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No conviction of sin

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by losthope, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

    All we can offer each other is the gift of ourselves. I can't speak in regard to your personal quest, only the history of my own, and I simply have to trust that whatever is important or valuable to you will resonate and the rest will be discarded.

    If my own faith consists in anything, it is a reverence for the force that was in Christ and other men and women whose lives were profoundly changed by their commitment and adoration of Goodness and Virtue, not as a tepid desire, but as the focus of their lives, embodied in whatever form of God they chose to worship. Moral relativists will say this is nonsense, but, with a few exceptions, courage, compassion, fidelity, generosity, restraint, tolerance and forgiveness are universal values, esteemed by most cultures.

    For the most part, I believe many Christian churches have betrayed the intense radical urgency of Jesus' desire to see the whole world transfigured by love and the justice of God. They have betrayed Christ by becoming bourgeoisie, exclusive, and obsessed with private emotion at the expense of social, political and economic justice. I also think they focus too heavily on the God of yesterday by obsessing about the Bible, which was written for illiterate people who lived in tribes and thought the sun revolved around the earth. Of course, Christ's being and Christ's message is eternal and universal, but, imo, the Bible has become a false idol and a graven image of the people who read it, rather than God.

    I am more interested in the God of tomorrow, not the God of yesterday. We are all called to embody "Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven" and that should be the focus of our attention and efforts.

    I believe that we, like Christ, are created to incarnate the "divine" on earth by making a total gift of ourselves to love. That is what both Joey and I are trying to do, from our own perspectives and understanding. Of course there is always a touch of ego involved in these things, but the motivating force is a sincere desire to be of service in some way to a person in need.

    What has always struck me is that God seems to appear to people when they finally "give up". Jesus certainly surrendered to God at the point in his agony when His Father was absent. The Buddha roamed around for years experimenting with different ways to find God...austerity,prayer, service,etc....then gave up the search, sat down under a tree and BAM.

    I've never had any religious experiences so maybe I haven't quite given up. But, you know what? I’ve also given up on doubt. If I am worshipping a hope, a dream, and an illusion, so be it.
  2. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To Hospes,

    You wrote this:
    There is no rush for you to respond. I know what it is like to be busy. So, go ahead and ask your questions.

    What I meant was that I would recognise that it was the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin. However, the result could be that I recognise sin for what it is as well, not from my point of view but something of the way that God sees sin. Now I can recognise sin, but I do not get passionate about it to the extent that I have a desperate need for forgiveness and salvation.

    Maybe my explanation means that I do not need to answer your two questions. But I will say that I am quite able to recognise sin, and to call something good or evil, mostly based on the motivation of the person or people concerned, on the obvious consequences of their actions, and on their attitude to how it may affect other people. That is my recognition of good and evil, and I realise that God may regard things differently.

    I am beginning to wonder if you are hinting that a person who does not know God, would have no conception of good and evil. However, to answer your question, it is related to what I wrote about good and evil, and the importance of the consequences of actions and the effects on other people. If something that I have done is wrong, and it has affected someone else badly, then I would want to apologise and to make it up to them. It is not just conforming to expected behaviour; it is trying to live up to my ideas of right and wrong.

    Oh yes.

    Romans 3:11 is quoting from the Old Testament, saying that nobody is seeking God. There is nothing about God motivating them.

    No, I would not ask God to give me the ability to feel emotions. Mainly because if I had emotions and then had what appeared to be spiritual experiences, I would then know for certain that it was just the emotions and not from God. And that would probably make me turn my back on God for good. Indeed, with the motivation and passion that having emotions would give me, I could even work enthusiastically to persuade Christians that they also did not really know God.

    If I am going to find God, it would have to be as I am now, without emotions.

    If only...
  3. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    So you have an objective understanding of what is considered to be sinful in the eyes of God through some knowledge of the Bible BUT believe you need a deeper personal understanding of your own sinfulness? What stages do you go through when you realise you have done something wrong and "think" convicted in your everyday life?
    That last sentence really does make me think you are concerned that you have lost salvation because in your personal life you stopped all christian activity. You said that you never stopped believing Christianity, you stopped living it.
    Perhaps a person who feels spiritual joy grows closer to God and stronger in their faith that helps through the tough times? If it's only emotional joy then a person will not show any actual change? Look at the fruits of the Spirit. galatians 5:22-24/ Some of those fruits take a long time to mature. If an emotional experience is also a spiritual experience then some spiritual growth will also occur.

    Here I bet you're about to say "but I never feel anything, then I'll never feel spiritual experience". No no no. If you can "think" worry, "think" love then it is possible for you to "think" spiritual joy as well. What is most important is to ensure that you are actually spiritually alive through genuine faith in God first.
    I don't know if it's got much to do with spiritual discernment. I think I am able to read people's behaviour well overall. One benefit of being brought up in a difficult family is that you learn to read people's mood and unspoken words very well. All my music training probably helps too. The key, the tempo, the melody, how long the one song is sung for.... With everyday music are you able to "think" the right music for the right mood e.g. without having to rely on advice what to play at a dinner party?

    With worship I look more at the actual lyrics. I can feel the difference most when the lyrics are worshipping God Himself and when the lyrics are focused on one's love of God. First is God-focused, second tends to be self-focused. People's behaviour changes as a result. The first the mood is more reverential. The second it feels more emotional and personal. In churches whose worship is almost entirely made up of the second category I am left stone-cold and embarressed and self-conscious because everyone seems to be experiencing what I don't. After surgery the church I was attending (until approx 2001) suddenly felt completely foreign to me.
    Yes depression in your case may also be contributing to your lack of experiences. Is it well treated overall?
    You could also spend time praying for people in the audience. e.g. see a child in the next row playing up, pray for his Mum and Dad's patience, wisdom in bringing him up, for their marriage stability. Look across the room and see a man looking very sad. Pray for improvement in his circumstances, for God to help him etc. Time spent in intercession is never wasted time.
    God has engraved your name in His hand because He loves you so much. What does that mean to you?
    God does not do the things we do things. I wish we had it easier. I wish we didn't need so much faith. I wish I didn't need so much faith!!!! However that is what He requires of us. Are you willing to trust God?
    You're definitely strong in the thinking department. God is able to use your thoughts if you let Him? Have you given Him your direct personal consent to guide you through your thoughts and mind?
    That sounds so wistful. Don't give up hope. You're still breathing after all. When there's life there's hope Losthope. :hug:

    P.S. Here's a talk I had put on my favourites list for you (for when I thought it was the right time to introduce it). The Assurance of Salvation - Dr. Bob Jones Forget about whether you feel/felt the "feelings" the preacher describes as part of assurance of salvation. Do/did your thoughts, your thinking, your mindset, your actual everyday behaviour match the description of a person who believes they are saved?
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  4. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    You recommended this:
    It was a relatively short sermon and I had time to listen to it today. He was speaking about the assurance of salvation, and he made three main points. With each point I have added an approximate quote from his words.

    1 – For salvation you need your sins forgiven. Inevitably people will fall into sin, but you should not repeatedly enjoy sinning, and you should ask for forgiveness, to maintain your fellowship with God. He also said, “If you have no fellowship with God, you have no assurance of salvation.”

    2 – You need the witness of the Holy Spirit with your spirit, and have the work of the Holy Spirit showing in your life. He also said, “If you have assurance in your heart that your sins are forgiven...”

    3 – You have to pray and read the Bible frequently, and accept the authority of the Bible. He also said, “Someone is saved because God promises it.”

    Now, you ask if my thoughts, my thinking, my everyday behaviour matched the description of a person who believes they are saved. First I will attempt to remember what I was like when I was a believer, many years ago.

    1 – I tried not to fall into sin. To be honest, I do not think that my behaviour in this respect changed very much from before I believed, after I became a believer. I did ask for forgiveness – though as I have said before, not with anything that could be described as a conviction of sin. With regard to his words, I gradually began to recognise that I did not have fellowship with God, and so I began to lose the assurance of my salvation.

    2 – I never had any evidence of the witness or any other work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am not aware of having a spirit that the Holy Spirit could relate to. Did I have assurance in my heart that my sins were forgiven? Yes at first, because that was what God promised. But inevitably when I began to doubt my salvation I was less sure about having my sins forgiven.

    3 – As a believer I prayed and read my Bible at least twice a day, often more. Did I accept the authority of the Bible? Yes, at least in principle. Yes, I believed that I was saved because of the promises in the Bible. Until I realised that I was still lacking fellowship with God, and then I began to doubt.

    Those answers are for the time that I was a believer. Or to some extent, two sets of answers, one for when I first became a believer, and one for when I began to have serious doubts. Now for how it is now:

    1 – I still try not to fall into sin in many ways. Though sometimes I do break the odd commandment, maybe most of them, and try to justify to myself that it is all right. I recognise that my sins may not be forgiven but it does not worry me at all. But until I get a conviction of sin and really need a saviour, it will probably stay that way.

    2 – I still have no awareness either of my own spirit or of the action of the Holy Spirit in my life. I still have no assurance that my sins are forgiven, possibly because I never had a real conviction of sin. Although I also recognise other possible reasons why they may (or may not) have been forgiven.

    3 – I no longer pray or read the Bible on a regular basis. No prayer of mine has ever been answered. I do not accept the authority of the Bible. I want to have trust in God, not in a book. For me, accepting the authority of the Bible could only come after I have assurance of trust in God.

    Finally, do or did my thoughts, my thinking, my mindset, my actual everyday behaviour match the description of a person who believes they are saved?

    When I was a believer, yes. Especially for the majority of the time that I was a believer, up until the last few difficult months.

    Nowadays no. Of course I am aware of what the thoughts, thinking, mindset and behaviour of Christians is like, and so I can write about it and discuss it. But do I act in these ways now? No.

    I will deal with the rest of your posting separately.
  5. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    delete double entry
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  6. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    Can I get rid of this double entry?
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2011
  7. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    T0 saralynn,

    You wrote this:
    Very true. I do have a personal quest, although sometimes in my attempts to find out information relevant to the quest, I lose track of what I am really aiming for.

    Glad you said many Christian churches, rather than all of them. I agree with you; there are some churches that have taken a side road. Fortunately not all of them.

    I described this in a different way, suggesting that for many Christians their trinity seems to consist of the father, the son and the Bible, or some other combination including the Bible. You are right that, at least for some Christians, the excessive focus on the Bible leads to thinking that God more or less stopped doing anything around 1900 years ago. If God matters, then God matters both now and in the future, not just in Bible times.

    I am also motivated to be of service, in my own way, to people in need.

    What works for one person may not necessarily work for another person. Maybe some find God by searching, some find God by giving up, some fail to find God, and some find a different path.

    I admire you for following your own path, which I would guess is the result of your spiritual experiences and spiritual non-experiences. I am trying to follow my path; it is just that before I can move on, I need to clarify some things in my mind first.
  8. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    I think your description is pretty accurate when you say that I have an objective understanding of how God regards sin but not a deep personal understanding of how God regards sin. But when you ask about the stages I go through when I feel convicted of having done something wrong, I really do not know how to answer the question. It is mainly linked to my thought that people (people old enough to know better, that is) should have to deal with the consequences of their own actions, because otherwise they will never learn to behave differently. So if possible it is linked to recompense or apology – though sometimes that is not easy because it can cause more problems than it solves. Sorry if that is not quite the answer you were looking for.

    I do not think that I would lose salvation due to stopping Christian activity; that sounds too much as if it is an aspect of salvation by works. But I did stop believing that I was a Christian, because of my disappointing experience of faith, even though I very much wanted to be a Christian. What I wrote is that I really have no idea whether or not I was really saved during my time as a believer. Maybe God accepted me, maybe not. I have no definite evidence either way; my experience is ambiguous in that respect, and the Bible also does not deal with my situation clearly. There are lots of Bible promises, but it is by no means clear that they would apply to me.

    The idea that the difference between an emotional experience and a spiritual experience is that you are changed by a spiritual experience but not by an emotional one, is one explanation of spirituality that I have heard – though there are other explanations. But I do agree that a person who believes that they had a spiritual experience such as spiritual joy will probably find that it strengthens their faith and helps them through tough times. It was the lack of such spiritual experience that meant that I was not able to hold onto my faith during the tough times.

    There are two points here. First, emotions gain most of their power from the way that they affect a person’s feelings. For someone like me who can only think things like love and joy, these things are of much less significance. They are certainly not going to be powerful enough to change me or cause some kind of spiritual growth.

    Second, you say that first I have to ensure that I am spiritually alive through genuine faith in God. I certainly did have genuine faith in God during most of my time as a believer, but I was never aware of being spiritually alive. Nowadays, of course, I no longer have faith in God. But it has made no difference whether I believe or do not believe, I never had any awareness of being spiritually alive.

    Yes, some people who live in a difficult family situation do learn to read moods well. Some moods maybe better than others. Other people in difficult families are not able to read the moods of others, and end up in perpetual anxiety because they never know what might be about to happen.

    It may seem a strange thing for me to say, as a person who writes, plays and listens to music, but I would not have a clue about music for a dinner party, or for any other situation. No music, probably. I am of course aware that some types of music would be totally unsuitable for some situations. I would not want a rousing march as background to a quiet chat, for example.

    That is an interesting distinction in Christian music, between praising God and focussing on the self. There are probably other types too, such as songs based on a Bible passage. I will listen out for the different types when I next find myself having to listen to Christian music. I totally understand what you mean when you say that you are left stone-cold because other people seem to be experiencing what you do not, during Christian music.

    I think in my case it was more that the lack of experience of God was causing the depression, rather than the other way round. However, I suspect that the reason why depression prevents people “experiencing God” is because depression suppresses the positive emotions such as love and joy, and so people can never have what you call spiritual joy or other spiritual emotions, and so they feel separated from God. It is a form of confirmation of my suspicion that most so-called spiritual experiences are merely emotional experiences that the person labels as spiritual. If depression knocks out positive emotional experiences, that is bad enough. But if it also knocks out spiritual emotions, it effectively separates people from God. An illness that separates people from God? I don’t remember seeing that in the Bible. That is one of the reasons why I have a deep suspicion of anything involving the emotions having a real spiritual basis.

    The idea of me praying for someone else is ridiculous. Never in my entire life has a prayer of mine been answered. If I pray for someone, it more or less guarantees that it will never happen. I would not wish to “unbless” people in that way.

    Absolutely nothing. Sorry.

    God does not do the things we do things. I wish we had it easier. I wish we didn't need so much faith. I wish I didn't need so much faith!!!! However that is what He requires of us. Are you willing to trust God?

    Am I willing to trust God? Yes. Am I ready to trust God? No. Because there is some kind of problem that has to be dealt with first. There is no point in pretending that it does not exist, or that it does not matter.

    I call myself losthope because that is my experience. To me, whatever Paul wrote, hope is more important than faith or love. I had hope when both of the others were absent. It was when I lost hope, that I stopped calling myself a believer.

    Your words suggest that what matters is being saved, rather than when you are saved. If you think in terms of eternity, I can understand this. But I do not think in terms of eternity. I never wanted more than to serve God in this life. So a deathbed conversion could be, for me, a failure.
  9. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    I gave you my answers about sin, spiritual awareness and Bible, topics drawn from the on-line sermon. You responded by quoting from an ebook by Pastor Bill Randle: http://www.theothersideoftheriver.co...endingNets.pdf At the end of your posting you said that you wanted me to read the book.

    Clearly the book has resonated with you in some way, and you believe that it would be helpful to me. I did not find it helpful. With a very few exceptions I understand all of the words in the sentences, but sometimes I was not able to understand the real meaning of the sentences. I read the extracts several times, in case perhaps I was too tired to concentrate, or something. But no, I was still unable to make much of it. For example he writes of having the law written in the person’s heart by the holy ghost. I am sorry but to me that is completely meaningless. I can only assume that it is either a spiritual truth (and I am not really sure what a spiritual truth is, let alone being able to understand any spiritual truth), or it is something that involves the emotions. Or maybe both.

    I could comment on some of what he has written, where I have at least a partial understanding of what he is trying to say. But instead I will say that my experience as a believer was completely different from what he writes about, and that where he attempts to describe a person who is saved, the description does not fit me now, and as far as I can tell, given my difficulty in understanding what he writes, I do not know whether or not it would have fitted me much better when I was a believer.
  10. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    Have you found the audio links I have given better than the reading ones? If that is the case I'll choose audio links for you if I happen to come across any good ones (that I think are relevant anyway). People do communicate differently when actually talking to other people. A lot less likely to use christian terminology as much as well.
    He is guilty of "christianese" there. :) When someone becomes a christian that person starts to suddenly understand things from God's point of view, a viewpoint that they never had before. Notice emphasis on starts. That law knowledge will grow as a person matures in their faith. e.g. that person will be able to understand how certain ancient commandments are relevant to personal issues in the 21st century. Some people will find that easy because of good family upbringing. They may not even realise the fine-tuning in the background. Others will have a lot to work through before their conscience starts to get pricked regularly by God.

    e.g. a painter is doing his taxes. He received a cash-in-hand payment for a big house. Before he was a christian he would have told himself "no-one will know, everybody's doing it tough these days so I won't declare it." Now he is a christian he knows that commandment "do not steal" applies to him if he did not reveal his true income. He now understands that in his heart/mind in a different perspective , "feels" convicted, his conscience is triggered like it was not before his conversion. It is conviction from the Holy Spirit that now makes him determined to do the right thing, not fear, social pressure, or family upbringing. That would not have happened before his becoming a christian.

    Let's say another painter who claims to be a christian gets a cash-in-hand payment as well. He decides to not put it on his taxable income. "Who will ever know? I sure need all the help I can get and I bet everyone else does it as well." That second man does not feel any remorse at all. Even worse the thought does not even occur to him about what God says about stealing and deception (remember tax evasion AND false declaration of income) - would you doubt if he was a real christian?
    Don't get concerned Losthope. It would have been challenging reading to many christians who aren't familiar with Biblical language as well. I bet I have made you read more christian material than you have for years. The mind does forget what it doesn't use after a while. :)

    P.S. I'll answer your other entry tomorrow.
  11. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    I don’t think it makes a lot of difference whether it is written or audio. Each can have good and bad, sensible or prejudiced, long or short, and so on. A written one may be difficult because it is more likely to use complicated terminology and long sentences. Whereas in an audio presentation, the language may be easier to understand but there is more scope for prejudice and waffling to occur.

    You say that when a person becomes a Christian they start to understand things from God’s point of view. Is that because the Holy Spirit starts to work in them, or is it more because they learn Christian attitudes from other Christians? Or maybe a bit of both? Whichever it is, the different way of thinking would probably develop and become more natural to the person, the longer they have been in their faith.

    However, it would only be like this for a person, who has no previous background of Christian knowledge and thinking. If the person grew up in a Christian family they would already be aware of Christian thinking, and would have learned how to look at things from God’s point of view, before themselves becoming a Christian. Or for someone like me, with years of learning from Christians before I was able to make a commitment and become a believer, I also would be familiar with the idea of seeing things from God’s point of view.

    In other words, only for some people would becoming a Christian imply that they would start to understand things from God’s point of view. But even for the person who is already familiar with Christian thinking, there ought to be a change of behaviour, so that they begin to act more in accordance with how they think God would want them to act.

    Would any of this necessarily require the action of the Holy Spirit in a person? No, it could simply be that they have learned how to think and how to behave from other Christians, and maybe from Christian literature, including the Bible, as well. So while I agree with you that there would at least be the beginning of a change in behaviour, even if not a change of understanding, the cause could be from copying other Christians rather than any work of the Holy Spirit.

    You gave the example of the two painters deciding whether or not to declare some of their earnings to the tax man. I can also imagine other decisions and reasoning that some Christians might make. For example one Christian might have a completely different motive, and decide that as he cannot serve both God and mammon, he should give some of the money to the church instead of giving it to the tax man. Telling himself that he is doing God’s will, and definitely not sinning against God, although from a secular point of view he would be regarded as sinning.

    Recently I have read and listened to more Christian material than usual. But I have read and listened to Christian material before, on my own initiative. It did not take me long to discover that if I wanted to hear more about a Christian topic, I would soon find plenty of on-line sermons on the subject, as well as reading material. Some of it helpful, some not very helpful. Some suggesting to me that I might be saved, and some of it tending to confirm my belief that I have never known God.
  12. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    OK that is pretty complex I have to admit. :)
    Have the christians that you have spent the most time with always seemed to believe personal experience is proof that that person has a genuine relationship with God and therefore saved?
    There are a lot of things that the Bible does not clearly address in words. Some very major ones in fact. That was a major issue for some of the women that attended that child abuse recovery Bible study. If the Bible did clearly address every single issue that every single person will struggle with then the Bible would have to be as large as the internet itself.

    Yes there are a lot of Bible promises. Keep them in context. When reading promises, identify whether they were for the Jews only (Old Testament), the disciples themselves, early christian church only, christians overall, or mankind?
    This time you are able to identify that you were mistakenly looking for emotions as proof of spiritual life. Now you are being realistic and able to look at your own situation more logically. If emotions -as part of spiritual experience - are a prerequisite for faith then I would not be typing to you would I?!!!!
    Yes that's right. So stop looking for them, stop comparing your life to feeling christian's lives, and accept for whatever reason God has made you the way you are and look to use that ability to bless others. matthew 25:31-46/ You will come to realise how you did have a relationship with God through other people.
    If you try and make excuses to not do that then you are definitely guilty of self-pity. (Something else you and I have in common.)

    Faith = spiritual life. If you believe you have spiritual life. John 6:47 , 2 corinthians 4:1-6 Look throughout the rest of the New Testament and every passage dealing with faith and spiritual life says the same type of thing. It does not say you will experience feelings of spiritual life to prove you have a genuine faith. It does not say you will get signs and wonders to prove you have a genuine faith. It does not say you will always know God's will to prove you have a genuine faith.

    Have people told you what type of mood does the music you write generally have? Do you favour the minor or major key or certain tempos? Which composers do you think your music sounds most like?
    Well you have a better understanding why you don't experience "God" now. You have to ensure from now on that you don't compare your situation with feeling christians. You are on a voyage of discovery that the vast majority will never go on. You have to take a very different walk of faith. And to put it more clinically - if for biological reasons you have never experienced emotions, it is logical to assume you will continue to NOT experience emotions whether in everyday settings or religious settings.
    I hope that knowledge is now of some comfort to you.
    What about the Book of Job?!!!
    Frankly that statement is blatantly self-pitying and extremely selfish. And don't try and say I don't understand what you're going through. I have gone through the same patterns of thinking as well.

    You are at a crossroads now:
    1. either keep going down the dark and shadowy road of self-pity and despair. It is so easy and so familiar to you now but the further you go the deeper the decline and the darker it gets. Continue justifying not taking your eyes of yourself because no-one else has it as hard as you have, that everyone else has it easy and it's not fair *stomping feet and toddler throwing temper tantrum on floor picture here* proverbs 16:25

    2. Or change directions, change your mind, REPENT of your extreme self-focus, self-pity (as I did approx Jan 2009 - it was a major cause of my depression) and look to bless others instead. God will minister to you via others. God will bless you and love you through other people responding to your good works and time spent ministering to them. Return to church, this time supporting other people and looking to help them. Stop expecting to be babied by other christians. There are a lot of hurting people out there far worse off then you ever have been. By bearing other peoples' burdens your load will start to be lightened as wellgalatians 6:1-10

    Yes you will ALWAYS have it harder than most people, you have never felt God's presence. Yes it does seem unfair that you were born the wrong side-of-the-tracks where it comes to christian experience. Think of me - I lived on spiritual easy street in comparison and I am now living on your side-of-tracks. My Dad would bug me with that image: "two men in a jail cell - one looks at the mud and one looks at the stars". Are you going to continue wallowing in the self-pity mud or are you going to look outside your situation and look to help other people instead?

    I used to think poor me with all the other circumstances as well but it has all been in training for my future battles. Including this major mind battle with you. You have to repent of your anger and your resentment towards God for not making it easy for you NOW!!!!!

    Either decide to make the best of it and trust that God uses difficult circumstances, turns lead into gold, can turn cloud into sunshine romans 8:28, or keep going the way you are and you will go the path of this writer instead. ecclesiastes 1 Yes these words are harsh. I am being a big sister and shaking some sense into you. :hug: proverbs 27:5-6
    After those very tough words above I totally understand your difficult situation and I sympathise. I know your situation is a very difficult one. It is far better that you are honest with yourself even though it is very painful for you right now.
    I didn't realise that was what I was saying and I think you're right. We've got to look outside of our limited time on earth and look at the big picture. You are in that picture. You may feel like you aren't because you don't feel anything BUT feelings CAN be an illusion, and they are ALWAYS fleeting.
  13. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    I hope this works. Christian Forums looks a bit different today with many of the icons and other aspects not showing properly. No doubt it results from the maintenance work done recently on the website and hopefully they will get it properly fixed soon.

    You sent a fairly long posting responding to my comments. I will go through it and reply, but first there are three points that I want to deal with – emotions, self-pity and helping other people.

    First, I know that I am never going to feel emotions in the way that most people do. I also realise that it is extremely unlikely that I will ever experience spiritual emotions either. This means that there are aspects of life that I am always going to miss out on. However, this should not necessarily mean that I will always lack any experience of God working in my life. God can act in many different ways, and only some of these ways involve the emotions.

    During my time as a believer I became concerned about my situation because I had no awareness of God responding to me in any way. Thinking about it now (and my ideas have developed gradually over the years) I can think of several possible reasons for this, including the following:

    1 – For most people, God acts through the emotions and in no other way, and I am unable to benefit from this.
    2 – God did act on me when I was a believer but I was not aware of it.
    3 – God wants to wait until the time is right.
    4 – God does not want me as a believer.
    5 – I was never a true believer eg I came to God with the wrong attitude.
    6 – I am not yet ready to be a Christian. Or I was not ready to be a Christian at the time I was a believer.
    7 – God has some other plans for me.
    8 – I am just obsessed with being a believer.
    9 – There is no God.

    No doubt there are other possibilities that I have not included. The points I am making are that my lack of emotions is only one possibility among many, and that I am not blaming God for the problems because the cause could be me.

    Second, you wrote about a “poor me” attitude and self-pity. Have I ever been like that? Yes, there were times when there was self-pity. But they did not last for long. Any self-pity disappeared in the months after I abandoned my faith. It has not been there for many years.

    Similarly, there were odd occasions during those difficult months after I stopped being a believer, when sometimes I blamed God, or resented God for making things difficult for me. Once again, that ended many years ago.

    What I am trying to do now is to understand why my experience of being a believer was so disappointing. When I am more confident about the cause of the problem, I will know what to do about it. That might be to become a believer again, it might be to lose interest in Christianity finally, or it might be to try to persuade Christians that they do not really know God. Or maybe something else; it depends on what conclusions I come to. In other words, I am currently doing the preparation for the rest of my life.

    Third, you suggested that it would be better for me to concentrate less on myself and more on other people. To help other people instead of looking inward. Several people have suggested that I might find God through helping other people, some of them giving different explanations about why it would bring me closer to God.

    My answer is that in one way or another I have spent much of my life helping other people. Though as far as I am aware it has not brought me any closer to God. People know that if they need help, I am a person to turn to. Today, for example, I will be seeing three people and helping them with their difficulties. I will be concentrating on them, not on myself.

    Looking at it in a positive way, earlier this year I was nominated for an award for being the most helpful person around. No, I didn’t win. Others see it as less positive, such as the person who suggested that my hobby was collecting lame ducks.

    I will reply separately to the detailed aspects of your posting.
  14. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    Yes, you are right that God can approach us through other means.
    Mental: insight, discernment, increased knowledge, wisdom. All things that you may be stronger in through God's action in your life, you merely didn't realise it.
    Prayer: answered prayer for ourselves or others. Answered prayers could be "yes, no or wait" though. You may have had prayers answered but again hadn't realised how they had been answered e.g. "would have happened anyway".
    People: God sending people your way for fellowship (and to minister to you), for life experiences (whether difficult people or wonderful people), God sending people your way to be blessed by you as well. That definitely sounds like your spiritual gift. :)
    1. I don't know about most people, I would say many people. Feeling people would be the ones who would identify feelings from God more readily. A cynic might say their emotions are mere emotions and not spiritual though. I would be very interested in reading testimonies of extremely thinking people being ministered to God via feelings (imagine Dr.Spock!) because that would definitely be out of the normal for them.
    2. I am very sympathetic to this option.
    3. Why would God wait?
    4. I totally disagree with that.
    5. Well many people come to God with wrong attitudes. Their faith in Jesus/God may be completely genuine though.
    6. I don't know where you were spiritually at that time so of course only God knows.
    7. What type of plans would exclude you from salvation?!!!! That is dangerously close to viewing God as terribly mean.
    8. Obsession with religion is different to obsession with relationship with God.
    9. Wishful thinking and far more faith needed e.g. disbelieving all evidence for Jesus' birth, life, miracles, teachings, death and resurrection.
    That is the second time you have used the rationalisation strategy to excuse your failing to keep the first commandment. matthew 22:35-40/
    First was the spiritual equivalent of Clinton's "yes I smoked but I didn't inhale" answer to whether he had smoked marijuana.
    "Oh yes I tried other religions' practices and spoke to other religions' teachers but I didn't experience anything. Therefore disobedience to the Bible's commandment to not worship other gods doesn't count and doesn't apply to me." First FAIL.
    Now it is " Oh yes I did hold deep anger and resentment towards God for never revealing Himself to me but I forgot about that, that's water under the bridge so that unconfessed anger, bitterness and resentment towards God doesn't count." Second FAIL.
    That is perfectly OK and totally understandable.
    Do you know that is exactly why I got you to watch that youtube video of Dr. James White's lecture on evidence for Jesus?
    It doesn't matter whether you ever see any obvious sign in your life of God. Jesus Christ lived, died, was buried and rose from the dead. Any sane person will admit that Jesus existed. Faith in Jesus' resurrection is what makes all the difference. 1 corinthians 15 If you manage to conclude once-and-for-all that Christianity is unreal merely because you personally haven't experienced anything then I feel great pity for you.
    You are assuming that God hasn't ministered to you through other people. God has given your life meaning. God has given you a purpose. God has blessed you with recognition for doing great things for others. As for the amount you have done for others - so a person without feelings is somehow far more compassionate, more caring, has more empathy, more understanding than most feeling christians out there?!!! Does it occur to you that God has worked on your heart by giving you that drive?

    I am curious - how do you know who to help and who to trust without any emotions? What type of alternative radar do you have to assess whether people are in genuine need or fakes?
  15. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't go distinguishing between emotions and "spiritual emotions." How are you doing with the concept that G-d is not dependent upon our emotions? That is to say, they do not stop Him. Rather, they interfere with US. I spent many years with a firm conclusion that I'd be better off with no emotion, and to a large extent I was right, and to a large extent I was able to control this.
    I was a VERY hard-hearted teenager ;)

    It was also a conscious choice to allow emotion back in, and it quickly proved to me that that is no way to live; HOWEVER, this quite different from your situation. You do not "stuff" or deny your own feelings, so they do not wreak havoc.

    You could / should consider this a GIFT.

    G-d acts as He chooses. Our emotions react to our environment, especially our own thoughts. I would say that NO action of G-d in any capacity can possibly be diminished by no emotional reaction. Quite the opposite! Our natural emotions can stop G-d right in His tracks; and you are spared all that.

    You made a good list, and you have obviously put some thought into this. You can dismiss these items here, Scripturally.

    I think you have no waiting to do for G-d to "show up" in your life! So the phrase "heart felt prayer" may never have meaning to you. So what? Apparently G-d is pleased to Live and move and have His being within you. Prayer is simply being aware of what G-d wants to do, respecting the fact that He gave you dominion, and agreeing that it needs to be done. Usually this is the first step of what we ourselves do. If the whole Church spent 90% LESS time on emotion, and 90% MORE time on doing the right things, we would impact the world far more.
  16. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    Not that I can remember, no. Around the time that I first became a believer some did tell me to expect God to respond – some kind of personal experience – but they said not to expect something immediately, necessarily. Really, I was the one who commented about a lack of personal experience of God, but not until about a year after I first became a believer.

    That is right. There are many issues that the Bible does not deal with. At its most trivial, the Bible does not tell you how to drive a car, or make a rice pudding. But there are also many serious issues not touched in the Bible.

    I do try to keep Bible promises, and anything else in the Bible, in context. Sometimes it is obvious who a passage is addressed to, but sometimes it is not at all obvious.

    No, I was not looking for emotions as proof of spiritual life. I was looking for a response from God. Any kind of response from God. There are many ways in which God could act, that do not involve the emotions. But these never happened for me either.

    I am sorry but I do not understand what you mean when you say that I could have a relationship with God through other people.

    I would have thought that we are living proof that faith does not equal spiritual life. In John 6:47, Jesus says that those who believe have eternal life. Not spiritual life. I am not interested in eternal life, but I am interested in having a relationship with God. I also looked at the passage in 2 Corinthians, but could not understand its relevance here.

    It is not proof of having a genuine faith that I am writing about. It is proof that God has responded, that God has answered the prayer for salvation. Besides, the 2 Corinthians passage implies that there are some who will not see the light of the gospel.

    I probably do favour certain tempos. Lots of waltzes, for example. But no preference for major and minor keys, and sometimes I write in two keys at once, possibly major + minor at the same time. Not sure whose music mine sounds like; nobody has suggested that.

    Very true. Though I repeat that God could respond in many ways that are not related to emotions. The fact that God has not responded in a way that I can recognise makes me wonder if God cannot or will not respond in this way.

    I thought I was just telling you the truth. You may well understand what I am going through, but I do not understand why you suggest that the statement is self-pitying or selfish.

    1. I realise that you think I am self-pitying. As I have said before, I disagree. If there was ever any self pity, it had definitely disappeared 35 years ago.

    2. I spend a lot of my time supporting other people, but it has made no difference to my situation at all. My load, if that is the right word for it, has not lightened; I still do not know God. I am certainly not always babied by other Christians; I am sometimes able to support Christians as well, even in their spiritual difficulties.

    I do not have anger or resentment towards God. I am trying to understand my experience. I am not trying to lay blame.

    I am trying to make use of my experience. But first I need to be at least reasonably sure that what I want to do is feasible.
  17. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    If the rain falls for both the just and the unjust, then life experiences can also happen to anyone, whether or not God is acting in their life. I am aware of nothing involving mental, prayer or people that changed between before I believed, and after I became a believer. If God did give me increased mental abilities, I did not see it, and nor did anyone else. When I said that my prayers were never answered, I meant it. There was nothing that happened, so I could not possibly have said that it “would have happened anyway.”

    You then responded to my list of nine possible reasons for my situation (recognising that there are other possibilities, not just nine, and even my “front runner” is not included). For some you gave reasons why they would not be right, and up to a point I agree with some of your comments. Though I do disagree with some. For example, if God wants me to wait, then who am I to question God’s motives? Similarly if my name has never been in the book of life.

    My apologies. I had not realised that I was giving the impression that I denying or excusing my failing to keep the first commandment. When I looked at the commandments, I had definitely broken at least nine of them. Maybe all ten. I admit it.

    It was more evidence that the Bible as we know it is close to what was originally written, rather than evidence for Jesus as such.

    During my time as a believer, one of the Bible studies that I led was about the truth of the resurrection. People told me afterwards how it had helped them to strengthen their own belief in the resurrection. So yes, back then I really believed it. But it did not make any difference to my lack of response from God.

    I would not go so far as concluding that Christianity is unreal, based on my lack of spiritual experience. I might make some conclusions about how God acts, and how many people who think they know God are possibly self-deceived by their emotions, but that would still leave some believers who may well have a real relationship with God.

    I might also decide that all religion, including Christianity, is not for me, based on my lack of spiritual awareness.

    What I would not do is what the people on that radio programme did, to conclude that God does a lot less nowadays than in New Testament times.

    Unfortunately God has not given me a purpose. While I was a believer I trusted that God had given me a purpose – though I never found out what God’s purpose for me was. And when you write of me having “drive”, that is just not me. I do not have drive.

    I do not see any of this as God-given. There is nothing in my life that I could not simply walk away from.

    I did not realise that you might need emotions to tell a genuine person from a fake. No doubt I get it wrong sometimes. But then, sometimes the fakes need help, too.
  18. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

    To razeontherock,

    You wrote this:
    I do not really understand emotions, let alone the possibility that there might be different types of emotions. So I am not going to be able to distinguish spiritual emotions.

    I agree in principle that God should not require our emotions in order to act. However, in practice it appears to me that usually what people describe as something coming from God is something that involved their emotions.

    In some circumstances, it is a gift. Whether a lack of emotions is a gift or a problem depends on the circumstances. If there is a panic occurring, come and stand next to me, because I will be the only calm person in the room. But when everyone else appears to be experiencing excitement or joy, I will still be the only calm person in the room.

    You may well be right in much of what you say here. But if you are right, to me it is an argument saying that God does not do anything with most believers, although I appreciate that you meant something quite different.

    I disagree about item 4. There are many Christians who do believe in predestination and the idea that God chooses some and not others. However, as an unbeliever I do not hold the Bible in such high esteem as you do. So it matters less to me that an idea is unscriptural.

    Sorry but I do not understand what you are trying to say here.
  19. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    It is understandable why you were wondering when God would respond to you as God apparently responded to others.
    That is another reason why it is so important to read the Bible regularly and carefully. If christians do that their mind will be renewed, they will remember the underlying commands that we are to follow. romans 12:2/
    What kind of response do you think would register as a direct intervention or communication to you as coming from God Himself not mere chance?
    God could be giving you love by sending loving people to you, God could be showing you His kindness through other people being kind to you, God could be correcting you by people who know you well and how to communicate to you on your own level. You have to recognise that as being from Him not mere coincidence though.
    If you have spiritual life - that only comes from faith in Christ/God Himself -that means an eternal life as well. You must have faith to receive spiritual/eternal life.
    I always liked Baroque suites especially composers like Bach. Preferred different timings to 4/4. He seems to be able to have two melodies going at the same time in the higher notes and the lower notes. He mixed minor and major keys throughout the piece. e.g. started A major, end first repeat E major, mid-way second section F# minor, then concludes with A major again. A lot of logic there.
    You are telling the truth, I respect your honesty. You definitely deserve the same as well. I would not be spending a lot of time in thinking what I should say as well as prayer for you otherwise.
    Take a step back and say "if I compare how I am thinking/acting with what God commands with the Bible, am I obeying or disobeying His commandment/s? The Bible says to rejoice in the Lord always, am I, was I doing that? "
    I don't expect that supporting other people will change your lack of experience either. What you should do is learn to see things through a different perspective. Does your life have meaning? Any one looking at how your life blesses others immediately can see that it most definitely does!!!! You however don't seem to be able to see that at the moment.
    Yes you should be trying to use your experiences the best way possible. All christians are supposed to live as servants of God as well living like sons and daughter of God.
  20. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    I think it is time for you to get out a long list and write down what has happened in your life, what you have learned, how that lesson you learned changed you, how that lesson you learned blessed someone who came your way that no-one else could have helped them with that problem. That seems to be your strongest area. And then share a few personal examples with me. Doesn't have to be long, but do it for your own sake.

    e.g. When I was moved to the mining town Karratha (North-West Western Australia) from the big city Melbourne where I had made some good friends I became deeply depressed and even had to go on antidepressant medicine for a while. During that dark time I became determined to work out my personal issues and to change how I thought with God's help - not through personal guidance or prayer - but through transforming my mind via online mp3 sermons. I wasn't up to reading christian books at the time.
    I must have got a bit stronger (mid 2009) even though I hadn't felt it. The vacant house next door had some full-blood aboriginals move in. We discovered that was the empty house was a housing commission house then. That group goes walkabout throughout the year, only living in the town when it is cold out bush.

    Their English was extremely poor. The best speaking woman's English was best because she had had to take her baby to have heart surgery in Melbourne years earlier. When they discovered I liked art they gave me a few paintings out of friendship. All the kids would run up to the house and say "hello army-man" to my husband when he came home.

    In the process I heard about the criminals in their families, the suicides, the despair, the alcoholism. We had to call the cops for them when alcoholic relatives came to visit and the ambulance when an elderly relative had heart problems because their English was so poor. It was a real eye-opener to why outback Australia has have such bad racism and hostility towards aboriginals. I was horrified when I had heard the local cop's wife say such negative things but now I was understanding why the cops didn't bother to turn up when they learnt it "was just the aboriginals" fighting again. I rejoiced at the end of the year when my husband was posted to a sea-side resort town sout-west of Melbourne where I pretty well recovered mentally for a year.

    So what good came of going through that you are asking? I thought all that direct personal knowledge of very dysfunctional abusive aboriginal family dynamics was never going to achieve anything. Then a few months ago a missionary wife came to my women's Bible study and told us about how they were going to be moving to an isolated town in NW Western Australia (a long way north of Karratha) to be working with Aboriginals in the area. She said something interesting about no longer being able to manage working overseas and how she'd had very bad depression after her last son was born. She sounded like she had some self-recrimination for being so depressed when she was supposed to be a christian.

    Afterwards I had to take her aside and tell her how much it was going to help her with the Aboriginals. They are full of despair, hopelessness, wishes to end-it-all (a very high suicide rate amongst young people), and she had experienced that and therefore will not judge them. I could tell her how she could relate to them on a very important heart level.

    Now I realise an atheist would say my helping another person about to live in a very similar situation with my knowledge of 1. what they experienced 2. what good will come from their own personal understanding/knowledge when working with those people was mere chance. A christian would say "wow, you were put there by God to learn those lessons". It really does depend on your worldview. Are you willing to carefully examine your life and see how your struggles have blessed others? hebrews 12:3-13/
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011