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Sin, Faith and Suffering III

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Question #1:

I do something that helps with the temptations, when I get that vile itch, you know the one, I often imagine some cultist trying to get me to do said thing, or in the case of worship, the "god", and then play out destroying them in my head. I'm worried this may be witchcraft somehow...forgot if I already asked this, but what do you think? I do my best to keep in mind this has no actual effect on anything other than therapeutic effect, because if I believed it actually had some supernatural effect, it definitely would be witchcraft.

Response #1:

In terms of "witchcraft", anything bad/evil/wrong that happens which is not of the material realm comes from Satan his demons. If a person affects to have some control over that, they really don't know what they are talking about. But getting anywhere close to demons is very dangerous and never ends well.

You have the right to say "no!" in your mind and in your heart. It does take some practice getting into the habit of rejecting false things and kicking them out of your thinking, but it is possible.

Keeping you in my prayers for spiritual growth.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Doc...please tell me, how do I properly resist these temptations I have? They seem so strong to the point that they're irresistible a lot of the time...please help me.

Response #2:

The first step in resisting temptation is to take personal responsibility. To recognize that one's own responsibility AND ability to do or not do whatever it is we are talking about (sin of omission or commission).

Once we recognize that we are responsible and acknowledge that we have free will, the image of God, and do have the right to say to 'no' to what's wrong and 'yes' to what's right, the next step as believers is to remember that we have the Holy Spirit – God – dwelling within us. So while fighting temptation is often difficult through sheer willpower, and all the much more so if we have made many bad decisions in the past and broken down our self-discipline and opened up pathways for a particular temptation so that it has become habitual, the Holy Spirit is the Great Helper who aids us . . . if we are willing to be aided. The way He works is this: He does not force us. But He does remind us and convict us of what is right and what is wrong, and He does help us and empower us when and if we decide to do whatever it takes to go with the right and flee from the wrong.

(16) But I tell you, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out what the flesh lusts for. (17) For what the flesh lusts for is contrary to the Spirit's will, and the Spirit is opposed to what the flesh lusts for. Since these are diametrically opposed to each other in this way, what you are doing is not what you yourself choose. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; (20) idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; (21) drunkenness, orgies – and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, uprightness, faith, (23) humility, self-control. Against such things, there is no Law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its weaknesses and its lusts. (25) If we live because of the Spirit, let us also walk by means of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25

As this passage makes clear, believers are either walking in the Spirit -- under His influence -- or under the influence of the flesh. If and when we find ourselves in the second condition (as we all do from time to time), we need to confess our sins, change our mind about our bad courses of action, and heed the Spirit's witness to our consciences, making a point of relying on His power and not on our own power. We have to have faith to do this. We have to step out of the boat, so to speak, confident that, God being with us, we won't sink.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Romans 7:15-20 NKJV

Paul wrote the above about unbelievers (based upon his experience before salvation), but it is also true of "carnal Christians", that is, Christians who are not walking in fellowship with the Lord because of unconfessed sin in their lives. If we are not confessing our sins, we will not be restored to fellowship; if that is our situation, try as we might, it will prove impossible to control the sin nature. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and only if we are giving ourselves over to His leadership, trusting Him, following Him.

We all stumble and fall, and for those recovering from a long journey away from the Lord, getting to the point where the above is second nature does take some time -- but it is not only possible: it is also absolutely essential to grow spiritually. For more on this please see:

BB 5: "[the Spirit's] Empowerment of the Believer"

BB 3B:  Hamartiology

Sin, Faith and Suffering II

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dear Prof, greetings to you. I know the Lord is keeping you in every aspect of your life and I thank Him for you.

I'm sorry I have not written to you earlier.


I should have more of a grateful heart cos after this episode I should know that there is nothing God cannot do especially when brethren are praying and indeed I'm grateful to you and the brethren. I feel privileged but I'm just listless right now.

I'm trying to get out of this state and I know I will ( I must!) with your counsel and prayer so you need to know what's going on.

He has blessed me in my family. So why am I not happy Prof?

Thanx for accommodating me sir.

Response #3:

I'm distressed to hear this news, my friend! You are suffering the troubles of Job – and you are exhibiting equal patience. For that I am very grateful to the Lord, but I am of course praying for your swift relief. I've updated your prayer request on the site (please let me know if you wish it to be edited in any way). We do know that the plan of God is perfect and that He works everything out for the good for those who love Him – and that certainly includes you! But when "bad things" happen to us, it is hard to pull back far enough sometimes to see them in the divine context. And it is also easy for someone who is not experiencing the same or the same level of trouble to mention this than it is for the person "under the gun" to keep persevering in spite of the pressure. The "why?" is always difficult to answer with specificity. Preparation for the Tribulation? Could well be. But as we grow, we get better at not asking "why?" and instead trusting the Lord more and more aggressively even when we have no idea of the "why?". He knows – and that becomes (ideally) good enough for us. It doesn't reduce the pain, I'm sure, but it is good to remember that God never tests believers beyond what they can actually bear (1Cor.10:13). So the fact that this testing you are undergoing would indeed be unbearable for most Christians is a clear indication of your considerable spiritual growth. I am personally very impressed at how much you have been able to take and yet hold course spiritually.

As to happiness, when we are under severe pressure or experiencing severe pain, it is not normal and not expected for us to be "joyous" about that (link). But if we can maintain our peace in Christ in spite of it, eventually the pressure and pain will pass and we can go back to experiencing joy in the Lord. Our joy, after all, is waiting for us in New Jerusalem. Nothing in this world can stop us from getting there – except cowardly defection. But we who love Jesus Christ more than life "are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb.10:39 NKJV). So even as we may at times have to hold on for dear life to the peace that is inherently ours by virtue of belonging to Jesus Christ, we can also keep our focus not on the here and now but on that tomorrow which no one can take away from us. On that day, none of this will matter – except the victories we won by trusting Jesus Christ and doing what He wanted us to do in spite of all opposition. This is the stuff of great reward.

(5) He who, in spite of weeping, goes forth in resolution, carrying seed to sow, (6) will doubtless return rejoicing, bringing in his sheaves.
Psalm 126:5-6

Don't be too hard on yourself, my friend. I promise to keep you in prayer about this all the way to the glorious end. [*please say a prayer for our brother]

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

I have a question about Hebrews chapter ten. Is willful sin committed "before" salvation forgiven even though we knew Christ died for our sins but didn't rely on him for salvation? Thanks.

Response #4:

Good to make your acquaintance.

First thing to note is that all sin is sin, and that any sin, no matter how ignorant and seemingly innocent is sufficient to land a person in the lake of fire. The good news is that Christ died for ALL sin, so that no one is condemned for personal sins. Those condemned are so because they have rejected Jesus Christ. That is what Hebrews is all about, namely, trying to convince backsliding believers to stop going down that dangerous road, because at the end of the road of turning away from the Lord is eventual apostasy, that is, the complete loss of faith that results in a person reverting to unbeliever status (please see the link: "Apostasy and the Sin unto Death").

Most people who ask me about Hebrews chapters 6 or 10 are believers who have in the past or are at present struggling with some sin which is particularly disturbing to them. While it's not a great place to be, it's a terrible mistake to assume that guilt feelings equal loss of salvation. If you believe in Jesus Christ, His perfect person, God and man, and His perfect work, dying for all of our sins on the cross, then you are a believer, and all believers are saved (e.g., Jn.3:18; see the link also).

Here is portion of a detailed explanation of this passage you ask about (do feel free to write back with specific questions):

[from Faith, Forgiveness, Salvation II] My translation of Hebrews 10:26:

For if we continue to sin willfully (i.e., arrogantly) after having received full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains any sacrifice applicable to [such] sins, but [only] the terrifying expectation of judgment and fiery retribution waiting to devour those who oppose [the Lord].
Hebrews 10:26-27

Comment: A sacrifice is a Levitical sacrifice. Jesus had by this time long since died for the sins of the world, making the shadows of the temple rite no longer appropriate for believers to engage in – because they proclaimed a suffering Messiah yet to come, and thereby implied that either Christ was not the One or that His sacrifice had not been effective – God forbid! So this passage is merely letting these people know that their animal sacrifices are not going to be accepted to forgive such arrogance – indeed, these are exactly the problem! These people wanted to have it both ways, namely, to be saved but also to pretend to be "good Jews" and not bear the reproach of Christ. That was an impossible situation, and Paul lets them know that if they continue, no good will come of it. As explained before, these people are believers – in spite of their shameful conduct – but Paul, out of love, warns them in the Spirit that what awaits them if they persist is "the sin unto death" whereby a believer who disgraces the Lord is taken out of this life in a very painful way – but not with loss of salvation even so (see the link).

Here's an extended paraphrase of the passage, expanded for instructional purposes:

v.26: Now that we have accepted the truth of the gospel by believing in Jesus as God's true sacrifice for our sins, if, in contrast to associating with other Christians as we should (v.25), we instead insist on continuing our association with the unbelievers in Jerusalem and committing the sin of sacrificing-after-the-cross as they are doing, consider that since Jesus has already been sacrificed for us no further sacrifice of the Law can have any effect in removing our sins.

v.27: All that is left is judgment for those who oppose God in this matter of denying Christ and denying the Father's sacrifice of Him by their actions in so doing.

v.28: You should be able to figure this out by considering the Law which Christ has actually fulfilled; for even violators of the Law which was merely a set of shadows anticipating Christ nevertheless were put to death.

v.29: Since even violators of the Law of ritual which spoke of Christ were put to death, how much more do you not think that God will judge those whose violations give offense not to the Law but to the reality, namely, Jesus Christ Himself! For by participating in the blood-ritual which spoke of Him not yet come, you are saying what He actually did is of no effect and no importance to you. When you participate in these sacrifices, therefore, you are trampling Jesus underfoot! You are pronouncing His true blood – the death that makes the true, New Covenant effective – unclean! You are casting aside the genuine sacrifice by which you were actually redeemed from death and substituting the inferior shadows so as to imply He died for nothing! You are outraging the Holy Spirit who witnessed the truth of the gospel to you when you believed! And you are in danger of falling into apostasy if you keep this up – or more likely God's terminal judgment of the sin unto death!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

No matter how much I try to confess, I just immediately go back to the bad things...please tell me how to truly turn away from these things. My confession to the Lord means nothing if I can't actually stop.

Response #5:

The Lord also has ways to help you. It's called "divine discipline". If you examine your life carefully, you will see that many of your troubles are the result of being disciplined – disciplined by a loving Father who wants to help you (Hebrews 12:1ff.; and see the link: "the fact and purpose of divine discipline").

Just as a good parent would spank a child who ran out into the street without looking when told not to – and would then spank him/her vigorously if they did it again – so our Heavenly Father disciplines us to help us correct our behavior when we prove unable to do it ourselves. We all need that from time to time, especially early on – just like small children do. But the sooner we grow up spiritually, the sooner we can begin to leave serious "spanking" behind as we learn to police ourselves better.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

I feel like I don't have it in my heart to return to the Lord...why though? It's only the right thing to do. How do I overcome this again? Why do I backslide only for what makes me feel good?

Response #6:

Clearly, doing the wrong things hasn't made you "feel good" – not for very long, anyway, since you are clearly distressed by your actions and unhappy as a result.

Behavioral scientists sometimes do experiments with rats whereby they give them access to substances such as cocaine. King rat in such cases dominates the cocaine tube, because he can and because it makes him feel good – until he loses his balance and his bearings and then gets beat up and demoted by the other rats and has a terrible hangover. Guess what happens when king rat sobers up? He reasserts his authority over the others . . . and he NEVER goes near the cocaine tube ever again. Are rats really that much smarter than people? Apparently so. But even people can learn – although it might take us a few tries – that doing things that have hurt us and harmed us and made us feel bad ought to be avoided in the future, permanently. You don't need to be a believer or have the Holy Spirit to understand this – but it sure doesn't hurt!

In days past, there was a technique for teaching people swimming which involved a lot of laying on the beach and practicing strokes, e.g., before even entering the water. But there was another technique as well: throw the young boy off of the dock. At that point, he will either "sink or swim". Since we all have natural flotation (some more than others, lol), as long as we don't panic, we will probably survive that blunt-force approach just fine (even if it gives us a nervous moment or two).

My dad did it differently. He took me into the water and held me up to let me get used to it and told me to hold my breath, then he gently let go so I could see that I was floating just fine. Once we have that confidence, swimming is no problem.

As a Christian, you have the best flotation imaginable. You have the Holy Spirit. You just have to trust God that He is good and will not let you sink. Then you should be able to swim just fine. And since you have experience of that already, just remember that your heavenly Father is standing right there with you, ready to keep you from sinking in case you do panic. It's all about trusting God.

Time to start swimming . . . and to have some faith that God is not going to let you sink.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:28-31 NKJV

Let's endeavor to be men of great faith – not little to no faith.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I'm really enjoying your recent post about Peters epistle about spiritual growth. Currently reading about the Day of the Lord.

It is tough here and I am being worn down. I am surrounded at the moment by women in relationships with abusive men but I've been told tonight that it's just me and my "vivid" imagination. Something weird is happening to me regularly...people ask me for help and say they are really struggling. I try to help them but then they immediately attack me and deny that they ever needed any help in the first place?! Is this the enemy attacking me through them? This has happened to me so many times now, it has really worn me down to the point that I don't want to help anyone at all and feel like avoiding people but maybe that is the enemy trying to throw me off spiritual growth and pursuing ministry?

I have felt very overwhelmed by what I can see around me. Aside from ___'s destructive dynamics, other marriages in my family are starting to crack and fail. I am seeing people who have never really drunk before developing huge drinking addictions and it has really alarmed me!

Abusers start with abusive speech. Inevitably this leads to physical violence. They start on animals first, then they turn on their spouses and then the children. If a person gets to the point were they are hurting animals then they are already on a point of no return. They believe that they are "god" and can do whatever they want and are easy for Satan and his fallen angels to influence and eventually control.

When I was researching the Moonies, the worst abuses happened at the secondary location when the initiates were moved to a remote farmhouse in the country away from watchful eyes.

I feel such a failure at the moment. It isn't even the Tribulation yet and I feel dog tired and weary as though those holidays I had never happened.

I also have to accept that all these people around me with their sins and their struggles all have free will, the image of God. I have no control over that and I shouldn't want it. It is hard enough wrestling with my own sin nature to obey and follow the Spirit.

I will continue to study and grow, pray and witness the life to people. I can only do that though by continually following the Spirit myself so they see the difference between the light in me which is of the light from the Spirit and the darkness within themselves and in the world.

[omitted about a nasty shock when engaging in ministry]

I have really been humbled by this and truly see my own limitations and own futility. I know that my only hope and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.

In Jesus

Response #7:

I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a rough time of it, my friend.

It was clear from the beginning that the ministry path you are attempting to engage in is not an easy one. I think you were/are right to give your own spiritual growth first priority.

The "oxygen mask" analogy was a good one. Since you're trying to help people not drown, the life-saving analogy is to the point as well. In life-saving, they teach you that even wonderful people behave animalistically and instinctively when drowning and can't help themselves from doing so. If able, they will use YOU as a life-preserver with the result that you both drown. So you are taught not to approach the person in distress directly, but instead to dive down under them and grab a flailing hand from behind, twist the arm to bring them parallel to the surface, and begin towing them towards safety. At that point, since they are no longer drowning, the person will usually calm down and you can move into a better rescue position, shifting them onto your hip so you can "crawl" them home more quickly and efficiently. But even then you have to be ready to brace and dunk them if they have another panic attack – otherwise they will break free and you could find yourself in the life-preserver role then too.

It's not a perfect analogy but I think it serves to illustrate what you are finding out. First, that whether they have an excuse or not, people in desperate need usually do not behave as we should like them too, and definitely not like mature Christians – even if before we close the range they are putting up a good show of vulnerable neediness which motivates our compassion. Secondly, we ought not to expect such people to be grateful for our help – even though they ought to be grateful for our help. In fact, if we are not careful, we may find ourselves get drowned along with them. And unlike a water rescue which is a short duration thing usually, some of these spiritual rescues can go on for a long time. And unlike a water rescue where we essentially take control, in a spiritual rescue those we are trying to help are often just as likely to fight us all the way too, but in ways we can only hope to cope with through persuasion rather than the physical coercion of the analogy – as in throwing someone a life-vest from a boat and trying to get them to calm down and put it on correctly – only much more complicated, involved and time-consuming in the spiritual realm: getting them to give attention to the truth, believe it and apply it. And while the techniques of water rescue are fairly straight forward and can be taught to any strong swimmer, practiced and perfected in a couple of weeks, spiritual rescue of the type you are attempting to get good at will differ with every individual case.

The truth is, however, that the life-preserver we are attempting to get these poor people to grab hold of, never changes, only the techniques and tactics that we may use in the endeavor. Also, while physical water rescue will have a high percentage of success for a strong prepared swimmer (as a lifeguard, Ronald Reagan saved 78 people from drowning and never lost one), we need to be satisfied with putting in a good effort for the Lord. He is the One we are doing this for, He wants those people saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9), but they have to WANT to be saved. Very often, in the case of those in spiritual distress, they do want the distress to stop, but they very often are also unwilling to accept the only life-preserver that will do the job, namely, the truth of the Word of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

That is where our dilemma comes in, but it really is only one feature of the ministry we've been given. Getting hung up on results is a HUGE mistake and explains in great part how evangelicalism has often gone astray. For evangelicals, the "saving" is "bringing" people to faith in Christ. And from listening to many of them you would think that their crusades and witnessing efforts are what have done the trick rather than the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Evangelicals love to count up "how many saved?" But in fact of course only the Lord knows that. Many who are "saved" via "crusades" and willful efforts of that sort will not end up as part of the Body of Christ for want of perseverance. And evangelicaldom which is heavy on "the gospel" (the entry part, anyway), is light on teaching the rest of the truth about the kingdom which would give new believers the spiritual wherewithal to persevere.

That is where a ministry like yours comes in (mine too at times). The Lord may place these people in our way in order to help them where the church-visible has obviously not. To help them save their faith from drowning. But what we have to remember at all times is that THEY have to really want to be helped in a godly way, not in the way they may prefer. And WE have to remember that this is their choice, and that only the Lord and only the Holy Spirit can actually accomplish this rescue: we are just the visible means of implementing it.

Then too, the evil one is not pleased with these events. The devil is not above sending problematic people our way, people who are not believers in distress but actually on his team. We have to learn where to engage and where not to. We have to figure out when to cut our losses when it becomes clear that we are not going to be able to do person X any good unless or least not until he/she comes to a serious change of heart (something beyond our ability to effect – we give them the truth but it is their responsibility to accept it). In short, we have to know where to draw the line between patience and prudence, between sympathy and realism. We're not likely to be perfect at this immediately nor ever, really. But we can expect to get better at it as we grow ourselves and as we gain in experience.

In short, as we're splashing around in the water, we have to keep our wits about us. We have to remember what all this is really about: the spiritual warfare raging around us and our place in it; we have to remember what our particular role really is: ministering the truth which is empowered by the Spirit and must be accepted by the ones we're trying to help for our efforts to be successful; and we have to remember who it is we are working for: this is all about Jesus Christ. If those we are trying to help disappoint us, we have to remember that it is Him they are rejecting, not us.

In other words, we have to learn how to be professional about all this, doing things Christ's way and leaving all the second-guessing to Him, taking our emotions out of it as much as possible. Sure, we have feelings, but this sort of personal ministry is by nature a "feelings intensive" environment even more than life generally, and those "feelings" aren't going to help us make good decisions in all this. So we have to learn put them aside when need be.

A lifeguard who's had a few people try to drown him/her is no doubt wary about future encounters. But to the extent that this helps him/her hone their technique, that is not a bad thing in the long run.

You are fighting the fight, my friend. You have a right to feel good about that. And you will get better at it with God's help as you grow in the Word. You'll never be able to save everyone, but with perseverance and experience you'll begin to figure out who is most likely to profit from your help – and who is a dead end mistake from the start.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Are these times worse than when the Book of Acts were written? They had real believers then didn't they? Sometimes lack of physical contact with real believers pushes me right to the edge of sanity.

I have been reading Lifton's seminal book on the "Thought Reform" that was used by Mao Tse- Tung's communist China on prisoners. What they did is used insults and criticism with isolation, food and sleep deprivation and chains on hands and feet to force them to confess "sins" against "the people" they hadn't committed. Eventually people confessed whatever they were told to do and denounced friends and loved ones as they were broken down as a person. They were trained to reject themselves totally as a rank and wretched "Imperialist". As soon as they were totally submissive, then they were given some of their freedom back. They associated total submission with increased freedom. It was at that point they were indoctrinated with communism. If they ever criticised it, privileges were removed and they were isolated in chains again. So it becomes a pure survivalist mentality. What is chilling is that at the end they not only play lip service to communism (as lip service is also punished as not being "sincere" enough) they actually embrace it and really believe it is true.

The Moonies (Unification Church) uses exactly the same methods albeit in a more subtle way and without the literal chains on hands and feet. I thought it interesting that one of the fake charities they use as a cover is called the Creative Community Project which is basically the initials CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Also one of the lead Moonies worked under Chairman Mao on thought reform so that is how the Moonies got their highly sophisticated methods.

Ultimately this is Satan behind all this. Satan wants to be like the Most High. So he creates his own "born again" experience. As he does not have the Holy Spirit in "his ministry", he instead uses coersion, punishment, brute force, deprivation and the total assassination of personality to then rebuild a person in his image. He accuses an individual of sins against him! Of course sins against Satan is the opposite to sins against God. Failing to rebel against God is a sin against Satan and will bring punishment.

A "born again" mind controlled slave of Satan will be completely rebellious against God and either believe that some random false teacher (Mao or Moon) is God or possibly worse still believe they are god themselves.

I say that this is worse because when you are being abused in a cult there is always a chance to look for salvation when you see the light of Christ's love in the darkness of suffering. Though when a person has embraced darkness, abusive power and prideful autonomy then it is really hard to reach that person. They have literally embraced evil as being good as long as they are not on the receiving ends of it themselves.

There lies the hypocrisy from these satanic converts: they demand mercy for themselves (who does not want mercy) but also demand severity for everyone else. This is literally the mind of Satan. Satan wants mercy for himself whilst hoping for severity for everyone else. I have seen this in people more and more. Mercy for me but not for thee.

It is like a growing cancer around me now. I see people's hearts hardening and these were people who had soft hearts before.

I told you yesterday about the door being blocked from escape for both me and ___. Well that happens at Boonville, the old Moonies indoctrination camp. The documentary shows a person suddenly standing up in a panic during an indoctrination session and run through the door of the shed and run as fast as they can to get off the farm. This is a "flight" response when a person knows they are in danger. At that point the other Moonies literally crowd around the would-be-escapee and coax them back saying "they care about them" and it will only be another day and then they can leave if they want to.

From the accounts of people in thought reform in China and from the Moonies in America, not one person said they called out to Jesus for deliverance. They seemed to rely on themselves to get out. One Catholic missionary dreamt of his priest friends and Catholic hymns and classical music to keep him sane. He never mentioned the Word of God at all.

I realise how ESSENTIAL the Word of God is and how close we dearly need to be near our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is vital not to seek vengeance ourselves or fight fire with fire as this gives the enemy more influence in our lives.

I now know what is behind narcissistic abuse, all abuse and all cults. The leader gets worship (and so does the fallen angel behind them too) but also Satan gets converts to his ideology and doctrines of demons. The end result is a mentally destroyed person or a satanic convert fully embracing that evil is good and good is evil.

In Jesus Christ we truly have nothing to fear though. We do though need to vigorously apply spiritual growth and study with faith in our lives. I agree that we cannot be merely fighting against sin in a defensive position, we need to be in constant OFFENSIVE position. Taking spiritual ground, not ceding it. It truly is a day by day fight and if we are not going forward, we are going back as we cannot stay still. Staying still is ceding ground and going backwards.

I hope you don't mind this email Bob. I needed to share this with you. It is quite dark and heavy and may be a stumbling block to others' faith so I will leave it to you whether to publish it or not.

When I see the evil darkness and merciless pain Satan causes, I am so glad to be in the light of Jesus Christ. To know that I can never be taken from him as long as I want to be with Him! Amen!

In Jesus,

Response #8:

It can't be easy soldiering on in an environment where there is little or no support from other believers, and when everyone else seems to be deep into the enemy camp and slipping deeper day by day. I do have to wonder about the value of persevering in that situation, but that is something for you to decide in the Spirit. I have no problem praying for any and all we feel moved to pray for, understanding that for those who have really turned the corner there is not much point (1Jn.5:16), but we of course have limited information, even though sometimes what we do have is clear.

"Mind control" does have two sides: those who want to control and those who are at least willing to be controlled. I thank God that YOU decided not to endure it. As mentioned before, I think there is a legitimate ministry to be done in helping those who need assistance in recovery – possibly also in escape – but here too there has to be a spark of willingness at the very least.

Meanwhile, if you are physically and emotionally at the end of your rope, it's a sure sign that, indeed, you need rest and recovery. It will take time to learn how to maintain a good cruising speed so as not to alternate between being adrift and blowing out the boilers on the two extremes.

Things were difficult during the apostolic period. But things are difficult now too. Being "in the world" is difficult. It's just that the challenges of each period and place – and the specific ones that fall to each individual Christian's lot – manifest differently. But we are ALL under the gun in one way or another.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
1st Peter 5:8-9 NIV

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend. Thanks for the good insights in those cult activities.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

When I sin and then confess, I don't do my regular prayers that day because I have it in my head that since I sinned it won't be effective. Is that wrong?

Response #9:

My advice is to confess immediately whenever we even feel we may be in the wrong for any reason (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5). After all, our Lord told us to pray a blanket forgiveness prayer every day, "forgive us our trespasses" (Matt.6:12-15). As long as we are offering others the same blanket forgiveness, we can have confidence that we are receiving it, if we confess.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for making our spiritual safety much clearer to me and thanks for your concern too. I'm grateful for the wise counsel you gave to me almost two years ago now and I'm very glad that I listened to you. I had a lot to learn back then (and still have) but you helped me through it.

I pray for the Lord to give me wisdom in this life, Bob. I feel wary and I think I need to be more alert and wise to the way that Satan works in this world. Even what happened last week has made me wary. Although I know I handled it in the right way it's still made me want to be extremely careful about what I say, how close I get to the people I work with and how I act. I'm not perfect but I always try to do these things in a way which pleases the Lord. I try to be at peace with everyone but I would never ever want to get close to them or socialise with them. It's light and darkness and I have nothing in common with them. As you said, Bob it's my very own Marine Corps! I feel like I just want to go in and keep my head down and do my job - be careful and sparing with my words. It's not that I've made a massive mistake or anything but I know the Spirit is bringing this to my attention even more - to be wise and alert. As we're taught in 1 Thessalonians to - Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.


In Jesus

Response #10:

It's wonderful to observe your growing spiritual common sense and confidence, my friend. One thing also to point out is that a great deal of such spiritual balance is accomplished by momentum. If we have been in the habit of trusting the Lord and growing in the truth and doing our best to apply that truth to our lives, we begin to hear the Spirit better and better, and as a result we tend to naturally and effortlessly avoid what should be avoided and embrace what ought to be embraced. In other words, rather than a novice boxer thinking "now should I jab here or weave left" – who is soon knocked on his backside – we are dodging and weaving and jabbing and punching without even giving each move very much thought . . . and doing it well. So keep pushing forward. That way most of these things will take care of themselves – as long as we are not disregarding it when the Spirit tells us to have a care.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

1 John 3:6, "No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him."
1 John 3:9, "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
1 John 5:18, "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him."

What are the meaning of these verses?

Response #11:

NIV version of these verses:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
1st John 3:6 NIV

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.
1st John 3:9 NIV

We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.
1st John 5:18 NIV

These are fair translations (present progressive tense meaning "continually" vs. aoristic present meaning "ever"), because in the first and second chapters of this same epistle, John tells us that everyone sins, that if they say they don't they're making God a liar, that sins are forgiven (unnecessary for the sinless), and that we have Jesus Christ as our Advocate when and if we do sin (1Jn.1:8-10; 1Jn.2:1-2).

We are not supposed to sin – at all. But no believer gets through the day without at least, e.g., some mental sin (only not if in a coma). That is why asking for forgiveness is part of the Lord's prayer He gave us to pray every day.

As believers grow spiritually they get better at "defense", sanctification, walking in a holy way. But temptation continues and occasionally we do slip up. The spiritually mature err increasingly less often and increasingly less seriously, but no one should arrogantly assume they are immune. Look what happened to Moses, to David, to Elijah – and we are not better than they for sure.

So walk carefully before the Lord. Commit yourself to growth so that you can be sanctified more and more by the truth (Jn.17:17). And seek to glorify Him through the production He gives you. We're not here to build fortresses; we're here to conquer them (Matt.16:18).

For more, see the link: 1st John: Text and Interpretation

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

I must confess that I am struggling with persistent sin. I don't go looking for it and everyday I am determined not to sin and yet I fall in the same ditches again and again and again. My particular sins are anger, judgement and I do find myself gossiping. It's terrible that I keep falling in these same holes all the time that it is starting to get me down.


I fall down at a certain point of doing these sins. I feel ashamed that I am confessing the same sins over and over. I cry about it and then feel very weak but at the same time I feel very close to God in that moment when I feel weak I am strong. I feel completely dependent on Him and this is good.

What should I be doing? Should I be trying harder to fight against these sins?


I am being more conscientious with study and growth. I hope this will help me with overcoming these sins. I feel as though all the other Christians are doing a fine job and producing fruit and I feel that I am the least in the kingdom and still mired by sin.

Many thanks for your constant support and encouragement.

In the pearl of great price, Jesus Christ,

Response #12:

"I am being more conscientious with study and growth. I hope this will help me with overcoming these sins." Amen! That is exactly what is needed. I think you can probably see that it IS working and that it DOES work. Relapses happen because the evil one is not going to stop tempting us just because we are on the right path – the opposite rather. The fact that there is no end of the fight here in this world is a lesson we all need to learn early on. We fight the fight until the glorious light of His presence rises upon us, be it soon or a long way off. And His Spirit helps us to persevere, even when we get tired.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 4:30-31 NKJV

We all have our weak spots and the devil and his minions are good about recognizing these and hitting us when and where we are most vulnerable. Our job is to keep fighting. On that point, best to forget past failures. We all have them. And so many of them that if we obsess about them we could well be thinking of nothing else. Does that help? No, it doesn't help at all. In fact it hurts. Are we supposed to obsess about failures? No, we are supposed to forget what lies behind and press on (Phil.3:13). In fact, it doesn't matter how we feel about our failures. We can be horrified or barely troubled. It doesn't matter except that it can be a burden if we are too concerned, and so much so that we end up looking backward and not forward. As any back-country hiker can tell you, that is a good way to end up flat on your face.

We are forgiven when we confess. Christ already died for our sins. We are forgiven them absolutely as soon as we confess them. Are we mad at ourselves? Sure. That is only helpful to the extent that we use it to "not do it again". But if Christ has died for the sin and forgiven us, advocated for us against the accuser and welcomed us back into fellowship, do we really have the right to be "down" about failures? Shouldn't we rather glorify Him in great joy for taking away our sins on the cross and forgiving us for what we have done? The Father is the perfect dispenser of divine discipline. If we need to be spanked, He will do so in just the right way (and we can be grateful for that because it shows we are truly His sons and daughters). There is no need for us to spank ourselves.

Praying for you daily in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #13:

I recently had a great breakthrough. I woke up with a smile on my lips after a time of sadness, anger and heaviness. I've read 1 Corinth 13. I know now that love IS forgiveness and that God is love. I DO trust God. I trust Him because I love Him and love is trust. He is love and I cannot love without Him. He shows me what love is and how to love. He is the very definition of love. I can now let go of all of it. The anger, the fear, the uncertainty. Most of all, I can let go of unforgiveness and forgive all. I have been forgiven of everything because God loves me. To reflect God's glory and to respond to it, I will forgive and by truly forgiving I will love.


Response #13:

I'm very happy to hear of your breakthrough, my friend! Forgiveness is so very important – it's the only condition in the Lord's prayer, after all (Matt.6:12-15).

One thing necessary to point out – which I'm sure you're thoroughly aware of – is that just because we forgive others does not mean that they will change because of it or be nicer to us or be any less dangerous to us if they are dangerous to us. As your emails suggest, trusting God is the key. In God we trust! But people . . . remain people regardless of our forgiveness.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Pastor Bob,

It's been awhile, I hope you are doing well through all this craziness that I know is but the beginning of sorrows. I decided to write to you with some questions and for your insight. I am sorry to say that I am still in the same mess that I have been for a long time fighting and refusing to give up, as often as I have thought about you I have desired with all my heart to write to you rejoicing that I overcame this horrible struggle, perhaps that day too will come. I want to try and make my email simple and easy to respond to, I fear that I will fail so thank you for bearing with me as you have in the past.

1) I want you to know that I have learned a lot from you and your ministry which I am thankful for. I had started seriously reading your studies, but stopped, not because I believe they are inaccurate, but because they are so in depth and leave no bible verse unturned that with my struggle I felt I was ever learning more information and not getting anywhere. I do often reference your site and read through emails of various topics which has been very helpful and insightful for me and im thankful for it.

I do wish I could find a solid Christian community/church to be part of where I can attend teaching and have face to face fellowship and encouragement, though where I am it seems that doesn't exist, all the churches I've looked up around me either are closed minded in regards to their "exact formula", lukewarm, or have women pastors alongside men which raises a red flag for me.

2) I've learned that when we doubt, even something God may be doing for us may not help because we are blocking ourselves off with doubt, which can explain why a lot of fears can manifest even if they are not true, do you agree? I seem to be back and forth no matter what, and its tearing me apart, its like a never ending nightmare, though I do have periods of peace and I don't hesitate to praise the Lord and be thankful when I do:

Understanding these following questions properly is extreme important and I believe necessary for me:

A) We are saved by faith, but in many verses we are told to "repent and believe", and in many verses we are told we are saved by believing. A lot of people make formulas based on the book of acts which I totally agree with you can be dangerous as I agree it is a historical account, and all the examples commonly used differ. Yet what is true repentance unto salvation? I quickly turned from God and back to a sin so shortly after I knew I was saved after believe in Jesus, many Christians would say that shows there was no true repentance. When I knew I was saved I recognized that Jesus is the truth the way and the life, I recognized that only he can forgive sin and does automatically when we believe in him, and I recognized my sinfulness and felt bad for it, and understood that I now needed to follow Jesus and that he would give me the power to do so, yet I so quickly was reluctant to let go of a horrible sin and turned back to it and isolated myself from God. So did I truly repent unto salvation?

B) Paul says if you believe in your heart and confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and that he rose from the dead, you will be saved. This I did without question and do believe, I have learned that we are forgiven because Jesus paid the price of our sins. This I did not understand at the time, I did understand that he rose from the dead and that he was the son of God, and that by believing in him I am forgiven and saved. So was is one still saved without knowing that he paid for our sins? I think the answer is yes, and I now believe he paid for our sins because the word says so, but I don't know that I really understand how that's possible and maybe that's a problem. But I do understand that by turning to God and believing Jesus words God forgives us.

3) This is my last point on the email and also an important one to me. I am really struggling with Gods character revealed in the old testament. I have read up to some point in Joshua, and again and again am horrified by what I read. I believe that even though I don't understand it must all be good, but again and again I see people being judged for stepping out of line in a way that would make the scariest horror movies look like marshmallows. I know the old testament is very prophetic in the way things took place, yet nonetheless I see people being destroyed by Gods wrath for single sins, sins that I have sure greatly surpassed. And when God judges he does so in such a horrific way its hard to stomach, whether it's "having their skull stuck on spikes in the desert sun to be bleached that God my burn his anger against them" or "the man at Jericho who coveted the Babylonian robe and took it, and therefore him and his wife AND children were stoned, burned, and had a pile of stones stacked on their ashes to this day". Or that as a judgement of turning away from the Lord, it is not enough to burn forever, but he will judge them by "making them and their women eat their own children's flesh". it's hard to endure "yet where else shall we turn" as Peter said. Yet is greatly grieves me and to know that such things are not merely lack of God and manifestation of demons, but direct judgements of God and his anger.

3B) Also, I see the same pattern of scripture repeated in the Old and New Testaments, God never leaves you, we leave him, and this is the truth. And interestingly as I saw at the end of Deuteronomy, God even told Moses, "I will never forsake them, but when they forsake me, then I will forsake them and bring these curses upon them". I've also seen that in 1st proverbs God says "because you did not heed me when I called, now I will mock you when you call". So though I know one can stray far and long and turn back, it seems very clear that when you truly forsake Gods call, he will never be willing to forgive you. From what I've seen in the old testament so far, people where very easily "cut off from the Lord forever" (in the words of the OT), at least "easily" in terms of committing a horrible sin.

I feel like I know you personally and intimately because of our past conversations, and perhaps more so because I have spent so much time reading through your emails. I pray the day will come where I can message you rejoicing to share good news with you of my recovery and progress.

in Jesus Christ, in whom I still hope, because he is the only hope.

Response #14:

Good to hear from you.

*Before we get started, let me say that I only found your email by accident. The university is cracking down on email practices and so from now on please only write me at questions2@ichthys.com, not my university address (to which this message was addressed).

1) "I felt I was ever learning more information and not getting anywhere": If you were learning AND believing, you were getting somewhere indeed, even though spiritual growth is an incremental process; like a tree growing, you can't see it day by day, but come back in a couple of years and the difference is very clear. As to "in person", sure, we'd all like that. But nowadays almost NO ONE is getting that, even those who are actually getting nothing in getting that. Have you tried pastor-teacher Omo's Bible Academy? It's the next best thing and I highly recommend it.

2) Spit out doubt. Jesus told us not to worry (Matt.6:25-34). So don't worry. Easier said than done, but do it.

A) Two sides of the same coin [see the link]. To accept Christ you have to reject the world and what it tells you. To accept the truth, you have to reject the lie. If you don't reject the world and the lie, then where is your faith in Christ? All sin (Rom.3:23) but He died for all sin. So our salvation is not dependent upon how we feel about sin or what we say about our past sinning; our salvation is based upon accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and holding onto that faith come what may.

B) Being saved is an act of free will response to the Lord. It is NOT dependent upon specifics of information that can be parsed finely. I was saved at a very young age (5?); I guarantee you that I understood less about it then than you when you were saved. But I was saved – born again, born from above – and so were you. I rejoice in that and so should you. That is the bedrock of our lives – and our lives eternal. God is not looking to trick and trap – He wants all to be saved. So stop doubting and start trusting. Be strong and courageous and do it.

3) It's not God's fault that people are evil. Israel was supposed to be perfect but never was anything close. God is love but God is righteous too. Anyone who died for malfeasance was still saved if a believer even so; anyone who lived on by following the Law but wasn't saved is in hell even so. It was all about Jesus Christ then and that is still true today. There are things that may be hard for some to understand and accept initially, but with spiritual growth comes understanding. God is perfect. Give Him the benefit of the doubt that maybe things that bother you can be explained if you persevere in faith and trust.

3B) "when you truly forsake Gods call, he will never be willing to forgive you"; THAT I have never read in the Bible. Citation? Did Jesus Christ die for you? Yes He did. Did He die for every single one of your sins? Yes He did. Sins large? Yes. Sins small? Yes. Sins you've forgotten and things you don't even realize were sins? Yes, and for the least of these He had to pay a penalty which is greater than all the suffering of all human beings who have ever lived or will – for that one sin-you-don't-remember. And He died for them all – for you and me and everyone else. That is love, love beyond comprehension. Not willing to forgive? If that were true, why did Jesus pay such an astronomical price – even for the vast majority of mankind who would ultimately reject Him? He died for the sins of all so that all may be saved. No one who wants to be saved – and is thus willing to come to Him to be saved – has ever been condemned.

I do pray for you daily, my friend.

Be pleased to have a little faith in the One who is worth all of the faith you could ever muster.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Bob,

Glad you find my email, I figured as much when I realized that we had been communicating via your university address. I really want to thank you for your prayers. I also appreciate your reply, and I believe you are trying to keep it simple because you think that is what I need, and I don't necessarily disagree, but I tend to really pick apart everything and feel like I really need some more insight on some of these things, please allow me to reply and rephrase some of these things.

1) As far as the state of the visible churches and people not getting much there as a rule I would agree, nonetheless I do crave to be, and feel depraved not to be, part of a congregation.

2) To spit out all doubt it what I am attempting and striving to do, the next 2 questions were specifically for that cause in that I ask them in attempting to shut some nasty doors:

A) I agree that believing and repenting are 2 sides of the same coin but I think its deeper than that, at least to some extent.

The reason I ask this again, is because virtually all Christian seem to have a formula, basically that you have to repent and then believe, and then be baptized, etc. I explained what I did, and I know I was saved, in accepted the truth that God is real and I am in no good standing with him and that Jesus was the only solution and I put my faith in him. Then soon after, I wanted to walk forward but was reluctant to do so because I was reluctant to let go of a sin. So the door I'm trying to close is the one that says "I didn't really repent" since I wasn't willing to strive to turn from this sin. So im trying to define what repenting for salvation is in order to slam that door shut. I saw a Christian post that I really like and want to know if you would agree with this: when someone says that repentance couldn't mean to turn from sin because man cannot turn from all sin that is a smokescreen, because no one has defined repentance as turning from all sin, the historic definition of repentance as it applies to salvation, is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life

B) I think you answered my question, basically that just trusting Christ for eternal life is suffice for initial salvation.

3) First thing I will say to this is that initially I did not believe that people can be judged and killed by God and still be saved, but after some discussions with various people I have took into account what you say on this matter and am starting to believe that this is possible to an extent in some cases. Anyway, I am giving him the botd and believing that in time these things may be explained (again for reference were talking about Gods revelation in the OT and his graphic judgements), yet is there anything you can tell me to understand these things a little? They are really grieving me heavily. I understand Jesus to be the exact reflection of the father, I understand our fear of God is to be a healthy reverence and not sheer terror. Yet the curses of Deuteronomy are sheer terror and beyond, yet God command these to be read to Israel and their children so that they may fear him. And in judgements such as the one I mentioned in Joshua, having a mans wife and children burned and judged in such a horrific way hardly seems I reflection with Jesus character revealed in the Gospels, at least as far as I can perceive.

3B) Yes, praise God, I understand all this though I don't feel it at the moment, I really read a consistent fine line that can be crossed and given to "a reprobate mind" in judgement, this can not be overlooked, though I am not saying that is me. Citations include:
Proverbs 1: 24-26 (i remember Jesus lamenting over unbelieving Israel so I find it difficult to accept him mocking and laughing at them)
1 Chronicles 28:9 (if you forsake him he will reject you forever)
Deuteronomy 31:17
Deuteronomy 29:19-20 is very clear
And also though I cant remember the verses but I know there are many in Leviticus and Numbers where God says if a person does such and such I will cut them off forever.

So Bob, I am learning, I am believing, I am praying, I am striving, but I cant just overlook these things. Perhaps they would not have bothered me the way they do, but due to my past these are things I cant just ignore without understanding them at least to an extent in my heart. Anything I believe or reject I need it to be scriptural, and even if it is for my peace of my mind, I cannot ignore certain truths in favor of others so I am seeking and trying to understand.

Any light on these things is appreciate, may God bless you.

Response #15:

You're welcome.

1) This is akin to wanting to be married (I get it), but one has to realize that a bad marriage is far, far worse than being single (as is being in a bad church – it's far, far worse than growing through e.g. Ichthys).

2A) Oh, I see. You think salvation has something to do with sin. It does in that Jesus died for sin to make salvation possible. But Jesus HAS died for sin. You don't do anything for God by not sinning; you only hurt yourself when you sin. He wants you to do what is right of course, but imagining this is all about sin makes it all about sin and it is NOT "all about sin". "This", life, is all about choice for or against the truth. When you sin you are accepting a lie, but there are all manner of lies out there. Even if you could be perfect in terms of not sinning, you would not be able to please the Lord that way. He wants you to advance spiritually, to pass the tests that come to the mature, and to help others through ministry. That is what you have been called to do. Sanctification is merely part of the armor necessary to walk the right walk.

Do you have a problem with sinning? Then stop sinning. You have free will, don't you? You can eat lunch or not eat lunch, and you have the power to not eat lunch even if you are very hungry. You have the power not to sin as well. It's called free will. And you have the Holy Spirit to help you too. Is there still a problem? Then you just need to get serious, as serious as it takes to stop. While sinlessness in this life is impossible, and while patterns of sinfulness can be hard to break at first, it certainly can be done – if you are willing to fight it out (Heb.12:4).

As to the past, if you are saved – and you are saved – then don't worry about what exactly went on in the past. Forget the nonessentials of the past. You chose for Christ and you were saved. That is glorious! People in this world love this world and the things of this world on the one hand and have no use for God on the other; repentance is waking up to the fact that the former things mean death and that only God the Father offers eternal life in Jesus Christ – and then embracing that good news through faith in the Son.

3) Everyone dies. Believers have nothing but blessing on the other side even if we've had a hard life; unbelievers have nothing but cursing on the other side, even if they've had an easy life. The manner of death is only terrifying to those who are looking at things with worldly eyes. This world is all about choice. If a believer dies a horrible-seeming death – for the Lord – there is nothing but reward. If an unbeliever dies a horrible-in-actuality death, that is still nothing compared to the lake of fire which awaits for having rejected Jesus Christ. As to the OT generally, we would need to take up cases. The curses that come to God's people for rejecting God are good and right. For one thing, they never ever received as much cursing as they deserved because of His great mercy (Ps.103), and on the other hand He always restored them to blessing IF they repented and returned to Him. If you had children, giving them firm guidance to protect them from doing things that would harm them is only loving. And God IS love.

3B) "I cannot ignore certain truths in favor of others"; no one is asking you to ignore any truth; there are no inconsistencies in the Bible – merely misinterpretations.

If a person spurns the Lord, the Lord will spurn Him. By that I mean, completely rejecting the One he/she had once embraced. If a person turns to the Lord, the Lord will turn to him/her. Believers are saved, but unbelievers are not. So for God to make this very clear is only loving. But He does want all to be saved, and He does want all who have strayed (not spurned Him totally never to return) to come back.

No one who is concerned about these issues can possibly fall into the camp of apostate.

Please remember: peace and hope and joy come with spiritual growth, not from worrying and grinding on and on about things for which scripture has already given clear answers – but you do have to believe them.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Thank you Bob.

Sorry for not replying immediately, I have been pondering what you said and will continue to do so. Though everything is not as clear as I would like, your response was thoughtful and insightful and I appreciate it very much.

If I understand correctly, as to the question of repentance involved in salvation, though it is a call to turn from evil, I think that you are saying that this initially needed repentance is an acknowledgment of our sin and of Gods truth and our trusting/turning to Jesus as the solution?

In Christ

Response #16:

You're most welcome, my friend.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Mark 1:14-15 NKJV

The above is a good illustration of what I was saying. The result of repentance is belief. So unbelief is what needs to be changed. A person needs to change from being an unbeliever to being a believer. Why are people unbelievers? There is all manner of worldliness to which people adhere which prevents them from wanting a saving relationship with the Lord. I'm not saying sin is uninvolved in that. Everything the world does is sinful because it is done without God. And unbelief is the ultimate sin for which there is no remedy absent faith (Mk.3:28-30). My problem with many formulations of the mechanics here is that they misunderstand grace. Jesus died for all sin. What the Father wants is for us to turn to Him in faith. If we do that, we have accomplished what the command to repent demands, namely, turning away from our love of the world and towards the love of God in Jesus Christ (please see the link: in BB 4B: "Repentance"). You can't accept Jesus Christ without repentance; if you have accepted Jesus Christ you have repented. But for those who have accepted Him and been saved, been born again, been born from above, to thereafter worry about their prior or present attitude towards sin to the degree that they doubt their salvation is to turn saving grace entirely on its head.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

The way that you put that is generally what I initially understood when I first started reading the Gospel. In my case my fears manifest not necessarily because I sinned after that, but rather that in combination with me turning from the path to continue sinning, I wanted to enjoy it first more before letting go, I even told God so that I wouldn't hide it, which possibly made it more arrogant though it was not my intent. Ultimately I rejoiced in the Lord and wanted to walk forward with him, but I got entangled in that foolishness.

Going back to "repenting and believing" Christians commonly state that if you truly have done this you will not continue in your ways. When they say this I often think of the Corinthians as rebuttal. The difference there is that they kept walking but kept sinning, on the other hand I turned from walking so that I can keep sinning.

Nonetheless Bob I truly appreciate all your time, I sound like a broken record but I want to express it to you. I see light, praise the Lord, but I still have nasty breakdowns from time to time where that light seemingly cuts off. The thing is I need to understand certain things in my heart in order to eliminate all doubt, and I will keep pressing forward, for there is nowhere else to press, nor do I want to press anywhere else. Only the Lord knows what I have been going through, but in getting out on the other side it all will have been worth it.

I will continue to ponder your words as well, and will keep you posted sooner or later, and will reach out if I have more questions.

May God bless you Bob, in Christ...

Response #17:

It's no problem, my friend. Thanks for the good words.

1) "Christians commonly state that if you truly have done this you will not continue in your ways": Christians are commonly wrong about a good many things, and this is not a biblical position. Have they never read of the prodigal son? And if my experience with people generally and Christians in particular is any guide, these very same folks have had just such experiences – or maybe are still in the process – just "not THAT sin, i.e., the one that YOU commit but doesn't tempt ME" is the only sin that is really sin. Dumbing down what the Bible says about sin is the only way anyone could actually believe they don't sin (see the link).

2) "I need to understand certain things in my heart in order to eliminate all doubt": The thing is, true understanding, epignosis, comes FROM believing the truth.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

[omitted about whether or not X is really a sin if it is not mentioned directly as such in the Bible]

Response #18:

Well there's always the apple pie test.

You're in the kitchen and Jesus walks in – and you're making an apple pie. Nothing wrong with that! So you're very happy to see Him!

However, what if you're finishing off a bottle of whisky or smoking a joint? Or what if . . . . [your concern]

In other words, arguing that something clearly wrong is not actually a sin is all about rationalization. We know what's right and we know what's wrong. Rationalization is a way people try to make wrong not seem wrong. But wrong is wrong. Period.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

I am sorry that I ranted. Here is the summary:

1) Are expected white lies out of 'politeness' a sin?
2) Is rudeness a sin? (if not now, in the Tribulation as well?)
3) What does God expect of someone not guided by parents in social situations? Is rudeness out of self preservation fine?

Response #19:

It's no problem – always good to hear from you.

1) It's never good to lie, but sometimes it is necessary – when the lives of other people are at stake, when one is involved in military operations and the beneficiaries of the deceit are the enemy, when criminals or the like would use the truth to hurt us or others (see the link). But there are other ways of being polite besides lying. We're not required to give the answer other people want or expect – or to answer at all. Being deliberate, cautious, indirect is not a sin. If an occasional slip of the tongue out of politeness is the worst thing a person has to be concerned about, that's not a bad place to be spiritually.

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Psalm 19:12-13 NKJV

Everyone sins. Fighting against sin is something that will never end for a believer this side of heaven. If we really are not dominated by presumptuous sins and are innocent of "great transgression", that is indicative of progress.

2/3) These are questions of application. We have free will and are responsible to the Lord – not to other people. Other people don't get to decide what we do or what we like or what we say, and God does not demand that we hand our free will over to them. We have a right to say "no" when it comes to any social interaction whatsoever, and in my personal experience "no" is often a better answer than "yes", even if there are consequences (as socialization related to employment). If we come across as "rude", well then we will probably not be asked again. If we are OK with that, there is usually nothing to worry about. People can be pushy. And some people can be so pushy it makes us wonder whether or not they have any sense of shame whatsoever. That is their problem, however, not ours. We know why we are in this world, namely, to serve the Lord. Being friendly and polite is fine – up to a point; but people are still people and there is nothing good in people (e.g., Jn.2:24-25; Rom.3:10-18), not, that is, unless they have the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Bob!

How are you doing? Are you gearing up for the academic year? I can't imagine it's easy to be a teacher this day in age given what seems to be a rise in entitlement, rebellion and overall ungodliness.

I'm hoping you may be able to lend some insight into a challenge I've been having and navigating with my husband. I thank you in advance for bearing with the length of this letter.

I've continued to seek the Lord on how to respond in the seemingly endless "grey areas" and ethical quandaries of life. Until recently (as you may recall), it seems I understood (perhaps subconsciously) my conscience to be synonymous with the Holy Spirit's direction. I've been seeing it's not quite that simple to put it mildly. I may feel strongly on a matter, but my mind or common sense is suggesting I'm off.

I've found myself overanalyzing and becoming fearfully paralyzed by some decisions - whether they've importance or are very trivial. Some of these times, it's like I'll feel something strongly but then have doubts that said feelings or convictions are actually accurate.

This has been a pretty recent "development" in my faith, and one I hope to mature through by the grace, guidance and truth of the Lord. I know the life of a believer should be focused on what matters, and include traits of joy and peace - neither of which are exhibited in paranoid navigation of life.

I do believe that sin matters, and I know that sin is unique to us in that something fine for me may not be fine for another given our unique standing with the Lord (though, of course, some things are more black and white as conveyed in Scripture). This said, during this time Romans 14:23 was initially a great comfort, but now ,I question if it's ok to move forward in choices if I'm not 100% settled (i.e. if I'm wrestling with a bout of obsessive behavior, I can know from what I understand in Scripture that XYZ isn't necessary but I certainly don't feel that way). Moreover, I think I've started to overanalyze seemingly benign and simple life circumstances awaiting if it's somehow sin to me. This can be amplified because certain Bible verses could be misapplied etc.

I just don't think I have the spiritual grasp on how to reconcile that a) we must listen to our conscience b) we also must be careful something actually is our conscience c) our conscience may not be in proper alignment to the truth of the Lord d) we must discern without searing our conscience e) we should live in faith though there will inevitably be echoes of fear or doubt in our life during choices f) all the while, we don't want to mar our witness for the Lord!

I see extremes in how people can be insensitive to things that ought to bother them, but I also know my current tendencies are potentially (in some cases) espousing legalism and sensationalism. I don't want that, but I also certainly believe sin and violating conscience can harden us to the point of losing our faith.

I know believers are to bear with one another in their "weak" convictions. I realize some of my convictions will change as I grow in the Lord, but I don't want to dilly dally in that growth. I don't think some of these tendencies are showcasing the freedom that I understand I'm now privy to by the grace and work of Jesus Christ.

"...the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…"

All of this to say, I want to please the Lord, I don't want to become a slave to my own emotions, I don't want to unknowingly sear my conscience and I don't want to be lukewarm.

Thank you for the time regardless of if you've any additional perspective to share. As a note, if I recall correctly, I've search up in your content that which pertains to consciences, ocd, and I believe legalism.

Have a great day!!! Thank you for sharing all this content with "strangers".

Response #20:

Classes actually started yesterday. They went very well – thank you for asking! I have plenty of students – a real blessing from God and an answer to prayer because the enrollments hovered on near empty for most of the summer. First impressions are very positive, but as one colleague said to me in passing, "I really like this batch of students so far, but let's see how I feel after I read their first paper."

It does take experience and spiritual growth to learn how to distinguish with confidence the Holy Spirit's prompting from emotion. Conscience is important, but it's also important to remember that the devil is a master of using guilt against us. A good rule of thumb is that if we are prompted to do something out of guilt and are not at peace about it in spite of the pressure to act or refrain, then it is probably not the Spirit. The Spirit acts through the truth we have learned and believed. The more truth in our hearts, the better we understand the principles of the Bible, the easier we can quickly dismiss things that are not really of God or godly, even though we may be feeling guilt-pressure to do them or refrain from doing them. Acting in the Spirit means, by definition, acting in confidence, peace and certainty. And if we are not sure, if there is any doubt, one way or another, then prayer and also doing what you are doing, namely, consulting the scriptures carefully along with good Bible teaching, is the right approach to take. There is more on all this at the link, BB 5, in particular (as well as elsewhere at Ichthys; see in particular also the subject index at the link).

It is also important to remember that we believers have been called to peace (e.g., 1Cor.7:15). So we are not meant to be pulling ourselves apart internally – far from it.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27 NKJV

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

Peace and rest come from faith, trusting in the Lord more than in anything we see or hear . . . or feel. We know that Jesus died for our sins; we know that we are forgiven when we confess them; and we know that our Lord told us to pray for forgiveness – a blanket forgiveness – daily in the "Lord's prayer" (Matt.6:12-15). So as long as we are "forgiving others", we can be confident that we are being forgiven too, regardless of if we are sure about whether or not actions XYZ are sins. As we grow, we learn yes or no, and adjust accordingly.

This principle of peace and rest is actually the Church Age's fulfillment of the 4th commandment. So if we are NOT experiencing, maintaining, entering into this rest of faith and peace day by day and step by step, that is really where we are falling down – because we are not trusting the Lord the way we should.

(19) Now we see that they (i.e., the Exodus generation) were unable to enter into this [place of rest] because of their unbelief [lack of faith]. (1) So let us beware lest any of you should seem to fall short [on this score], by casting aside [God's] promise [in a similar way]. (2) For we have had the gospel proclaimed to us just as they did. But the Word they heard did not profit them, for, though they heard it, they did not mix it with faith. (3) Therefore it is we who believe who enter into this rest [not those without faith], just as He has said . . .
Hebrews 3:19 - 4:3a

(9) So there does remain a "Sabbath day's rest" for the people of God. (10) For he who has entered into [God's] rest has himself ceased from his works just as God did from His own. (11) Let us therefore be eager to enter into that [continual and spiritual] rest, lest anyone fall [from grace] following the same pattern of disobedience [as the Exodus generation did].
Hebrews 4:9-11

There is a practical side to all this as well – as you are experiencing. Without this peace, this confidence in faith in our walk with Christ – we are easily tossed to and fro by our emotions, pressured to do things which may be a mistake or alternatively easily paralyzed into inactivity (Eph.4:11-16). That is not what the Lord wants – He wants us to be confidently growing, passing tests, and helping others day by day (impossible without the peace and confidence of being right with Him and walking hand in hand in fellowship with Him). But to disturb our peace is what the devil wants – because that puts us out of action.

If and when we sin (and "all sin": Rom.3:23, e.g.), Jesus is our Advocate (1Jn.2:1-2). And when we confess, even if we're not sure of all of the ins and outs, the Spirit also advocates for us (Rom.8:26-27). And whenever we confess, we are forgiven – and restored to that perfect fellowship of peace we all crave in this noisy, corrupt and evil world.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1st John 1:3 NIV

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1st John 1:7-9 NIV

There is a lot about this subject in BB 3B: Hamartiology. See also in BB 6A, "peace and joy" at the link.

In Jesus,

Bob L.



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