Question:

I gave my life to Jesus when I was 7 years old because I was very interested in Jesus, When I did I was filled with the Holy Spirit and bawled my eyes out. I'm 23 years old and what a journey in between all those years. I watch a lot of sermons by Francis Chan, John Piper and Matt Chandler, but I'm still having a hard time understanding God's love and if I'm really saved. I still have urges to drink and party and even fornicate and fall into it sometimes. I don't understand how to get past all my pains of the past, and since I grew up in church it's a lot more difficult for me than an adult who gave their life to Christ for the first time. Salvation seems very contradictory in the Bible. I know Jesus Christ is Lord and he is the only way. I desire to live for him. I don't even know what to expect from church anymore either or what my role is because I know in life not everybody will genuinely be for you or like you. I also question if Satan is decieving my thinking. Help.


Answer:

There are so many issues raised in your note, I wish we could sit down and talk about them one-by-one. But let me touch on some of them.

Like many people, you assume that following Christ creates some sort of barrier between you and sin. Such are disturbed to realize that temptation still must be dealt with and sin is an ever present problem. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9). A person who thinks he is unable to sin or will be prevented from sinning denies the very thing that God says: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1). You have repeatedly fallen into sin because you haven't put up much of a fight -- mostly because you thought you were immune. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). You weren't careful about where you were going, and so you fell.

What being a Christian does is give you the weapons and means of protection to overcome Satan's efforts (Ephesians 6:10-18). Look at what is a Christian's defenses: truth, righteousness, preparation of the gospel, faith, and salvation. And the Christian's weapon is the Word of God -- the Bible.

I notice that religion to you is emotional. You thought you had the Spirit of God because you cried. The people you listen to also teach an emotion-based religion. But listen to how John described being a Christian: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). The Bible is the product of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the apostles, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 15:26). Those teachings were recorded for us. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (I Corinthians 2:10-13). Therefore, being led by the Spirit is not some vague emotional tug, but listening to the teachings of the Spirit, recorded in the Bible, and following those teachings.

The Spirit does not contradict himself. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (I Corinthians 14:33). Contradictions come from men not following after God. Take a look at What Saves a Person? Until you completely follow God, you are not saved.

Growing up in a religious home is not enough. You have to be personally committed for yourself and it must be a lifetime commitment. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14). You have the desire, now you need add to it the action. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:22-25).

I understand what you mean, but my thing is I know repentance is setting my mind on things above and turning. I also realize when I'm doing wrong. I know my relationship with God is not based off emotions; those change with the weather and I can never live off feelings. I can't do wrong and feel about it.

I guess my biggest struggle is balance right now. I wonder how much suffering and blessing should I expect. How can I be myself and also strive to be like Jesus? If I gave into temptation, am I really saved? So many questions like that because I know I'll never be perfect but the Bible clearly states what type of people will not enter heaven. On the flipside I don't want the fear of hell to be my driving force to live right. I understand that I was created to live for God and to praise Him. I wrestle with a lot of thoughts and expectancy.

Thanks for the response though.

I'm puzzled as to what you mean by "balance." A Christian strives to live righteously, knowing that at times he'll mess up and have to make changes to be a better person. A wicked person doesn't care whether he is doing right or wrong, so if he sins he makes no changes.

Staying in sin means you will not be saved so long as you remain in sin. Salvation has never been about never sinning. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8). Sin happens, but we don't abandon ourselves to it.

If being yourself means you put your desires first, you won't make it. Being a Christian means put Christ first. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

God doesn't promise a life free from hardships and suffering. You merely need to look at the life of Jesus or Paul and realize that the example is learning to overcome trials. Being a Christian is about changing our attitude toward hardship. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4).