This is something I still struggle with myself even though I understand the truth of it logically. No matter how much you sin and fail God, he still loves you and can forgive you. The hard part for me is actually forgiving myself even knowing God has done that for me.
Something I have always struggled to have is joy in the Lord. In many ways, I actually lost any joy that I had because I became entirely aware of how evil I actually am. I don't think this is something only I struggle with, I am sure many of us do and there isn't an easy solution to it. I was someone who genuinely thought he was a moral person until Hannah finally told me everything I needed to know about God and completely destroyed the illusion I had created for myself. I had actually taken a lot of pride in knowing that, compared to most people, I was pretty great, so when I lost it I never really recovered from it. I live constantly aware that even as I improve I am nowhere near where I need to be and it is like a crushing weight constantly on my head that I can't seem to get rid of.
The solution should be pretty simple, pray and trust what the bible says about it. God loves us so much that no matter what we do we can be forgiven for it. That includes our past, present, and future sins, without any exceptions, all paid for with Jesus's blood on the cross. This, for most people, seems to be an amazing comfort that no matter what they do God will forgive them and welcome them in Heaven. For me and anyone like me though, it doesn't have the same effect. I am completely aware that God is able to forgive me for anything I do, but my need to be a genuinely good person means that I hate myself any time I mess up even remotely. I am not generally afraid of going to Hell, I know Jesus is with me and that I will be forgiven for anything I do, but the hardest thing for me is to forgive myself. I hold on to everything I ever did in the past which is, unfortunately, a very long list. Despite being able to easily forgive other people for the exact same things, I find it almost impossible to forgive myself for anything no matter how minor it was. I feel nothing but shame and despite trying I have not actually managed to stop thinking this way.
I am wrong to think this way. The reality is that Jesus died for our sins so that we wouldn't dwell the way I do. Jesus doesn't want us to dwell on the past, he wants us to dwell on him and the things we can do with him. We have been washed clean of our guilt by his actions and it is wrong to hold on to something that should be long gone. It is not an easy thing but we all need to learn to forgive ourselves, because no one should have to carry the weight of this much sin. Jesus did it for us when he took up his cross and if you are like me and struggling day after day with depression, you know exactly how heavy the weight of our sin is. We should never become the sorts of people that just don't care and do whatever we want even if it is sinful, but we also shouldn't dwell so hard we destroy ourselves.
Learn from your failures and do all in your power not to sin. Pray to God if you fail and do all in your power to never stumble again. He will be at your side helping you even if you don't know it. Don't hate yourself because you are a new creation and Jesus loves you even with all of your flaws. Jesus died on the cross knowing exactly how evil we are and he thinks we are worth saving, we should accept that truth and just learn to be grateful for everything Jesus did for us. It won't be easy, I know I have been trying for a long time, but learning to love yourself as God does is the path we all have to take if we really want to find joy in God.
Since the day I became a Christian, I have struggled with keeping my interests. I am not talking about the obviously sinful things, I mean the hobbies that weren't wrong but people treated as a problem. People never stop talking about putting God first, and they are right, but they have a tendency to take it so far that you feel like you have to be on your face praying 24/7 or you are barely even a Christian. This is not the right mindset to have and that is what I want to talk about right now.
We all have hobbies and interests. Some of us like sports while others like video games, it doesn't really matter and the options are limitless. Plenty of us have careers we are pursuing and trying to do our best in. All of us want to have enough money to feel comfortable and safe, and so we prioritize money.
None of these things are automatically bad by themselves. There isn't anything actually sinful about any of these things but that won't stop people for making you feel guilty about them. Hobbies are fine, so long as they don't control your entire life and you still keep God as your focus while you do them. The same goes for your career, keep God the focus of your life and it is fine to prioritize your job. And money is just a means to an end, needing it is not the same as loving it, and I wouldn't do anything wrong just to get it. The bible talks about the love of money being evil, but that doesn't mean we can't do everything we can to earn enough to provide for our families. There is no biblical requirement to be poor and avoid money.
The reason I bring these things up is because I have met plenty of people who will treat you like a sinner if you focus on any of these things. They act as if when you do normal life things you aren't putting God first and you need to fix it. If you took it all to its logical conclusion, you would live in a box hiding from the world praying all day, occasionally surfacing to preach the gospel before going back to praying. You see, unless you are doing something that puts your direct focus on God, you are doing it wrong. At least if you have this sort of mindset, I am sure feeding the poor would work too but you have no money and you aren't Jesus so more likely than not you would need fed as compared to feeding anyone. It is a pretty scary mindset to have, because pretty much no matter what you are doing, you will feel some sort of guilt. Luckily, this is not what God actually wants for anyone.
The reality is that God made this world for us, even in it's fallen state we were always meant to enjoy it. We were also meant to focus on him, which is as much for us as it is for him. God is amazing and is always with us, he will never let you down. Really, it is only us that let him down, so what is the balance we are meant to have? The answer is to simply live Godly lives, be the example God wants you to be. In anything and everything you do, be exactly the person you know you need to be. God is the focus for me no matter where I go because I never want to disappoint him and I always want to do his work. I have given the gospel to people in every area of my life. When I am playing video games, I tell people about Jesus, the same goes for when I go to work. When I make money, I use it to provide for my family exactly as the bible tells me to do. None of these things are evil, when they are done right they are all just more tools for doing God's work and enjoying the world that God made for us in the first place.
Now there are things that we make more important than God in our lives and those things are genuine issues, but don't let anyone make you feel like a sinner for living your life. We can all do better in some way, and we should, but that should never be taken to the extent that some people take it. Enjoy your lives and do all in your power to be a true follower of Christ. Pray often, and don't change into a different person when it is convenient, always put God first and everything will be okay.
There is an issue that the Church has faced since before Jesus died on the cross and rose again 3 days later, that issue is fake Christians. Before Jesus died it was Judas, someone who followed him everywhere and followed his teachings to such an extent that when Jesus said someone would betray him, no one knew who was going to do it aside from Jesus. In modern times we have the same issue just on a far larger scale and it is exactly what Satan wants, we are casually playing into his hands and acting like we are doing the right thing while we do it. Lets talk about what we are doing wrong and how we need to go about fixing it.
In modern Christianity people have this focus on being totally nice and accepting of anything and everything to make the lost feel welcome. It doesn't matter what there particular sin is, people treat them like family and “love” them as they are. Christians give them half of the gospel and ignore the parts that might make someone feel guilty because it might scare them away. By the end of this process we get what seems like a new follower in Christ. Everyone celebrates because they are saved now and have a relationship with Jesus! The problem is, more likely than not they aren't saved and they don't know Jesus at all. These “converts” will more often be one of two things, false converts, which will either fall away the second things get hard, saying they have already tried Christianity and know it to be false, or they will be the weakest Christians ever with no foundation in the Word of God at all.
This is the best possible situation for Satan, a bunch of people trying and walking away from the faith making it seem less believable to others and people that will continue calling themselves Christian but will have no clue what it is to really follow Christ. Now you are probably thinking, “why does Aitheros think this way about all these new converts?” and the reason is simple: They never heard the full gospel, they never understood why they needed to be saved in the first place. They continue walking around thinking they are good people because all they have ever been told by Christians is that God loves them as they are, which is true but not in the way they say it. God loves us all enough to die for us, but he does not love what we do because we always lean towards evil when left to ourselves. Without Christ, we are destined for the Lake of Fire, a place of eternal torment, because God is going to put us there to punish us for the evil we have done. God is righteous and just, he can't allow evil to go unpunished, so while he loves us all he will also do what needs to be done. Don't assume someone knows what you haven't told them. He showed his love for us by taking on that punishment himself, but we have to repent and put our trust in him to accept that gift of salvation. If you never truly understood that you were worthy of Hell, what do you think you are being saved from? Consistently, people that hear a half gospel think they can earn their way to heaven by being generally good people, and this is exactly how Satan wants it.
As long as people think they can earn their way to heaven, as long as Christians are only preaching half the gospel instead of the whole thing, Satan is winning. We don't have to let it stay that way, all we have to do is follow Jesus's example and preach the full gospel and preach it urgently. Don't be afraid to use the law to make someone feel guilty, that is exactly what it is for. Don't be afraid to lose friends or even family because Jesus warned us that could happen and he is more important no matter what. If you want to truly show that you love someone like God does, give them the full truth so that they can really get to know Jesus right from the start. Don't feel the need to make everyone feel accepted, because frankly God doesn't accept us as we are. He takes us in and he molds us into what we are supposed to be and when judgment comes, we will be sinless because Jesus took our punishment for us and we will be seen in his righteousness, not our own.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.