I just want to add that I looked around the site, but I never saw a topic about creating a intimate relationship with Jesus. One of the biggest misunderstandings is that people live according to do's and don'ts. They don't understand that Jesus wants a relationship with them and that Jesus is not just waiting for us to mess up so that He can point that out and send us to hell. People live constantly out of fear. Yes, the Bible does say that one must fear God but for some people that is the only way that they see God. Even I got into that trap for the past few weeks. I kept looking for things that I am doing wrong. I had this mindset of, and am still trying to overcome it, "Because I did this, I will go to hell" or "If I do not do everything, to the last detail, I will go to hell". I keep looking at things in detail. I keep having this mindset that one has to be so close to perfect or God will point out my faults and will send me straight to hell.
I am not saying that people should freely sin and feel justified in it, but they should not see it as another "religion." Rather they should work toward a relationship with Christ. Relationship is greater than a bunch of rules. One cannot fake praise and worship. Thus, one can witness whether a person truly has a relationship with Jesus. People who live under laws and always worry about them messing up tends to not feel the presence of God when they praise and worship God. There has been a great sermon today about this. There was some sort of event that was going on, and there was fun gospel music that was playing and all the teenagers were enjoying themselves. Then the pastor told another guy or guys, cannot really remember, that if you want to see where these teens are at with God, play praise and worship. Praise and worship came on and only a few teenagers were praising God. Others were just standing against the wall not knowing what to do. This is because they do not have a relationship with Jesus, they do not know him personally. This is where I got trapped.
Forgive me if I have not searched enough, but if you did not post such a topic, I believe you should since it is a great misconception that causes people to always live only with fear and do not understand that God truly loves us.
You are correct that God is looking to save people from sin.
- ""Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live"" (Ezekiel 18:23).
- "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).
- "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9).
But this should not be misconstrued to conclude that God won't condemn those who remain in their sins. "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Romans 11:22).
To see your current situation as permanent is to completely miss the teaching of God. People can and do change: for the better (Ezekiel 18:21-23) and for the worse (Ezekiel 18:24). God is not expecting perfection, but He does command us that His laws are to be kept. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Sin is going to happen, but the Christian doesn't accept staying sinful.
"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).
I teach the Bible and our relationship with Christ cannot be separated from the fact that Jesus is Lord.
- "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6:46-49).
- "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23).
- "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
- "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).
- "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3).
As an example, there is no command in the New Testament to play music to worship God. The command is consistently for Christians to sing praises to God.
- "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:19-20).
- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17).
The idea that a claim of a relationship trumps keeping God's rules is false. The passage cited earlier, Matthew 7:21-23, shows this to be false. In fact not following the commands of God is merely another way of saying you don't really believe God. This is the trap the Israelites fell into. "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:18-19). Instead of making up your own religion, why not accept what God has said?
"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).
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Thank you for such a good reply! I was not trying to say that having a relationship with Christ should justify our sin; but I was rather stating that as one learns and obeys God's will, one should enjoy doing so since you are building your relationship with Christ. One should not live by seeing and obeying God's will miserably.