- Religion and Philosophy
The Reality of True Faith
Contrary to what many think, spiritual faith isn't a feeling, rather a relationship with the Lord. It's an interaction between ourselves and God. Some believe if they don't feel excitement or spiritual passion their faith isn't real. In other words, feelings are changeable because they are human. However the basis for faith is God's Word, which never changes. Those who place their belief in God's Word have a strong foundation.
Many think since they were raised in a Christian home and are active in their church they have faith. But, the Bible tells us works without faith, is useless. In fact, it's how we relate to God on a personal basis. Unfortunately there are those who see God as a distant invisible entity. The words grace, forgiveness, and God's love, may sound foreign to them.
Faith is a human response God gave to us while we were still lost in our sin. God showed His love for us by sending His son to pay the penalty for our sin by being crucified on a cross.
We must recognize we are sinners and need God's forgiveness. And we must understand Jesus Christ died on the cross in payment for our sins. People can fail us, but God's love doesn't.
Learning to trust God may be a progressive process for some, especially if their trust has been compromised by betrayal, abuse, or other such incident.
Some in the medical community see faith as a stumbling block to emotional health. They have seen people with religious obsessions and compulsions. Many have been children threatened with hellfire for minor offenses at home by abusive parents. Yet, others claim to have heard the “The voice of God.”
However, these are manifestations of religion reacting with emotional illness, not genuine faith. Some psychiatrists and psychologists don't understand the difference between faith and religion. On the other hand, many emotional problems have spiritual feelings of guilt, emotional instability, depression or even false guilt.
What is meant by false guilt? In most cases, it's feelings of condemnation imposed on us by others who we feel have judged us, or even judgments we place ourselves. Usually false guilt begins in early childhood when strict parents punish a child excessively. These children may grow up feeling they can't be perfect no matter how hard they try. Therefore they grow up feeling guilty and inferior.
This condition can be rectified by learning the truths contained in the Bible. In time they will understand God doesn't expect us to be perfect or live sinless lives. To be the people God intended us to be we must surrender ourselves to Him completely.
How Do You See God?
Most Christians at one time or another find their faith lacking. Perhaps it was merely dissatisfaction or disappointment with God. These are normal and common issues. Even those who won't readily admit they are dissatisfied or disappointed with God, feel a lack of closeness to Him. Although they have studied the Bible religiously and know all the doctrines and confessions of their church they may not be able to feel God's presence in their hearts. This may result in a distorted image of God.
This isn't referring to the image of God contained in the Bible. Rather a person's individual concept of God. This image can easily become distorted by a number of factors.
A misunderstanding about what the Bible says about God.
Blaming God for problems caused by other people or their own mistakes.
Influence by anti-Christian views.
A view of God distorted by abuse received in early childhood by abusive parents, which is transferred to an image of God.
Your personal view of God can change over time. It becomes reshaped by new experiences, joys, sorrows, and traumas. Although God and His Word never change, we do. For example, the death of a loved one. We might ask, “Why did God let this happen?” In cases such as this, we are blaming God.
A distorted image of God may also take place as people try and project their own personality traits onto Him. Some may see God as a strict, judgmental dictator. On the other hand, a loving person might see God as gracious and loving.
Other examples might might include:
An obsessive compulsive personality. It's common for these people to doubt their salvation, and are afraid God may have abandoned them.
Paranoid personality. These feel everything bad happens to them because God is angry with them.
Neurotic personality. Prone to anxiety.
Left untreated, our distortions of who God is can lead to emotional damage and spiritual impairment. We must first understand the power of sin over us. Today's society is captivated with spirituality. Go to any bookstore and there will be shelves filled with spiritual guidance and self-help books, including some concerning the occults. The Bible tells us what sin does to us.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(Romans 6:23).
Effects of Sin
Man was created sinless. But evil entered him when Adam and Eve relented to Satan's temptations. Thus, their nature became sinful. This sinful nature has been inherited by all their descendants. So, sin and death became the fate of all humans. In spite of our tendency toward evil, a remnant of God's likeness still remains. Nevertheless, only by God's grace can man receive God's gift of salvation.
We can recognize sin in many of our habits. Some have become so ingrained we are barely aware of them. Bad habits require time and repetition before they become "second nature." If we are to become fit for God's kingdom, these bad habits have to be replaced with good ones. This can be done with spiritual disciplines. These are practices we do regularly that help us to change with the power of the Holy Spirit. Our sinful habits become good habits, making us more like Christ and bringing us closer to God.
God wants us to live a fulfilled life. Although He does not guarantee us a trouble-free existence, He does give instructions that strengthen our connection with Him.
Much emotional pain we encounter is the direct consequence of sexual sin, abortion, financial missed dealings, lying, and so on. Some make the problem worse by engaging in even more sinful behavior in order to lessen their emotional pain. It's a fact, Christians sin. However, God doesn't expect moral perfection from imperfect human beings. Yet, those willfully practicing sin is an entirely different story. As Christians we have the Holy Spirit as a source of comfort, and guidance. We have God's assurance He has cleansed us of our sin, as far as the east is from the west.