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No conviction of sin

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

  1. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    You may be correct in theory. But it is important to consider the Bible as a whole. Some people concentrate on small parts of the Bible and end up with a distortion. However, my understanding is that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, rather than reading the Bible, which would cause a person’s mind to be renewed. If only because I have been told several times that you cannot truly understand the Bible unless it is interpreted and made significant for you by the Holy Spirit.

    I would prefer not to answer that question directly. If I give an example, you could quite rightly say that there are many other examples that I could have suggested. I would prefer to leave it up to God to decide how to respond to me. I just hope that if God should respond to me, I would recognise it for what it is.

    I have to say that I have no recognition of God acting on me through other people.

    I appreciate that the Bible says that eternal life is on offer. It is just that I do not regard eternal life of as any consequence to me. There were other aspects of the total package that I was more interested in, like the opportunity to serve God in whatever way God asked me to serve. It may be because I lack spiritual life that I lack interest in eternal life.

    I did have faith. There is no doubt that I was a believer. Whether or not I was saved, I do not know – partly because I have no awareness of spiritual life.

    Thank you.

    Of course I am not rejoicing in the Lord. I can never do anything in the Lord, because I do not know the Lord. However, in principle I agree with you; I am not totally obeying the commandments implied by the Bible.

    You are right. I do not see my life having meaning. However, I understand what you are saying, that perhaps other people might say that my life has meaning. But the people who might say that my life has meaning, are those who only know me in a superficial way. Those who know me better do recognise that my life lacks meaning. Those who know me very well are even more definite that my life lacks meaning.

    Christians maybe. I do not class myself as a Christian. I know that you may think otherwise, but ultimately it would be what God thinks that would really matter.

    Maybe it is because I am tired after a busy week, but I am not able to give any examples just now. There are certainly people that I have helped in different ways. But I cannot think of any who were blessed that nobody else could have helped. I probably would have recognised that if it had happened, because I have always been on the lookout for such a situation.

    The only way in which I recognise that I might be the one person who could do it, is with regard to my lack of emotions, lack of spiritual awareness and apparent lack of any feedback from God when I was a believer. I know that I am not unique in that situation, but there are not all that many of us around. What I need to do is to find out just how to use that unusual combination in the best way. Looking at it from a Christian point of view, it could be that God might want me to use my unusual “talent” and experience in some special task that most Christians could never imagine. If so, it might be completely counter-productive for me to become a believer again just now. However, if God does have such a plan for me, I would appreciate a nudge from God in the right direction.

    I could not quite see the relevance of the passage in Hebrews, to what you had written.
     
  2. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I'll come back to your entry tomorrow but first two good links:

    In plain sight - Heart Of Matter goes into detail about repentance as being part of faith. Repentance far more than feeling etc.

    The Sin of Unbelief - Charles Spurgeon A classic sermon but be prepared for more formal English. I listened to it yesterday and thought it was definitely relevant to you. The feedback comment is a very good synopsis.
     
  3. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    I looked at the first link that you sent, In plain sight - Heart Of Matter and to most of the links given on that page that give more detail about each main topic. There was some good teaching there but it was definitely not flawless. For example, like many Christians they sometimes lose track of their knowledge of language when reading the Bible, and so read into a few words something that was never intended. An example is where they write about different tenses and make them more significant than they are. Perhaps this is why they insist that they have ideas different from those of most believers, and insist that their ideas are right.

    If I think about the message of the link as a whole, it would certainly consider me not to be saved. For example they stress that as part of repentance, feeling sorrow for sin is essential, recognising that the emotions play an important part in this. As I lack emotions, it would seem to imply that I am immune from repentance. And as they say that both repentance and belief are essential components of being saved, then presumably (if they are right) I would also be unsaveable.

    They also describe the changes that people experienced when they first became a Christian. They say that you may not feel these things immediately (although they give no examples of anyone like this) but stress that a true Christian will experience things soon. I experienced nothing at any time.

    They also say that being a Christian is a relationship, not a religion. I did not have a relationship.

    Finally they spend a large amount of space writing about judgement, eternity and what happens after death. That is not part of my agenda, as I have said before.

    Sorry but I did not find that it gave me hope.
     
  4. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Yes that is an unfortunate common practice of many christians. That is why it is so important to compare what christians say with what the Bible actually says in context.
    They also have several controversial views on minor parts of christian doctrine in other sections of that massive website. Overall their material is very good though, especially the discernment material. Remember the all-important rule of thumb: The Bible ALWAYS outranks christian writings no matter how eloquent or well-educated the writer may be. If in doubt throw it out.
    Yes I thought it might have that affect on you. Didn't you want to have some sense of conviction of sin?
    Do you really need to be reminded to approach words that imply feelings to substitute thinking or choosing in your case instead? e.g. Have you thought sorrow or remorse for sinning against God? Have you thought love towards God in thanks for sending Jesus to die in your place? romans 5:6-11/
    Have you forgotten being shown the original meaning of "metanoia" as actually meaning "change of mind" not "feelings of remorse or penance" already?
    If you were/are a christian you did/do have a relationship with God.
    It doesn't matter with it is part of your agenda or not. If God has promised us such things that is what matters, whether in this life or the next. Do you believe that?
    The Truth will you hope. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
  5. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    God causes all life experiences for the just and the just, therefore God is acting in believers' and non-believers' lives.
    If you genuinely made God your Lord as well as Saviour through faith in Christ did your worldview change? Did your motives, decisions and behaviour change? If that did happen isn't your passing from spiritual death to spiritual life a miracle?
    It is God whom you need to (genuinely) apologise to, not me. He will be the one who judges you. Ultimately you are only acountable to God.
    Has it occurred to you that your faith in God was given to you by God - isn't that a response from God to you personally? If faith is a gift from God then you were given that gift unlike so much of mankind (past and present). Why did/o you value your personal Christian faith itself so lowly? Isn't Jesus' death on the cross for your sins good enough for you? What makes you deserve even more than that?
    How do you know that your conclusions about how God acts would be correct, valid, acurate, or not? Do you know everything from all time? Is your memory perfect? Have you always been infallible? Do you always have perfect wisdom, insight, understanding and so on? Go on - ask your wife I dare ya.... ^_^
    I went through that phase trying to dismiss all religions because no religious experiences could be trusted. Had that "slight" *cough* big problem of knowing too much christian apologetics though. It takes a lot of mental effort to ignore reality.
    That's fine. Continuationist versus cessationist debate will go on until the end of time. What is impotant is to have faith in Christ and what He has done for us.
    Come on! You have typed how much you help others. Isn't blessing others a purpose?
    No emotions are only part of the package of telling whether a person is a good one or not. I can't rely on my emotions and I can't rely on facial expression recognition either (slightly impaired in my case). What I have learnt is to get people talking about themselves and their interests. I have also found humur is a great way to penetrate the mental armour and all the fronts people try to present to strangers. The real them quickly comes out. Yet another good thing about learning all the nursing interview techniques!!!!
     
  6. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    I wrote this:

    "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."

    And here is you response:

    Trying again:

    Without false evidence based on emotion, which other people seem to misinterpret as evidence, you seem to have God working in your life already. You can expand upon this if you choose, by understanding more of His ways.
     
  7. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    It is a partnership. The Holy Spirit reveals to us what the Bible means. Sometimes on a personal level, others on intellectual understanding level.
    In quite a few people's entries you have struggled with understanding metaphors and word pictures and you have asked for them to explain what they mean. How is your understanding of the Bible when only facts and historical narratives are involved?
    Again if you are waiting for signs and wonders to occur to make your faith exist and/or concrete then it is highly unlikely that you would/will ever be a christian.
    You have had me typing to you for a long time now. I am on the same level as you, without experiences, without obviously answered prayers. This is a feeling person talking now - I find that quite hurtful and in fact slightly insulting. I have shared how much you and I have in common and in spite of that I still have faith. Somehow everything I have typed has left so little impact. How many other people in the world with my medical AND information literacy qualifications, musical ability, personal time, AND neurological imperfections are likely to type to you or speak with you on your level? If you're expecting an angel to appear to you then that ain't gonna happen.
    And what are you going to do with that recognition? Are you going to ignore that, make excuses, or seek to make things right with God?
    There is a hint of subtle pride there. "Outsiders do not see things clearly as people who know me and now agree with me that my life has no meaning". I say outsiders see your situation clearly and objectively. People close to you have been worn down and depressed into agreeing with you. Slowly dripping taps do leave their mark eventually.

    You are definitely smart enough and eloquent enough to make your world view sound "oh so convincing" and your situation "oh so justified and dignified". Think the main character of a Greek or Shakespearean tragedies in a 21st century neurological setting and you deserve an Oscar/Grammy award. Anyone with enough verbal/literary skill is able to somehow argue black=white and night=day. You are using that skill to avoid faith itself. I know what you're up to even if those around you do not because I did exactly the same thing. There are hidden benefits to being considered different and handicapped on a certain level, people give you more understanding and don't come down on you as hard. You've taken it to the spiritual level as well just like I did. It may work on people, it sure won't work on God.
    No from pretty early on I realised I was typing to an "almost christian". Whether you are an "almost christian" from not enough faith that your faith is enough for salvation, or whether you are an "almost christian" because Christianity is now in the "too hard" basket is between you and God.
    I knew it would be challenging but you need to do it for your own sake. You have become too accustomed to looking at the world through your grey-coloured depression "life is meaningless" glasses.
    Yes that is possible. You are the unique person to do that. I can empathise with people with those issues from LOSS of experiences not from LACK of experience.
    Now that is an excuse-and-a-half. What is in it for you personally to not be a christian? What will you have to give up that you don't want to?
    Parents correct their children, not strangers' children. Parents correct their children out of love because they want what's best for them. If God is your parent then God will have used/will use your experiences to shape you as well.
     
  8. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    I will start with your response in posting 244 to what I wrote after reading In plain sight - Heart Of Matter. You wrote this:
    Yes, they also said in the website that the Bible is more important than any other writings, ancient or modern. For example they referred to Martin Luther and how he wrote about what the Bible said, in preference to other ancient writers. However, they also said that Martin Luther misunderstood the Bible in places – again preferring the Bible to his writings.

    There is of course the issue that the text of the Bible was fixed at a particular time in the past. There may be equally valid writings that have appeared since then, or writings from earlier times that have been discovered since then. However, I do not have access to these other writings and so I am happy to accept the Bible as an important source of information. Although I do not regard it, as many Christians do, as the word of God.

    I am not sure that I said I wanted to have a conviction of sin. Certainly not an emotional conviction of sin – though maybe there are other ways in which the Holy Spirit could cause a conviction of sin. What I wanted to find out, when I began this thread, was whether a conviction of sin was essential as part of the process of becoming a Christian. The general consensus, and in the link, is that a conviction of sin is an essential component.

    Yes, I could substitute thinking for feelings. But is that enough for God? My experience suggests not. What I noticed is that in the link in several places they condemn what they describe as a mere intellectual acceptance of the gospel. But that is all I am capable of, intellectual acceptance of the gospel. If giving my all is not enough, where does that leave me?

    Have I thought sorrow and remorse for sinning against God? At times when I was a believer, yes. It does not really happen now.

    Have I thought love towards God in thanks for sending Jesus to die in my place? No. First, I am not sure how to “think” love. I definitely could not think love for a God that I do not know. Second, without having a conviction of sin I do not have awareness of a need for a saviour, and so Jesus dying in my place is not special to me. There are other reasons too, but because some of my ideas may not be acceptable to many Christians I will not mention them here.

    No I have not forgotten about metanoia. But what I wrote is about what I had read in the link, and they said that both repentance and belief are essential components of salvation, and I was responding to this.

    Or you could put it the other way and say that if I did/do not have a relationship with God I was/am not a Christian. I know that there was no relationship. I do not know if I was/am a Christian.

    I imagine that there is much in the Bible that passes you by as being only of minor importance. The same is true for me, and I can only repeat that I have no interest in life after death. Do I believe in judgement, eternity etc? I really do not know, and it is not something that I will spend a lot of time thinking about and deciding if I believe it, because it is not important to me. Maybe one day it will be important, but for now it is not. Possibly because, as I have suggested before, I have no awareness of having a spirit, the part of a person that is said to live on after death.

    You wrote of eternal life as being one of the promises of God. There are other promises of God in the Bible as well – more abundant life, answers to prayer, a relationship with God, being changed through the action of the Holy Spirit, and so on. None of these other promises, and they are promises that I was very interested in, have happened for me. Given my disappointing experience of these promises, why should I concern myself about another promise that is not of importance to me?

    As you can probably gather from what I have written here, I am quite low on hope (hope of finding God, I mean) at the moment. I am finding myself becoming more convinced that I am not going to find the relationship with God that I was searching for. It is an acceptance of the suspicion that without spiritual awareness, religion – any religion – is not going to touch me in the way that it should. I would like to think that I am wrong, but that is the way things are pointing just now.
     
  9. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    In posting 245 you wrote this:
    I am not sure that I agree, even in theory, that God causes all life experiences for everyone. You might find it difficult to reconcile that idea with the doctrine of freewill, or of why God allows suffering through earthquakes etc.

    Did my worldview change? Yes and no. I was already familiar with the way of thinking of Christians, with their motives and behaviour and I more or less adopted that way of being. But as it was already familiar to me, there was no miracle involved, nothing that I could say that God had done. There was certainly no sign that I had passed from spiritual death to spiritual life; no change at all in my spiritual awareness or spiritual experience.

    If my faith had been given by God, then I would have expected my experience as a believer to have been better than it was. I was not aware of any input from God to bring me faith. It seemed to me that it all came from within me.

    I would not say that I valued my faith in a lowly way, even though it all came from me, as far as I was aware. I was definitely a believer, and I acted accordingly. My faith was important to me. The question is, was my faith important to God?

    I don’t think I need to ask my wife that question. I know the answer already.

    I would not say that no religious experiences can be trusted. Some types of so-called religious experiences I do doubt, but there are other types of religious experience that may be real.

    You are right that it takes a lot of mental effort to ignore reality. In my case, the reality was that during my time as a believer God was not responding to me in any way that I was aware of. It is because I cannot ignore that reality, that I am not in a position where I could simply come fresh to God and try once more to be a believer.

    Helping other people is something that I do a lot. But I would not go so far as to describe it as a purpose. It is more something that just happens. Purpose and drive are things that I do not experience. If my purpose was truly helping people, then maybe I would be content with that, and would not be interested in Christianity.

    Now to your posting 247, where you wrote this:
    It is difficult to know what I miss in the Bible in terms of metaphors, word pictures and so on. I read what is there, and if there is some deeper spiritual truth involved, then I usually miss it. I can follow the facts and the historical narratives, although I may not recognise any deeper significance beneath the words. I know that I do sometimes fail to understand what people are really saying. My wife gets fed up when I say yet again, “I don’t understand” or “I’m confused.”

    Signs and wonders are possibilities, but I would settle for much less if I was sure that it came from God. I appreciate that I am asking for more than most people do, but I have already stepped out in faith twice and been disappointed both times. The third time has to be a success, because if it failed again, there would definitely never be a fourth time.

    I had no intention to be hurtful or insulting. I do appreciate what you are doing, and I recognise that we have a lot in common in various ways. What I wrote was that I had no recognition of God acting through other people. God may well be acting through you. God may well be acting through several people, but with my lack of spiritual awareness I would not recognise it.

    I have an intellectual awareness that I am not obeying the commandments. What I do not have is a conviction of sin that would make me want to do something about it. Unfortunately I know from experience that an intellectual awareness of being a sinner is not enough, because of the problems that occurred in my two attempts to be a Christian. So I am not ignoring it, not making excuses and not making it right with God. But I am trying to find out how I personally can make it right with God.

    Ouch. If you are right, I am not aware of acting as you suggest. One thing I do disagree with is the idea that people close to me have been worn down and depressed into agreeing with me. Quite the opposite, usually. It is more that they see how I behave and how I cope with life. For example, they see that frequently I am “lost”.

    I have not found that people are more understanding because of my limitations. More often, they simply tell me that my limitations are irrelevant, for example that emotions are not needed to become a Christian. I would like to agree with them, but my experience tells me otherwise.

    For many years I was unable to trust God because of the bad experience of my time as a believer in the 1970s. But in 2007 a suggestion from someone I had contacted through Christian Forums enabled me to put the past aside and come once again to God on my knees. I am not trying to avoid faith. What I am trying to avoid is unsuccessful faith. Instead of that I want to be able to put my trust in God and know that God cares for me.

    I know what you mean when you describe me as an almost Christian. Although you could also say that a person is either a Christian or they are not. Some people do not know if they are saved or not, but God would know. Let me use an analogy here to consider an “almost Christian”. Think of someone who has failed to become pregnant in the usual way, and is undergoing fertility treatment. Due to the treatment she may or may not become pregnant. But she will have learned much about how the body works, about what happens during pregnancy, and so on. If you could describe her as “almost pregnant”, then maybe in the same sense I am an “almost Christian”.

    Sometimes I am seeking for faith, sometimes not seeking for faith. Certainly I do not know if my faith (and whatever else is needed) in the 1970s was enough for salvation. Only God would know if I am saved or not. Only God would know if I have received justification. But the ongoing process – sanctification – is something that has definitely not happened for me.

    What have I done that only I could do? Apart from trying to find out about my experience of Christianity, I am not sure. What have I learned that changed me? The number one thing that changed me was my disastrous experience of being a believer in the 1970s. If you want to know what is the most significant aspect of my life, it is my experience as a believer. I am still trying to come to terms with it all.

    I would not say that for me life is meaningless. Even the lack of interest in life after death does not take meaning away from me. Because with God there is always the promise of doing things of eternal worth.

    No, I think you have misunderstood me here. What I meant is that it is possible that God might want me not to know salvation just yet for some special reason, such as because there could be some special task that God has planned for me that I could only perform as a non-Christian. Using my unusual “talent” and experience in some special task that most Christians could never imagine. If that sounds unlikely, all I can say is that if God wants something, who are we to disagree?
     
  10. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Hi losthope, I won't be able to type today as I've got a lot on my plate (including volunteering local Mum's playgroup day). How about you listen to that last mp3 sermon link instead? (And I know you don't want to label your doubt as unbelief so you're avoiding that "assignment").
     
  11. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    It is that kind of response that most concerns me about you, not your lack of experience or feelings. Did you ever truly believe the Bible was the Word of God?
    Yes without true conviction of sin there is no true faith. Non-christians can agree with a lot of what the Bible says. Some surveys have even claimed some non-christians agree that Jesus rose from the dead. What you have to ask yourself is "has my faith ever been more than an intellectual agreement with christian teachings?" james 2:19
    Remember God knows if you have only ever mentally agreed with Christianity or whether your heart/will/mind was actually transformed i.e. if you were/are born again. You should also have a very good idea of where you stand in that department as your typing has consistently shown a great deal of insight despite lack of personal emotions.
    Word games, word games alert. Distraction tactics alert. You were asked a clear question then avoided it. What is your motive for doing that? Again, in your case why aren't you choosing to substitute thinking for feeling words when you definitely have a extensive vocabulary and level of intelligence to do that if you want to?
    I doubt if there are many writers out there who consider the possibility that a reader wanting to learn about salvation simultaneously doesn't experience feelings. How many people are going to have neuropsychiatry in the back of their minds when writing about repentance?

    And don't reflexively remove the focus from yourself onto the writers either. Substitute thinking for feeling words. Did you ever firmly believe you personally needed salvation, not merely mentally agreed with the need for salvation so you could therefore consider youself a christian and be accepted as one by other christians?
    Yes when I was severely backslidden I felt convicted less and less. And then suddenly I would worry why I wasn't feeling convicted and felt guilty for not feeling guilty .... bad case of cognitive dissonance there.
    1. If you can have thoughts of love towards people, you can think love for God when you have a relationship with Him.
    2. Have you ever had any type of conviction of sin? By that I mean "thinking" sorrow for being offensive to God Himself, not general remorse for doing something wrong that any non-religious average person with a good conscience feels or thinks.
    A true christian will experience repentance/change of mind AS A RESULT of faith. You cannot change your mind without knowledge of alternative options.
    OK since you seem to often suggest that you were never a real christian if you were not a real Christian then you shouldn't be surprised that you didn't hear from God. Happy now? :p

    Honestly constantly focusing whether you really were a christian or not twenty or thirty years ago is wasting everyone's valuable personal time. You are more advanced in years than me so you should focusing on the time you've got left. Stop looking in the past now. You have far more knowledge about your own very unusual personal issues with lack of feelings in ALL areas of your life. Knowledge that you did not have before that will help you remember to not compare your situation with others.
    There is a big difference between not worrying about Old Testament Jewish laws regarding not having different types of thread in clothing and ignoring Jesus' own words about what is promised to all who believe in God. So -as you consistently repeat - what Jesus promises is of no interest to you? Did you have the same attitude about your eternal destiny when you believed you were a Christian as well?
    If you are a Christian you will believe what Jesus matthew 18:1-4/ . Lack of awareness of a spirit does not equal no spirit.
    1. Make sure promises in the Bible are kept in context. Were promises to Jews only, apostles only or all christians?
    2. A lot of promises God keeps but we don't realise it because we are human and (since the Fall) pretty stupid where it comes to the non-physical realm.
    3. If you are/become a christian God has/will change you. In your case you will have to rely on faith even more because you never experience feelings.
    The close face-to-face relationship that you crave for will come in the next life IF you believe in God. All other christians want what you want as well. I would definitely be an atheist if I did not trust the Bible.
    I agree with you that you are unlikely to experience any religious emotions ever. As you have already found out you don't experience anything spiritual using other religions' practices either. I disagree with you that God will never touch your life in any way.

    After I had had my surgery I experienced nothing. Nothing at all. I became more and more despondent and slid into almost complete unbelief for years with several patches of severe doubt in my "faith of doubt". (This is how I know how atheists/anti-theists' minds function all too well). Multiple times I tested God. God knew my heart though. I was unrepentant of many things and did not want to change and I am very suspicious you are stuck in that phase. You have to decide if you are going to choose to follow Christ and choose to stop looking for signs. Nothing changed in my life until I fully repented - not a mere intellectual agreement with Christian beliefs but deciding to actually make Him LORD.
     
  12. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Very quickly regarding "almost christian":
    1. If you're not/have never been a christian due to lack of conviction of sin :
    Then it is still possible to become a christian. God is merciful to all who seek him. Plenty of verses like 1 John 1:9/ and romans 8:1. Look for good Bible commentaries.
    2. If you've severely backslidden then again 1 John 1:9/ and Romans 10:11/. Remember I belonged to the second category and it sounds like I was exactly like you 5 years ago.

    Regarding lack of conviction of sin, time for you to read psalm 119 and ask yourself how well you fit all those verses.

    Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!

    How blameless and perfect have you been throughout your life? You are familiar with God's 10 commandments. You know how God looks at the heart not mere appearances. e.g. matthew 5:13-48/
     
  13. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    So that you know, it was lack of opportunity that meant I had to wait a few days before I could listen to the sermon. I also have other things to do.

    I have now listened to the sermon on the sin of unbelief, and was quite happy with the language he used, even though it was preached 150 years ago. Did it affect me? Not really. He spoke about unbelief as the most important sin. That a person who believes will be forgiven all of their other sins, but a person with unbelief will not be forgiven despite their good works (or whitewashed sins, as he put it).

    I wonder what Spurgeon would have said to me. Because when he spoke of unbelief, I thought, “But I did believe,” yet it did not affect me. He also spoke, at least twice, of the believer who doubts, reminding them of all the thousands of things that God has done for them in the past in order to help them to restore their belief. I do not have memory of what God has done for me in the past, and it makes a very big difference.

    It was also an appeal to the emotions, especially towards the end of the sermon, where he speaks of the people in hell who see people they loved in heaven (as in the parable of Jesus where Lazarus is in heaven). I do not have feelings to be engaged in this way. Could I think it? Maybe – if I was interested in what happens after death. But I am not interested in life after death.

    Overall I would rate it as a good piece to listen to. It is just that it did not touch me.
     
  14. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Thank you for explaining what you meant.

    I agree with you that there is some false evidence based on emotion, which people misinterpret and call spiritual experiences or the work of God.

    You may be right about God working in my life. Although it seems unlikely to me, I accept the possibility that God is working in my life, and maybe that God has always been working in my life. What I lack is any awareness that God has ever been working in my life. If you think that you can recognise signs that God is working in my life, please tell me.

    You then say that I can choose to “expand upon this” by understanding more of God’s ways. I was not sure what you meant when you wrote this.
     
  15. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    I have never been happy with calling the Bible the word of God. Partly because some Christians seem to overuse the idea, and insist that everywhere that the Bible mentions God’s word (or some similar expression) it has to be a reference to scripture – even when it clearly means “what God said”.

    So instead of answering the question as you wrote it, I will re-word the question to: “Did I ever truly believe the Bible?” My answer to this question is a qualified yes, during the time that I was a believer. I believed the Bible, and the qualified yes means that I recognised that some passages are not intended to be interpreted literally.

    Now I still believe most of what is in the Bible, but have rather more reservations about certain passages.

    Has my faith ever been more than an intellectual agreement with Christian teachings? Yes. It included an intellectual agreement with Christian teachings, but there was more than that; there was a will to do what God wanted me to do. Did this amount to having my heart, will and mind transformed so that I was born again? It is possible, but my experience suggests not. The trouble is that I thought I was born again, but never felt born again. I believed that I was born again; I trusted that God had caused me to be born again, but I never seemed to experience any of the “symptoms” of being born again. Remember that back then I assumed that emotions were available to me, and so would not have considered substituting thinking for feeling.

    No. I am not using word games. I am not using distraction tactics. I am simply recognising that for me, it did not seem that just thinking my faith, my repentance and the other aspects of my Christian life were making any difference to me. Somewhere deep down I was unchanged, and I never had any experience of God working to change me. Was that because simply thinking is not enough for God, because God wants hearts, souls, minds and emotions? I do not know.

    However, I will try to recognise that I cannot have feelings and that instead I have thoughts.

    Agreed. But I have to ask this question. Is the same also true of the writers of the Bible? Did they also write only for people who have feelings as well as thoughts? Because if so, I am going to have to question the relevance of some Bible passages to me.

    I will have to answer this question in two parts. The first part is this: Did I ever firmly believe I personally needed salvation, not just mentally agreeing with the need for salvation? Not really, no I did not have such a firm belief.

    With regard to the second part of your question, I definitely did not mentally agree with anything so that I could consider myself a Christian, nor so that I could be accepted by other Christians. I mentally agreed with the idea of needing salvation because I knew that was what God demanded.

    I began this thread asking if a real conviction of sin was an essential part of becoming a Christian, because I never had such a conviction of sin. In a sense I have just repeated that I never had a conviction of sin.

    Yes, if and when I have relationship with God, I would probably be able to have thoughts of love for God. But it sounds a bit tame in comparison with the real experience of love, and it would not have the strength to change me.

    Sorrow for being offensive to God? No, not that I recall. Any remorse would be, as you suggest, what any non-religious average person with a good conscience thinks.

    I was not trying to insist that I was not a Christian. What I was trying to do was to stop you insisting that I was or am a Christian. I really do not know if I was or am saved, or not. I used to be a believer and I was what they used to call a nominal Christian, but was I a real Christian? I do not know. Only God would know the answer.

    Now that I understand my situation as a believer better, I have stopped comparing my experience to those of “feeling” people. I know that there are some ways in which God could not reach me. However, there are other ways in which God could respond to me, such as by answering a prayer, by changing me from the inside, or maybe through a word of knowledge to another Christian. I now understand why God apparently did not respond to me in many ways, but I am still trying to deal with the fact that God did not respond in any way at all, as far as I am aware. If I can resolve that, I would be able to act and maybe once more be on my knees in prayer.

    Yes, I was just the same when I was a believer. I had little or no interest in life after death, even then.

    For some reason my computer is refusing to go to the Bible links, so I read it in my Bible. Not for the first time, I have to ask what is the relevance of the passage to what you have written.

    1. I agree about checking the context. 2. I have no awareness at all of a non-physical realm. 3. Having God change me is something that I have long thought about but never experienced.

    I do not want to be an almost Christian. I have no desire to become a semi-Christian, or a second rate Christian. I want to know God. Yes, in this life. To experience that life more abundant that Jesus spoke of. I know that there are many Christians who are content to trust the Bible and prepare for their relationship with God in the next life. That is not of any interest to me.

    I hope that you are right. I really do. I would love to have God touch my life in some way, and if God is God, then God can do that without the need to engage emotions.

    Am I stuck in a phase of being unrepentant? I had not thought so. Although of course in one sense I am unrepentant, because I never had a conviction of sin.

    I would be ready to follow Christ, if only I knew where Christ was so that I could follow. I am still waiting for the good shepherd to find the lost sheep. I am not specifically looking for signs; I am looking for answers. To know what it is that I have to do in order to come to God and to know God. So far everything that I have tried has failed.

    I can “think” making God the lord of my life, and I have done this in the past. I just lacked any awareness of God acting on it.
     
  16. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    OK have a bit to catch up on. Several comments deserved special treatment after all.

    That is an issue related your lack of experience of emotions. I am sure God would understand your weakness in that area. You are able to find very good Bible commentaries online to help you understand these sections better.
    I am concerned there is a note of panic there. God doesn't do things in our own timing.
    I knew there was no intention to be insulting at all. I thought perhaps you needed some strong confrontation in that department though because consideration of people's feelings is not automatic to you. It must be so hard for you when interacting with other people at times. :)
    I firmly believe in your life people are being used by God to speak to you and He has consistently done that throughout your life.
    That is how careful examination of scripture, meditation on its meanings and so on is so essential for you. For some people, perhaps even non-Christians a quick reading of scripture may be enough to get its underlying message overall. You do not have that "gift" so you need to examine it carefully and from different writers' points of view. Your mind literally needs reprogramming just like mine did.
    Yes the benefits of "the sick role" are very subtle. It was after my surgery and how people's expectations of me changed I started to miss my condition in a way. Years later when my family moved to my husband's home town, while I was getting to know my mother-in-law who had severe systemic_lupus (she died a few years ago from complications) it hit me how much attention and being listening to I had received from loved ones throughout my struggles pre-surgery. It sounds bizarre but I half-envied her at times.
    Yes they've seen your struggles and how you haven't progressed in any way. They have also heard how you believe you must not have been/ ever been/can't tell if you're a christian. Understandably they've got very discouraged alongside you as well.
    Don't worry about your past and current experiences. Your experiences will change as your thinking changes.
    Faith in Christ is successful faith. Faith in anything else is unsuccessful faith. Don't measure your personal faith by answered prayer, emotions and so on.
    Spiritual is not the same as material/physical realm. It's not always an either/or. Think of the rich young ruler going to Jesus. luke 18:18-30/ It sounds like he had some faith otherwise he wouldn't have approached Jesus. You're seeking Jesus but you have to identify what is holding you back. It was love of money in that rich ruler's case. It was "it's my life and I'll do what I want to" attitude in my case. (Notice past tense.)
    It could also be argued that at the time you were not aware of how close you had to keep to God to maintain your faith. Some christians appear to keep their faith easily, you and I do not.

    You were not aware of how much your worry about lack of experience itself was silently eroding your faith. As you did not feel worry, you didn't realise you were thinking worry. You took your eyes off God and put them onto your lack of experience/s instead. Anyone's faith will be damaged severely if they continue doing that, no matter how much they may know about the Bible or christian teachings.
    Isn't that a good sign that the most significant thing was your becoming a believer?!!!!!! :confused:
    That sounds like you've got a better perspective than I do in that area. :)
    Perhaps that's right - you're doing it as you're typing to me. I met you online for a purpose. I have never met another person who has gone through almost exactly the same mental struggles with faith as I have while typing to you. At times my mouth has dropped. I was where you're at pretty well 5-7 years ago. Of course my very strong feeling side makes me interpret some things differently and God has kindly let me have the thinking "discernment" ability after I returned to Him, but of course He also knew what part I was going to play beforehand.

    On a neuropsychological test done approx 2003 the neuropsychologist said I had inplasticity of thought. Not easily adaptable to change. Not easy to change worldviews, related to some brain scarring and surgery. If anyone is not going to change thinking patterns easily it is me. I hope that gives you hope. You are more than your mind biologically speaking. You are a spiritual being as well. Don't let lack of emotions kid you that you don't have a spirit. You have life, therefore you have a spirit.

    Since 2002 I have been moved to 4 different states, 5 different cities ranging in size from just over 2000 people - 3.5 million. I have met so many different people, cultures (extremely wealthy people to social welfare recipients, foreigners, aboriginals), different climates. People's mouths drop when they hear where I've been and seen in the process. In the spiritual area I have moved from severe unbelief to being able to defend my faith with far more determination and knowledge than I could ever have done pre-surgery when my thinking wasn't so clear as it is now. God has made me become flexible in a way I could never have been otherwise.

    God must have a sense of humour. In your case God seems to have made a non-feeling person far more caring and involved in helping others than the vast majority of feeling people these days. I am an too-emotional, illogical computer-hating housebound person interacting with people all over the world online. 2 corinthians 4:7-18/ I suppose that way God gets all the glory?!!!!
     
  17. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    ^_^ I had to make sure that you weren't avoiding it though..
    Yes I think he communicated extremely well. Perhaps being British you understood his language better as well?
    You weren't hoping for an emotional response I hope? Did it make you think deeper about the topic than you had previously?
    From what I have read and heard about him he was an exceptionally intelligent man. I am sure he would be able to take your situation into account.
    Isn't that a comfort to you? If you did believe than you can believe again. God is merciful to all believers.
    It's also been a very long time since you consistently thought using the christian worldview. Not remembering much about what God has done for you is therefore understandable.
    Yes I thought you mightn't like that section as your heart strings can't be tugged like other people's.
    Have you read much about God's promises about life after death? I admit that is an area I haven't read much about either.
    Yes I didn't think you would feel anything, you should looking at how your thought processes (including decision making) are affected instead. I am sure you have seen the Sermonaudio website has a lot of more of Spurgeon' sermons.

    A while back somewhere on the forum someone put this quote from Spurgeon that might be of interest to you. Spurgeon's pastoral wisdom in dealing with a woman lacking assurance "Pyromaniacs" is a very good christian blog overall. I've got it on my favourites list.

    I'll have to come back to your other entry later.
     
  18. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Perhaps they are reading too much of their own opinions and emotions into the text? The fancy term is Eisegesis. I know I was especially guilty of that in the past. :blush:
    It sounds like you are very sane and objective about the Bible. That could potentially be a major asset in your christian walk with God (assuming you do come to believe you are a genuine Christian.
    There will always be Bible passages that people struggle with at times. Again learning to keep everything in context does a lot to help your understanding of the Bible.
    Now read this passage. mark 12:28-34/
    What is the most important commandment of all? From what you have just said, does that mean you loved God with your heart (merely minus the emotions) + mind (definitely A++++!) + soul (minus awareness of that component of yourself due to lack of feelings) + strength (minus awareness of your strength)?
    From my understanding you sound like you fit/fitted the prototype of born-again christian perfectly. You don't feel feelings, so why did you expect you would feel different when you don't feel feelings?!!!! ARRRGGGHHH!!!! :doh:Did you change your mind towards God - yes or no? Did you change your behaviour - yes or no? Did you change your decision making processes because you wanted to please God - yes or no?!!!
    Honestly I am starting to feel ashamed of how little I changed when I believe I was born-again compared to what you are saying about yourself.
    How I wish you knew christians at the time who had NOT subtlely suggested that you would see or experience something to prove you were a genuine christian. 1 peter 5:8 They were well-meaning because they had experienced some things in their walk as a christian but inadvertently their words were used a tool of Satan.

    They unknowingly sowed seeds of doubt and because of lack of knowledge of spiritual warfare/signs of direct attack from the Enemy you did not realise what was happening. Because you were tempted into dwelling on your lack of experiences james 1:13-15 and stopped believing in what God promised in the Bible - in fact a variation of that lie genesis 3:1 - "did God reeaaaallly say your personal faith would ever be enough to please Him - if He really did love you and accept you as a child of God you would know it FOR sure via signs/wonders/answered prayer....". As a result of listening to that lie and not believing God's promises to all believers applied to you as well your faith was almost fatally destroyed. Your story is quite tragic. It is NOT too late - God is powerful enough to turn what has nearly destroyed your faith into a major weapon of faith to help other people - do you believe that? romans 8 , especially verses 26-39.
    No you think you were unchanged. You were comparing your life with other people's lives. Of course christians who showed obvious signs of change (e.g. bad-tempered, arrogant person to meek, humble person) are going to appear like they have grown spiritually. When you didn't seem to be changing as other people who experience emotions do you assumed you therefore mustn't be a christian. You weren't trusting God that He was changing you on the inside. Now I am NOT saying what you did was not understandable - remember I thought in a very similar pattern for years.
    I think that the vast majority of mankind from the year dot has had feelings + thoughts. As for questioning relevance of some Bible passages, you think emotions remember... therefore those passages are still relevant to you.
    Where it comes to lack of firm belief you need to identify how much was due to personal lack of emotion ONLY and how much was due to not taking the beliefs seriously enough.
    That's great to read. Peer pressure should not have any part in someone professing to be a christian. For you that mental agreement is especially important.
    Yes, conviction of sin IS essential. However conviction of sin in your case has to be done keeping lack of emotions or experiences involved with repentance in mind. Have you believed in the Gospel, changed your mind towards God in response to the Gospel and have sought to please Him first?
    I still say that if you can love people you can love God who gave you those people. So what if ordinary humdrum faith and trust in God sounds tame anyway? The most destructive loves are often the most intense ones.
    I have been praying that you start to understand the Bible much better in a personal way. In your case I think you will always need good Bible studies and good sermons to help you though. Passages relating to feelings will probably always seem strange to you. I have also prayed that just the right people come your way to give your support.
    Perhaps you can look into that at a later time then?
    Hmmm.... I have also found several times on this forum that the computer logged out and I had to retype the message that I half-forgot and then got a very postive response after that retyping.... again "just by chance".

    The apostles and other people were wondering what kind of people they would be greatest in Heaven. Jesus brought a child to them and basically said they had to be as children to enter into Heaven.

    Which age group is pure, trusting, innocent, loving - children or adults? Who is more likely to trust God will do what He promises because He who made the promises will be trusted? Adults are cynical, overanalytical and anticipate the worst. They wouldn't trust that faith would be enough to please God. "You can't get something for nothing". They want proof not promises. They want all the promises in writing for legal reasons. Adults would say "See God didn't give me what I prayed for, therefore He can't be trusted". Children would say to themselves "maybe Dad will give me something else later that's better, He's done that before".
    How I wish more christians were hungry to know God like yourself! People don't know how easy they've got it.
    I am not saying it is easy. I had to turn my way of thinking 180 degrees. It can take time to learn to see God's hand in everything, especially during trying times that seem without hope.
    Well the only way I found God again was through reading the Bible properly this time, greatly assisted with the internet and becoming part of a church that did not focus on experiences. That was a real relief to me. I really had been harmed by being told I hadn't had enough faith or God would have healed me.

    You had a variation of that that is just as damaging. If you are to become a strong christian you really need strong christians around you for support. Of course online interaction can only do so much. I would say the best spiritual diet the internet christian forums can provide is the equivalent of a good IV drip and nasogastric nutrition. To get really strong in your faith you would have to do very good Bible study, attend a healthy balanced church (good worship service focused on God not experiences and in-depth scriptural but practical sermons) and have personal relationships with christian brothers and sisters.
    Yes you have a lot to overcome - still you've come a long way. Trust that God is in control this time. You don't have to do it all by yourself, no christian possibly can!!!! :)
     
  19. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    I agree that it is possible for a person who has not been a Christian to become a Christian. Verses such as 1 John 1:9 tell us one of the steps involved.

    I would not put myself in the second category. Although I know that people do backslide.

    I know that my behaviour is not perfect. Just as the behaviour of everyone is not perfect. I recognise in principle how this might be against God’s laws, or against God’s plans for me. But I do not have any strong thoughts about it. Nothing that could be described as a conviction of sin.
     
  20. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    OK. Short entry. -not used to tablet PC yet. Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? « airō
    Now answer each question carefully and discuss your results. Please do this with much thought and prayer otherwise you will continue to go around in circles indefinitely.
     
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