There are numerous issues that stump people when they wonder about a powerful and loving God or are questioning the Christian faith. Some have major and valid questions, like why He allows such awful things to happen if He’s so loving, etc. Being a bit of an over-thinker myself has led me to question these things and many more as I moved forward in my faith. One of my largest faith struggles has been that although I know I am very sinful, I struggle with the idea that we are deserving of hell for it. I feel a bit nervous even typing it because I feel like everyone else that “gets” the Gospel doesn’t question that idea and that I shouldn’t either. All the time I hear that we should be extremely grateful that Jesus died for our sins and that He saved us from hell. I am amazed and thankful He did that for us, but my basic question that has bothered me is, “I can try my very best to be perfect and not sin, but I’ll never be able to help it completely, so why would I get in trouble for that and get such an awful punishment as hell?” It doesn’t seem fair and I find myself sometimes still getting hung up on it and feeling guilty that I don’t feel settled over it. This used to fester inside me and worry me that I wasn’t really understanding it like I should and feeding the worry that God sees me as a disappointment. A key part of my anxiety disorder is that I get stuck on a worry (or a memory, etc.) and dissect it to try and settle it or make it feel better; less guilty or uneasy. It usually just ends in mental exhaustion and irritability or sadness that I can’t fix it.
This question is one of many things I’ve been “stuck” on, but through prayer, asking lots of questions, listening, and time, I’ve found rest in the bigger picture on this issue and even within the last week, have learned more that has cleared the air for me even more. If this has ever crossed your mind, I hope this will be helpful. Here’s what I know: I’m a fat sinner and I ultimately can’t help it because it’s human nature. I also have put my faith in the fact that God is so just and so perfect that He had to have the ultimate sacrifice in order to save us. Because our sin is the opposite of God’s majesty and perfection, He can’t tolerate it.”This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5) YET, He understands!!
I’ve shared this verse before, but it was one of the first gifts of rest I received on this confusion and I still go back to it in relief:
“as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103: 12-14
In the Old Testament we see that God gave the commandments to Moses of what our internal and external behaviors should be like. People continued to sin and some recognized their inability to even coming close to meeting those demands and then they had to use an animal sacrifice to atone for or represent the cleansing that is needed for their sins. God did this on purpose in order for us to clearly see that we can NOT do it perfectly. Over and over, humans failed and yet God showed compassion to those that repented.
The predictions and prophecies of the Messiah coming were promised in the Old Testament and when Jesus did come, He did the ultimate cleansing for our sins; once and for all. He loves us enough that He did that. I don’t understand why because we can be ugly and mean sometimes, but He sees us as his children and He asks us to trust in Him. Although this is probably clear to most believers, here’s a very important piece that I just learned this past week: We will be held accountable and risk hell for eternity if we choose to deny Christ, not simply because of our sins. I’ve been so caught up in whining over why our impossible-to-control sin life is being judged, but it is instead our choice that will be the final verdict. It is the choice that He gives us (we’re not robots), but if we choose not to accept Him, where we spend eternity is also chosen. I am very thankful that God loves me enough to rescue me and promise me eternal life; a forever of bliss, joy, and beauty, even though I don’t understand many of His ways. I’m probably even more thankful that He is compassionate and patient with us.
I think it is vastly important to think on the questions and doubts we have. We are allowed to have them and ask them of both God and our friends and loved ones. Although I know there’s more involved with this part of my faith and I want to learn more, God asks that we recognize our sinful nature and see that we are in need of someone else to help us with it and rescue us from it. If He gives us the opportunity to hear Him and put our trust in Him and yet we turn away (not feeling like we need it, busy living, not bothering to dig a little to be sure of it’s validity), then the only alternative is the opposite of finding shelter in God, which is eternity far, far away from Him.