Question:

I would like to ask you what you think is wrong with me. I know your handcuffed a bit by strictly email, but you seem to get a feel for people, so I'll describe where I am in life and I'll ask you why do you think I'm this way.

It seems like no matter what I research in Christianity I can't seem to cement my faith in it. I remain skeptical. After hearing hundreds of sermons, reading commentaries, looking at different doctrines, seeing the Passion of the Christ, and hearing what Jesus did for me, it has not regenerated me or caused me to have such a great appreciation for what was done that I stop sinning, or I should say stop habitually sinning, since all sin. I try to analyze for myself why do I do these things, and I truly think it has to be deep down inside I don't believe because why else would I do evil things, if I believed there truly was a God who punishes wicked rebellious people with eternal hell fire? You would have to be insane to do such a thing for momentary pleasure if you believed in someone who punishes with torment eternally. It's either that, orI abuse grace and believe I can always ask God to forgive me later.

I also analyze my sorrow over the sins I've committed, and I realized that all the sorrow and regret I have for sins I have done are all feelings of sorrow for the people I've hurt and wronged. It's never been about how I betrayed God or hurt God. It's a horizontal sorrow, not a vertical sorrow. Then I ask myself how can I feel sorry for hurting God, whom I have never seen, heard, or felt when I have wronged people I've known my whole life, who have loved me, helped me, cared for me, and spoken with every day?

I realize there's nothing spiritual about wanting to escape hell. There's nothing good in me. I have no thirst for righteousness. I'm a lustful perverted, bitter, lazy, angry, depressed, ungrateful, lying, selfish person. I've tried just about saying everything to God to get me to change, but I never do. I think God just knows that I'll always compromise and that I'm not sincere, even when I think I'm sincere, I've learned not to trust myself. Even when I believe I'm sincere because I never thought I would do things I regretted doing but returned to them like a dog to his vomit.

My wife wants to dedicate our baby tomorrow for Easter at a church somewhere. I don't feel comfortable doing it. I don't see the sense when we live wicked lives. Why should I dedicate a child to someone I'm not truly dedicated to. I said I'm tired of being a hypocrite. She says she wants to try to do better and doesn't just want to quit like me.

I know so many people just like me, living just like me, or even worse who have no problem living the way they are and claiming to be "Christian." I feel like the saying, "Ignorance is bliss," are some of the truest words ever spoken. I think I was better off staying ignorant like them and not learning more of the truth of the Bible. I've heard that greater condemnation comes upon people who know more about the Bible and don't change than those who were just ignorant of their sins.

This is never going to work out. I try to stop sinning out of the fear of hell. It's going to have to be out of a deep love for God, which I do not possess and do not know how to obtain. I've heard the Gospel for years and time and time again already. I don't have a love for God. I have a love for things of this world, but none for God.

Why in the world would God save me from dying when I was a infant? I had really high fevers my mom says and the doctors said there was nothing left that they could do. She said I sort of died, and they shocked me back to life. I'm thinking to myself, why wouldn't God just take me when I was an infant? Let me go to heaven; instead of letting me become who I am? Am i just a vessel for wrath? Am i like the Calvinist believe, just predestined for this? I can't believe. Instead of finding peace and joy in God, it's made me salivate over the thought of never have existed, or being a insect or an animal who doesn't face judgement. What peace that must be.

I was better off not knowing this stuff and enjoying the short time we have in life than to always be thinking about the torment that might exist in hell, if the God of the Bible is real. This is all I have to left to say to God in prayer. You tell me if it's wrong, or if I should pray differently: "God, I realize I am completely wicked and I love sin. I am a bad person. Please changed my heart. Put a new one there. Change my mind and my thoughts. Give me a love for you, and give me what you ask from me. Grant me saving faith and repentance. Shape me and mold me. Grant me and my family your salvation. I can't save me. Only you can God. Do a work in my family and my heart. Amen." Now I have prayed like this before and did not see a regeneration in my life. So if nothing happens, I don't know what to say.

I realize this is a lengthy, sloppy letter full of questions, so I'll ask you for your best shot at helping me through this email. May God direct your words that you respond to me with and do a mighty work, I hope. Thank you for your time.


Answer:

It seems to me that you have no real difficulty accepting that God is real. If such doubt exists, it is more in reaction to your frustration with not getting the results you expected. It is clear that you realize there is a moral standard to which you come up short and that your life would improve if you could get your life to conform to that standard. It appears to me that the problem lies in what you think faith and salvation are.

I can understand the mix up. The things taught in the denominational world are so varied and so watered down that the true Gospel message is distorted. To make progress for the moment, I'm going to make some assumptions. You might not be as certain about the assumptions as I am, and I sure there will be questions to address, but I need to start somewhere and I want to start at a point where I can get your questions without having to write a book as the introduction. I'm assuming that you accept God's existence and that the Bible is God's message to mankind.

It is common for people to talk about faith as if it is a feeling. Since you don't feel anything in particular, you have concluded that you don't have faith. Actually faith is another word for trust. You choose to place your trust in certain people, usually based on evidence that you've seen. I put my money in a bank, because I trust it will be available when I need it. It isn't a feeling that I have about the bank. I'm basing it on the history of the banking industry in this country.

So when God said, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6), He is saying that if you can't trust God's existence or God's promises, then you won't make it. Each apparent setback will cause you to give up. It is similar to the would-be investor who doesn't trust the stock market. He puts his money in and while it is going well, he is happy and apparently confident, but as soon as it goes down, he panics and pulls everything out. Such a person tends to lose in the long run. People who don't have confidence in God also tend to lose in the long run.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is based on evidence. It deals with what you can't see. You read about, say the miracles in the Bible, and do you conclude that they came from God, or were they a trick, or were they a coincidence? You can't see the cause, but your faith is what you trust was the cause. It is no different than a discussion about origins. We see the world around us, we see evidence, and then we make a conclusion about the cause. Evolutions have faith that it was blind chance that made this world. They can't prove it because they can't show it happening, so chance is what they put their trust in. It isn't a feeling, it is a choice. Christians put their trust in God creating the world because that makes mores sense to them (and it matches the evidence better too).

I know you want that faith, but it appears you don't want the responsibility of making that choice. You keep asking God to make it for you. But God is looking for people to make up their own minds. Back in Joshua's day, Joshua issued this challenge: "Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15). God makes the offer, but the choice is yours.

While you avoid making the obvious commitment, you leave yourself as ripe pickings for Satan. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8). Having faith doesn't mean you have all the answers, it doesn't mean you won't have questions, but there has to be a foundation from which you can stand. Without a foundation, as you discovered, there is nothing to keep you from trying various sins -- only to learn there are reasons God said those things are sinful.

Despite what the world thinks, there is nothing wrong with starting out by fearing God. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). Fear isn't the end, but it certainly is a good start. A fear of hell means you believe God really does exist and that He is going to judge you by your deeds. Love then eventually replaces the fear as you realize how much better your life is now that you are serving God. Love is something you grow into. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (I John 4:18). This is not "perfect" in the sense of without a flaw, but "perfect" as in maturing. As your love matures, it drives out the fear. When a person fears, it just means there is still room for growth.

You don't like your life as it is, and I don't blame you. You know you have been bad. So, what I'm asking is if you will be a man and make a man's choice to change. There are going to rough spots. Everything isn't going to go smoothly. But if you will commit your trust to God, I can assure you that in the long run your life is going to get so much better that you'll kick yourself for not starting sooner.