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stillseeking

Reluctant new believer with some challenges

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I'm a fairly new believer (even though I was exposed to and often fought Christianity for most of my life).  I also have the tendency to get caught up in specifics/legalities, which might be due in part to possibly being on the autistic spectrum (as suggested by a therapist, but I don't have the $3k out of pocket it would cost to get officially evaluated). 

During my teen and early college years, I tried hard to believe but never could, since logic always won out.  I remember during this time that I saw God as a harsh rule giver who would send anyone to hell for even sinning by accident or doing something that the person didn't even know was sinful (as exemplified in Leviticus 5:17).  I tried living by the Christian faith as best I could but just *could not* make myself truly believe it.  I eventually gave up, especially when confronted with new pieces of evidence such as the many mythological similarities of the Jesus narrative, and the seeming editing of the story after the fact to include a virgin birth like all of the others.  

Anyway, I'm providing that background information so you can see where I'm coming from.  I don't need answers on those things at this point.  

What I do need answers on this point would be things pertaining to my current life situation.  I began in truly believing the word in joy at first and immediately was able to cut my bursts of anger and impatience out nearly completely.  I've zealously tried to eliminate even *possible* sin from other areas of my life by limiting my make-up down to so little that I personally believe it is ugly enough to not cause lust, I have gotten rid of many clothes I used to wear, etc.  I don't understand what is and isn't sin, because it seems that such would be defined by the Bible, which is interpreted in many different ways.  That is troublesome, though, since not knowing what sin is means that I'll not be able to repent for it.  If I can't repent for it, then I can't ask for forgiveness for it, and it will forever separate me from God.  I'm very troubled by this and coming to the conclusion that loving God with ALL my heart and soul and loving my neighbor AS MYSELF must necessarily mean that I need to sell everything I own or give it to the poor, live in absolute poverty, and dress in only modest and unattractive clothes so as to avoid inciting lust.  Otherwise I'm treating myself better than my neighbor or withholding from God.  This saddens me, because it sounds like a miserable way to live.  It also confuses me, because many seemingly genuine Christians haven't come to this same conclusion. 

I'm already somewhat of a minimalist compared to most people, so I don't have a lot to get rid of.  I already didn't wear much make-up to start with.  I already had been practicing regular monetary giving to faith-based charities (even before the realization which I described).  I don't liken myself in particular to the rich young ruler mentioned in scripture, because first I'm not really rich, and second, the only material possessions I have that I really care about are musical instruments and old paper photos.  

Right now, I spend a lot of time wondering what is right and wrong.  How can I live my life in the right way unless I can clearly define it?  How can I avoid wrong things unless I can clearly define them?  It saddens me that I can't, which means that I'll inevitably be living in unknown sin simply due to my lack of ability to interpret scriptures correctly.  I find no comfort in this and even find myself becoming bitter towards God.  I pray for guidance and discretion but seem to receive none.  I get instead multiple possible answers, which of course just leads to more confusion. 

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I would not concentrate on perfection but rest in the fact that Jesus kept the law perfectly in our stead and we are accepted in the beloved on account of HIS Obedience and not ours...

For as by the one man's disobedience (Adam's) the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience (Jesus') the many will be made righteous.
(Rom 5:19)
 

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Welcome to Worthy Stillseeking! 

I think you are trying too hard.... God has "caught" you, let Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit "clean you up."  Remember, He looks at the intent of the heart.  Father God said if we are lacking in wisdom, ask Him and we shall receive it.  Just keep reading His Word, renewing you mind.  Faith comes from hearing and hearing the Word of God.  Try to focus on others, be like Jesus, He saw needs and tried to meet them, then you shall experience joy when we take the focus off of ourselves.  I try to ask, how can I be salt and light to others and  to point to Jesus.  I also like to listen to worship music, the real ones that focus on our Mighty God.  I choose carefully, if it's about ourselves or is it genuinely about praising God.  Prayer is another way to get to know Him.  Sometimes just ask one question like, "God do you love me?"  and waiting, you will get spontaneous answers that you know wasn't you.   He answers.  He wants you to live abundantly, in joy and peace. 

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21 minutes ago, stillseeking said:

Right now, I spend a lot of time wondering what is right and wrong.  How can I live my life in the right way unless I can clearly define it?  How can I avoid wrong things unless I can clearly define them?  It saddens me that I can't, which means that I'll inevitably be living in unknown sin simply due to my lack of ability to interpret scriptures correctly.  I find no comfort in this and even find myself becoming bitter towards God.  I pray for guidance and discretion but seem to receive none.  I get instead multiple possible answers, which of course just leads to more confusion. 

One of the key things about being a Christian is that it is about being changed from the inside out.  It is not so much about figuring out what behaviors we can and cannot do and then trying our best to live up to that.  It is about working on growing spiritually so that we are transformed and changed.  It is spiritual exercises such as prayer, bible reading, and being with other Christians that helps us grow spiritually.  God's forgiveness covers the sins and shortcomings for us as we grow spiritually.

For example, Paul (in Galatians 5:22-23) describes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control as fruit of the Spirit.  These are things that grow and start naturally flowing out our lives.  They are not things that we put on a facade and try our best to emulate.  They are descriptions of what we simply start to become like because they are natural for us.  Many Christians start out viewing the Christian life as learning what rules to keep and following them to the best of their ability.  Instead, I think that we should view the Christian life more like carefully tending a garden.  As we work at growing spiritually, the good works and lack of sin that should characterize a Christian's life will start to emerge naturally as we grow.

The most important thing to focus on is just getting to know God more and more.  It is about growing this relationship with Him that is most important.  Good works and lack of sin are the result of growing spiritually.  A deeper knowledge and understanding of what we should and shouldn't do is a result of growing spiritually.  Also, all Christians are unique creations of God.  Our individual walks will look different.  The schedules and methods we set up for prayer, bible reading, and other things should be what work for us.  There are some things that Christians simply disagree on and have different motivations for.  For example, I know some Christians that will always dress up in their best clothes when they go to church to honor God.  I know other Christians for whom the idea of dressing in their best clothes is putting on a show for other people so they wear their typical weekly dress to church.  Neither is right or wrong;  both are simply honoring God as is appropriate for them.

God's goal for our life is to become new creations for whom good works, proper motivations, and appropriate behavior is a natural outflow of who we are.  His goal is not for us to do our best to determine His rules and then do our best to keep them.  His goal is that we simply get to know Him more and more and change from the inside out to become more Christlike and naturally do what He wants us to do.  This is an ongoing process over weeks, months, days, and years.

 

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Stillseaking,    I would ask how many times have you read the Bible?

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3 hours ago, stillseeking said:

I'm a fairly new believer (even though I was exposed to and often fought Christianity for most of my life).  I also have the tendency to get caught up in specifics/legalities, which might be due in part to possibly being on the autistic spectrum (as suggested by a therapist, but I don't have the $3k out of pocket it would cost to get officially evaluated). 

During my teen and early college years, I tried hard to believe but never could, since logic always won out.  I remember during this time that I saw God as a harsh rule giver who would send anyone to hell for even sinning by accident or doing something that the person didn't even know was sinful (as exemplified in Leviticus 5:17).  I tried living by the Christian faith as best I could but just *could not* make myself truly believe it.  I eventually gave up, especially when confronted with new pieces of evidence such as the many mythological similarities of the Jesus narrative, and the seeming editing of the story after the fact to include a virgin birth like all of the others.  

Anyway, I'm providing that background information so you can see where I'm coming from.  I don't need answers on those things at this point.  

What I do need answers on this point would be things pertaining to my current life situation.  I began in truly believing the word in joy at first and immediately was able to cut my bursts of anger and impatience out nearly completely.  I've zealously tried to eliminate even *possible* sin from other areas of my life by limiting my make-up down to so little that I personally believe it is ugly enough to not cause lust, I have gotten rid of many clothes I used to wear, etc.  I don't understand what is and isn't sin, because it seems that such would be defined by the Bible, which is interpreted in many different ways.  That is troublesome, though, since not knowing what sin is means that I'll not be able to repent for it.  If I can't repent for it, then I can't ask for forgiveness for it, and it will forever separate me from God.  I'm very troubled by this and coming to the conclusion that loving God with ALL my heart and soul and loving my neighbor AS MYSELF must necessarily mean that I need to sell everything I own or give it to the poor, live in absolute poverty, and dress in only modest and unattractive clothes so as to avoid inciting lust.  Otherwise I'm treating myself better than my neighbor or withholding from God.  This saddens me, because it sounds like a miserable way to live.  It also confuses me, because many seemingly genuine Christians haven't come to this same conclusion. 

I'm already somewhat of a minimalist compared to most people, so I don't have a lot to get rid of.  I already didn't wear much make-up to start with.  I already had been practicing regular monetary giving to faith-based charities (even before the realization which I described).  I don't liken myself in particular to the rich young ruler mentioned in scripture, because first I'm not really rich, and second, the only material possessions I have that I really care about are musical instruments and old paper photos.  

Right now, I spend a lot of time wondering what is right and wrong.  How can I live my life in the right way unless I can clearly define it?  How can I avoid wrong things unless I can clearly define them?  It saddens me that I can't, which means that I'll inevitably be living in unknown sin simply due to my lack of ability to interpret scriptures correctly.  I find no comfort in this and even find myself becoming bitter towards God.  I pray for guidance and discretion but seem to receive none.  I get instead multiple possible answers, which of course just leads to more confusion. 

You have questions about the Christian life? You can get biblical answers to your questions on " Got Questions" if you go to their website.

https://www.gotquestions.org/

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1Jn 1:7  AMP  But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].

1Jn 1:8  If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].

1Jn 1:9  If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].

You are trying too hard, which ends in futility.  Jesus is our righteousness. It is His job to cleanse us.  You don't need to give everything away like the rich young man or those who have been stealing.  God wants mostly that you fellowship with Him.  He is a good a merciful God, not a hard god.  His desire is to to give you an abundant life overflowing with the joy and love of the Holy Spirit.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks, everyone.  I'll try and address a number of the responses that were made:

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Father God said if we are lacking in wisdom, ask Him and we shall receive it. 

I've been asking since I was in high school.  I feel like I still haven't received it.  The seeming silence which follows prayer makes belief that God is here with us much harder.  I honestly feel like he's already abandoned me.  I'd love to believe this (that God is here with us), but it just doesn't seem to match the reality of the experience I've had so far.  Remember I'm not new to Christianity, just to taking it seriously.  I've been at this battle for years.  I am still waiting for answers, wisdom, etc.  I used to believe I'd receive it, and now I'm not so sure. 

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The most important thing to focus on is just getting to know God more and more.  

How?  Reading the Bible, commentaries, books, and Youtube videos doesn't really help.  I find real-life Christians to be fake, judgemental, and mean after trying (I think 5?) churches so far.  It's just left me with more questions as to what God is like and if maybe I just got this whole faith thing wrong and am making a fool out of myself. 

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Faith comes from hearing and hearing the Word of God. 

For me, this just didn't seem to be the case.  I've heard it most of my life.  It was through secular writings, historical studies, and ex-Satanists that I came to belief. 

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Try to focus on others, be like Jesus, He saw needs and tried to meet them, then you shall experience joy when we take the focus off of ourselves.

That's how I'm trying to operate.  I'm afraid I do not experience joy from this.  Only worry that I'm misunderstanding what God wants from me and therefore committing sin unbeknownst to myself.  This is yet another source of anxiety and stress. 

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Sometimes just ask one question like, "God do you love me?"  and waiting, you will get spontaneous answers that you know wasn't you.   He answers. 

That's a nice thought, but in reality, an answer never seems to come.  It's a huge reason I could never make myself truly believe before, actually.  If God did answer in a detectable way, then I don't think I'd have this problem.  Trouble is that He doesn't seem to.  I ask a question, try and listen for answers, and end up experiencing multiple possible interpretations of various passages, through my own research, which leads nowhere.  A bunch of different opinions on a subject is not providing an answer.  It's like handing me a multiple choice test and then saying, "All the answers are there!"  Sure, they are, but amidst other answers, they aren't made known.  I pray for wisdom and discernment VERY frequently and have for years.  These things never seem to be granted to me.  I cannot think of a single occasion.  It's incredibly frustrating. 

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It is spiritual exercises such as prayer, bible reading, and being with other Christians that helps us grow spiritually.

When I was younger, I did these things regularly.  Why then did it lead nowhere but frustration?  Maybe God doesn't want me.  That was pretty much the conclusion I came to in my early 20s...that maybe God exists, but He couldn't possibly care about me, what with the silence I had received for years and years of honest and tearful seeking and praying.  It precisely because this didn't happen that I lost the faith I was desperately trying to convince myself of and have. 

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I would ask how many times have you read the Bible?

Once cover to cover, and as far as individual passages for study and reference purposes, countless times.  I've also read a multitude of commentaries and articles about biblical interpretation of many of these passages, and referenced the original Hebrew and Greek in attempts to bring clarity to the rather poor English translations that exist many places. 

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 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Matthew 7:21‘Not every one who is saying to me Lord, lord, shall come into the reign of the heavens; but he who is doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, lord, have we not in thy name prophesied? and in thy name cast out demons? and in thy name done many mighty things? 23and then I will acknowledge to them, that — I never knew you, depart from me ye who are working lawlessness.

Saying it isn't enough.  Leading a good life seems to be necessary, even if only proof of a true profession of faith. 

Trouble remains that to live a good life and avoid repeating sin, we must have a way to know what sin IS.  There is great disagreement on that, and there has been even since the very first churches were established.  If I cannot use scripture to determine what for sure is wrong, how can I even make an effort to avoid such things? 

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I find that I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with their materials, and I've read several.  They don't seem to have the context right at times, so I wouldn't really consider this to be an authoritative source. 

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1Jn 1:9  If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins

My issue is that with so many possible interpretations of the Bible out there, it's pretty hard to determine what sin actually is.  For example, the conclusion I wrote of above was that loving God with ALL my heart and soul and loving my neighbor AS MYSELF must necessarily mean that I need to sell everything I own or give it to the poor, live in absolute poverty, and dress in only modest and unattractive clothes so as to avoid inciting lust.  Otherwise I'm treating myself better than my neighbor or withholding from God.  Obviously (most) Christians don't come to this conclusion.  This feels tyrannical and joyless, as well. 

I find it confusing that there are a plethora of verses seeming to suggest a certain freedom in the faith, but there are also those that make it clear that we are to follow God's commandments.  Which ones?  And how should the grey areas be interpreted?  Obviously, there IS a works part to this, but people don't like to word it as such because the works don't *earn* salvation--they merely are the marks of a righteous person.  But again, specifics on what that means are lacking. 

People also say not to get caught up on the specifics but are quick to judge those who they perceive to be living in sin, even when that sin is done in the name of love (gay marriage comes to mind).  Clearly there ARE rules, so what are they? 

I guess I'm missing something here.  I really would like to understand this, but so far, it just seems very unfair and impossible. 

Edited by stillseeking

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