|"What Happens if I'm trying to follow God but sometimes I still do stupid things?"|
This honest question has to be at the heart of each soul desiring to come closer to Christ. We have all sinned. We've even asked for forgiveness on occasion, but sometimes we continue in sin and feel too weak to 'get out', or feel ashamed to ask God for help, for fear he is ashamed of us. This collection of scriptures is intended to present a clearer picture of what our sin is, and how God responds; how He wants us to come back to Him, and how our weakness can be turned from shame to strength. The last section gives some 'how to' advice, which (hopefully) summarizes into action items, these scriptures that follow.
What is sin?
(Sin is the element that, by eternal laws, separates us from God's presence)
Where did sin come from anyhow?
(God does not entice us to sin, this comes only from Satan)
Is God 'Mad at Me' when I sin?
Does God want me to come back after I've done so many bad things?
Luke 15 contains a parable about a man who rebelled and left his father's house. After losing his fortune and being reduced to living with swine, he sorrowfully returns to his father's house, fearing condemnation and rejection from the only one who could help him. The son felt unworthy to be called his father's son anymore, and was preparing to ask to be admitted back as a servant only. To the son's utter dismay, the father, seeing his son coming, runs out and welcomes him with open arms, and calls from a celebration for his son (whom he thought was dead) who has returned alive, with no condemnation for his actions.
God gave us this story so we would know how he feels about our return to him. God is like the father in this story, and we are like the son. He isn't condemning us for our wrongs, when we return to Him, but seeks to welcome us back that we might find eternal life with Him. But we have to make the choice to return to him.
Why do I feel so Weak sometimes?
Will the Lord forgive me?
· I John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. But if any man sin and repent, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;
· DC 64:2b ..verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgiveth sins unto those who confess their sins before me, and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death.
· Mosiah 11:130 And whosoever ye receive, shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive:
· Mosiah 11:138 And if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also;
God's precedent and pattern for forgiveness established by the Law of Moses.
Leviticus 6:7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord; and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein. (The Law of Moses was basically an earthly pattern for spiritual truth. This means that GOD gave an example for people to live in the flesh, so they would understand the things of the Spirit, which were to come.)
Who or what causes guilty feelings, is it Satan, God, or me?
· 2 Nephi 6:93 But I know my guilt; I transgressed thy law, and my transgressions are mine; and the devil hath obtained me, that I am a prey to his awful misery.
· Enos 1:8 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
· Mosiah 1:83 Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice doth awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, (84) Which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flames ascendeth up for ever and ever.
· Alma 14:32 And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us of those our many sins and murders which we have committed, and took away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.
The Lord asks us to forgive, to understand that he will also forgive
· Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?
· Matthew 18:22 Jesus said unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times; but, until seventy times seven.
How can I overcome my weakness
Experiment with the Word of Christ--try doing what it says!
· Alma 16:151 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith; yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
· Psalms 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
Is it possible to keep all of God's commandments
What happens if sin continues
(God instilled in every man and woman, a basic understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. This means that there will be a "basic" accountability for all at the judgement day. To him that does not know good from evil, they are blameless; however, based on Moroni 7:14, if all people have a basic understanding of good and evil, then whether they have heard the gospel of Christ in this life, they can be held accountable for a portion of their works in this life.)
Do the scriptures really say 'The Lord won't Remember my sins anymore?' If the Lord is perfect, how could he forget something?
Hebrew definition of "remember" (#2142 Strong's) Zakar- means "to make mention of"
(Some examples of the word 'Mention' which means 'to remember')
Is it enough to 'say' that I repent?
(God, through his word, judges the condition of the heart. If our words of repentance do not represent the true intent of our heart, our words will not profit us)
I am trying to follow the Lord, but my sins become more apparent. Why?
What inevitably happens when we come closer to Christ? (some answers follow, but not an exhaustive list)
1. The opposition:
· 2 Nephi 1:81 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
Opposition in all things. This principle applies to the whole of life. Even physicist Isaac Newton observed that 'for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.' The opposition in all things certainly applies to our fight with sin. Elder David Elliot once said 'For every step you take closer to Christ, Satan will try to counter it and pull you away from Christ.' Ultimately, The closer we are to Christ, the freer we are from sin, but at the same time, the more aware we will be of our own sin:
2. The Lord will make known our sins:
· DC 66:2a Verily I say unto you, my servant William, that you are clean, but not all; repent therefore of those things which are not pleasing in my sight, saith the Lord, for the Lord will show them unto you.
· John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3. Keener awareness of sin develops:
More temptation, but more strength against Temptation. Our 'sensitivity' to our own sin (awareness) becomes greater to 'smaller' sins. Not to mean 'small sins' in terms of significance, but small in terms of awareness. For instance, as we grow in Christ the words we use, thoughts we allow, attitudes we hold, may and should change over time. Examples of keener understanding of sin:
· From realizing to not commit adultery, to understanding that looking upon a person and lusting in ones heart is adultery.
· From realizing to not murder, to understanding that hating your brother is murder.
· From learning that faith is the first step towards God (i.e. believeing), to having knowledge that 'whatsoever is not of faith is sin.'
· From being released from temporal bondage (for example alcohol, smoking, overeating) to release from spiritual bondage (envying, jealousy, strife, hatred, contention).
4. We will learn (and desire) to be 'meek'
· Moroni 8:29 And the first--fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith, unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins; and the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart, cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
The scriptures say it's good to be Meek. Does being 'Meek' mean the same as being 'Weak'?
Essentially, to be meek means to have Controlled Strength.
· Numbers 12:3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
· Psalms 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord that seek him; your heart shall live forever.
· Psalms 25:9 The meek will he guide in judgment; and the meek will he teach his way.
· Psalms 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
· Psalms 76:9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.
· Psalms 147:6 The Lord lifteth up the meek he casteth the wicked down to the ground.
· Psalms 149:4 For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people; he will beautify the meek with salvation.
· Matthew 5:7 And blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
· Matthew 11:30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
· I Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
· Moroni 7:49 And again, behold I say unto you, that he can not have faith and hope, save he shall be meek and lowly of heart; if so, his faith and hope are vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly of heart;
Remedies: How can I do better?
1. Pray. You've got built in communication exchange to God that's faster and broader than the internet. You can get information to God, and he can send it to you immediately. Those how have been baptized by water and the laying on of hands receive the 'Gift of the Holy Ghost.' Developing ones awareness of the Holy Ghost's leadings causes deeper and quicker understandings from communication with God.
When it's hardest to pray, pray the hardest! Remember, if you're in a situation (sin, dilemma, other life situation) where you feel like the last thing you can do is pray, that's a strong sign that the most important thing you can do is pray.
2. Don't let a past sin (defeat) keep you from getting up and trying. One of Satan's greatest tools is despair. He will cause you to feel like 'there's no use trying.' God wants you to get up, brush the dirt off, and keep trying. Satan wants you to stay down in the dirt.
3. Come to grips with your own sin. This means to confess your sins to God and/or others. God wouldn't ask us to do it if it wasn't temporally, emotionally, and spiritually 'good' for us.
1. Pray that God will make you aware of your own sin. (Example Job 13:23 How many are mine iniquities and sins? make me to know my transgression and my sin.)
2. Repentance is the answer for sins committed and good works omitted (principle with a promise)
3. Reconciliation: If your sin involved someone else Reconcile yourself to him (them), then reconcile yourself with God. (Matthew 5:27) God calls us to 'lay our gift to Him at the alter', make things right with our brother, then God will freely forgive.
4. With recognition, repentance, confession, reconciliation, Sin is forgiven and guilt can be washed away. (Enos 1:1-20 Words of life brought desire for forgivness. With forgivness, guilt washed away. Desire grew from concern for self to concern for others).