, a reviler or a drunkard or a swindler, not even to eat with such a one.”

Proverbs 23:20 says “don’t mix with drunkards.”
I Corinthians 15:33 says “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Are you tempted to be lazy or look for easy money by stealing or robbery?
Remember Ephesians 4:27 says “give no place to the devil.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10&11 (NASB) says “we used to give you this order: “if anyone will not work, neither let him eat…some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all but acting like busybodies.”

It goes on to say in verse 14 “if anyone does not obey our instructions… do not associate with him.”
I Thessalonians 4:11 says “let him labor working with his own hands.”
Simply put, get a job and avoid idle people.
This is a great example for sluggards and anyone who tries to get rich through any illegitimate means such as fraud, stealing, swindling, etc..

Read also I Timothy 6:6-10; Philippians 4:11; Hebrews 13:5; Proverbs 30:8&9; Matthew 6:11 and many other verses. Idleness is a danger zone.

Learn what God says in the Scripture, walk in its light and don’t be tempted by evil, on this or any other topic which tempts you to sin.

Jesus is our example, He had nothing.
Scripture says He had no place to lay His head. He sought only His Father’s will.
He gave it all up to die – for us.

I Timothy 6:8 says “if we have food and clothing we will be content with that.”
In verse 9 he relates this to temptation by saying, “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

It says more, read it. What a good example of how knowing and understanding and conforming to Scripture helps us overcome temptation.

Obedience to the Word is the key to overcoming any temptation.
Another example is anger. Do you easily become angry.
Proverbs 20:19-25 says don’t associate with a man given to anger.
Proverbs 22:24 says don’t “go with a hot tempered man.” Read also Ephesians 4:26.
Other warnings of situations to flee or avoid (actually run from) are:

1. Youthful lusts – 2 Timothy 2:22
2. Lust for money – I Timothy 6:4
3. Immorality and adulterers or adulteresses – I Corinthians 6:18 (Proverbs repeats this over and over.)
4. Idolatry – I Corinthians 10:14
5. Sorcery and Witchcraft – Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Galatians 5:20 2 Timothy 2:22 gives us further instruction by telling us to pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.

Doing this will help us resist temptation.
Remember 2 Peter 3:18. It tells us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That will help us discern good and evil, including helping us discern Satan’s schemes and keeping us from stumbling.

Another aspect is taught from Ephesians 4:11-15. Verse 15 says to grow up in Him. The context of this is that this is accomplished as we are part of the body of Christ, i.e. the church.

We are to help one another by teaching, loving and encouraging one another.
Verse 14 says that one result is that we won’t be tossed about by craftiness and deceitful schemes.
(Now who would be the crafty deceiver who would by himself and through others use such trickery?) As a part of the body, the church, we are also helped by giving and accepting correction from one another.

We must be careful and gentle in how we do this, and know the facts so we are not judging.
Proverbs and Matthew give instructions on this subject. Look them up and study them.
As an example, Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a fault (or caught in any trespass), you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

Tempted to what, you ask. Tempted to pride, arrogance, haughtiness, or any sin, even the same sin.
Be careful. Remember Ephesians 4:26. Don’t give Satan an opportunity, a place. As you can see, Scripture plays the crucial role in all of this.

We should read it, memorize it, understand its teachings, directions and power, and quote it, using it as our sword, obeying and following its message and teachings. Read 2 Peter 1:1-10. Knowledge of Him, found in Scripture, gives us everything we need for life and godliness. This includes resisting temptation. The context here is the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ which comes from Scripture. Verse 9 says we are partakers of the divine nature and the NIV concludes “so we may… escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

Once again we see the connection between Scripture and overcoming or escaping the temptations of the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life.
So in Scripture (if we look and understand it) we have the promise of being partakers of His nature (with all His Power) to escape temptation. We have the Holy Spirit’s power to gain victory.
I just received an Easter card in which this verse is quoted, “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:16.

How timely.

Galatians and other New Testament Scriptures have lists of sins we are to avoid. Read Galatians 5:16-19 They are “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these.”

Following this in verses 22&23 is the fruit of the Spirit “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

This passage of Scripture is very interesting in that it gives us a promise in verse 16.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”
If we do it God’s way, we won’t do it our way, by God’s power, intervention and change.
Remember the Lord’s prayer. We can ask Him to keep us from temptation and deliver us from the evil one.
Verse 24 says “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.”
Note how often the term lusts is repeated.
Romans 13:14 puts it this way. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” This sums it up.
The key is to resist the former (lusts) and put on the latter (fruit of the Spirit), or put on the latter and you won’t fulfill the former.
This is a promise. If we walk in love, patience and self-control, how can we hate, murder, steal, be angry or slander.
Just as Jesus put His Father first and did the Father’s will, so should we.
Ephesians 4:31&32 says let bitterness, wrath and anger and slander be put away; and be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. Correctly translated, Ephesians 5:18 says “be ye being filled with the Spirit. This is a continuous effort.

A preacher I once heard said, “Love is something you do.”
A good example of putting on love would be if there is someone you don’t like, whom you are angry with, do something loving and kind for them instead of venting your anger.
Pray for them.
Actually the principle is in Matthew 5:44 where it says “pray for those who despitefully use you.”
With God’s power and help, love will replace and displace your sinful anger.
Try it, God says if we walk in the light, in love and in the Spirit (these are inseparable) it will happen.
Galatians 5:16. God is able.

2 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be sober, be vigilant (on the alert), your adversary the devil prowls around, seeking whom he may devour.”
James 4:7 says “resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Verse 10 says God Himself will perfect, strengthen, confirm, establish and settle you.”
James 1:2-4 says to “consider it all joy when you encounter trials (KJV divers temptations) knowing it produces endurance (patience) and let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

God allows us to be tempted, tried and tested to create patience and endurance and completeness in us, but we must resist it and let it work God’s purpose in our life.

Ephesians 5:1-3 says “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
James 1:12&13 “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

IS TEMPTATION SIN?

Someone has asked, “Is temptation in and of itself sin.” The short answer is “no.”

The best example is Jesus.

Scripture tells us that Jesus was the perfect Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, completely without sin. I Peter 1:19 speaks of Him as “a lamb without blemish or defect.”

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”

In the Genesis account of the sin of Adam and Eve, we see Eve was deceived and tempted to disobey God, but even though she listened and thought about it, neither she nor Adam actually sinned until they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

I Timothy 2:14 (NKJB) says, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression.”

James 1:14&15 says “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

So, no, being tempted is not sin, sin occurs when you act on the temptation.

How Can I Study the Bible?

I am not exactly sure what you are looking for, so I will try to add to the subject, but if you would answer back and be more specific, maybe we can help.  My answers will be from a Scriptural (Biblical) view unless otherwise stated.

Words in any language such as “life” or “death” can have different meanings and usages in both language and Scripture.  Understanding the meaning depends on the context and how it is used.

For example, as I related previously, “death” in Scripture can mean separation from God, as shown in the account in Luke 16:19-31 of the unrighteous man who was separated from the righteous man by a great gulf, one going to eternal life with God, the other to a place of torment.  John 10:28 explains by saying, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”  The body is buried and decays.  Life can also mean just physical life.

In John chapter three we have Jesus’ visit with Nicodemus, discussing life as being born and eternal life as being born again.  He contrasts physical life as being “born of water” or “born of the flesh” with spiritual/eternal life as being “born of the Spirit.”   Here in verse 16 is where it speaks of perishing as opposed to eternal life.  Perishing is connected to judgment and condemnation as opposed to eternal life.  In verses 16&18 we see the deciding factor that determines these consequences is whether or not you believe in God’s Son, Jesus.  Notice the present tense.   The believer has eternal life.  Read also John 5:39; 6:68 and 10:28.

Modern day examples of the use of a word, in this case “life,” might be phrases such as “this is the life,” or “get a life” or the “good life,” just to illustrate how words can be used.  We understand their meaning by their use.  These are just a few examples of the use of the word “life.”

Jesus did this when He said in John 10:10, “I came that they might have life and might have it more abundantly.”  What did He mean? It means more than being saved from sin and perishing in hell.  This verse refers to how “here and now” eternal life should be – abundant, amazing!  Does that mean a “perfect life,” with everything we want?  Obviously not!  What does it mean?  To understand this and other puzzling questions we all have about “life” or “death” or any other question we must be willing to study all of Scripture, and that requires effort.  I mean really working on our part.

This is what the Psalmist (Psalm 1:2) recommended and what God commanded Joshua to do (Joshua 1:8).  God wants us to meditate on the Word of God.  That means study it and think about it.

John chapter three teaches us that we are “born again” of the “spirit.”  Scripture teaches us that God’s Spirit comes to live within us (John 14:16&17; Romans 8:9).  It is interesting that in I Peter 2:2 it says, “as sincere babes desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby.”  As baby Christians we don’t know everything and God is telling us that the only way to grow is to know the Word of God.

2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God…rightly dividing the word of truth.”

I would caution you that this does not mean getting answers about God’s word by listening to others or reading books “about” the Bible.  A lot of these are people’s opinions and while they may be good, what if their opinions are wrong?  Acts 17:11 gives us a very important, God given guideline: Compare all opinions with the book that is totally true, the Bible itself.  IN Acts 17:10-12 Luke complements the Bereans because they tested Paul’s message saying they “searched the Scriptures to see if these things were so.”  This is exactly what we should always do and the more we search the more we will know what is true and the more we will know the answers to our questions and know God Himself.  The Bereans tested even the Apostle Paul.

Here are a couple interesting verses relating to life and knowing God’s Word.  John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent.”  What is the importance of knowing Him.  Scripture teaches that God wants us to be like Him, so we need to know what He is like.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Here is a study in itself since several ideas are mentioned in other Scriptures also, such as “mirror” and “glory to glory” and the idea of being “transformed into His image.”

There are tools we can use (many of which are easily and freely available on line) to search out words and Scriptural facts in the Bible.  There are also things God’s Word teaches that we need to do to grow into mature Christians and be more like Him.  Here is a list of things to do and following that are some on line helps that will help in finding answers to questions you may have.

Steps to Growth:

  1. Fellowship with believers in church or a small group (Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:24&25).
  2. Pray: read Matthew 6:5-15 for a pattern of and teaching about prayer.
  3. Study Scriptures as I have shared here.
  4. Obey the Scriptures. “Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only,” (James 1:22-25).
  5. Confess sin: Read 1 John 1:9 (confess means to acknowledge or admit). I like to say, “as often as necessary.”

 

I like to do word studies.  A Bible Concordance of Bible Words helps, but you can find most, if not all, of what you need on the internet.  The internet has Bible Concordances, Greek and Hebrew interlinear Bibles (the Bible in the original languages with a word for word translation underneath), Bible Dictionaries (such as Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Greek Words) and Greek and Hebrew word studies.  Two of the best sites are www.biblegateway.com and www.biblehub.com.  I hope this helps.  Short of learning Greek and Hebrew, these are the best ways to find out what the Bible is really saying.

How Do I Know That God is With Me?

In answer to this question, the Bible clearly teaches that God is everywhere present, so He is always with us.  He is omnipresent.  He sees all and hears all.  Psalm 139 says that we cannot escape His presence.  I suggest reading this whole Psalm which says in verse 7, “where can I go from Your presence?”   The answer is nowhere, for He is everywhere.

2 Chronicles 6:18 and I Kings 8:27 and Acts 17:24-28 show us that Solomon, who built the temple for God Who promised to dwell in it, realized that God could not be contained in a specific place.  Paul put it this way in Acts when he said, “The Lord of heaven and earth does not dwell in temples made with hands.”  Jeremiah 23:23&24 says “He fills heaven and earth.”  Ephesians 1:23 says He fills “all in all.”

Yet for the believer, those who have chosen to receive and believe in His Son (see John 3:16 and John 1:12), He promises to be with us in an even more special way as our Father, our Friend, our Protector and Provider.  Matthew 28:20 says, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.”

This is an unconditional promise, we cannot or do not cause it to happen.  This is a fact because God said it.

It also says that where two or three (believers) are gathered together, “there am I in the midst of them.”  (Matthew 18:20 KJV)  We do not call down, beg or otherwise invoke His Presence.  He says He is with us, so He is.  It is a promise, a truth, a fact.  We just have to believe it and count on it.  Though God is not restricted to a building, He is with us in a very special way, whether we sense it or not.  What a wonderful promise.

For believers He is with us in another very special way.  John chapter one says that God would give us the gift of His Spirit.  In Acts chapters 1&2 and John 14:17, God tells us that when Jesus died, rose from the dead and ascended to the Father, He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell within our hearts.  In John 14:17 He said, “the Spirit of truth…who abides with you, and will be in you.”  I Corinthians 6:19 says, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, whom you have from God…”  So for believers God the Spirit dwells within us.

We see that God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:5, and it is repeated in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Count on it.  Romans 8:38&39 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ.

Though God is always with us, that does not mean He will always listen to us.  Isaiah 59:2 says that sin will separate us from God in the sense that He will not hear (listen) to us, but because He is always with us, He will always hear us if we acknowledge (confess) our sin, and will forgive us of that sin.  That is a promise.  (I John 1:9; 2 Chronicles 7:14)

Also if you are not a believer, God’s presence is important because He sees everyone and because He “is not willing that any should perish.” (2 Peter 3:9)  He will always hear the cry of those who believe and call upon Him to be their Savior, believing the Gospel.  (I Corinthians 15:1-3)  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)  John 6:37 says that He will not turn anyone away, and whosoever will may come.  (Revelation 22:17; John 1:12)

Is Everyone Able to Speak in Tongues?

This is a very common question for which the bible has very definitive answers. I suggest you read I Corinthians chapters 12 through chapter 14. You need to read up on the lists of gifts in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. I Peter 4:10 implies that each believer ( for that is to whom the book is written) has a spiritual gift.”

As each one has received a special gift , employ it in serving one another…”,NASV. That is a gift not one in Particular, This is not a talent such as music etc. which we are born with. But a spiritual gift. Ephesians says in 4:7-8 that He gave us gifts and verses 11-16 lists some of these gifts. Tongues is not even mentioned here.

The purpose of these gifts is to help each other grow. All the way to the end of chapter 5 teaches that the most important thing is to walk in love just as in I Cor. 13, where it is also speaking of gifts. Romans 12 presents gift in the context of sacrifice, service and humility and speaks of a spiritual gift as a measure of faith allotted to us or given to us by God.

Here is a key verse which is very important in considering any gift. Verse 4 -9 Tells us that as we given to us, are all members of Christ, yet we are different so are our gifts , and I quote, “And since we have gifts that DIFFER according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly.” It goes on to explain several gifts specifically and the goes on to speak of the importance of love. Read on in the context to see how we are to love, so practical and amazing.

There is no mention of the gift of tongues here either. For that you need to go to I Cor, 12-14. Verse 4 says there are varieties of gifts. Verse 7,

Now to each one is given>the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” He then says the to ONE is given this gift and to Another a different gift, Not all the same. The context of the passage is just what your question is asking, should we all speak in tongues. Verse 11 says, “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as HE wills.”

He links this to the human body with many examples to make it clear, Verse 18 says he has placed us in the body just as He desired for the common good, to say that we are not all hands, or eyes etc. or we would not function well, so in the body we need to have different gift to function as we should and grow as believers. Then He lists the gifts, in order of importance not by its value as to person but by need by using the words, first, second, third and the listing the others and ending with kinds of tongues.

By the way the first use of tongues was at Pentecost where each heard in his own language. He ends by asking retaurical question, you know the answers too. “All do not speak in tongues, DO they.” The answer is NO! I love verse 31, “ Earnestly ( the king James says, Covet ), the greater gifts.” We couldn’t do that if we didn’t know which were greater, could we. Then the discourse on LOVE. Then 14:1 says, “PERSUE LOVE YET DESIRE EARNESTLY SPIRITUAL GIFTS ESPECIALLY“, THE FIRST ONE LISTED. He then explains why prophecy is better because, it edifies, exhorts and consoles ( verse 3 ).

In verses 18 and 19 Paul says he would rather spoke they spoke 5 words of prophecy, that’s what he’s talking about, than ten thousand in a tongue. Please read the whole chapter. In short, you do have at least one spiritual gift, given to you by the Spirit when you were born again, but you may ask or seek others. You can’t learn them. They are gifts given by the Spirit.

Why start at the bottom for others when you should covet the best gifts. Someone I heard teaching on gifts said that if you don’t know what your gift is start serving in ways which are comfortable, for instance teaching or even giving , and it will become apparent. Maybe you are and encourager or show mercy or are an apostle ( means missionary) or an evangelist.

Is It Wrong to Have Sexual Relations Outside of Marriage?

One of the things that the Bible is very clear about is that adultery, sex with someone other than your spouse, is sin.

Hebrews 13:4 says, “marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

The word translated “sexually immoral” means any sexual relationship other than one between a man and a woman who are married to each other. It is used in I Thessalonians 4:3-8 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

Is Magic and Witchcraft Wrong?

The spirit world is very real.  Satan and the evil spirits under his control are constantly waging war against people.  According to John 10:10, he is a thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  People who have allied themselves with Satan (sorcerers, witches, those who practice black magic) can influence evil spirits to cause harm to people.  Being involved in any of these practices is strictly forbidden.  Deuteronomy 18:9-12 says, “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.”

It is important to remember that Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44) and much of what anyone who is associated with him says will be untrue.  It is also important to remember that Satan is compared to a roaring lion in I Peter 5:8.  Only old, largely toothless, old male lions roar.  Young lions sneak up on their prey as quietly as possible.  The purpose of a lion roaring is to scare their prey into making foolish decisions.  Hebrews 2:14&15 talks about Satan having power over people because of fear, specifically their fear of death.

The good news is that one of the benefits of becoming a Christian is that we are removed from Satan’s kingdom and placed in God’s kingdom under God’s protection.  Colossians 1:13&14 says, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  I John 5:18 (ESV) says, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

So the first step in protecting yourself is to become a Christian.  Admit you have sinned.  Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Next admit that your sin deserves God’s punishment.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.”  Believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sin when He died on the cross; believe He was buried and then rose again.  Read I Corinthians 15:1-4 and John 3:14-16.  Finally, ask Him to be your Savior.  Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  Remember, you are asking Him to do something for you that you cannot do for yourself (Romans 4:1-8).  (If you still have questions about whether or not you have been saved, there is an excellent article about “Assurance of Salvation” on the Frequently Asked Questions section of the PhotosforSouls website.

So what can Satan do to a Christian.  He can tempt us (I Thessalonians 3:5).  He can try to scare into doing things that are wrong (I Peter 5:8&9; James 4:7).  He can cause things to happen that hinder us from doing what we want to do (I Thessalonians 2:18).  He cannot really do anything else to harm us without getting permission from God (Job 1:9-19; 2:3-8), unless we choose to make ourselves vulnerable to his attacks and schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18).  There are several things people do to make themselves vulnerable to Satan harming them: worshiping idols or engaging in occultic practices (I Corinthians 10:14-22; Deuteronomy 18:9-12); living in persistent rebellion against the revealed will of God (I Samuel 15:23; 18:10); holding onto anger is also specifically mentioned (Ephesians 4:27).

So if you are a Christian, what should you do if you think someone is using black magic, sorcery or witchcraft against you.  Remember that you are God’s child and under His protection and do not give in to fear (I John 4:4; 5:18).  Pray on a regular basis, as Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:13, “deliver us from the evil one.”  Rebuke in Jesus’ Name any thoughts of fear or condemnation (Romans 8:1).  Obey everything you know God is telling you to do in His Word.  Unless you have previously given Satan the right to be involved in your life, this should be enough.

If you have previously been personally involved in idolatry, witchcraft, sorcery or black magic or made yourself vulnerable to Satan’s attacks by persistent rebellion against what God tells us to do in His Word, you may need to do more.  First say out loud: “I renounce Satan and all his works.”  In the early days of the church this was a common requirement for people coming to be baptized.  If you can do this freely without sensing any spiritual hindrance, you are probably not in bondage.  If you cannot, find a group of Bible believing followers of Jesus, including a pastor if possible, and have them pray over you, asking God to deliver you from Satan’s power.  Ask them to keep praying until they sense in their spirits that you have been delivered from any spiritual bondage.  Remember Satan was defeated at the cross (Colossians 2:13-15).  As a Christian you belong to the Creator of the universe Who wants you to be totally free from anything Satan would try to do to you.

Must I Be Born Again?

Many people have the mistaken idea that people are born Christians.  It may be true that people are born into a family where one or more parent is a believer in Christ, but that does not make a person a Christian.  You may be born into the home of a particular religion but eventually each person must choose what he or she believes.

Joshua 24:15 says, “choose you this day whom you will serve.”  A person is not born a Christian, it is about choosing the way of salvation from sin, not choosing a church or a religion.

Each religion has its own god, the creator of their world, or great leader who is the central teacher who teaches the way to immortality.  They may be similar or totally different from the God of the Bible.  Most people are deluded into thinking that all religions lead to a single god, but are worshiped in various ways.  With this sort of thinking there are either multiple creators or many paths to god.  However, when inspected, most groups claim to be the only way.  Many even think Jesus is a great teacher, but He is far more than that.  He is God’s one and only Son (John 3:16).

The Bible says there is only one God and one way to come to Him.  I Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”  Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but through me.”  The Bible teaches that the God of Adam, Abraham and Moses is our Creator, God and Savior.

The Book of Isaiah has many, many references to the God of the Bible being the only God and Creator.  Actually it is stated in the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Isaiah 43:10&11 says, “so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.  Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.  I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.”

Isaiah 54:5, where God is speaking to Israel, says, “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, He is called the God of all the earth.”    He is the Almighty God, the Creator of all the earth.  Hosea 13:4 says, “there is no Savior besides Me.”  Ephesians 4:6 says there is “one God and Father of us all.”

There are many, many more verses:

Psalm 95:6

Isaiah 17:7

Isaiah 40:25 calls Him the “Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 43:3 calls Him, “God the Holy One of Israel”

Isaiah 5:13 calls Him, “Your Maker”

Isaiah 45:5,21&22 say there is , “no other God.”

See also:  Isaiah 44:8; Mark 12:32; I Corinthians 8:6 and Jeremiah 33:1-3

The Bible clearly says He is the only God, the only Creator, the only Savior and clearly shows us Who He is.  So what makes the God of the Bible different and sets Him apart.  He is the One Who says that faith provides a way of forgiveness from sins apart from trying to earn it by our goodness or good deeds.

Scripture clearly shows us that the God Who created the world loves all of mankind, so much that He sent His only Son to save us, to pay the debt or punishment for our sins.  John 3:16&17 say, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…that the world should be saved through Him.”  I John 4:9&14 say, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him…The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”  I John 5:16 says, “God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son.”  Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  I John 2:2 says, “He Himself is the propitiation (just payment) for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  Propitiation means to make atonement or payment for the debt of our sin.  I Timothy 4:10 says, God is the “Savior of all men.”

So how does a person appropriate this salvation for himself?   How does one become a Christian?  Let’s look at John chapter three where Jesus Himself explains this to a Jewish leader, Nicodemus.  He came to Jesus at night with questions and misunderstandings and Jesus gave him answers, the answers we all need, the answers to the questions you are asking.  Jesus told him that to become a part of the Kingdom of God he needed to be born again.  Jesus told Nicodemus that He (Jesus) had to be lifted up (speaking of the cross, where He would die to pay for our sin), which was historically soon to occur.

Jesus then told him that there was one thing he needed to do, BELIEVE, believe that God sent Him to die for our sin; and this was not true for Nicodemus only, but also for “the whole world,” including you as quoted in I John 2:2.  Matthew 26:28 says, “this is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  See also I Corinthians 15:1-3, which says this is the gospel that, “He died for our sins.”

In John 3:16 He said to Nicodemus, telling him what he must do, “that whoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life.”  John 1:12 tells us we become God’s children and John 3:1-21 (read the whole passage) tells us we are “born again.”  John 1:12 puts it this way, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to them that believe in His name.”

John 4:42 says, “for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”  This is what we all must do, believe.  Read Romans 10:1-13 which ends by saying, “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This is what Jesus was sent by His Father to do and as He died He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Not only had He finished God’s work but the words “It is finished” mean literally in Greek, “Paid in full,” the words which were written on a prisoner’s release document when he was set free and that meant his punishment was legally “paid in full.”  Thus Jesus was saying our penalty of death for sin (see Romans 6:23 which says the wages or penalty of sin is death) had been paid in full by Him.

The good news is that this salvation is free to all the world (John 3:16).Romans 6:23 not only says, “the wages of sin is death,’ but it also says, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Read Revelation 22:17.  It says, “Whoever will let him take of the water of life freely.”  Titus 3:5&6 says, “not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us…”  What a wonderful salvation God has provided.

As we have seen, it is the only way.  However, we must also read what God says in John 3:17&18 and in verse 36.  Hebrews 2:3 says, “how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?”  John 3:15&16 says those who believe have eternal life, but verse 18 says, “whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  Verse 36 says, “but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”  In John 8:24 Jesus said, “unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sin.”

Why is this?  Acts 4:12 tells us!  It says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  There is simply no other way.  We need to give up our ideas and notions and accept God’s way.  Luke 13:3-5 says, “unless you repent (which literally means to change your mind in Greek) you shall all likewise perish.”  The punishment for all who do not believe and receive Him is that they will be punished eternally for their deeds (their sins).

Revelation 20:11-15 says, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”  Revelation 21:8 says, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.”

Read Revelation 22:17 again and also John chapter 10.  John 6:37 says, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out…”  John 6:40 says, “It is the will of your Father that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.  Read Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-16.  If you believe you will be saved.

As we discussed, one is not born a Christian but entering the Kingdom of God is an act of faith, a choice for whosoever will to believe and be born into God’s family.  I John 5:1 says, Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”  Jesus will save us forever and our sins will be forgiven. Read Galatians 1:1-8  This is not my opinion, but God’s Word.  Jesus is the only Savior, the only way to God, the only way to find forgiveness.

What Does the Bible Say About Divorce and Remarriage?

The subject of divorce and/or divorce and remarriage is a complicated and controversial one and so I think the best approach is to simply go through all the Scriptures I think have a bearing on the topic and look at them one at a time.  Genesis 2:18 says, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.”  That is a Scripture we should not forget.

Genesis 2:24 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”  Notice, this precedes the birth of the first children.  From Jesus commentary on this passage it is evident that the ideal is for one man to be married to one woman for life.  Anything else, one man married to two women, divorce, etc. is definitely not the best possible situation.

Exodus 21:10&11 deals with a woman purchased as a slave.  Once she has sex with the man she was purchased for she was no longer a slave, she was his wife.  Verses 10&11 say “If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, her clothing and marital rights.  If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.”  At least in the case of a female slave, this seems to give a woman treated unfairly the right to leave her husband.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 deals with a man marrying a woman taken captive in war.  Verse 14 says, “If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes.  You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.”  Both Exodus 21 and Deuteronomy 21 seem to be saying that a woman who had no choice in becoming a man’s wife was free to leave him if she was not treated fairly.

Exodus 22:16-17 says, “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.  If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”

Deuteronomy 22:13-21 teaches that if a man accused his wife of not being a virgin when he married her and the charge was proved true, she was to be stoned to death.  If the charge was found to be false, verse 18&19 say, “the elders shall take the man and punish him.  They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name.  She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.”

According to Deuteronomy 22:22 a man found sleeping with another man’s wife was to be put to death, and the woman was to be put to death also.  But a man who raped a virgin had a different punishment.  Deuteronomy 22:28&29 says, “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.  He must marry the girl, for he has violated her.  He can never divorce her as long as he lives.”

Deuteronomy 24:1-4a says, “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and the second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled.  That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD.”  This passage is probably the basis for the Pharisees asking Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all.

Taking all three Deuteronomy passages together, it seems that a man could divorce his wife for cause, although what causes justified divorce were debated.  The restriction on a man divorcing his wife if he slept with her before they were married or if he defamed her makes no sense if it was always considered wrong for a man to divorce his wife.

In Ezra 9:1&2 Ezra finds out that many of the Jews who had returned from Babylon had married pagan women.  The rest of chapter 9 records his grief over the situation and his prayer to God.  In chapter 10:11 Ezra says, “Now make confession to the LORD, the God of your fathers, and do his will.  Separate yourselves from the peoples around and from your foreign wives.” The chapter concludes with a listing of the men who had married foreign women.  In Nehemiah 13:23 Nehemiah encounters the same situation all over again, and he reacts even more forcibly than Ezra.

Malachi chapter 2:10-16 has a lot to say about marriage and divorce, but it is extremely important that it be read in context.  Malachi prophesied either during or shortly after the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.  That means that what he said about marriage must be understood in the light of what God told the people to do through Ezra and Nehemiah, divorce their pagan wives.  Let’s take this passage one verse at a time.

Malachi 2:10 “Have we not all one Father?  Did not one God create us?  Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?”  From the way verses 15&16 use the term “break faith” it is obvious that Malachi is talking about men divorcing their Jewish wives.

Malachi 2:11 “Judah has broken faith.  A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god.” This apparently means that Jewish men were divorcing their Jewish wives in order to marry pagan wives and continuing to go to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship.  See verse 13.

Malachi 2:12  “As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob – even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.”  Nehemiah 13:28&29 says, “One of the sons of Joida son of Eliashib the high priest was son-in-law to Sanballat the Horonite.  And I drove him away from me.  Remember them, O my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites.”

Malachi 2:13&14 “Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears.  You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.  You ask, ‘Why?’  It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”  I Peter 3:7 says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

The first part of verse 15 is difficult to translate and the translations of it vary.  The NIV translation reads, “Has not the LORD made them one?  In flesh and spirit they are his.  And why one?  Because He was seeking godly offspring.  So guard yourself in spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.”  What is obvious in every translation I have read is that one of the purposes of marriage is producing godly children.  That is what was so utterly wrong about Jewish men divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying pagan wives.  Such a second marriage would not produce godly children.  It is also obvious in every translation that God is telling the Jewish men not to divorce their Jewish wives so that they can marry pagan women.

Malachi 2:16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty.  So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”  Again, we need to remember when we read this verse that in the Book of Ezra God commanded Jewish men who had married pagan women to divorce their pagan wives.

We now come to the New Testament.  I am going to make the assumption that everything Jesus and Paul said about divorce and remarriage does not contradict the Old Testament, although it may enlarge upon it and make the requirements for divorce more strict.

Matthew 5:31&32 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Matthew 19:3-9 Some Pharisees came to him to test him.  They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Mark 10:2-9 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”  “What did Moses command you?” he replied.  They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”  “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.  “But from the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Mark 10:10-12 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.  He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.  And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”

First, a couple of explanations.  The Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” in the NIV is best defined as any sexual act between two people other than between a man and a woman who are married to each other.  It would also include bestiality. Second, since the sin that is specifically mentioned is adultery, it would seem that Jesus is talking about someone divorcing their spouse SO THAT they could marry someone else.  Some of the Jewish rabbis taught that word translated “indecent” in the NIV translation of Deuteronomy 24:1 meant sexual sin.  Others taught that it could mean almost anything.  Jesus seems to be saying that what Deuteronomy 24:1 is referring to is sexual sin.  Jesus never said that divorce in and of itself was committing adultery.

I Corinthians 7:1&2 “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.  But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.”  This seems to run parallel with God’s original comment, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

I Corinthians 7:7-9 “I wish that all men were as I am.  But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  But if they cannot control themselves they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”  Singleness is fine if you have the spiritual gift for it, but if you don’t, it is better to be married.

I Corinthians 7:10&11 “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife.”  Marriage should be for life, but since Paul says he is quoting Jesus, the sexual sin exception would apply.

I Corinthians 7:12-16 “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him…But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances: God has called us to live  in peace.  How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?  Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”  The question the Corinthians were probably asking was: “If in the Old Testament a man who had married a pagan was commanded to divorce her, what about an unbeliever who accepts Christ as his or her Savior and their spouse does not?  Should the unbelieving spouse be divorced?”  Paul says no.  But if they leave, let them go.

I Corinthians 7:24 “Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.”  Getting saved should not lead to an immediate change in marital status.

I Corinthians 7:27&28 (NKJV) “Are you bound to a wife?  Do not seek to be loosed.  Are you loosed from a wife?  Do not seek a wife.  But even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.  Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you.”  The only way I can put this together with Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage and what Paul says in verses 10&11 of this chapter is to believe that Jesus is talking about divorcing a spouse in order to get married and Paul is talking about someone who finds themselves divorced and after a period of time becomes interested in someone who had nothing to do with their being divorced in the first place.

Are there other legitimate reasons for divorce other than sexual sin and/or and unbelieving spouse leaving?  In Mark 2:23&24 the Pharisees are upset because Jesus’ disciples are picking heads of grain and eating them, to the Pharisees way of thinking, both harvesting and threshing grain on the Sabbath.  Jesus’ response is to remind them of David eating the consecrated bread when he was fleeing for his life from Saul.  There are no exceptions listed as to who could eat the consecrated bread, and yet Jesus seems to be saying that what David did was right.  Jesus also frequently asked the Pharisees when questioned about healing on the Sabbath about their watering their livestock or pulling a child or an animal up out of a pit on the Sabbath.  If violating the Sabbath or eating the consecrated bread was OK because life was in danger, I would think that leaving a spouse because life was in danger would not be wrong either.

What about conduct on the part of one spouse that would make raising godly children impossible.  That was grounds for divorce to Ezra and Nehemiah but it is not directly addressed in the New Testament.

What about a man addicted to pornography who is committing adultery in his heart on a regular basis.  (Matthew 5:28)  The New Testament does not address that.

What about a man who refuses to have normal sexual relationships with his wife or provide her with food and clothing.  That is addressed in the case of slaves and captives in the Old Testament, but is not addressed in the New.

Here is what I am sure of:

One man married to one woman for life is the ideal.

It is not wrong to divorce a spouse for sexual sin, but a person is not commanded to do so.  If reconciliation is possible, pursuing it is a good option.

Divorcing a spouse for any reason so that you can marry someone else almost certainly involves sin.

If an unbelieving spouse leaves, you are under no obligation to try to save the marriage.

If staying in a marriage puts human life in danger, either the spouse or the children, a spouse is free to leave with the children.

If a spouse is being unfaithful, the chances of remaining married are better if the spouse being sinned against tells the sinning spouse they must choose either their spouse or the one they are having an affair with rather than just putting up with it.

Refusing normal sexual relationships with your spouse is sin.  (I Corinthians 7:3-5)  Whether it is grounds for divorce is unclear.

A man involved in pornography will usually eventually get involved in actual sexual sin.  Although I cannot prove it Scripturally, experience has taught those who have dealt with this more than I that telling the husband he must choose between his wife or his pornography is more likely to end up with a the marriage being healed than just ignoring the pornography and hoping the husband will stop.

What Happens After Death?

In answer to your question, people who believe in Jesus Christ, in His provision for our salvation go to heaven to be with God and unbelievers are condemned to eternal punishment.  John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him,”

When you die your soul and spirit leave your body.  Genesis 35:18 shows us this when it tells of Rachel dying, saying, “as her soul was departing (for she died).”  When the body dies, the soul and spirit depart but they don’t cease to exist. It is very clear in Matthew 25:46 what occurs after death, when, in speaking of the unrighteous, it says, “these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous unto eternal life.”

Paul, when teaching believers, said that the moment we are “absent from the body we are present with the Lord” (I Corinthians 5:8).  When Jesus was risen from the dead, He went to be with God the Father (John 20:17). When He promises the same life for us, we know that it will be and that we will be with Him.

In Luke 16:22-31 we see the account of the rich man and Lazarus.  The righteous poor man was at “Abraham’s side” but the rich man went to Hades and was in agony.  In verse 26 we see that there was a great gulf fixed between them so that once there the unrighteous man could not pass over to heaven.  In verse 28 it refers to Hades as a place of torment.

In Romans 3:23 it says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Ezekiel 18:4 and 20 say, “the soul (and note the use of the word soul for person) who sins shall die…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”  (Death in this sense in Scripture, as in Revelation 20:10,14&15, is not physical death but separation from God forever and eternal punishment as seen in Luke 16.  Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death,” and Matthew 10:28 says, “fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

So then, who can possibly enter heaven and be with God forever since we all are unrighteous sinners.  How can we be rescued or ransomed from the penalty of death.  Romans 6:23 also gives the answer. God comes to our rescue, for it says, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Read I Peter 1:1-9.  Here we have Peter discussing how the believers have received an inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade away – kept forever in heaven” (Verse 4 NIV).  Peter speaks of how believing in Jesus results in “obtaining the outcome of the faith, the saving of your soul” (verse 9).  (See also Matthew 26:28.)  Philippians 2:8&9 tells us that everyone must confess that Jesus, who claimed equality with God, is “Lord” and must believe that He died for them (John 3:16; Matthew 27:50).

Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the Truth and the Life; no man can come to the Father, except through Me.”  Psalms 2:12 says, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you perish in the way.”

Many passages in the New Testament phrase our faith in Jesus as “obeying the truth” or “obeying the gospel,” which means to “believe in the Lord Jesus.”  I Peter 1:22 says, “you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in Whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  (Read also Romans 10:15 and Hebrews 4:2.)

The Gospel (meaning good news) is declared in I Corinthians 15:1-3.  It says, “Brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He rose again the third day…”  Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, “For this is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  I Peter 2:24 (NASB) says, “He Himself bore our sins in His  own body on the cross .”  I Timothy 2:6 says, “He gave His life a ransom for all.”  Job 33:24 says, “spare him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom for him.”  (Read Isaiah 53:5, 6, 8, 10.)

John 1:12 tells us what we must do, “but as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”  Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  John 3:16 says whoever believes on Him has “everlasting life.”  John 10:28 says, “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.”  In Acts 16:36 the question is asked, “What must I do to be saved?” and answered, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  John 20:31 says, “these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Scripture shows evidence that the souls of those who believe will be in Heaven with Jesus.  In Revelation 6:9 and 20:4 the souls of righteous martyrs were seen by John in heaven.  We also see in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 where Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain where Jesus was transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appeared to them and they were talking with Jesus.  They were more than just spirits, for the disciples recognized them and they were alive.  In Philippians 1:20-25 Paul writes, “to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.”  Hebrews 12:22 speaks of heaven when it says, “you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and the church (the name given to all believers) of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

What is Faith?

I think people sometimes associate or confuse faith with feelings or think faith must be perfect, with never any doubt.  The best way to understand faith is to look up the use of the word in Scripture and study it.

Our Christian life starts with faith, so a good place to start a study of faith would be Romans 10:6-17, which clearly explains how our life in Christ begins.  In this Scripture we hear the Word of God and believe it and ask God to save us.  I’ll explain more fully.  In verse 17 it says faith comes from hearing the facts preached to us about Jesus in the Word of God, (Read I Corinthians 15:1-4); that is, the Gospel, the death of Christ Jesus for our sins, His burial and resurrection.  Faith is something we do in response to hearing.  We either believe it or we reject it.  Romans 10:13&14 explains what faith it is that saves us, faith enough to ask or call upon God to save us based on Jesus’ work of redemption.  You need enough faith to ask Him to save you and He promises to do it.  Read John 3:14-17, 36.

Jesus also told many stories of real events to describe faith, such as that in Mark 9.  A man came up to Jesus with his son who is possessed by a demon.  The father asks Jesus, “if you can do anything…help us,” and Jesus replies that if he believed all things were possible.  The man replies to that, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”  The man was truly expressing his imperfect faith, but Jesus healed his son.  What a perfect example of our often imperfect faith.  Do any of us possess perfect, complete faith or understanding?

Acts 16:30&31 says we are saved if we simply believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  God elsewhere uses other words as we saw in Romans 10:13, words like “call” or “ask” or “receive” (John 1:12), “come to Him” (John 6:28&29) which says, “This is the work of God that you believe in Him Whom He has sent,’ and verse 37 which says, “Him that comes to Me I will certainly not cast out,” or “take” (Revelation 22:17) or “look” in John 3:14&15 (see Numbers 21:4-9 for the background).  All these passages indicate that if we have sufficient faith to ask for His salvation, we have sufficient faith to be born again.  I John 2:25 says, “And this is what He promised us – even eternal life.”  In I John 3:23 and also in John 6:28&29 faith is a command.  It is also called the “work of God,” something we must or can do.  If God says or commands us to believe surely it is a choice to believe what He tells us, that is, His Son has died for our sins in our place.  This is the beginning.  His promise is sure.  He gives us eternal life and we are born again.  Read John 3:16&38 and John 1:12

I John 5:13 is a beautiful and interesting verse which goes on to say, “these have been written to you who believe in the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Son of God.”  Romans 1:16&17 says, “the just shall live by faith.”  There are two aspects here: we “live” – receive eternal life, and we “live” our daily life here and now by faith.  Interestingly, it says “faith to faith.”  We add faith to faith, we believe to eternal life and we continue to believe daily.

2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”  We live by acts of obedient trust. The Bible refers to this as perseverance or steadfastness.  Read Hebrews chapter 11.  Here it says it is not possible to please God without faith.  Faith is the evidence of unseen things; God and His creation of the world.  We are then given a number of examples of acts of “obedient faith.”  The Christian life is a continuous walk by faith, step by step, moment by moment, believing in the unseen God and His promises and teachings.  I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Be ye steadfast, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

Faith is not a feeling, but clearly it is something we choose to do continually.

Actually prayer is like that also.  God tells us, even commands us, to pray.  He even teaches us how to pray in Matthew chapter 6.  In I John 5:14, the verse in which God assures us of our eternal life, the verse goes on to assure us that we can have confidence that if we “ask anything according to His will, He hears us,” and He answers us.  So continue to pray; it is an act of faith.  Pray, even when you don’t feel like He hears or there seems to be no answer.  This is an example of how faith is, at times, the opposite of feelings.  Prayer is one step of our walk of faith.

There are other examples of faith not mentioned in Hebrews 11.  The children of Israel are an example of “not believing.”  The children of Israel, when in the wilderness, chose not to believe what God told them; they chose not to believe in the unseen God and so they created their “own god” out of gold and believed that what they had made was “god.”  How silly is that.  Read Romans chapter one.

We do the same thing today.  We invent our own “belief system” to suit ourselves, one which we find easy, or is acceptable to us, which gives us instant gratification, as if God is here to serve us, not the other way around, or He is our servant and not we His, or we are “god,” not He the Creator God.  Remember Hebrews says faith is evidence of the unseen Creator God.

So the world defines its own version of faith, most of the time involving anything except God, His creation or His Word.

The world often says, “have faith” or just says “believe” without telling you what to have faith in, as if it were the object in and of itself, just some sort of nothingness you decide to believe in.  You believe in something, nothing or anything, whatever makes you feel good.  It is indefinable, because they don’t define what they mean.  It is self-invented, a human creation, inconsistent, confusing and hopelessly unattainable.

As we see in Hebrews 11, Scriptural faith has an object: We are to believe in God and we believe in His Word.

Another example, a good one, is the story of the spies sent by Moses to check out the land which God told His chosen people He would give to them.  It is found in Numbers 13:1-14:21.  Moses sent twelve men into the “Promised Land.”  Ten returned and brought back a bad and discouraging report causing the people to doubt God and His promise and choose to go back to Egypt.  The other two, Joshua and Caleb, chose, even though they saw giants in the land, to trust God.  They said, “We should go up and take possession of the land.”  They chose, by faith, to encourage the people to believe God and go forward as God had commanded them.

When we believed and began our life with Christ, we became God’s child and He our Father (John 1:12).  All His promises became ours, such as Philippians chapter 4, Matthew 6:25-34 and Romans 8:28.

As in the case of our human Father, whom we know, we don’t worry about the things our father can take care of because we know he cares for us and loves us.  We trust God because we know Him.  Read 2 Peter 1:2-7, especially verse 2.  This is faith.  These verses say grace and peace come through our knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

As we learn about God and trust Him we grow in our faith.  Scripture teaches that we know Him by studying Scripture (2 Peter 1:5-7), and thus our faith grows as we understand our Heavenly Father, Who He is and what He is like through the Word.  Most people, however, want some “magic” instant faith; but faith is a process.

2 Peter 1:5 says we are to add virtue to our faith and then continue to add to that; a process by which we grow.  This passage of Scripture goes on to say, “grace and peace be multiplied to you, in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  So peace also comes from knowing God the Father and God the Son.   In this way prayer, knowledge of God and the Word and faith work together.  In learning of Him, He is the Giver of peace.  Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”  Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”  Through learning the Word of God we are connecting to the One Who gives grace and peace.

We have already seen that for believers God hears our prayers and grants them in accordance to His will (I John 5:14).  A good father will give us only what is good for us.  Romans 8:25 teaches us that this is what God does for us also.  Read Matthew 7:7-11.

I’m quite sure this does not equate to our asking for and getting whatever we want, all the time; otherwise we would grow into spoiled children instead of mature sons and daughters of the Father.  James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”  Scripture also teaches in James 4:2 that, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”  God wants us to talk to Him, for that is what prayer is.  A great part of prayer is asking for our needs and the needs of others.  This way we know that He has provided the answer.  See I Peter 5:7 also.  So if you need peace, ask for it.  Trust God to give it as you need it.  God also says in Psalm 66:18, “if I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  If we are sinning we must confess it to Him to get it right.  Read I John 1:9&10.

Philippians 4:6&7 says, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Here again prayer is tied into faith and knowledge to give us peace.

Philippians then says to think on good things and “do” what you learn, and, “the God of peace will be with you.”  James says to be doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22&23).  Peace comes from knowing the Person you trust and in obeying His Word.  Since prayer is talking to God and the New Testament tells us believers have complete access to the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16), we can talk to God about everything, because He already knows.  In Matthew 6:9-15 in the Lord’s Prayer He teaches us how and what things to pray for.

Simple faith grows as it is exercised and “worked out” in obedience to God’s commands as seen in His Word.  Remember 2 Peter 1:2-4 says peace comes from the knowledge of God which comes from the Word of God.

To sum up:

Peace comes from God and a knowledge of Him.

We learn of Him in the Word.

Faith comes from hearing God’s Word.

Prayer is part of this faith and peace process.

It is not a once for all experience, but a step by step walk.

If you have not started this journey of faith, I ask you to go back and read 1 Peter 2:24, Isaiah chapter 53, I Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 10:1-14, and John 3:16&17 and 36.  Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

What is God's Nature and Character?

After reading your questions and comments it appears that you have some belief in God and His Son, Jesus, but also have many misunderstandings. You seem to see God through only human opinions and experiences and see Him as Someone Who should do what you want, as if He were a servant or on demand, and so you judge His nature, and say it is “at stake.”

Let me first say my answers will be Bible based because it is the only reliable source to truly understand Who God is and what He is like.

We cannot ‘create” our own god to suit our own dictations, according to our own desires. We can’t rely on books or religious groups or any other opinions, we must accept the true God from the only source He has given us, the Scripture. If people question all or part of Scripture we are left with only human opinions, which never agree. We just have a god created by humans, a fictional god. He is only our creation and is not God at all. We might as well make a god of word or stone or a golden image as Israel did.

We want to have a god who does what we want. But we can’t even change God by our demands. We are just acting like children, having a temper tantrum to get our own way. Nothing we do or judge determines Who He is and all our arguments have no effect on His “nature.” His “nature” is not “at stake” because we say so. He is Who He is: Almighty God, our Creator.

So Who is the real God. There are so many characteristics and attributes that I will only mention some and I will not “proof text” all of them. If you want to you can go to a reliable source such as “Bible Hub” or “Bible Gateway” online and do some research.

Here are some of His attributes. God is Creator, Sovereign, Almighty. He is holy, He is just and fair and a righteous Judge. He is our Father. He is light and truth. He is eternal. He cannot lie. Titus 1:2 tells us, “In the hope of eternal life, which God, WHO CANNOT LIE, promised long ages ago. Malachi 3:6 says He is unchangeable, “I am the LORD, I change not.”

NOTHING we do, no action, opinion, knowledge, circumstances, or judgment can change or affect His “nature.” If we blame or accuse Him, He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Here are a few more attributes: He is everywhere present; He knows everything (omniscient) past, present and future. He is perfect and HE IS LOVE (I John 4:15-16). God is loving, kind and merciful to all.

We should note here that all the bad stuff, disasters and tragedies which occur, occur because of sin which entered the world when Adam sinned (Romans 5:12). So what should our attitude be toward our God?

God is our Creator. He created the world and everything in it. (See Genesis 1-3.) Read Romans 1:20&21. It certainly implies that because He is our Creator and because He is, well, God, that He deserves our honor and praise and glory. It says, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to God, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

We are to honor and thank God because He is God and because He is our Creator. Read also Romans 1:28&31. I noticed something very interesting here: that when we do not honor our God and Creator we become “without understanding.”

Honoring God is our responsibility. Matthew 6:9 says, “Our Father Who art in heaven hallowed be Thy Name.” Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Thou shalt love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” In Matthew 4:10 where Jesus says to Satan, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”

Psalm 100 reminds us of this when it says, “serve the Lord with gladness,” “know that the Lord Himself is God,” and verse 3, “It is He that made us and not we ourselves.” Verse 3 also says, “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Verse 4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.” Verse 5 says, “For the Lord is good, His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Like Romans it instructs us to give Him thanks, praise, honor and blessing! Psalm 103:1 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” Psalm 148:5 is clear in saying, “Let them praise the Lord for He commanded and they were created,” and in verse 11 it tells us who should praise Him, “All kings of the earth and all peoples,” and verse 13 adds, “For His name alone is exalted.”

To make things more emphatic Colossians 1:16 says, “all things were created by Him and for Him” and “He is before all things” and Revelation 4:11 adds, “for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” We were created for God, He was not created for us, for our pleasure or for us to get what we want. He is not here to serve us, but we to serve Him. As Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and praise, for you created all things, for by your will they were created and have their being.” We are to worship Him. Psalm 2:11 says to, “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.” See also Deuteronomy 6:13 and 2 Chronicles 29:8.

You said you were like Job, that “God formerly loved him.” Let’s take a look at the nature of God’s love so you can see that He does not stop loving us, no matter what we do.

The idea that God stops loving us for “whatever” reason is common among many religions. A doctrine book I have, “Great Doctrines of the Bible by William Evans” in talking about God’s love says, “Christianity is really the only religion that sets forth the Supreme Being as ‘Love.’ It sets forth the gods of other religions as angry beings who require our good deeds to appease them or earn their blessing.”

We only have two points of reference with regard to love: 1) human love and 2) God’s love as revealed to us in Scripture. Our love is flawed by sin. It fluctuates or can even cease while God’s love is eternal. We can’t even fathom or comprehend God’s love. God is love (I John 4:8).

The book, “Elemental Theology” by Bancroft, on page 61 in speaking about love says, “the character of the one loving gives character to the love.” That means that God’s love is perfect because God is perfect. (See Matthew 5:48.) God is holy, so His love is pure. God is just, so His love is fair. God never changes, so His love never fluctuates, fails or ceases. I Corinthians 13:11 describes perfect love by saying this, “Love never fails.” God alone possesses this kind of love. Read Psalm 136. Every verse talks about God’s lovingkindness saying His lovingkindness endures forever. Read Romans 8:35-39 which says, “who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distresses or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?”

Verse 38 continues, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God.” God is love, so He can’t help but love us.

God loves everyone. Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes His sun to rise and fall on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He blesses everyone because He loves every one. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning.” Psalm 145:9 says, “The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

What about bad things. God promises the believer that, “All things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28)”. God may allow things to come into our life, but be assured that God has allowed them only for a very good reason, not because God has in some way or for some reason chosen to change His mind and stop loving us.
God may choose to allow us to suffer the consequences of sin but He may also choose to keep us from them, but always His reasons are coming from love and the purpose is for our good.

LOVE’S PROVISION OF SALVATION

Scripture does say God hates sin. For a partial list, see Proverbs 6:16-19. But God does not hate sinners (I Timothy 2:3&4). 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing for you to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

So God prepared a way for our redemption. When we sin or stray from God He never leaves us and is always waiting for us to return, He does not cease to love us. God gives us the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to illustrate His love for us, that of the loving father rejoicing in his wayward son’s return. Not all human fathers are like this but our Heavenly Father always welcomes us. Jesus says in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will not cast out.” John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world.” I Timothy 2:4 says God “desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” Ephesians 2:4&5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

The greatest demonstration of love in all the world is God’s provision for our salvation and forgiveness. You need to read Romans chapters 4&5 where much of God’s plan is explained. Romans 5:8&9 says, “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” I John 4:9&10 says,”This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us…” It is here in I John that it says “God is Love (chapter 4, verse 8). That is Who He is. This is the ultimate proof of His love.

We need to believe what God says – He loves us. No matter what happens to us or how things seem at the moment God asks us to believe in Him and His love. David, who is called a “man after God’s own heart,” says in Psalm 52:8, “I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” I John 4:16 should be our goal. “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.”

God’s Basic Plan

Here is God’s plan to save us. 1) We have all sinned. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death.” Isaiah 59:2 says, “Our sins have separated us from God.”
2) God has provided a way. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son…” In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

I Corinthians 15:1&2 “This is God’s free gift of Salvation, the gospel which I presented by which you are saved.” Verse 3 says, “That Christ died for our sins,” and verse 4 continues, “that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day.” Matthew 26:28 (KJV) says, “This is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sin.” I peter 2:24 (NASB) says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”

3) We cannot earn our salvation by doing good works. Ephesians 2:8&9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Titus 3:5 says, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy He saved us…” 2 Timothy 2:9 says, “who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”

4) How God’s salvation and forgiveness is made your own: John 3:16 says, “that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John uses the word believe 50 times in the book of John alone to explain how to receive God’s free gift of eternal life and forgiveness. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Assurance of Forgiveness

Here is why we have assurance that our sins are forgiven. Eternal life is a promise to “everyone who believes” and “God cannot lie.” John 10:28 says, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Remember John 1:12 says, “As many as received Him to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to them that believe on His Name.” It is a trust based on His “nature” of love, truth and justice.

If you have come to Him and received Christ you are saved. John 6:37 says, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.” If you haven’t asked Him to forgive you and accepted Christ, you can do that this very moment.
If you believe in some other version of Who Jesus is and some other version of what He has done for you than the one given in Scripture, you need to “change your mind” and accept Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. Remember, He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

Forgiveness

Our forgiveness is a precious part of our salvation. The meaning of forgiveness is that our sins are sent away and God does not remember them anymore. Isaiah 38:17 says, “You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” Psalm 86:5 says, “For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.” See Romans 10:13. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Jeremiah 31:39 says, “I will forgive their iniquity and their sin will I remember no more.”

Romans 4:7&8 says, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” This is forgiveness. If your forgiveness is not a promise of God then where do you find it, for as we have already seen, you can’t earn it.

Colossians 1:14 says, “In Whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.” See Acts 5:30&31; 13:38 and 26:18. All of these verses speak of forgiveness as part of our salvation. Acts 10:43 says, “Everyone that believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.” Ephesians 1:7 states this also, “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

It is impossible for God to lie. He is incapable of it. It is not arbitrary. Forgiveness is based on a promise. If we accept Christ we are forgiven. Acts 10:34 says, “God is not a respecter of persons.” The NIV translation says, “God does not show favoritism.”

I want you to go to 1 John 1 to show how it applies to believers who fail and sin. We are His children and as our human fathers, or the father of the prodigal son, forgives, so our Heavenly Father forgives us and will receive us yet again, and again.

We know that sin separates us from God, so sin separates us from God even when we are His children. It does not separate us from His love, nor mean we are no longer His children, but it breaks our fellowship with Him. You can’t rely on feelings here. Just believe His word that if you do the right thing, confess, He has forgiven you.

We Are Like Children

Let’s use a human example. When a little child disobeys and is confronted, he may cover it up, or lie or hide from his parent because of his guilt. He may refuse to admit his wrongdoing. He has thus separated himself from his parents because he is afraid they will discover what he has done, and afraid they will be angry with him or punish him when they find out. The closeness and comfort of the child with his parents is broken. He cannot experience the safety, the acceptance and the love they have for him. The child has become like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden of Eden.

We do the same thing with our heavenly Father. When we sin, we feel guilty. We are afraid He will punish us, or He may stop loving us or cast us away. We don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our fellowship with God is broken.

God doesn’t leave us, He has promised never to leave us. See Matthew 28:20, which says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We are hiding from Him. We can’t really hide because He knows and sees everything. Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” We are like Adam when we are hiding from God. He is seeking us, waiting for us to come to Him for forgiveness, just as a parent just wants the child to recognize and admit his disobedience. This is what our Heavenly Father wants. He is waiting to forgive us. He will always take us back.

Human fathers may cease to love a child, although that seldom happens. With God, as we have seen, His love for us never fails, never ceases. He loves us with everlasting love. Remember Romans 8:38&39. Remember nothing can separate us from the love of God, we do not cease to be His children.

Yes, God hates sin and as Isaiah 59:2 says,” your sins have separated between you and your God, your sins have hidden His face from you.” It says in verse 1, “the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear,” but Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

I John 2:1&2 tells the believer, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” Believers can and do sin. In fact I John 1:8&10 say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” and “if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” When we do sin God shows us the way back in verse 9 which says, “If we confess (acknowledge) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We must choose to confess our sin to God so if we don’t experience forgiveness it is our fault, not God’s. It is our choice to obey God. His promise is sure. He will forgive us. He cannot lie.

Job Verses God’s Character

Let’s look at Job since you brought him up and see what it really teaches us about God and our relationship to Him. Many people misunderstand the book of Job, its narrative and concepts. It may be one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible.

One of the first misconceptions is to assume that suffering is always or mostly a sign of God’s anger at a sin or sins we have committed. Obviously that is what Job’s three friends were sure of, for which God eventually rebuked them. (We’ll get back to that later.) Another is to assume that prosperity or blessings are always or usually a sign of God being pleased with us. Wrong. This is man’s notion, a thinking which assumes we earn God’s kindness. I asked someone what stood out to them from the book of Job and their reply was, “We don’t know anything.” No one seems sure who wrote Job. We don’t know that Job ever understood all of what was going on. He also did not have Scripture, as we do.

One cannot understand this account unless one understands what is occurring between God and Satan and the warfare between the forces or followers of righteousness and those of evil. Satan is the defeated foe because of the cross of Christ, but you could say that he has not been taken into custody yet. There is a battle still raging in this world over people’s souls. God has given us the book of Job and many other Scriptures to help us understand.

First, as I stated earlier, all evil, pain, sickness and disasters result from the entrance of sin into the world. God doesn’t do or create evil, but He may allow disasters to test us. Nothing comes into our lives without His permission, even correction or allowing us to suffer the consequences from a sin we committed. This is to make us stronger.

God does not arbitrarily decide not to love us. Love is His very Being, but He is also holy and just. Let’s look at the setting. In chapter 1:6, the “sons of God” presented themselves to God and Satan came among them. The “sons of God” are probably angels, maybe a mixed company of those who followed God and those who followed Satan. Satan had come from roaming around on earth. This makes me think of I Peter 5:8 which says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” God points out his “servant Job,” and here is a very important point. He says Job is His righteous servant, and is blameless, upright, fears God and turns from evil. Note that God is nowhere here accusing Job of any sin. Satan basically says that the only reason Job follows God is because God has blessed him and that if God took those blessings away Job would curse God. Here lies the conflict. So God then allows Satan to afflict Job to test his love and faithfulness to Himself. Read chapter 1:21&22. Job passed this test. It says, “In all this Job did not sin, nor blame God.” In chapter 2 Satan again challenges God to test Job. Again God allows Satan to afflict Job. Job responds in 2:10, “shall we accept good from God and not adversity.” It says in 2:10, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Note that Satan could do nothing without God’s permission, and He sets the limits. The New Testament indicates this in Luke 22:31 which says, “Simon, Satan has desired to have you.” The NASB puts it this way saying, Satan “demanded permission to sift you as wheat.” Read Ephesians 6:11&12. It tells us to, “Put on the whole armor or God” and to “stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Be clear. In all this Job had not sinned. We are in a battle.

Now go back to I Peter 5:8 and read on. It basically explains the book of Job. It says, “but resist him (the devil), firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” This is a strong reason for suffering, plus the fact that suffering is a part of any battle. If we were never tried we would just be spoon fed babies and never become mature. In testing we become stronger and we see our knowledge of God increase, we see Who God is in new ways and our relationship with Him becomes stronger.

In Romans 1:17 it says, “the just shall live by faith.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” We may not understand this, but it is a fact. We must trust God in all this, in any suffering He allows.

Since the fall of Satan (Read Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:10.) this conflict has existed and Satan desires to turn every one of us from God. Satan even tried to tempt Jesus to mistrust His Father (Matthew 4:1-11). It started with Eve in the garden. Note, Satan tempted her by getting her to question God’s character, His love and care for her. Satan implied that God was keeping something good from her and He was unloving and unfair. Satan is always trying to take over God’s kingdom and turn His people against Him.

We must see Job’s suffering and ours in light of this “war” in which Satan is constantly trying to tempt us to change sides and separate us from God. Remember God declared Job to be righteous and blameless. There is no sign of an indictment of sin against Job thus far in the account. God did not allow this suffering because of anything Job had done. He was not judging him, angry with him nor had He stopped loving him.

Now the friends of Job, who obviously believe suffering is because of sin, enter the picture. I can only refer to what God says of them, and say be careful not to judge others, as they judged Job. God rebuked them. Job 42:7&8 says, “After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'” God was angry with them for what they had done, telling them to offer up a sacrifice to God. Note that God made them go to Job and ask Job to pray for them, because they had not spoken the truth about Him as Job had.

In all their dialog (3:1-31:40), God was silent. You asked about God being silent to you. It really doesn’t say why God was so silent. Sometimes He may be just waiting for us to trust Him, walk by faith, or really search for an answer, possibly in Scripture, or just be quiet and think about things.

Let’s look back to see what’s become of Job. Job has been struggling with criticism from his “so called” friends who are determined to prove that adversity results from sin (Job 4:7&8). We do know that in the final chapters God rebukes Job. Why? What does Job do wrong? Why does God do this? It seems as if Job’s faith had not been tested. Now it is severely tested, probably more than most of us will ever be. I believe that a part of this testing is the condemnation of his “friends.” In my experience and observation, I think that judgment and condemnation form other believers is a great trial and discouragement. Remember the word of God says not to judge (Romans 14:10). Rather it teaches us to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13).

While God will judge our sin and it is one possible reason for suffering, it is not always the reason, as the “friends” implied. Seeing an evident sin is one thing, assuming it is another. The goal is restoration, not tearing down and condemnation. Job becomes angry with God and His silence and begins to question God and demand answers. He begins to justify his anger.

In chapter 27:6 Job says, “I will maintain my righteousness.” Later God says Job did this by accusing God (Job 40:8). In chapter 29 Job is doubting, referring to God’s blessing him in the past tense and saying God is no longer with him. It’s almost as if he is saying God formerly loved him. Remember Matthew 28:20 says this is not true for God gives this promise, “And I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God never left Job and eventually spoke to him just as He did with Adam and Eve.

We need to learn to continue to walk by faith – not by sight (or feelings) and to trust in His promises, even when we can’t “feel” His presence and haven’t received an answer to our prayers yet. In Job 30:20 Job says, “O God, you do not answer me.” Now he is beginning to complain. In chapter 31 Job is accusing God of not listening to him and saying he would argue and defend his righteousness before God if only God would listen (Job 31:35). Read Job 31:6. In chapter 23:1-5 Job is also complaining to God, because He is not answering. God is silent – he says God is not giving him a reason for what He has done. God does not have to answer to Job or us. We really can’t demand anything from God. See what God says to Job when God speaks. Job 38:1 says, “Who is this who speaks without knowledge?” Job 40:2 (NASB) says, “Wii the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” In Job 40:1&2 (NIV) God says that Job “contends,” “corrects” and “accuses” Him. God reverses what Job says, by demanding that Job answer His questions. Verse 3 says, “I will question you and you will answer me.” In chapter 40:8 God says, “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Who demands what and of whom?

Then God again challenges Job with His power as his Creator, for which there is no answer. God essentially says, “I am God, I am Creator, don’t discredit Who I am. Don’t question My love, My justice, for I AM GOD, the Creator.”
God does not say Job was punished for a past sin but He does say, “Don’t question Me, for I alone am God.” We are not in any position to make demands of God. He alone is Sovereign. Remember God wants us to believe Him. It is faith that pleases Him. When God tells us He is just and loving, He wants us to believe Him. God’s response left Job with no answer or recourse but to repent and worship.

In Job 42:3 Job is quoted as saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know.” In Job 40:4 (NIV) Job says, “I am unworthy.” The NASB says, “I am insignificant.” In Job 40:5 Job says, “I have no answer,” and in Job 42:5 he says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” He then says, “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” He now has a much greater understanding of God, the correct one.

God is always willing to forgive our transgressions. We all fail and don’t trust God sometimes. Think of some people in Scripture who failed at some point in their walk with God, such as Moses, Abraham, Elijah or Jonah or who misunderstood what God was doing as Naomi who became bitter and how about Peter, who denied Christ. Did God stop loving them? No! He was patient, longsuffering and merciful and forgiving.

Discipline

It is true that God hates sin, and just like our human fathers He will discipline and correct us if we continue to sin. He may use circumstances to judge us, but His purpose is, as a parent, and out of His love for us, to restore us to fellowship with Himself. He is patient and longsuffering and merciful and ready to forgive. Like a human father He wants us to “grow up” and be righteous and mature. If He didn’t discipline us we would be spoiled, immature children.

He might also let us suffer the consequences of our sin, but He does not disown us or stop loving us. If we respond correctly and confess our sin and ask Him to help us change we will become more like our Father. Hebrews 12:5 says, “My son, do not make light of (despise) the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” In verse 7 it says, “for whom the Lord loves He disciplines. For what son is not disciplined” and verse 9 says, “Moreover we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live.” Verse 10 says, “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.”

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

God disciplines us to make us stronger. Though Job never denied God, he did distrust and discredit God and say God was unfair, but when God rebuked him, he repented and acknowledged his fault and God restored him. Job responded correctly. Others like David and Peter failed too but God restored them also.

Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for He will have mercy upon him and He will abundantly (NIV says freely) pardon.”

If you ever fall or fail, just apply 1 John 1:9 and acknowledge your sin as David and Peter did and as Job did. He will forgive, He promises. Human fathers correct their children but they can make mistakes. God does not. He is all knowing. He is perfect. He is fair and just and He loves you.

Why God Is Silent

You raised the question of why God was silent when you pray. God was silent when testing Job too. There is no reason given, but we can only give conjectures. Maybe He just needed the whole thing to play out to show Satan the truth or maybe His work in Job’s heart wasn’t finished yet. Maybe we aren’t ready for the answer yet either. God is the only One Who knows, we must just trust Him.

Psalm 66:18 gives another answer, in a passage about prayer, it says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” Job was doing this. He stopped trusting and began questioning. This can be true of us also.
There can be other reasons also. He may just be trying to get you to trust, to walk by faith, not by sight, experiences or feelings. His silence forces us to trust and seek Him. It also forces us to be persistent in prayer. Then we learn that it is truly God Who gives us our answers, and teaches us to be thankful and appreciate all He does for us. It teaches us that He is the source of all blessings. Remember James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ” As with Job we may never know why. We may, as with Job, just recognize Who God is, that He is our Creator, not we His. He is not our servant that we can come to and demand our needs and wants be met. He does not even have to give us reasons for His actions, though many times He does. We are to honor and worship Him, for He is God.

God does want us to come to Him, freely and boldly but respectfully and humbly. He sees and hears every need and request before we ask, so people ask, “Why ask, why pray?” I think we ask and pray so we realize He is there and He is real and He does hear and answer us because He does love us. He is so good. As Romans 8:28 says, He always does what is best for us.

Another reason we don’t get our request is that we don’t ask for His will to be done, or we don’t ask according to His written will as revealed in the Word of God. I John 5:14 says, “And if we ask anything according to His will we know He hears us…we know that we have the request we have asked of Him.” Remember Jesus prayed, “not my will but Yours be done.” See also Matthew 6:10, the Lord’s Prayer. It teaches us to pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Look at James 4:2 for more reasons for unanswered prayer. It says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” We simply don’t bother to pray and ask. It goes on in verse three, “You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives (KJV says ask amiss) so you can consume it on your own lusts.” This means we are being selfish. Someone said we are using God as our personal vending machine.

Maybe you should study the topic of prayer from Scripture alone, not some book or series of human ideas on prayer. We can’t earn or demand anything from God. We live in a world that puts self first and we regard God as we do other people, we demand they put us first and give us what we want. We want God to serve us. God wants us to come to Him with requests, not demands.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Conclusion

There is much to learn from Job. Job’s first response to testing was one of faith (Job 1:21). Scripture says we should “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Trust God’s justice, fairness and love. If we question God, we are putting ourselves above God, making ourselves God. We are making ourselves the judge of the Judge of all the earth. We all have questions but we need to honor God as God and when we fail as Job later did we need to repent which means to “change our minds” as Job did, get a new perspective of Who God is – the Almighty Creator, and worship Him as Job did. We need to recognize that it is wrong to judge God. God’s “nature” is never at stake. You cannot decide Who God is or what He should do. You can in no way change God.

James 1:23&24 says God’s Word is like a mirror. It says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” You have said God stopped loving Job and you. It is evident that He did not and God’s Word says His love is everlasting and does not fail. However, you have been exactly like Job in that you have “darkened His counsel.” I think this means you have “discredited” Him, His wisdom, purpose, justice, judgments and His love. You, like Job, are “finding fault” with God.

Look at yourself clearly in the mirror of “Job.” Are you the one “at fault” as Job was? As with Job, God always stands ready to forgive if we confess our fault (I John 1:9). He knows we are human. Pleasing God is about faith. A god you make up in your mind isn’t real, only the God in Scripture is real.

Remember in the beginning of the story, Satan appeared with a great group of angels. The Bible teaches that the angels learn about God from us (Ephesians 3:10&11). Remember too, that there is a great conflict going on.
When we “discredit God,” when we call God unfair and unjust and unloving, we are discrediting Him before all the angels. We are calling God a liar. Remember Satan, in the Garden of Eden discredited God to Eve, implying He was unjust and unfair and unloving. Job eventually did the same and so do we. We dishonor God before the world and before the angels. Instead we must honor Him. Whose side are we on? The choice is ours alone.

Job made his choice, he repented, that is, changed his mind about Who God was, he developed a greater understanding of God and who he was in relation to God. He said in chapter 42, verses 3 and 5: “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job recognized he had “contended” with the Almighty and that was not his place.

Look at the end of the story. God accepted his confession and restored him and doubly blessed him. Job 42:10&12 says, “The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.”

If we are demanding of God and contending and “thinking without knowledge,” we too must ask God to forgive us and “walk humbly before God” (Micah 6:8). This starts with our recognizing Who He is in relationship to ourselves, and believing the truth as Job did. A popular chorus based on Romans 8:28 says, “He does all things for our good.” Scripture says that suffering has a Divine purpose and if it is to discipline us, it is for our good. I John 1:7 says to “walk in the light,” which is His revealed Word, the Word of God.

What is the Meaning of Life?

What Is the Meaning of Life?

Cruden’s Concordance defines life as “animated existence as distinguished from dead matter.”  We all know when something is alive by the evidence exhibited.  We know that a person or animal ceases to be alive when it stops breathing, communicating and functioning.  Likewise, when a plant dies it withers and dries up.

Life is a part of God’s creation.  Colossians 1:15&16 tells us we were created by the Lord Jesus Christ.  Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and in Genesis 1:26 it says, “Let us make man in our image.” This Hebrew word for God, “Elohim,” is plural and speaks of all three persons of the Trinity, which means that the Godhead or Triune God created the first human life and the whole world.

Jesus is specifically mentioned in Hebrews 1:1-3.  It says God “has spoken to us by His Son…through whom also He made the universe.”  See also John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15&16 where it is specifically talking about Jesus Christ and it says, “all things were created by Him.”  John 1:1-3 says, “He made everything that was made, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  In Job 33:4, Job says, “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”  We know by these verses that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, working together, created us.

This life comes directly from God. Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” This was unique from all else He created.  We are living beings by the very breath of God in us.  There is no life except from God.

Even in our vast, yet limited, knowledge we cannot understand how God could do this, and maybe we never will, but it is even harder to believe that our complex and perfect creation was just the result of a series of freak accidents.

Does it not then beg the question, “What is the meaning of life?” I like to also refer to this as our reason or purpose for life!  Why did God create human life?  Colossians 1:15&16, previously partly quoted, gives us the reason for our life.  It goes on to say that we were “created for Him.”  Romans 11:36 says, “For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things, to Him be the glory forever! Amen.”  We are created for Him, for His pleasure.

In speaking of God, Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”  The Father also says that He has given His Son, Jesus, rule and supremacy over all things.  Revelation 5:12-14 says He has “dominion.”  Hebrews 2:5-8 (quoting Psalm 8:4-6) says God has “put all things under His feet.”  Verse 9 says, “In putting all things under His feet, God left nothing that is not subject to Him.”  Not only is Jesus our Creator and thus worthy to rule, and worthy of honor and power but because He died for us God has exalted Him to sit on His throne and rule over all creation (including His world).

Zechariah 6:13 says, “He will be clothed with majesty, and will sit and rule on His throne.”  Read also Isaiah 53.  John 17:2 says, “Thou hast given Him authority over all mankind.”  As God and Creator He deserves honor, praise and thankfulness.  Read Revelation 4:11 and 5:12&13.  Matthew 6:9 says, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.”  He deserves our service and respect.  God rebuked Job because he disrespected Him.  He did it by showing the greatness of His creation, and Job responded by saying, “Now my eyes have seen thee and I repent in dust and ashes.”

Romans 1:21 shows us the wrong way, by how the unrighteous behaved, thus revealing what is expected of us.  It says, “though they knew God they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks.”  Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “the conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments: because this applies to every person.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 says (and this is repeated in Scripture over and over), “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.”

I would define the meaning of life (and our purpose in life), as fulfilling these verses.  This is fulfilling His will for us.  Micah 6:8 sums it up this way, “He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Other verses say this in slightly different ways as in Matthew 6:33, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you,” or Matthew 11:28-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”  Verse 30(NASB) says, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Deuteronomy 10:12&13 says, “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your good.”

Which brings to mind the point that God is not capricious nor arbitrary nor subjective; for although He deserves to be and is the Supreme Ruler, He does not do what He does for Himself alone.  He is love and everything He does is out of love and for our good, that is although it is His right to rule, God is not selfish.  He does not rule just because He can.  Everything that God does has love at its core.

More importantly, although He is our ruler it does not say He created us to rule us but what it does say is God loved us, that He was pleased with His creation and delights in it.  Psalm 149:4&5 says, “The Lord takes delight in His people…let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy.”  Jeremiah 31:3 Says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take delight in you, He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Proverbs 8:30&31 says, “I was daily His delight…Rejoicing in the world, His earth and having my delight in the sons of man.”  In John 17:13 Jesus in His prayer for us says, “I am still in the world so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” for us.  God loved Adam, His creation, so much He made him ruler over all His world, over all His creation and placed him in His beautiful garden.

I believe that the Father often walked with Adam in the Garden.  We see that He came looking for him in the garden after Adam had sinned, but didn’t find Adam because he had hidden himself.  I believe that God created man for fellowship.  In I John 1:1-3 it says, “our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son.”

In Hebrews chapters 1&2 Jesus is referred to as our brother.  He says, “I am not ashamed to call them brothers.”  In verse 13 He calls them “the children God has given Me.”  In John 15:15 He calls us friends.  All of these are terms of fellowship and relationship. In Ephesians 1:5 God speaks of adopting us “as His sons through Jesus Christ.”

So, even though Jesus has pre-eminence and supremacy over everything (Colossians 1:18), His purpose for giving us “life” was for fellowship and a family relationship.  I believe this is the purpose or meaning of life presented in Scripture.

Remember Micah 6:8 says we are to walk humbly with our God; humbly because He is God and Creator; but walking with Him because He loves us.  Joshua 24:15 says, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”  In light of this verse, let me say that once Satan, God’s angel served Him, but Satan wanted to be God, to take over God’s place instead of “walking humbly with Him.”  He tried to exalt himself above God and was thrown out of heaven.  Ever since then he has tried to drag us down with him as he did with Adam and Eve.  They followed him and sinned; then they hid themselves in the garden and eventually God cast them out of the Garden.  (Read Genesis 3.)

We, like Adam, have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and rebelled against God and our sins have separated us from God and our relationship and fellowship with God is broken.  Read Isaiah 59:2, which says, “your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid His face from you…”  We died spiritually.

Someone I know defined the meaning of life this way: “God wants us to live with Him forever and maintain a relationship (or walk) with Him here and now (Micah 6:8 all over again).  Christians often refer to our relationship here and now with God as a “walk” because Scripture uses the word “walk” to describe how we should live.  (I’ll explain that later.)  Because we have sinned and are separated from this “life,” we MUST start or begin by receiving His Son as our personal Savior and the restoration He has provided by dying for us on the cross.  Psalm 80:3 says, “God, restore us and cause thy face to shine upon us and we will be saved.”

Romans 6:23 says, “The wages (penalty) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thankfully, God so loved the world that He sent His own Son to die for us and pay the penalty for our sin that whoever “believes in Him might have everlasting life (John 3:16).  Jesus’ death restores our relationship with the Father. Jesus paid this penalty of death, but we must receive (accept) it and believe in Him as we have seen in John 3:16 and John 1:12.  In Matthew 26:28, Jesus said, “This is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”  Read also I Peter 2:24; I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Isaiah chapter 53.  John 6:29 tells us, “This is the work of God that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.”

It is then that we become His children (John 1:12), and His Spirit comes to live in us (John 3:3 and John 14:15&16) and then that we have the fellowship with God spoken of in I John chapter 1.  John 1:12 tells us that when we receive and believe in Jesus we become His children.  John 3:3-8 says that we are “born again” into God’s family.  It is then that we can walk with God as Micah says we should.  Jesus said in John 10:10(NIV), “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  The NASB reads, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  This is life with all the joy God promises.  Romans 8:28 goes even further by saying that God loves us so much that He “causes all things to work together for our good.”

So how do we walk with God?  Scripture talks about being one with the Father as Jesus was one with the Father (John 17:20-23).  I think Jesus meant this also in John 15 when He spoke of abiding in Him.  There is also John 10 which speaks of us as sheep following Him, the Shepherd.

As I said, this life is described as “walking” over and over, but to understand it and do it we must study the Word of God.  Scripture teaches us the things we must do to walk with God.  It starts with reading and studying God’s Word.  Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”  When we do these things we are walking with God and obeying His Word.

I’m going to put this in sort of an outline with a lot of verses which I hope you will read:

1).        John 15:1-17:  I think Jesus means walking with Him continuously, day by day in this life, when He says “abide” or “remain” in Me.  “Abide in Me and I in you.”  Being His disciples implies that He is our Teacher.  According to 15:10 it includes obeying His commands.  According to verse 7 it includes having His word abiding in us.  In John 14:23 it says, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep my Word and My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our abode with him'”  This sounds like abiding to me.

2).        John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.”  Jesus later speaks of unity with us as He has with the Father.  In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and My Father are One.”

3).        John 10:1-18 teaches us that we, His sheep, follow Him, the Shepherd, and He cares for us as “we go in and out and find pasture.”  In verse 14 Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-”

WALKING WITH GOD

How can we as humans walk with God Who is Spirit?

  1. We can walk in truth. Scripture says God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), meaning the Bible and what it commands and the ways it teaches, etc.  The truth sets us free (John 8:32).  Walking in His ways means as James 1:22 says, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.”  Other verses to read would be:  Psalm 1:1-3, Joshua 1:8; Psalm 143:8; Exodus 16:4; Leviticus 5:33; Deuteronomy 5:33; Ezekiel 37:24; 2 John 6; Psalm 119:11, 3; John 17:6 &17; 3 John 3&4; I Kings 2:4 & 3:6; Psalm 86:1, Isaiah 38:3 and Malachi 2:6.
  2. We can walk in the Light. Walking in the light means to walk in the teaching of God’s Word (Light also refers to the Word itself); seeing yourself in God’s Word, that is, recognizing what you are doing or are, and recognizing whether it is good or bad as you see examples, historical accounts or commands and teaching presented in the Word.  The Word is God’s light and as such we must respond (walk) in it.  If we are doing what we should we need to thank God for His strength and ask God to enable us to continue; but if we have failed or have sinned, we need to confess it to God and He will forgive us.  This is how we walk in the light (revelation) of the Word of God, for Scripture is God-breathed, the very words of Our Heavenly Father (2 Timothy 3:16).  Read also I John 1:1-10; Psalm 56:13; Psalm 84:11; Isaiah 2:5; John 8:12; Psalm 89:15; Romans 6:4.
  3. We can walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit never contradicts the Word of God but rather works through it.  He is the Author of it (2 Peter 1:21).  For more about walking in the Spirit see Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16 and Romans 8:9.  The results of walking in the light and walking in the Spirit are very similar in Scripture.
  4. We can walk as Jesus walked. We are to follow His example, obey His teaching and be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Luke 6:40).  I John 2:6 says, “The one who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked.”  Here are some important ways to be like Christ:
  5. Love one another.  John 15:17: “This is my command: Love each other.”  Philippians 2:1&2 says, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”  This relates to walking in the Spirit because the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22).
  6. Obey Christ as He obeyed and submitted to the Father (John 14:15).
  7. John 17:4: He finished the work God gave Him to do, when He died on the cross (John 19:30).
  8. When He prayed in the garden He said, “Thy will be done (Matthew 26:42).
  9. John 15:10 says, “If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Fathers commands and abide in His love.”
  10. This brings me to another aspect of walking, that is, living the Christian life – which is PRAYER. Prayer falls into both obedience, since God commands it many times, and following Jesus’ example in praying.  We think of prayer as asking for things.  It is, but it is more.  I like to define it as just talking to or with God anytime, anywhere.  Jesus did this because in John 17 we see that Jesus while walking and talking with His disciples “looked up” and “prayed” for them.  This is a perfect example of “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), asking requests of God and talking to God ANY TIME AND ANY WHERE.
  11. Jesus’ example and other Scriptures teach us to also spend time separately from others, alone with God in prayer (Matthew 6:5&6).  Here Jesus is also our example, as Jesus spent much time alone in prayer.  Read Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 11:1; 5:16; 6:12 and 9:18&28.
  12. God commands us to pray. Abiding includes prayer. Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer.”  In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus taught us how to pray by giving us the “Lord’s Prayer.”  Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Paul repeatedly asked the churches he started to pray for him.  Luke 18:1 says, “Men ought always to pray.”  Both 2 Samuel 21:1 and I Timothy 5:5 in the Living Bible translation speak of spending “much time in prayer.”  So prayer is an important requirement for our walk with God.  Spend time with Him in prayer as David does in the Psalms and as Jesus did.

 

The whole Scripture is our guidebook to live and walk with God, but summed up it is:

  1. Know the Word: 2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  2. Obey the Word: James 1:22
  3. Know Him through the Scripture (John 17:17; 2 Peter 1:3).
  4. Pray
  5. Confess sin
  6. Follow Jesus’ example
  7. Be like Jesus

These things I believe constitute what Jesus meant when Jesus said to abide in Him and this is the true meaning of life.

Conclusion

Life without God is futile and rebellion leads to living without Him.  It leads to living without purpose, with confusion and frustration, and as Romans 1 says, living “without knowledge.”  It is meaningless and totally self-centered.  If we walk with God we have life and that more abundantly, with purpose and God’s eternal love.  With this comes a loving relationship with a loving Father Who ALWAYS gives us what is good and best for us and Who delights and joys in pouring out His blessings on us, forever.

What is the Unpardonable Sin?

Whenever you are trying to understand a part of Scripture, there are some guidelines to follow. Study it in its context, in other words look carefully at the surrounding verses. You should look at it in light of its Biblical history and background. The Bible is cohesive. It is one story, the amazing story of God’s plan of redemption. No part can be understood alone. It is a good idea to ask questions about a passage or topic, such as, who, what, where, when, why and how.

When it comes to the question of whether or not a person has committed the unpardonable sin, background is important to its understanding. Jesus began His ministry of preaching and healing six months after John the Baptist began his. John was sent by God to prepare people to receive Jesus and as a witness to Who He was. John 1:7 “to bear witness to the Light.” John 1:14&15, 19-36 God told John that he would see the Spirit descend and abide upon Him. John 1:32-34 John said “he bare record that this was the Son of God.” He also said of Him, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the son of the world. John 1:29 See also John 5:33

The priests and Levites (religious leaders of the Jews) were aware of both John and Jesus. The Pharisees (another group of Jewish leaders) began to ask them who they were and by what authority they were preaching and teaching. It seems they began to see them as a threat. They asked John if he were the Christ (he said he was not) or “that prophet.” John 1:21 This is very important to the question at hand. The phrase “that prophet” comes from the prophecy given to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and is explained in Deuteronomy 34:10-12 where God tells Moses that another prophet would come who would be like himself and preach and do great wonders (a prophecy about Christ). This and other Old Testament prophecies were given so people would recognize the Christ (the Messiah) when He came.

So Jesus began to preach and show people that He was the promised Messiah and to prove it by mighty wonders. He made the claim that He spoke the words of God and that He came from God. (John chapter 1, Hebrews chapter 1, John 3:16, John 7:16) In John 12:49&50 Jesus said, “I (do) not speak of my own accord, but the Father Who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.” By teaching and doing miracles Jesus fulfilled both aspects of Moses’ prophecy. John 7:40 The Pharisees were knowledgeable in Old Testament Scripture; familiar with all these Messianic prophecies. Read John 5:36-47 to see what Jesus said about this. In verse 46 of that passage Jesus claims to be “that prophet” by saying “he spoke of me.” Read also Acts 3:22 Many people were asking if He were the Christ or “the Son of David.” Matthew 12:23

This background and the Scriptures about it all connect to the question of the unpardonable sin. All of these facts come up in the passages about this question. They are found in Matthew 12:22-37; Mark 3:20-30 and Luke 11:14-54, especially verse 52. Please read these carefully if you want to understand the issue. The situation is about Who Jesus is and Who empowered Him to do miracles. By this time the Pharisees are jealous of Him, testing Him, trying to trip Him up with questions and refusing to acknowledge Who He is and refusing to come to Him that they might have life. John 5:36-47 According to Matthew 12:14&15 they were even trying to kill Him. See also John 10:31. It appears that the Pharisees followed Him (perhaps mingling with the crowds who gathered to hear Him preach and do miracles) in order to keep watch on Him.

On this particular occasion concerning the unpardonable sin Mark 3:22 states that they came down from Jerusalem. They apparently followed Him when he left the crowds to go somewhere else because they wanted to find a reason to kill Him. There Jesus drove out a demon from a man and healed him. It is here that the sin in question occurs. Matthew 12:24 “When the Pharisees heard this they said, ‘it is only by Baalzebub the prince of demons that this fellow drives out demons.” (Baalzebub is another name for Satan.) It is at the end of this passage where Jesus concludes by saying, “whoso speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the world to come.” This is the unpardonable sin: “they said that He had an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:30 The whole discourse, which includes the remarks about the unpardonable sin, is directed at the Pharisees. Jesus knew their thoughts and He spoke to them directly about what they were saying. Jesus’ whole discourse and His judgment on them is based on their thoughts and words; He started with that and ended with that.

Simply stated the unpardonable sin is crediting or attributing Jesus’ wonders and miracles,especially casting out demons, to an unclean spirit. The Scofield Reference Bible says in the notes on page 1013 about Mark 3:29&30 that the unpardonable sin is “ascribing to Satan the works of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is involved – He empowered Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 12:28, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God then the kingdom of God has come unto you.” He concludes by saying wherefore (that is because you say these things) “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto you.” Matthew 12:31 There is no other explanation in Scripture saying what blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is. Remember the background. Jesus had the witness of John the Baptist (John 1:32-34) that the Spirit was upon Him. Words used in the dictionary to describe blasphemy are to profane, revile, insult and show contempt.

Surely discrediting Jesus’ works fits this. We don’t like it when someone else gets credit for what we do. Imagine taking the Spirit’s work and crediting it to Satan. Most scholars say this sin occurred only while Jesus was on the earth. The reasoning behind this is that the Pharisees were eyewitnesses to His miracles and heard firsthand accounts about them. They were also learned in the Scriptural prophecies and were leaders who were thus more accountable because of their position. Knowing that John the Baptist said He was the Messiah and that Jesus said His works proved Who He was, they still persistently refused to believe. Worse still, in the very Scriptures which discuss this sin, Jesus not only speaks of their blasphemy, but also accuses them of another fault – that of scattering those who witnessed their blasphemy. Matthew 12:30&31 “he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you…anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

All these things are linked together bringing Jesus’ harsh condemnation. To discredit the Spirit is to discredit Christ, thus nullifying His work to any who listened to what the Pharisees said. It eradicates all of Christ’s teaching and salvation with it. Jesus said of the Pharisees in Luke 11:23, 51&52 that not only did the Pharisees not enter in but they hindered or prevented those who were entering. Matthew 23:13 “you shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.” They should have been showing people the way and instead they were turning them away. Read also John 5:33, 36, 40; 10:37&38 (actually the entire chapter); 14:10&11; 15:22-24.

To sum it up, they were guilty because: they knew; they saw; they had knowledge; they did not believe; they kept others from believing and they blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Vincent’s Greek Word Studies adds another part of the explanation from Greek grammar by pointing out that in Mark 3:30 the verb tense indicates that they kept on saying or persisted in saying “He has an unclean spirit.” The evidence indicates that they kept on saying this even after the resurrection. All the evidence indicates that the unpardonable sin is not one isolated act, but a persistent pattern of behavior. To say otherwise would negate the clear often repeated truth of the Scripture that “whoever will may come.” Revelation 22:17 John 3:14-16 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:13 “for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

God is calling us to believe in Christ and the gospel. I Corinthians 15:3&4 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” If you believe in Christ, surely you are not crediting His works to Satan’s power and committing the unpardonable sin. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30&31

Where Does the Holy Spirit Go After I Die?

The Holy Spirit is both everywhere present and especially present in believers. Psalm 139:7&8 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there: if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” The Holy Spirit being everywhere present will not change, even when all believers are in Heaven.

The Holy Spirit also lives in believers from the moment they are “born again,” or “born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8). It is my opinion that when the Holy Spirit comes to live in a believer he joins Himself to that person’s spirit in a relationship that is much like a marriage. I Corinthians 6:16b&17 “For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” I think the Holy Spirit will remain united with my spirit even after I die.

Which Doctrine is the Truth?

I believe the answer to your question lies in the Scripture.  As regards any doctrine or teaching, the only way we can know if what is being taught is “truth” is to compare it to the “truth” – the Scriptures – the Bible.

In the Book of Acts (17:10-12) in the Bible, we see an account of how Luke encouraged the early church to deal with doctrine.  God says all Scripture is given to us for our instruction or as an example.

Paul and Silas had been sent to Berea where they began to teach.  Luke complimented the Bereans who heard Paul teach, calling them noble because, besides receiving the Word, they examines Paul’s teaching, testing it to see if it was true.  Acts 17:11 says they did this by “searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things (they were being taught) we so.”  This is exactly what we should do with every and all things anyone teaches us.

Any doctrine you hear or read should be tested.  You should search and study the Bible to test any doctrine.  This story is given for our example.  I Corinthians 10:6 says that Scripture accounts are given to us for “examples for us,” and 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is for our “instruction.”  New Testament “prophets” were instructed to test each other to see if what they said was accurate.  I Corinthians 14:29 says “let two or three prophets speak and let the others pass judgment.”

Scripture itself is the only true record of God’s words and is therefore the only truth with which we must judge.  So we must do as God instructs us and judge everything by the Word of God.  So get busy and start studying and searching God’s Word.  Make it your standard and your joy as David did in the Psalms.

I Thessalonians 5:21 says, in the New King James Version, “test all things: hold fast what is good.”  The 21st Century King James Version translates the first part of the verse, “Prove all things.”  Enjoy the search.

There are several online websites that may be very helpful as you study.  On biblegateway.com you can read any verse in over 50 English and many foreign language translations and also look up any word every time it occurs in the Bible in those translations.  Biblehub.com is another valuable resource.  New Testament Greek dictionaries and interlinear Bibles (that have the English translation underneath the Greek or Hebrew)  are also available on line and these also can be very helpful.

Who is God?

After reading your questions and comments it appears that you have some belief in God and His Son, Jesus, but also have many misunderstandings.  You seem to see God through only human opinions and experiences and see Him as Someone Who should do what you want, as if He were a servant or on demand, and so you judge His nature, and say it is “at stake.”

Let me first say my answers will be Bible based because it is the only reliable source to truly understand Who God is and what He is like.

We cannot ‘create” our own god to suit our own dictations, according to our own desires.  We can’t rely on books or religious groups or any other opinions, we must accept the true God from the only source He has given us, the Scripture.  If people question all or part of Scripture we are left with only human opinions, which never agree.  We just have a god created by humans, a fictional god.  He is only our creation and is not God at all.  We might as well make a god of word or stone or a golden image as Israel did.

We want to have a god who does what we want.  But we can’t even change God by our demands.  We are just acting like children, having a temper tantrum to get our own way.  Nothing we do or judge determines Who He is and all our arguments have no effect on His “nature.”  His “nature” is not “at stake” because we say so.  He is Who He is: Almighty God, our Creator.

So Who is the real God.  There are so many characteristics and attributes that I will only mention some and I will not “proof text” all of them.  If you want to you can go to a reliable source such as “Bible Hub” or “Bible Gateway” online and do some research.

Here are some of His attributes.  God is Creator, Sovereign, Almighty.  He is holy, He is just and fair and a righteous Judge.  He is our Father.  He is light and truth.  He is eternal.  He cannot lie.  Titus 1:2 tells us, “In the hope of eternal life, which God, WHO CANNOT LIE, promised long ages ago.  Malachi 3:6 says He is unchangeable, “I am the LORD, I change not.”

NOTHING we do, no action, opinion, knowledge, circumstances, or judgment can change or affect His “nature.”  If we blame or accuse Him, He does not change.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Here are a few more attributes: He is everywhere present; He knows everything (omniscient) past, present and future.  He is perfect and HE IS LOVE (I John 4:15-16).  God is loving, kind and merciful to all.

We should note here that all the bad stuff, disasters and tragedies which occur, occur because of sin which entered the world when Adam sinned (Romans 5:12).  So what should our attitude be toward our God?

God is our Creator.  He created the world and everything in it.  (See Genesis 1-3.)  Read Romans 1:20&21.  It certainly implies that because He is our Creator and because He is, well, God, that He deserves our honor and praise and glory.  It says, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to God, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

We are to honor and thank God because He is God and because He is our Creator.  Read also Romans 1:28&31.  I noticed something very interesting here: that when we do not honor our God and Creator we become “without understanding.”

Honoring God is our responsibility.  Matthew 6:9 says, “Our Father Who art in heaven hallowed be Thy Name.”  Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Thou shalt love the LORD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  In Matthew 4:10 where Jesus says to Satan, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”

Psalm 100 reminds us of this when it says, “serve the Lord with gladness,” “know that the Lord Himself is God,” and verse 3, “It is He that made us and not we ourselves.”  Verse 3 also says, “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”  Verse 4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.”  Verse 5 says, “For the Lord is good, His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Like Romans it instructs us to give Him thanks, praise, honor and blessing! Psalm 103:1 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.”  Psalm 148:5 is clear in saying, “Let them praise the Lord for He commanded and they were created,” and in verse 11 it tells us who should praise Him, “All kings of the earth and all peoples,” and verse 13 adds, “For His name alone is exalted.”

To make things more emphatic Colossians 1:16 says, “all things were created by Him and for Him” and “He is before all things” and Revelation 4:11 adds, “for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”  We were created for God, He was not created for us, for our pleasure or for us to get what we want.  He is not here to serve us, but we to serve Him.  As Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and praise, for you created all things, for by your will they were created and have their being.”  We are to worship Him.  Psalm 2:11 says to, “Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.”  See also Deuteronomy 6:13 and 2 Chronicles 29:8.

You said you were like Job, that “God formerly loved him.”  Let’s take a look at the nature of God’s love so you can see that He does not stop loving us, no matter what we do.

The idea that God stops loving us for “whatever” reason is common among many religions.  A doctrine book I have, “Great Doctrines of the Bible by William Evans” in talking about God’s love says, “Christianity is really the only religion that sets forth the Supreme Being as ‘Love.’ It sets forth the gods of other religions as angry beings who require our good deeds to appease them or earn their blessing.”

We only have two points of reference with regard to love: 1) human love and 2) God’s love as revealed to us in Scripture.  Our love is flawed by sin.  It fluctuates or can even cease while God’s love is eternal.  We can’t even fathom or comprehend God’s love.  God is love (I John 4:8).

The book, “Elemental Theology” by Bancroft, on page 61 in speaking about love says, “the character of the one loving  gives character to the love.”  That means that God’s love is perfect because God is perfect.  (See Matthew 5:48.)  God is holy, so His love is pure.  God is just, so His love is fair.  God never changes, so His love never fluctuates, fails or ceases.  I Corinthians 13:11 describes perfect love by saying this, “Love never fails.”  God alone possesses this kind of love.  Read Psalm 136.  Every verse talks about God’s lovingkindness saying His lovingkindness endures forever.  Read Romans 8:35-39 which says, “who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distresses or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?”

Verse 38 continues, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God.”  God is love, so He can’t help but love us.

God loves everyone.  Matthew 5:45 says, “He causes His sun to rise and fall on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”  He blesses everyone because He loves every one.  James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with Whom there is no variableness neither shadow of turning.”  Psalm 145:9 says, “The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.”  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

What about bad things.  God promises the believer that, “All things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28)”.  God may allow things to come into our life, but be assured that God has allowed them only for a very good reason, not because God has in some way or for some reason chosen to change His mind and stop loving us.

God may choose to allow us to suffer the consequences of sin but He may also choose to keep us from them, but always His reasons are coming from love and the purpose is for our good.

LOVE’S PROVISION OF SALVATION

Scripture does say God hates sin.  For a partial list, see Proverbs 6:16-19.  But God does not hate sinners (I Timothy 2:3&4).  2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing for you to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

So God prepared a way for our redemption.  When we sin or stray from God He never leaves us and is always waiting for us to return, He does not cease to love us.  God gives us the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to illustrate His love for us, that of the loving father rejoicing in his wayward son’s return.  Not all human fathers are like this but our Heavenly Father always welcomes us.  Jesus says in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will not cast out.”  John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world.”  I Timothy 2:4 says God “desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Ephesians 2:4&5 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

The greatest demonstration of love in all the world is God’s provision for our salvation and forgiveness.  You need to read Romans chapters 4&5 where much of God’s plan is explained.  Romans 5:8&9 says, “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”  I John 4:9&10 says,”This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  I John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us…”  It is here in I John that it says “God is Love (chapter 4, verse 8).  That is Who He is.  This is the ultimate proof of His love.

We need to believe what God says – He loves us.  No matter what happens to us or how things seem at the moment God asks us to believe in Him and His love.  David, who is called a “man after God’s own heart,” says in Psalm 52:8, “I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”  I John 4:16 should be our goal.  “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us.  God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.”

God’s Basic Plan

Here is God’s plan to save us. 1) We have all sinned.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death.”  Isaiah 59:2 says, “Our sins have separated us from God.”

2) God has provided a way.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son…”  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.”

I Corinthians 15:1&2 “This is God’s free gift of Salvation, the gospel which I presented by which you are saved.”  Verse 3 says, “That Christ died for our sins,” and verse 4 continues, “that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day.”  Matthew 26:28 (KJV) says, “This is My blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sin.”  I peter 2:24 (NASB) says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.”

3) We cannot earn our salvation by doing good works.  Ephesians 2:8&9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”  Titus 3:5 says, “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy He saved us…”  2 Timothy 2:9 says, “who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”

4) How God’s salvation and forgiveness is made your own:  John 3:16 says, “that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  John uses the word believe 50 times in the book of John alone to explain how to receive God’s free gift of eternal life and forgiveness.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 10:13 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Assurance of Forgiveness

Here is why we have assurance that our sins are forgiven.  Eternal life is a promise to “everyone who believes” and “God cannot lie.”  John 10:28 says, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”  Remember John 1:12 says, “As many as received Him to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to them that believe on His Name.”   It is a trust based on His “nature” of love, truth and justice.

If you have come to Him and received Christ you are saved.  John 6:37 says, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.”  If you haven’t asked Him to forgive you and accepted Christ, you can do that this very moment.

If you believe in some other version of Who Jesus is and some other version of what He has done for you than the one given in Scripture, you need to “change your mind” and accept Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world.  Remember, He is the only way to God (John 14:6).

Forgiveness

Our forgiveness is a precious part of our salvation.  The meaning of forgiveness is that our sins are sent away and God does not remember them anymore.  Isaiah 38:17 says, “You have cast all my sins behind Your back.”  Psalm 86:5 says, “For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.”  See Romans 10:13.  Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Jeremiah 31:39 says, “I will forgive their iniquity and their sin will I remember no more.”

Romans 4:7&8 says, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven and whose sins have been covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”  This is forgiveness.  If your forgiveness is not a promise of God then where do you find it, for as we have already seen, you can’t earn it.

Colossians 1:14 says, “In Whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.”  See Acts 5:30&31; 13:38 and 26:18.  All of these verses speak of forgiveness as part of our salvation.  Acts 10:43 says, “Everyone that believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name.”  Ephesians 1:7 states this also, “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

It is impossible for God to lie.  He is incapable of it.  It is not arbitrary.  Forgiveness is based on a promise.  If we accept Christ we are forgiven.  Acts 10:34 says, “God is not a respecter of persons.”  The NIV translation says, “God does not show favoritism.”

I want you to go to 1 John 1 to show how it applies to believers who fail and sin.  We are His children and as our human fathers, or the father of the prodigal son, forgives, so our Heavenly Father forgives us and will receive us yet again, and again.

We know that sin separates us from God, so sin separates us from God even when we are His children.  It does not separate us from His love, nor mean we are no longer His children, but it breaks our fellowship with Him.  You can’t rely on feelings here.  Just believe His word that if you do the right thing, confess, He has forgiven you.

We Are Like Children

Let’s use a human example.  When a little child disobeys and is confronted, he may cover it up, or lie or hide from his parent because of his guilt.  He may refuse to admit his wrongdoing.   He has thus separated himself from his parents because he is afraid they will discover what he has done, and afraid they will be angry with him or punish him when they find out.  The closeness and comfort of the child with his parents is broken.  He cannot experience the safety, the acceptance and the love they have for him.  The child has become like Adam and Eve hiding in the Garden of Eden.

We do the same thing with our heavenly Father.  When we sin, we feel guilty.  We are afraid He will punish us, or He may stop loving us or cast us away.  We don’t want to admit we are wrong.  Our fellowship with God is broken.

God doesn’t leave us, He has promised never to leave us.  See Matthew 28:20, which says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  We are hiding from Him.  We can’t really hide because He knows and sees everything.  Psalm 139:7 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?”  We are like Adam when we are hiding from God.  He is seeking us, waiting for us to come to Him for forgiveness, just as a parent just wants the child to recognize and admit his disobedience.  This is what our Heavenly Father wants.  He is waiting to forgive us.  He will always take us back.

Human fathers may cease to love a child, although that seldom happens.  With God, as we have seen, His love for us never fails, never ceases.  He loves us with everlasting love.  Remember Romans 8:38&39. Remember nothing can separate us from the love of God, we do not cease to be His children.

Yes, God hates sin and as Isaiah 59:2 says,” your sins have separated between you and your God, your sins have hidden His face from you.”  It says in verse 1, “the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear,” but Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

I John 2:1&2 tells the believer, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”   Believers can and do sin.  In fact I John 1:8&10 say, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” and “if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  When we do sin God shows us the way back in verse 9 which says, “If we confess (acknowledge) our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We must choose to confess our sin to God so if we don’t experience forgiveness it is our fault, not God’s.  It is our choice to obey God.  His promise is sure.  He will forgive us.  He cannot lie.

Job Verses God’s Character

Let’s look at Job since you brought him up and see what it really teaches us about God and our relationship to Him.  Many people misunderstand the book of Job, its narrative and concepts.  It may be one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible.

One of the first misconceptions is to assume that suffering is always or mostly a sign of God’s anger at a sin or sins we have committed.  Obviously that is what Job’s three friends were sure of, for which God eventually rebuked them.  (We’ll get back to that later.)  Another is to assume that prosperity or blessings are always or usually a sign of God being pleased with us.  Wrong.  This is man’s notion, a thinking which assumes we earn God’s kindness.  I asked someone what stood out to them from the book of Job and their reply was, “We don’t know anything.”  No one seems sure who wrote Job.  We don’t know that Job ever understood all of what was going on.  He also did not have Scripture, as we do.

One cannot understand this account unless one understands what is occurring between God and Satan and the warfare between the forces or followers of righteousness and those of evil.  Satan is the defeated foe because of the cross of Christ, but you could say that he has not been taken into custody yet.  There is a battle still raging in this world over people’s souls.  God has given us the book of Job and many other Scriptures to help us understand.

First, as I stated earlier, all evil, pain, sickness and disasters result from the entrance of sin into the world.  God doesn’t do or create evil, but He may allow disasters to test us.  Nothing comes into our lives without His permission, even correction or allowing us to suffer the consequences from a sin we committed.  This is to make us stronger.

God does not arbitrarily decide not to love us.  Love is His very Being, but He is also holy and just.  Let’s look at the setting.  In chapter 1:6, the “sons of God” presented themselves to God and Satan came among them.  The “sons of God” are probably angels, maybe a mixed company of those who followed God and those who followed Satan.  Satan had come from roaming around on earth.  This makes me think of I Peter 5:8 which says, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  God points out his “servant Job,” and here is a very important point.  He says Job is His righteous servant, and is blameless, upright, fears God and turns from evil.  Note that God is nowhere here accusing Job of any sin.  Satan basically says that the only reason Job follows God is because God has blessed him and that if God took those blessings away Job would curse God.  Here lies the conflict.  So God then allows Satan to afflict Job to test his love and faithfulness to Himself.  Read chapter 1:21&22.  Job passed this test.  It says, “In all this Job did not sin, nor blame God.”  In chapter 2 Satan again challenges God to test Job.  Again God allows Satan to afflict Job.  Job responds in 2:10, “shall we accept good from God and not adversity.”  It says in 2:10, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

Note that Satan could do nothing without God’s permission, and He sets the limits.  The New Testament indicates this in Luke 22:31 which says, “Simon, Satan has desired to have you.”  The NASB puts it this way saying, Satan “demanded permission to sift you as wheat.”  Read Ephesians 6:11&12.  It tells us to, “Put on the whole armor or God” and to “stand against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Be clear.  In all this Job had not sinned.  We are in a battle.

Now go back to I Peter 5:8 and read on.  It basically explains the book of Job.  It says, “but resist him (the devil), firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”  This is a strong reason for suffering, plus the fact that suffering is a part of any battle.  If we were never tried we would just be spoon fed babies and never become mature.  In testing we become stronger and we see our knowledge of God increase, we see Who God is in new ways and our relationship with Him becomes stronger.

In Romans 1:17 it says, “the just shall live by faith.”  Hebrews 11:6 says, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”  2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”  We may not understand this, but it is a fact.  We must trust God in all this, in any suffering He allows.

Since the fall of Satan (Read Ezekiel 28:11-19; Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:10.) this conflict has existed and Satan desires to turn every one of us from God.  Satan even tried to tempt Jesus to mistrust His Father (Matthew 4:1-11).  It started with Eve in the garden.  Note, Satan tempted her by getting her to question God’s character, His love and care for her.  Satan implied that God was keeping something  good from her and He was unloving and unfair.  Satan is always trying to take over God’s kingdom and turn His people against Him.

We must see Job’s suffering and ours in light of this “war” in which Satan is constantly trying to tempt us to change sides and separate us from God.  Remember God declared Job to be righteous and blameless.  There is no sign of an indictment of sin against Job thus far in the account.  God did not allow this suffering because of anything Job had done.  He was not judging him, angry with him nor had He stopped loving him.

Now the friends of Job, who obviously believe suffering is because of sin, enter the picture.  I can only refer to what God says of them, and say be careful not to judge others, as they judged Job.  God rebuked them.  Job 42:7&8 says, “After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right as my servant Job has.  So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves.  My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly.  You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.'”  God was angry with them for what they had done, telling them to offer up a sacrifice to God.  Note that God made them go to Job and ask Job to pray for them, because they had not spoken the truth about Him as Job had.

In all their dialog (3:1-31:40), God was silent. You asked about God being silent to you.  It really doesn’t say why God was so silent.  Sometimes He may be just waiting for us to trust Him, walk by faith, or really search for an answer, possibly in Scripture, or just be quiet and think about things.

Let’s look back to see what’s become of Job.  Job has been struggling with criticism from his “so called” friends who are determined to prove that adversity results from sin (Job 4:7&8).  We do know that in the final chapters God rebukes Job.  Why?  What does Job do wrong?  Why does God do this?  It seems as if Job’s faith had not been tested.  Now it is severely tested, probably more than most of us will ever be.  I believe that a part of this testing is the condemnation of his “friends.”  In my experience and observation, I think that judgment and condemnation form other believers is a great trial and discouragement.  Remember the word of God says not to judge (Romans 14:10).  Rather it teaches us to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13).

While God will judge our sin and it is one possible reason for suffering, it is not always the reason, as the “friends” implied.  Seeing an evident sin is one thing, assuming it is another.  The goal is restoration, not tearing down and condemnation.  Job becomes angry with God and His silence and begins to question God and demand answers.  He begins to justify his anger.

In chapter 27:6 Job says, “I will maintain my righteousness.”  Later God says Job did this by accusing God (Job 40:8).  In chapter 29 Job is doubting, referring to God’s blessing him in the past tense and saying God is no longer with him.  It’s almost as if he is saying God formerly loved him.  Remember Matthew 28:20 says this is not true for God gives this promise, “And I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  God never left Job and eventually spoke to him just as He did with Adam and Eve.

We need to learn to continue to walk by faith – not by sight (or feelings) and to trust in His promises, even when we can’t “feel” His presence and haven’t received an answer to our prayers yet.  In Job 30:20 Job says, “O God, you do not answer me.”  Now he is beginning to complain.  In chapter 31 Job is accusing God of not listening to him and saying he would argue and defend his righteousness before God if only God would listen (Job 31:35).  Read Job 31:6.  In chapter 23:1-5 Job is also complaining to God, because He is not answering.  God is silent – he says God is not giving him a reason for what He has done.  God does not have to answer to Job or us.  We really can’t demand anything from God.  See what God says to Job when God speaks.  Job 38:1 says, “Who is this who speaks without knowledge?”  Job 40:2 (NASB) says, “Wii the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?”  In Job 40:1&2 (NIV) God says that Job “contends,” “corrects” and “accuses” Him.  God reverses what Job says, by demanding that Job answer His questions.  Verse 3 says, “I will question you and you will answer me.”  In chapter 40:8 God says, “Would you discredit my justice?  Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”  Who demands what and of whom?

Then God again challenges Job with His power as his Creator, for which there is no answer.  God essentially says, “I am God, I am Creator, don’t discredit Who I am.  Don’t question My love, My justice, for I AM GOD, the Creator.”

God does not say Job was punished for a past sin but He does say, “Don’t question Me, for I alone am God.”  We are not in any position to make demands of God.  He alone is Sovereign.  Remember God wants us to believe Him.  It is faith that pleases Him. When God tells us He is just and loving, He wants us to believe Him.  God’s response left Job with no answer or recourse but to repent and worship.

In Job 42:3 Job is quoted as saying, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me to know.”  In Job 40:4 (NIV) Job says, “I am unworthy.”  The NASB says, “I am insignificant.”  In Job 40:5 Job says, “I have no answer,” and in Job 42:5 he says, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”  He then says, “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  He now has a much greater understanding of God, the correct one.

God is always willing to forgive our transgressions.  We all fail and don’t trust God sometimes.  Think of some people in Scripture who failed at some point in their walk with God, such as Moses, Abraham, Elijah or Jonah or who misunderstood what God was doing as Naomi who became bitter and how about Peter, who denied Christ.  Did God stop loving them?  No! He was patient, longsuffering and merciful and forgiving.

Discipline

It is true that God hates sin, and just like our human fathers He will discipline and correct us if we continue to sin.  He may use circumstances to judge us, but His purpose is, as a parent, and out of His love for us, to restore us to fellowship with Himself.  He is patient and longsuffering and merciful and ready to forgive.  Like a human father He wants us to “grow up” and be righteous and mature.  If He didn’t discipline us we would be spoiled, immature children.

He might also let us suffer the consequences of our sin, but He does not disown us or stop loving us.  If we respond correctly and confess our sin and ask Him to help us change we will become more like our Father.  Hebrews 12:5 says, “My son, do not make light of (despise) the Lord’s discipline and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”  In verse 7 it says, “for whom the Lord loves He disciplines.  For what son is not disciplined” and verse 9 says, “Moreover we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.  How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live.”  Verse 10 says, “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in His holiness.”

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

God disciplines us to make us stronger.  Though Job never denied God, he did distrust and discredit God and say God was unfair, but when God rebuked him, he repented and acknowledged his fault and God restored him.  Job responded correctly.  Others like David and Peter failed too but God restored them also.

Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, for He will have mercy upon him and He will abundantly (NIV says freely) pardon.”

If you ever fall or fail, just apply 1 John 1:9 and acknowledge your sin as David and Peter did and as Job did.  He will forgive, He promises.  Human fathers correct their children but they can make mistakes.  God does not.  He is all knowing.  He is perfect.  He is fair and just and He loves you.

Why God Is Silent

You raised the question of why God was silent when you pray.  God was silent when testing Job too.  There is no reason given, but we can only give conjectures.  Maybe He just needed the whole thing to play out to show Satan the truth or maybe His work in Job’s heart wasn’t finished yet.  Maybe we aren’t ready for the answer yet either.  God is the only One Who knows, we must just trust Him.

Psalm 66:18 gives another answer, in a passage about prayer, it says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me.”  Job was doing this.  He stopped trusting and began questioning.  This can be true of us also.

There can be other reasons also.  He may just be trying to get you to trust, to walk by faith, not by sight, experiences or feelings.  His silence forces us to trust and seek Him.  It also forces us to be persistent in prayer.  Then we learn that it is truly God Who gives us our answers, and teaches us to be thankful and appreciate all He does for us.  It teaches us that He is the source of all blessings.  Remember James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ”  As with Job we may never know why.  We may, as with Job, just recognize Who God is, that He is our Creator, not we His.  He is not our servant that we can come to and demand our needs and wants be met.  He does not even have to give us reasons for His actions, though many times He does.  We are to honor and worship Him, for He is God.

God does want us to come to Him, freely and boldly but respectfully and humbly.  He sees and hears every need and request before we ask, so people ask, “Why ask, why pray?”  I think we ask and pray so we realize He is there and He is real and He does hear and answer us because He does love us.  He is so good.  As Romans 8:28 says, He always does what is best for us.

Another reason we don’t get our request is that we don’t ask for His will to be done, or we don’t ask according to His written will as revealed in the Word of God.  I John 5:14 says, “And if we ask anything according to His will we know He hears us…we know that we have the request we have asked of Him.”  Remember Jesus prayed, “not my will but Yours be done.”  See also Matthew 6:10, the Lord’s Prayer.  It teaches us to pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Look at James 4:2 for more reasons for unanswered prayer.  It says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”  We simply don’t bother to pray and ask.  It goes on in verse three, “You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives (KJV says ask amiss) so you can consume it on your own lusts.”  This means we are being selfish.  Someone said we are using God as our personal vending machine.

Maybe you should study the topic of prayer from Scripture alone, not some book or series of human ideas on prayer.  We can’t earn or demand anything from God.  We live in a world that puts self first and we regard God as we do other people, we demand they put us first and give us what we want. We want God to serve us.  God wants us to come to Him with requests, not demands.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”  Micah 6:8 says, “He has showed you O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Conclusion

There is much to learn from Job.  Job’s first response to testing was one of faith (Job 1:21).  Scripture says we should “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Trust God’s justice, fairness and love.  If we question God, we are putting ourselves above God, making ourselves God.  We are making ourselves the judge of the Judge of all the earth.  We all have questions but we need to honor God as God and when we fail as Job later did we need to repent which means to “change our minds” as Job did, get a new perspective of Who God is – the Almighty Creator, and worship Him as Job did.  We need to recognize that it is wrong to judge God.  God’s “nature” is never at stake.  You cannot decide Who God is or what He should do.  You can in no way change God.

James 1:23&24 says God’s Word is like a mirror.  It says, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”  You have said God stopped loving Job and you.  It is evident that He did not and God’s Word says His love is everlasting and does not fail.  However, you have been exactly like Job in that you have “darkened His counsel.”  I think this means you have “discredited” Him, His wisdom, purpose, justice, judgments and His love.  You, like Job, are “finding fault” with God.

Look at yourself clearly in the mirror of “Job.”  Are you the one “at fault” as Job was?  As with Job, God always stands ready to forgive if we confess our fault (I John 1:9).  He knows we are human.  Pleasing God is about faith.  A god you make up in your mind isn’t real, only the God in Scripture is real.

Remember in the beginning of the story, Satan appeared with a great group of angels.  The Bible teaches that the angels learn about God from us (Ephesians 3:10&11).  Remember too, that there is a great conflict going on.

When we “discredit God,” when we call God unfair and unjust and unloving, we are discrediting Him before all the angels.  We are calling God a liar.  Remember Satan, in the Garden of Eden discredited God to Eve, implying He was unjust and unfair and unloving.  Job eventually did the same and so do we.  We dishonor God before the world and before the angels.  Instead we must honor Him.  Whose side are we on?  The choice is ours alone.

Job made his choice, he repented, that is, changed his mind about Who God was, he developed a greater understanding of God and who he was in relation to God.  He said in chapter 42, verses 3 and 5: “surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  Job recognized he had “contended” with the Almighty and that was not his place.

Look at the end of the story.  God accepted his confession and restored him and doubly blessed him.  Job 42:10&12 says, “The Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before…The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.”

If we are demanding of God and contending and “thinking without knowledge,” we too must ask God to forgive us and “walk humbly before God” (Micah 6:8).  This starts with our recognizing Who He is in relationship to ourselves, and believing the truth as Job did.  A popular chorus based on Romans 8:28 says, “He does all things for our good.”  Scripture says that suffering has a Divine purpose and if it is to discipline us, it is for our good.  I John 1:7 says to “walk in the light,” which is His revealed Word, the Word of God.

Why Can't I Understand the Word of God?

You ask, “Why can’t I understand the Word of God?  What a great and honest question.  First of all, you must be a Christian, one of God’s children to really understand Scripture.  That means you must believe that Jesus is the Savior, Who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  Romans 3:23 clearly says we all have sinned and Romans 6:23 says the penalty for our sin is death – spiritual death which means we are separated from God.  Read I Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53 and John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son (to die on the cross in our place) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  An unbeliever cannot truly understand the Word of God, because he does not yet have the Spirit of God.  You see, when we accept or receive Christ, His Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts and one thing He does is instruct us and help us understand God’s Word.  I Corinthians 2:14 says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

When we accept Christ God says we are born again (John 3:3-8).  We become His children and as with all children we enter into this new life as babies and we need to grow.  We do not come into it mature, understanding all God’s Word.  Wonderfully, in I Peter 2:2 (NKJB) God says, “as new born babies desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby.”  Babies start out with milk and gradually grow to eat meat and so, we as believers start out as babies, not understanding everything, and learn gradually.  Children don’t start knowing calculus, but with simple addition.  Please read I Peter 1:1-8.  It says we add to our faith.  We grow in character and maturity through our knowledge of Jesus through the Word.  Most Christian leaders suggest starting with a Gospel, especially Mark or John.  Or you could start with Genesis, the stories of great characters of faith like Moses or Joseph or Abraham and Sarah.

I’m going to share my experience.  I hope I helps you.  Don’t try to find some deep or mystical meaning from Scripture but rather just take it in a literal way, as real life accounts or as directions, such as when it says love your neighbor or even your enemy, or teaches us how to pray.  God’s Word is described as light to guide us.  In James 1:22 it says to be doers of the Word.  Read the rest of the chapter to get the idea.  If the Bible says pray – pray.  If it says give to the needy, do it.  James and the other epistles are very practical. They give us many things to obey.  I John says it this way, “walk in the light.”  I think that all believers find that understanding is hard at first, I know I did.

Joshua 1:8 and Palms 1:1-6 tell us to spend time in the Word of God and meditate on it.  This simply means to think about it – not fold our hands together and mutter a prayer or something, but think about it.  This brings me to another suggestion I find very helpful, study a topic – get a good concordance or go online to BibleHub or BibleGateway and study a topic like prayer or some other word or topic like salvation, or ask a question and look for an answer this way.

Here is something which changed my thinking and opened Scripture for me in a whole new way.  James 1 also teaches that the Word of God is like a mirror.  Verses 23-25 say, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” When you read the Bible, look at it as a mirror into your heart and soul.  See yourself, for good or bad, and do something about it.  I once taught a Vacation Bible School class called See Yourself in God’s Word.  It was eye opening.  So, look for yourself in the Word.

As you read about a character or read a passage ask yourself questions and be honest.  Ask questions such as:  What is this character doing?  Is it right or wrong?  How am I like him?  Am I doing what he or she is doing?  What do I need to change? Or ask: What is God saying in this passage?  What can I do better?  There are more directions in Scripture than we can ever fulfill.  This passage says to be doers.  Get busy doing this.  You need to ask God to change you.  2 Corinthians 3:18 is a promise.  As you look at Jesus you will become more like Him.  Whatever you are seeing in Scripture, do something about it.  If you are failing, confess it to God and ask Him to change you.  See I John 1:9.  This is the way you grow.

As you grow you will begin to understand more and more.  Just enjoy and rejoice in the light you have and walk in it (obey) and God will reveal the next steps like a flashlight in the dark.  Remember that God’s Spirit is your Teacher, so ask Him to help you understand Scripture and give you wisdom.

If we obey and study and read the Word we will see Jesus because He is in all the Word, from the beginning at creation, to the promises of His Coming, to the New Testament fulfillment of those promises, to His instructions to the church.   I promise you, or I should say God promises you, He will transform your understanding and He will transform you to be in His image – to be like Him.  Isn’t that our goal?  Also, go to church and hear the word there.

Here is a warning: don’t read a lot of books about man’s opinions of the Bible or man’s ideas of the Word, but read the Word itself.  Allow God to teach you.  Another important thing is to test everything you hear or read.  In Acts 17:11 the Bereans are commended for this.  It says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”  They even tested what Paul said, and their only measure was the Word of God, the Bible.  We should always test everything we read or hear about God, by checking it out with Scripture.  Remember this is a process.  It takes years for a baby to become an adult.

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

This is one of the most common questions asked of theologians.  Actually everyone experiences bad stuff at some time or another.  People also ask why do good things happen for bad people? I think that this whole question “begs” us to ask other very relevant questions such as, “Who is really good anyway?” or “Why do bad things occur at all?” or “Where or when did bad ‘stuff’ (suffering) start or originate?”

From God’s point of view, according to Scripture, there are no good or righteous people.  Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth, who continually does good and who never sins.”  Romans 3:10-12 describes mankind saying in verse 10, “There is none righteous,” and in verse 12, “There is no one who does good.”  (See also Psalms 14:1-3 and Psalms 53:1-3.) No one stands before God, in and of himself, as “good”.

That is not to say that a bad person, or anyone for that matter, can never do a good deed.  This is speaking of continuous behavior, not a single act.

So why does God say that no one is “good” when we see people as good to bad with “many shades of gray in between.”  Where then should we draw a line between who is good and who is bad, and what about the poor soul who is “on the line.”

God says it this way in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and in Isaiah 64:6 it says, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.”  Our good deeds are tainted by pride, self gain, impure motives or some other sin.  Romans 3:19 says that all the world has become “guilty before God.”  James 2:10 says, “Whoever offends in one point is guilty of all.”  In verse 11 it says “you have become a lawbreaker.”

So how did we get here as a human race and how does it affect what happens to us.  It all started with Adam’s sin and also our sin, because every person sins, just as Adam did.  Psalm 51:5 shows us we are born with a sinful nature.  It says, “I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  Romans 5:12 tells us that, “sin entered the world through one man (Adam).”  Then it says, “and death through sin.” (Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.”)  Death entered the world because God pronounced a curse upon Adam for his sin which caused physical death to enter the world (Genesis 3:14-19).  Actual physical death did not occur at once, but the process was begun.  So as a result, illness, tragedy and death happen to all of us, no matter where we fall on our “gray scale.”  When death entered the world, all suffering entered with it, all as a result of sin.  And so we all suffer, for “all have sinned.”  To simplify, Adam sinned and death and suffering came to all men because all have sinned.

Psalms 89:48 says, “what man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave.”  (Read Romans 8:18-23.)  Death happens to all, not just to those we perceive as bad, but also to those we perceive as good.  (Read Romans chapters 3-5 to understand God’s truth.)

In spite of this fact, in other words, despite our deserving death, God continues to send us His blessings.  God does call some people good, in spite of the fact that we all sin.  For instance, God said Job was upright. So what determines if a person is bad or good and upright in God’s eyes?  God had a plan to forgive our sins and make us righteous.  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  (See also Romans 5:16-18.)  Romans 5:4 tells us that, “Abraham believed God and it was credited (counted) to him as righteousness.”  Abraham was declared righteous by faith.  Verse five says that if anyone has faith like Abraham they too are declared righteous.  It is not earned, but given as a gift when we believe on His Son Who died for us. (Romans 3:28)

Romans 4:22-25 states, “the words, ‘it was credited to him’ were not for him alone but also for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.  Romans 3:22 makes it clear what we must believe saying, “this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe,” because (Galatians 3:13), “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written ‘cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'”  (Read I Corinthians 15:1-4)

Believing is God’s only requirement for our being made righteous.  When we believe we also are forgiven our sins.  Romans 4:7&8 says, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”  When we believe we are ‘born again” into God’s family; we become His children. (See John 1:12.)  John 3 verses 18 & 36 show us that while those who believe have life, those who do not believe are condemned already.

God proved that we would have life by raising Christ.  He is referred to as the firstborn from the dead.  I Corinthians 15:20 says that when Christ returns, even if we die, He will also raise us up.  Verse 42 says that the new body will be imperishable.

So what does this mean for us, if we are all “bad” in God’s sight and deserve punishment and death, but God declares those “upright” who believe in His Son, what effect does this have on bad things happening to “good” people.  God sends good things to all, (Read Matthew 6:45) but all men suffer and die.  Why does God allow His children to suffer?  Until God gives us our new body we are still subject to physical death and whatever may cause it.  I Corinthians 15:26 says, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

There are several reasons why God allows this.  The best picture is in Job, whom God called upright.  I have numbered some of these reasons:

#1.There is warfare between God and Satan and we are involved.  We have all sung “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but we forget so easily that the warfare is very real.

In the book of Job, Satan went to God and accused Job, saying that the only reason he followed God was because God blessed him with riches and health.  So God “allowed” Satan to test Job’s loyalty with affliction; but God put a “hedge” around Job (a limit to which Satan could cause his suffering). Satan could only do what God allowed.

We see by this that Satan cannot afflict us or touch us except with God’s permission and within limits.  God is always in control.  We also see that in the end, even though Job was not perfect, testing God’s reasons, he never denied God.  He blessed him beyond “all he could ask or think.”

Psalms 97:10b (NIV) says, “He guards the lives of His faithful ones.”  Romans 8:28 says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  This is God’s promise to all believers.  He does and will protect us and He always has a purpose.  Nothing is random and He always will bless us – bring about good with it.

We are in a conflict and some suffering may be a result of this.  In this conflict Satan tries to discourage or even stop us from serving God.  He wants us to stumble or quit.

Jesus once said to Peter in Luke 22:31, “Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded permission to sift you as wheat.”  I Peter 5:8 states, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.  James 4:7b says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you,” and in Ephesians 6 we are told to “stand firm” by putting on the full armor of God.

In all of these tests God will teach us to be strong and stand as a loyal soldier; that God is worthy of our trust.  We will see His power and deliverance and blessing.

I Corinthians 10:11 and 2 Timothy 3:15 teach us that the Old Testament Scriptures were written for our instruction in righteousness.  In Job’s case he may not have understood all (or any) of the reasons for his suffering and neither may we.

#2. Another reason, which is also revealed in Job’s story, is to bring glory to God.  When God proved Satan was wrong about Job, God was glorified.  In John 11:4 we see this when Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified.”  God often chooses to heal us for His glory, so we may become sure of His care for us or perhaps as a witness to His Son, so others might believe in Him.

Psalm 109:26&27 says, “save me and let them know that this is Thy hand; Thou, Lord, hast done it.”  Read also Psalm 50:15.  It says, “I will rescue you and you will honor me.”

#3. Another reason we may suffer is that it teaches us obedience.  Hebrews 5:8 says, “Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”  John tells us that Jesus always did the Father’s will but He actually experienced it as a man when He went to the garden and prayed, “Father, not my will but thine be done.”  Philippians 2:5-8 shows us that Jesus “became obedient to death, even death on the cross.” This was the Father’s will.

We can say we will follow and obey – Peter did that and then stumbled by denying Jesus – but we don’t really obey until we actually face a test (a choice) and do the right thing.

Job learned to obey when he was tested by suffering and refused to “curse God,” and remained faithful.  Will we continue to follow Christ when He allows a test or will we give up and quit?

When Jesus’ teaching became difficult to understand many disciples left – stopped following Him.  At that time He said to Peter, “will you also go away?”  Peter answered, “Where would I go; you have the words of eternal life.”  Then Peter declared Jesus to be God’s Messiah.  He made a choice.  This should be our response when tested.

#4. Christ’s suffering also enabled Him to be our perfect High Priest and Intercessor, understanding all our trials and life’s hardships by actual experience as a human being.  (Hebrews 7:25)  This is true for us also.  Suffering can make us mature and complete and enable us to comfort and intercede (pray) for others who are suffering as we have.  It is part of making us mature (2 Timothy 3:15).  2 Corinthians 1:3-11 teaches us about this aspect of suffering.  It says, “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have ourselves received from God.”  If you read this whole passage you learn a lot about suffering, as you can also from Job. 1). That God will show His comfort and care.  2). God will show you He is able to deliver you. and 3). We learn to pray for others.  Would we pray for others or for ourselves if there was no NEED?  He wants us to call on Him, to come to Him.  It also causes us to help each other.  It makes us care for others and realize others in the body of Christ care for us.  It teaches us to love each other, the function of the church, Christ’s body of believers.

#5. As seen in James chapter one, suffering helps us persevere, perfecting us and making us stronger.  This was true of Abraham and Job who learned they could be strong because God was with them to uphold them.  Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  How many times does Psalms say God is our Shield or Fortress or Rock or Refuge?  Once you experience His comfort, peace or deliverance or rescue in some trial personally, you never forget it and when you have another trial you’re stronger or you can share it and help another.

It teaches us to depend on God and not ourselves, to look to Him, not ourselves or other people for our help (2 Corinthians 1:9-11).  We see our frailty and look to God for all our needs.

#6. It is commonly assumed that most suffering for believers is God’s judgment or discipline (punishment) for some sin we have committed.  This was true of the church in Corinth where the church was full of people who continued in many of their former sins.  I Corinthians 11:30 states that God was judging them, saying, “many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep (have died).  In extreme cases God may take a rebellious person “out of the picture” as we say.  I believe this is rare and extreme, but it does occur.  The Hebrews in the Old Testament are an example of this.  Over and over they rebelled against God in not trusting Him and in not obeying Him, but He was patient and longsuffering.  He punished them, but accepted their return to Him and forgave them.  It was only after repeated disobedience that He severely punished them by allowing their enemies to enslave them in captivity.

We should learn from this.  Sometimes suffering is God’s discipline, but we have seen many other reasons for suffering.  If we are suffering because of sin, God will forgive us if we ask Him to.  It is up to us, as it says in I Corinthians 11:28&31, to examine ourselves.  If we search our hearts and find we have sinned, I John 1:9 says we must “acknowledge our sin.”  The promise is that He will “forgives us our sin and cleanse us.”

Remember that Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) and as with Job he wants to accuse us so he can cause us to stumble and deny God.  (Read Romans 8:1.)  If we have confessed our sin, He has forgiven us, unless we have repeated our sin.  If we have repeated our sin we need to confess it again as often as necessary.

Unfortunately, this is often the first thing other believers say if a person suffers.  Go back to Job.  His three “friends” relentlessly told Job he must be sinning or he wouldn’t be suffering.  They were wrong.  I Corinthians says in chapter 11, to examine yourselves.  We should not judge others, unless we are a witness to a specific sin, then we can correct them in love; neither should we accept this as the first reason for “trouble,” for ourselves or others.  We can be too quick to judge.

It also says, if we are sick, we can ask the elders to pray for us and if we have sinned it will be forgiven (James 5:13-15).  Psalm 39:11 says, “You rebuke and discipline men for their sin,” and Psalm 94:12 says, “Blessed is the man you discipline O Lord, the man you teach from your law.”

Read Hebrews 12:6-17.  He disciplines us because we are His children and He loves us.  In I Peter 4:1, 12&13 and I Peter 2:19-21 we see that discipline purifies us by this process.

#7. Some natural catastrophes can be judgments on people, groups or even nations, as seen with the Egyptians in the Old Testament.  Often we hear stories of God’s protection of His own during these events as He did with the Israelites.

#8. Paul presents another possible reason for troubles or infirmity.  In I Corinthians 12:7-10 we see that God allowed Satan to afflict Paul, “to buffet him,” to keep him from “exalting himself.”  God may send affliction to keep us humble.

#9. Many times suffering, as it was for Job or Paul, can serve more than one purpose.  If you read further in 2 Corinthians 12, it also served to teach, or cause Paul to experience God’s grace.  Verse 9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Verse 10 says, “For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

#10. Scripture also shows us that when we suffer, we share in Christ’s suffering,  (Read Philippians 3:10). Romans 8:17&18 teaches that believers “will” suffer, sharing in his suffering, but that those who do will also reign with Him.  Read I Peter 2:19-22

God’s Great Love

We know that when God allows us any suffering it is for our good because He loves us (Romans 5:8).  We know that He is also always with us so He knows about everything which occurs in our life.  There are no surprises.  Read Matthew 28:20; Psalm 23 and 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.  Hebrews 13:5 says, “He will never leave us or forsake us.”  Psalms says He encamps around us.  See also Psalm 32:10; 125:2; 46:11 and 34:7.  God doesn’t just discipline, He blesses us.

In the Psalms it is obvious that David and the other Psalmists knew that God loved them and surrounded them with His protection and care.  Psalm 136 (NIV) states in every verse that His love endures forever.  I found that this word is translated love in the NIV, mercy in the KJV and lovingkindness in the NASV.  Scholars say there is not one English word which describes or translates the Hebrew word used here, or should I say no adequate word.

I came to the conclusion that no one word could describe the divine love, the kind of love God has for us.  It seems it is an undeserved love (hence the translation mercy) which is beyond human comprehension, which is steadfast, enduring, unbreakable, undying and everlasting.  John 3:16 says it is so great He gave up His Son to die for our sin (Reread Romans 5:8).  It is with this great love that He corrects us as a child is corrected by a father, but by which discipline He desires to bless us.  Psalm 145:9 says, “the Lord is good to all.”  See also Psalm 37:13&14; 55:28 and 33:18&19.

We tend to associate God’s blessings with getting things which we want, like a new car or house –the desires of our hearts, often selfish wants.  Matthew 6:33 says He adds these to us if we seek His kingdom first.  (See also Psalm 36:5.)  Much of the time we beg for stuff which isn’t good for us – much like little children.  Psalm 84:11 says, “no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

In my quick search through Psalms I found many ways in which God cares for and blesses us. There are far too many verses to write them all out.  Look some up – you will be blessed.  He is Our:

1). Provider: Psalm 104:14-30 – He provides for all creation.

Psalm 36:5-10

Matthew 6:28 tells us He cares for the birds and lilies and says we are more important to Him than these.  Luke 12 tells about sparrows and says every hair on our head is numbered.  How can we doubt His love.  Psalm 95:7 says, “we…are the flock under His care.”  James 1:17 tells us, “every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above.”

Philippians 4:6 and I Peter 5:7 say we should not be anxious for anything, but we should ask Him to meet our needs because He cares for us.  David did this repeatedly as is recorded in the Psalms.

2). He is our: Deliverer, Protector, Defender.  Psalm 40:17  He rescues us; helps us when we are persecuted.  Psalm 91:5-7, 9&10; Psalm 41:1&2

3). He is our Refuge, Rock and Fortress.  Psalm 94:22; 62:8

4). He sustains us. Psalm 41:1

5). He is our Healer.  Psalm 41:3

6). He forgives us.  I John 1:9

7). He is our Helper and Keeper.  Psalm 121  (Who among us hasn’t complained to God or asked Him to help us locate something we misplaced – a very little thing – or begged Him to heal us from terrible sickness or had Him rescue us from some tragedy or accident – a very big thing. He cares about it all.)

8). He gives us peace.  Psalm 84:11; Psalm 85:8

9). He gives us strength.  Psalm 86:16

10). He saves from natural disasters.  Psalm 46:1-3

11). He sent Jesus to save us.  Psalm 106:1; 136:1; Jeremiah 33:11  We mentioned His greatest act of love.  Romans 5:8 tells us that this is how He demonstrates His love for us, for He did this while we were still sinners.  (John 3:16; I John 3:1, 16)  He loves us so much He makes us His children.  John 1:12

There are so many descriptions of God’s love in Scripture:

His love is higher than the heavens.  Psalm 103

Nothing can separate us from it.  Romans 8:35

It is everlasting.  Psalm 136; Jeremiah 31:3

In John 15:9 and 13:1 Jesus tells us how He loves His disciples.

In 2 Corinthians 13:11&14 He is called the “God of Love.”

In I John 4:7 it says, “love is from God.”

In I John 4:8 it says “GOD IS LOVE.”

As His beloved children He will both correct and bless us.  In Psalm 97:11 (NIV) it says “He gives us JOY,” and Psalm 92:12&13 says that “the righteous will flourish.”  Psalm 34:8 says, “taste and see that the LORD is good…how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”

God sometimes sends special blessings and promises for particular acts of obedience.  Psalm 128 describes blessings for walking in His ways.  In the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) He rewards certain behaviors.  In Psalm 41:1-3 He blesses those who help the poor.  So sometimes His blessings are conditional (Psalm 112:4&5).

In suffering, God wants us to cry out, asking for His help as David did.  There is a distinct Scriptural correlation between ‘asking” and “receiving.”  David cried to God and received His help, and so it is with us.  He wants us to ask so we understand it is He Who gives the answer and then to give Him thanks.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Psalm 35:6 says, “this poor man cried and the Lord heard him,” and verse 15 says, “His ears are open to their cry,” and “the righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  Psalm 34:7 says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me.”  See Psalm 103:1&2; Psalm 116:1-7; Psalm 34:10;  Psalm 35:10; Psalm 34:5; Psalm 103:17 and Psalm 37:28, 39&40.  God’s greatest desire is to hear and answer the cry of the unsaved who believe and receive His Son as their Savior and to give them eternal life (Psalm 86:5).

Conclusion

To conclude, all people will suffer in some way at some time and because we have all sinned we fall under the curse which eventually brings about physical death.  Psalm 90:10 says, “The length of our days is seventy years or eighty if we have strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow.”  This is reality.  Read Psalm 49:10-15.

But God loves us and wishes to bless all of us.  God does show His special blessings, favor, promises and protection on the righteous, to those who believe and who love and serve Him, but God causes His blessings (like rain) to fall on all, “the just and the unjust” (Matthew 4:45).  See Psalm 30:3&4; Proverbs 11:35 and Psalm 106:4.  As we have seen God’s greatest act of love, His best Gift and Blessing was the gift of His Son, Whom He sent to die for our sins (I Corinthians 15:1-3).  Read John 3:15-18 & 36 and I John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 again.)

God promises to hear the call (cry) of the righteous and He will hear and answer all who believe and call upon Him to save them.  Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  I Timothy 2:3&4 says He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Revelation 22:17 says, “Whosoever will may come,” and John 6:48 says He will “not cast them away.”  He makes them His children (John 1:12) and they come under His special favor (Psalm 36:5).

Simply put, if God rescued us from all illness or danger we would never die and we would remain in the world as we know it forever, but God promises us a new life and a new body.  I don’t think we would wish to remain in the world as it is forever.  As believers when we die we will instantly be with the Lord forever.  Everything will be new and He will create a new and perfect heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1, 5).  Revelation 22:3 says, “there shall no longer be any curse,” and Revelation 21:4 says that, “the first things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:4 also says, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”  Romans 8:18-25 tells us that all of creation groans and suffers waiting for that day.

For now, God doesn’t allow anything to happen to us that isn’t for our good (Romans 8:28).  God has a reason for whatever He allows, such as our experiencing His strength and sustaining power, or His deliverance.  Suffering will cause us to come to Him, causing us to cry (pray) to Him and look to Him and trust Him.

This is all about acknowledging God and Who He is.  It is all about His sovereignty and glory.  Those who refuse to worship God as God will fall into sin (Read Romans 1:16-32.).  They make themselves god.  Job had to acknowledge his God as Creator and Sovereign.  Psalm 95:6&7 says, “let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God.”  Psalm 96:8 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due HIS NAME.”  Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

Will We Be Judged Immediately After We Die?

The best passage to answer your question comes from Luke 16:18-31. Judgement is immediate, but it is neither final or complete immediately after we die. If we are believer in Jesus our spirit and soul will be in heaven with Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:8-10 says, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.) Unbelievers will be in Hades until the final judgment, and then go to the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:11-15) Believers will be judged for their works which they have done for God, but not for sin. (I Corinthians 3:10-15)  We won’t be judged for sins because we are forgiven in Christ. Unbelievers will be judged for their sins. (Revelation 20:15; 22:14; 21:27)

In John 3:5,15.16.17.18 and 36 Jesus says that those who believe that He died for them have everlasting life and those who do not believe are condemned already. I Corinthians 15:1-4 says, “Jesus died for our sins… that He was buried and that He was raised on the third day.” Acts 16:31 says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” 2 Timothy 1:12 says, “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”

Will We Remember Our Past Life After We Die?

In answer to the question of remembering “past” life, it depends on what you mean by the question.

1).        If you are referring to re-incarnation the Bible does not teach it.  There is no mention of coming back in another form or as another person in Scripture.  Hebrews 9:27 says that, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.”

2).        If you are asking whether we will remember our lives after we die, we will be reminded of all our deeds when we are judged for what we did during our lives.

God knows all – past, present and future and God will judge unbelievers for their sinful deeds and they will receive everlasting punishment and believers will be rewarded for their works done for the kingdom of God.  (Read John chapter 3 and Matthew 12:36&37.)  God remembers everything.

Considering that every sound wave is out there somewhere and considering that we now have “clouds” to store our memories, science is barely starting to catch up to what God can do.  No word or deed is undetectable to God.

Dear Soul,  

Do you have the assurance that if you were to die today you’ll be in the presence of the Lord in heaven? Death for a believer is but a doorway that opens into eternal life.

Those who fall asleep in Jesus will be reunited with their loved ones in heaven. Those you’ve laid in the grave in tears, you shall meet them again with joy! Oh, to see their smile and feel their touch… never to part again!

Yet, if you don’t believe in the Lord, you’re going to hell. There is no pleasant way to say it.

The Scripture says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” ~ Romans 3:23

 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” ~ Romans 10:9

 Don’t fall asleep without Jesus until you are assured of a place in heaven.

 Tonight, if you would like to receive the gift of eternal life, first you must believe in the Lord. You have to ask for your sins to be forgiven and put your trust in the Lord. To be a believer in the Lord, ask for eternal life. There’s only one way to heaven, and that’s through the Lord Jesus. That’s God’s wonderful plan of salvation.

 You can begin a personal relationship with Him by praying from your heart a prayer such as the following:

 “Oh God, I’m a sinner. I’ve been a sinner all of my life. Forgive me, Lord. I receive Jesus as my Savior. I trust Him as my Lord. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 If you have never received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, but have received Him today after reading this invitation, please let us know. We would love to hear from you. Your first name is sufficient.

Today, I made peace with God...

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