It is always awesome when we take a step forward in our walk with Christ by getting past a sin we have struggled with. It's easy to get excited when we do this, but we should never let our guard down and here is why!
When someone stops sinning in a certain way it is one the best possible things that can happen, it is genuinely exciting! We thank God and spread the word that you no longer have this struggle and everything is going great. But then a problem begins that I don't think people really notice as it starts. After a short while away from your sin, you begin to think you are totally immune to it forever. I have some bad news though, you aren't. You are always capable of falling back into it if you leave yourself vulnerable. God can do amazing things in our lives but he doesn't promise complete protection from sin, it is up to us to avoid evil things and to be constantly praying and staying in contact with Him.
If God was just going to handle it all, you would have stopped sinning the second you put your trust in Jesus, but you always have a choice, even to do wrong.
No matter what, we have to do everything in our power to avoid sinful things. The area where this is most prevalent is sexual content, as one might expect. I swear, I can't write an article without bringing that trash up, but it's relevant. It is easy to think because you walked away from porn and stopped lusting after people that you are in the clear now. No sexual content is a risk to you so long as you don't watch outright pornography! I am sorry to say that you are wrong, it is still a risk to you and in the world today, basically everything is trying to get you to fall in this way.
No one should play or watch things with sexual content, but someone who struggled at one point even more so. You have already shown you have a weakness in that area, don't leave yourself vulnerable to it out of pride. Pride is the weakness of almost every person out there, and it can take you to some very bad places. As long as you aren't God Himself in the flesh, you shouldn't even risk yourself with these types of things because you are vulnerable. With that in mind, another thing you may not have considered is how much you risk others with the arrogance of being immune to sin.
When you play or watch something, you tell the world this is okay, this is harmless, even if it isn't at all. You think because you aren't going to sin that it will be fine, but in reality you are putting anyone that knows you at risk. Let's pretend you actually are immune to sexual content, what happens when a friend who isn't immune finds out the kind of things you watch or play? They will try it out themselves and find that it isn't safe at all, but by then it's already too late. You have propelled them towards sin by your example. Another case would be someone totally innocent walking into it and having that innocence taken away from them, even if they don't outright fall into sin. We should stay innocent of evil things as much as is possible, and it isn't right for you to risk other people this way. It's also worth mentioning that when you support the things with that kind of trash in them, you are telling the developers of those things that you like that stuff, which of course will make it spread even further into more things causing yet more people to stumble. We like to think we have no impact at all in this area, but just imagine if every Christian actually stopped buying the things with sexual content. Those places would change it up instantly from the massive drop in profits, especially if we were vocal as to why we weren't buying, watching, or playing.
The fact of the matter is no one is immune to sin, we all struggle in one way or another and we need to be aware of it always. Never let your guard down just because you stopped sinning, you are still vulnerable and need to stay vigilant. For your sake, and for the sake of everyone else around you.
I need to talk about this because I find that people are walking around with a lot of guilt they don't deserve. When other people sin, it is not your fault.
There is a sin problem in our world, regardless of who you talk to, they are a sinner. This also means their thoughts can be sinful and you have absolutely no control over it. When they sin, even if they blame you, that does not make it your fault. While it is possible to sin ourselves by leading someone else to it, that does not apply to when you are doing nothing wrong. An example of that type of sin is drinking alcohol next to a drunk and things like that. (1 Corinthians 8:7-13) On the other hand, if you are someone dressed perfectly modest and someone chooses to lust after you, that isn't even slightly your fault. In fact, even if you dressed horribly, (as in hardly dressed at all,) and they lust, it is still their fault, not yours, because they chose to sin. You have an issue as well if you are dressing that way, but that is a separate thing to be addressed all on its own. If you're wondering if you somehow are at fault for their sin just because of your clothes, you're not. no matter what, it is still on them completely if they choose to sin. It is always a choice and we can't blame ourselves for what others do, or blame others for what we do.
I have found this is something people don't understand very well and I want everyone to really get it. There are so many women out there feeling dirty for the actions of guilty men around them when they didn't do anything wrong. There are pastors teaching that God will punish your kids for your sin despite being innocent themselves and it's just craziness to me. We are only accountable for our own sin and that isn't going to change. Don't blame yourself when someone else does something wrong, and don't hold it against them. It is alright to be upset when someone wrongs you, but always be willing to forgive them and don't let it fester and turn into something more. Like I said before, there is a sin problem in the world and people need to hear the gospel, no matter how much they wrong us. So let the blame fall where it belongs and treat them as you would anyone else, no matter how depraved they may be. (Romans 5:20-21)
Another aspect of this that needs to be talked about is the reverse of this problem; people making excuses to sin because of people around them. It does not matter if most guys have a lust issue, you do not get an excuse to lust. Just because many women have a tendency to gossip a lot, does not mean that you get to gossip just because you're a woman. I don't care how many people around you are sinning, it is not an excuse to do it yourself. I hear it far too much in the church that it is just a given you will sin a certain way just because of your surroundings. The best thing you can do for yourself and for God is to stop making excuses and be the person God wants you to be. Don't worry about what others do, don't worry about how many people tell you it isn't worth trying to change. Just do whatever God expects of you, no matter how hard it may seem, to the absolute best of your ability.
The best way I can summarize everything I tried to explain here is this; The things that other people do have no bearing on the choices you ultimately make. You are not guilty of the sin of people around you, and nothing physically forced on you can count against you as sin. At the same time, you are not excused of your actions because other people push you toward sin. We will all be held accountable for our actions in the end, and God is not going to excuse you because people told you it was okay. I hope this brings you some peace and understanding so that you can start focusing on being the best follower of Christ you can be.
I have been trying to study into all the major things that Christians seem to disagree about and the debate between Calvinists and Arminians was impossible to ignore. After studying them both for awhile, hearing out people from both sides, I have come to the conclusion that they are both wrong.
Calvinists are completely wrong about freewill and Arminians believe that you can lose your salvation which is impossible. The thing I really want to talk about though was Calvinism because it seems the majority of Christian scholars have taken this position. This, for many people, is enough reason on its own to believe Calvinism and so they do. Most Christians that take their faith seriously are Calvinists.
Now I want to be clear here, people on both sides can be genuinely saved, I do not believe this debate makes any difference in that respect, but I do believe that Calvinism in particular is dangerous. If you follow it to its logical conclusion it is terrifying, because frankly it makes God an evil and unjust God. On top of that though it allows people to just blame everything on God, it takes away any responsibility from them because everything is just in God's hands, not just a person's salvation. It also allows people to start thinking they are somehow holier than others, they never say as much but Calvinists look down on other people for clinging to freewill instead of just accepting the absolute sovereignty of God like any reasonable Christian supposedly should.
Now I do not deny God's sovereignty, he is always in control, but that does not mean that he didn't give us freewill. He takes the evil we do and makes good come from it, but that does not mean that he made us to commit evil in the first place. He knows everything that is ever going to happen, his plan is perfect and he can and does influence things directly, but he still has allowed us freewill in that plan. If a person rejects God, it is not because God failed, that person simply hardened their heart so much that they were not reachable and chose to defy him. These people will be punished for it but they can and do reject God, because he gave them the choice to do so. I don't doubt for a second he could force the situation if he wanted to and just make us all come to him, but that isn't what he wants, he wants us to choose to come to him, to love him.
The main reason Calvinism is just so terrifying for me and should be for other people is because it removes freewill completely, everything is just always in God's hands, every action we take is in his control. That would mean that every sin ever committed by a person happened because God actually willed for it to happen, as compared to the reality of making something good come out of it when we sin. That would mean that God is literally making us sin so that he can glorify himself through it later on. It makes God himself into a sinner. You cannot sin to make something good happen, it is never what God wants us to do, regardless of the intentions behind it. God absolutely takes the sins we commit and makes good things happen from it but that does not mean he wanted us to sin, it only means he knew we would and planned for it. In taking away the freedom of man, Calvinism puts all the sin of the world on God, it would all be his fault because any sin we committed we did because he made us do it since we can't do anything unless he wanted it that way.
I have listened to many preachers speak on Calvinism and very few take it to this conclusion. When they do, they don't seem to see the problem with God causing us to sin. Regardless of how many seminaries teach it, how many preachers preach it, Calvinism can never be seen as anything other than heresy because it makes God an evil and unjust God. I know this is hard for many to accept, we live in a culture where you simply follow the opinions of anyone with a piece of paper (degree) and let them do the thinking for you, but I promise you, Calvinism is false and we all need to start putting our theology to the test instead of just following someone that seems smarter than us. Always remember that we are all just human, which means we can all be wrong at times, and the Church has definitely got this one wrong.
There is something that I always enjoy when I meet new people and it has become pretty consistent. It doesn't matter if it's a Christian or otherwise, everyone seems to think that I was raised Christian.
I was not.
Now technically I was, my family is Catholic and I went to Catholic school until 9th grade, but not really. My family more just believes in their own god and have no concept at all of the true Christian God. Plus by 5th or 6th grade I already considered myself an atheist along with both my brothers. I later considered myself to be agnostic as I got older but I still acted like an atheist. I made fun of people that believed in God, acted like it was a joke or a flaw in any person that believed. I was nowhere close to being a Christian, I was actually the opposite. Despite that, I was even foolish enough to consider myself moral until faced with the ten commandments that I barely knew anything about. Fun thing about Catholic school, they never had me read a Bible and neither did my parents, so it was all very new to me. I fought it hard, not wanting to believe that I was wrong my entire life and definitely not wanting to accept all the rules it would entail. But I did, after many arguments and basically constant talking for a month, I became a Christian when I was just turning 20 years old. At the time of writing this I am 25 years old and still growing, but I want to talk about where I started at 20 to where I am now at 25. Hopefully you will all be encouraged by it, knowing that even with how bad I was, people now think I was raised knowing Jesus!
When I first became a Christian I was almost exactly the same as my old self. I sinned in all the same ways, the only thing that had changed at that time was where I was going when I died and my willingness to admit that I believed in God. I can't say I really knew Jesus then, or even a fraction of what I know now. It wasn't a miraculous change where suddenly all my flaws vanished and I was the perfect Christian. Honestly I am nowhere close to that even now but I hadn't even started on the path back then. It took me months just to stop taking God's name in vain and 2 or 3 months to ditch pornography completely. Cursing took a little longer but I got rid of that habit as well. I started reading the Bible 5 chapters a day and made progress faster than people expected of me. But I didn't stop watching shows that were riddled with sexual content. I continued watching things that had that sort of content for several years even after I knew it was bad. I still had anger problems which made me feel about as far from Christian as possible. Considering the Christians around me were perpetually nice. These are just some examples but honestly I have sinned in just about every way possible and it took awhile for me to stop doing all these things. On top of all this my faith was immediately attacked since Satan likes to uproot people while we are just starting to know Jesus and the Gospel. My brothers basically interrogated me on why I had converted, my whole family treated me like I was insane. My oldest brother to this day thinks he is trying to save me when he talks negatively about Christianity because he thinks I got indoctrinated. I knew basically nothing, I couldn't articulate the things that had convinced me to put my trust in Jesus and so I just felt stupid and rushed off to Hannah to find out the answers. It was not a good time for me, and if you had met me then I doubt anyone would have thought I was Christian.
Today I still struggle with anger sometimes, but I have drastically improved and continue to get better at controlling it. I openly condemn anything that has sexual content in it and have written posts about it that would have made me angry to read a couple years ago. I never take God's name in vain and I don't curse. I have read the entire bible and even understand a lot of it despite feeling like a crazy person most of the time. I act very different from modern Christians but when I read about Jesus I see that I actually represent how he was better than the ultra niceness of modern Christianity. I don't generally struggle to give people the answers that matter, I have answered the questions so many times it is almost routine for me. In a few years I became a totally new person, and I don't regret it at all. It seems crazy to me that I used to be mad because I felt like the things I liked were being taken away from me. Now those same things are casually discarded and I don't even miss them.
It can be hard sometimes as a new Christian because you are going to see so many people that seem so much holier than you. Don't let it discourage you and keep walking the path that God has put in front of you. He can take the absolute worst person there is and make them something great just like he did with me. I preach his word to people and share the gospel with anyone I can despite being a very reserved person that usually barely talks. I even call myself a shepherd because I know that is what God has called me to be. I do this despite the fact I came from being the worst, and knowing absolutely nothing to tell people when they asked. Other people are going to tell you fantastical stories about how they changed 100% overnight and act like they never sin anymore. Don't let that deceive you into thinking that your conversion wasn't genuine. The real sign that you are truly saved is your intentions, if you live everyday for Jesus and always strive to be better and walk away from sin, you are almost definitely saved. I hope this aspect of my testimony has encouraged some of you, I know it can be hard sometimes but keep going and it will all get better so long as you put in the effort!
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.