The Christian’s Confusion and Moral Dilemma

With this post, I don’t seek to claim to have every answer or seek to come across as having my Christian walk figured out (because I certainly do not); I simply seek to pen the things that God, by His Holy Spirit has revealed to me over the course of several weeks and months.

I fear that many of us who call ourselves Christians are quite confused beings. Perhaps this is not the case in the majority of the world, or even in the majority of our country, although it seems to be at times; but in the circles I have been in, much confusion seems to have taken place. I guess I should explain myself before I go any further. 

Christians have not been left alone on this earth to figure out God’s plan for our lives. On the contrary, God has given us the most powerful tools He could have possibly bestowed upon us. I will list what I term “The 5 Super-powers”. No this is not a weak attempt at being cute; it’s just the best description I could give them. The first one is God’s Word; 66 books of the Bible revealing to us God’s character, God’s holiness, God’s hatred for sin, God’s plan for creation, God’s plan for salvation, and God’s love. To ever consider that somehow God has abandoned us is utterly ridiculous. Those 66 books of the Bible are so vast and deep and mysterious, that His creation could not possibly pretend to think we could turn over every stone and unlock every treasure in them.

The 2nd Super-power is prayer. Access to God’s throne 24/7. Every moment of the day, we have the ability and privilege to go to God the Father and lay our requests before Him, and He has promised to answer those who seek Him persistently and with faith, and He can and will answer them. Amazing!

The 3rd one is the Holy Spirit. God’s power in us! When Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, the disciples were crushed once again thinking that somehow their Lord and King would no longer be with them to guide and direct them in His teaching and God’s will. However, Jesus said that even though He was ascending to His well-deserved place of honor and glory, that He indeed was not leaving His followers on their own to please God. In fact, Jesus said that when His Holy Spirit came upon them and dwelt inside of them, they would be able to do mightier acts than they ever did when Jesus was on earth, because Jesus would indwell them by His Spirit and supernaturally create in them His holiness and love. 

The 4th one is the body of Christ. We have other followers of Jesus to look to, be encouraged by, be loved by, to fight with, to pray with, and to sharpen each other in our pursuits of following after Jesus. We may not see that as a super-power, but Jesus Himself said that when He built His church, that not even the gates of hell could not overcome it. 

And the 5th one, which is by far the mightiest is Jesus Christ Himself. Christians have a true, living and intimate relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. We will most likely never have a chance to have a relationship with anyone of power here on earth; in fact they’ll probably never know we existed. But Jesus Christ, Ruler and Creator of all knows the very number of  hairs on our heads. He loves us with a love that is truly unknowable, and that’s only the beginning. When faith is placed in Jesus Christ and we repent from our sins and turn to Him, we are blanketed by His righteousness, holiness, and love. God Himself cannot touch us with His wrath because of the safety and refuge that is Jesus Christ. Oh what time we could spend pouring over His majesty and supremacy, but we’ll get to that I’m sure. 

So to recap, we have the Bible, we have prayer, we have the Holy Spirit, we have the body of Christ, and we have Jesus Christ Himself. If we truly ever try to claim that God has left us alone to fend for ourselves, we are truly blind and I fear more blind than we can even imagine. 

However, for the sake of this post, let’s assume that, not only do we all agree with that, but we understand that in our minds and hearts. And let’s move on to the reason that I felt compelled to write on this very topic. The topic is confusion and our moral dilemma,  but it extends much beyond that. It’s very possible that this topic is too great to be written about in several paragraphs, but I will at least try to open up the door. You see the confusion I was speaking of before is very deep in many of us. It certainly was for me for the bulk of my life, and even is to many degrees still, although God’s super-powers are working on me. However, not only was I the poster boy for a confused Christian, I was also blind to the truth. 

I will no longer beat around the bush, the confusion is this, as a question – how can we please a holy and righteous God?

Now, we could pause here and break out our theology notes from Bible college and really attack this question with sound doctrine; (and although I truly prize sound doctrine, and if you know me, I hope that is an accurate statement about myself); but I don’t want to be academic about this topic any longer. It needs to go much deeper than just academia and stored up head knowledge. We need our hearts to be enlightened, and unless we’re prepared to use all 5 super-powers to a high degree, we should assume that it will never happen. 

So let’s peal back another layer of this discussion. Why do I ask this question? Well, because for the majority of my life, I have not pleased God with my life. I have been a professing Christian for 26 years now, and if a person is to undertake any task for 26 years, you would think that a certain level of expertise would be gained. Well, that may work for worldly endeavors, but it doesn’t work with Christianity.  

Yes, I heard the Gospel when I was a 5 year old, and I’m sure it even entered into my ears well before that. And at age 5, I concluded in my very immature mind, that I was a sinner and that God had a problem with sin, and therefore I needed to be saved from that very sin. And so I asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me from my sin. And this is where my journey began. My Christian sojourn that has taken me 26 years and I am humbled to admit that although I have an adult body, in many respects, I have an infant mind and an infant heart.  

Why am I so harsh on myself? Because it’s the truth. However, instead of giving you my testimony, I am going to take a gamble once again and assume that many other professing Christians are in the same boat as I am; mightily confused. You see, I mentioned the 5 super-powers that we have at our disposal to use for maturing and growing in our obedience and service of God, but we must also talk about the mighty army that fights against us. And please don’t think for one moment that I am hinting that the super-powers we have from God are weakened at any time or unable to carry out their purposes, because that would be horrible blasphemy and I want to make sure that I am careful in how I say this. But, the army that fights against you and I is a mighty one as well. It’s led by the true Anti-Christ himself; Satan. But along with him are many demons and workers that are all fighting together to take down those who profess to follow Christ with their lives. Satan is the epitome of wickedness, and he’s very good and very passionate about his job. 

Along with Satan and all his workers is the world’s system. The world walks in contradiction to God’s law and God’s will and Satan uses this system many times to make us blind and make us think that the world somehow is in a pretty good shape; but make no mistake, it’s not! The world is at enmity with God and most of those who live in this world will be judged when the world is judged on the Last Day. It’s termed in America as “The American Dream”, and it’s horribly anti-Biblical.

To go along with the world is simply sin itself and the curse that it brings. It kills everything it touches, and the world is drenched in sin. And as we must understand, God detests sin and those who take part in it. And if that weren’t enough, we have our flesh. Our flesh, because of sin desires everything that is contrary to God. So, Satan, his demons, the world, sin and our flesh are all fighting in perfect unison to destroy the work of Christ in the lives of human beings. It’s an army that makes the U.S. army look like a bunch of toddlers with nerf guns. But please understand me, as powerful as that army is, it’s completely overwhelmed by the power of God and all the tools we mentioned before. The only reason Satan has any success is because God allows him too. Yes, Satan hasn’t had one victory that God hasn’t allowed – and Satan will not snatch away one child from God’s true family, because we are kept by God’s power and Satan is rendered powerless before the mighty hand of our great God. 

Okay, so the foundation is set for this warfare that is happening in us even as we speak. Now let’s talk about the confusion, because it comes purely from Satan and his army.

The confusion is this, once again, as a question – can Christians please God? 

Take a moment and consider how you might answer someone if they asked this question. Could you? I’m sure you think you could, like I was sure I knew the answer to this. But think again, can Christians truly please God? Well, my short answer is yes and no. And that answer has changed over the course of several years. Before I would have confidently said, “Yes, without question.” And if you would have pried as to how, I would have said, “Well, by simply obeying His Word.” It would be a good answer actually, a correct one if I actually knew what I was saying. And maybe you do, but I can confidently say that I did not. 

You see the 5th super-power I mentioned is where I want to make camp; it’s the person and Lord Jesus Christ. As most of us know, Jesus Christ came to the earth for sinners. As most of us would affirm, He came to die in the place of sinners, so that in Him, we might avoid the condemnation of sin and will also receive eternal life. However, I think that while that truth is heavily discussed and preached on here in America, there is a heavy dose of truth that is being left out of most pulpits, and it’s the foundation for much confusion in the Christian life. 

Yes, Jesus’ primary reason for coming to earth was to give His life and take the punishment for sin that you and I deserve. But, what many of us fail to forget or possibly even comprehend is that Jesus Christ also came to fulfill and abolish God’s law. You see, ever since Adam and Eve sinned and fell short of God’s standard of perfection, mankind has been following suit. We are sinners by birth because we inherited it from Adam, but we also make the conscious decision to sin and break God’s law each and every day. So we’re drenched in sin and because of that, we’re in very hot water with God. 

God is holy and He cannot and will not ever accept anything that is less that perfect. And although mankind definitely has some issues, I think Satan has convinced many of us that we’re only somewhat sinful. I mean there are many sins that I haven’t committed, at least on the outward, and therefore I must be better than many wicked people purely because of that. Right? But if we ever read the book of Romans, Paul points out the fact that we are walking contradictions to God and His law. We cannot and will not ever choose to obey Him. And it also points out that God is holy and detests sin and sinners. So although we may think that we’re just saved from the condemnation of sin, we cannot be saved from hell if we’re not saved from sin itself. Hell is a place for sinners, and Heaven is a place for holy creatures; which human beings are not. 

Then how do we get into Heaven? Well that brings up the doctrine of imputation. On the cross, God legally transfered our sin to Christ and God transfered Christ’s righteousness to us. Therefore, God had no problem in crushing His one and only Son on the cross (Isaiah 53 says, “for it pleased the LORD to crush Him”), because God looked at Christ as if He had committed all the sins that you and I have. And God detests sin, and because He does, He unleashed every ounce of His wrath upon the head of Jesus Christ. Again, that might be common knowledge, although that knowledge should drive us to our knees in thanksgiving. 

What’s not common knowledge, or at least not something we’ve truly grasped, is that Jesus Christ didn’t just come down to earth for one 24 hour day and die on the cross. Before He was crucified, He was born of a virgin and lived for 33 years upon this earth – and He never once sinned. Never! If God was going to accept His sacrifice on the cross, He had to be perfect. Why? Because again, God only accepts perfection. And as we know, God indeed did accept His sacrifice for our sins by the very fact that 3 days after Jesus died, God raised Him from the dead. And 40 days later, Jesus ascended back to Heaven to take His rightful place on His throne as King of kings and Lord of lords. 

But we must focus on the fact that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, because it’s the key to unlocking our confusion to this moral dilemma. If Jesus fulfilled and abolished the law, and then sinners come to Jesus for salvation and righteousness, then the law has no say over us anymore. It cannot; otherwise Christ didn’t fulfill it and we’re still responsible for doing it ourselves. And then we’re back to being condemned; because even on our best day, we cannot live the perfect life that God demands that we must for entrance into His eternal Kingdom. So the law is removed. 

Yes, I know, that doesn’t sit well with us. But it has to if we’re ever going to truly make sense of living this Christian life. Say goodbye to the law; God’s law, and give yourself fully to Christ. The Apostle Paul said it best in Romans 7:4, “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” You see, the law was our old master, but that master no longer remains. It’s been replaced by a much easier and much kinder and much gentler Master; Jesus Christ Himself. He said it about Himself, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The law could never say that. Now, make no mistake, God’s law is still holy, righteous and good. In fact without the law, you and I would never have been aware of our own sinfulness, and would never have come to Christ for cleansing.  So we mustn’t consider that somehow the law is tainted – it’s we who are tainted and are unable to live by God’s law. God the Father knows this, hence the reason John 3:16 exists. He loved the world so much that it was crucially important to Him that He grant us a new Master, and One that would do everything for us. 

Can we confidently say that it’s all been done by Christ? We sure talk about it like we understand it. But, the confusion is when we buy into the lie that there is still something for us to do to please God. Yes, we are to bring Him glory; without question. Yes we are to walk by faith, because it’s impossible to please Him without it. But can we? Are you and I capable of bringing God glory on our own? Are you and I capable of living by faith on our own? We know the verses that command us to do so. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31. And based on that passage, many of us have heard from speakers all our lives, “You can bring God glory in anything you do. You can bring Him glory when you hang out with your friends, you can bring Him glory when you go bowling, you can bring Him glory when you watch a movie, etc, etc, etc. So, that’s our job right? Find a way to bring God glory in everything you do – it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do it for God? WHAT!? So, have you? Have you brought God glory in everything you’ve done? Do you think it’s okay that we’ve sinned exponentially more than we’ve brought God glory? Will He accept our worthy efforts? No, God only accepts perfection. So we’re back to square one – falling short of God’s standard and in serious trouble. 

So let’s think for a moment. We can’t be perfect, we needed Jesus to be saved from our sin, but God still expects and demands perfection from us all our lives or He’ll treat us like the wretched sinners we are, because a perfect God cannot accept the filth or blemishes of His creation. See the confusion?

What about sin? Is it okay if we sin after we’re saved, as long as that one time in our life we said a prayer for Jesus to save us?

Well, I think we can confidently say that Jesus Christ’s blood is sufficient to save us from sins past, present and future. But when we get messed up is when we somehow think that after salvation, God just expects us to be moral and ethical and good Christian folk. If our best acts of righteousness to God are like a pile of filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), then did Jesus sacrifice allow God to lower His standard to accept our filth? Absolutely not! God is holy and will only accept holiness. If we’re not perfect today, God doesn’t love us; and if we don’t stand before Him perfect on the Last Day, God will not hesitate to cast us into hell for all of eternity. Perfection or eternal wrath – that’s our options.

So here’s what I see. I do not need morality. I do not need the law. I do not need family values. I do not need church rules and regulations. They all set up a standard I cannot meet and if I mess up once, I have broken the entire thing. What I need every moment of my life is Jesus Christ alone! Is has to be to Jesus! Jesus is perfect, righteous and holy at every moment of His existence. Even when God judged Him for our sin, and even though God legally treated Jesus as if He was sinful, Jesus Christ remained perfectly holy. So, what every Christian needs is Jesus Christ every moment of the day. If we move outside of Jesus Christ, we’re on our own to be perfect before God. John 15:1-8 is the perfect Scripture to use for this to be able to sink into our brains. 

“I am the true Vine, and my Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”

Jesus says it Himself – abide in Me! He doesn’t say, “come to Me at some time in your life and be cleansed.” No, abide in Me! “For apart from Me, you can no NOTHING” Well, you can do some things, but they’re all wicked. You and I cannot, on our best attempts, bring glory to God, walk by faith, or produce the fruit that is necessary for proof of salvation. We must abide in Jesus! Why? He is the only source of holiness and perfection that we have, and like we stated before – we must be holy! The only time we’re safe, is when we’re in the arms of Jesus Christ. Then, and only then will His holiness and righteousness be imparted to us. Just like the analogy of a branch. A branch that is on its own cannot bear any fruit. It would be ridiculous if we saw a dead branch producing all kinds of wonderful fruit. The branch must be in the tree! Even if it’s one inch away from the tree, but not in it, it will bear absolutely no fruit! That is how the Christian is apart from Christ, absolutely fruitless – and dead.

Try to be moral, try to obey God’s commands, try to be loving, try to be nice, try to witness, try to hold your tongue – apart from Christ it will always be stained in our sin. In Christ, even our sin is cleaned and appears whiter than snow. Please, do not fall into the confusion that Satan wants us to fall into. His whole army has one goal only – move us away from Jesus! He doesn’t care if we’re moral and we’re all a bunch of Mother Theresa’s; that doesn’t harm Satan’s plan at all; because he knows Scripture and he knows that if we’re away from Christ, we are the epitome of wickedness, just like he is. The only time Satan’s plans fail is when you and I recognize our own incapabilities and we run to, sprint to and remain in Jesus Christ. Satan can beat us without much effort on our own, but when we’re with Jesus, Satan cowers in utter fear.

So Satan’s one plan is to simply drive a wedge between us and Jesus. He doesn’t care if it’s sin that does it, he doesn’t care if it’s busyness that does it, he doesn’t care if it’s laziness that does it, he doesn’t care if it’s comfort on earth that does it, he doesn’t care if it’s morality, religion or “good Christian living” that does it – he just wants us away from Jesus! He wants us apart from the Vine. Because even though we appear to ourselves to be good Christian people, Satan knows that apart from Christ, we’re covered in our own filth and away from God’s kindness and love. Jesus said Himself, “I am the Way, the Triuth, and the Life, no man comes to the Father expect through Me.” He didn’t mean at one time in our lives, He meant ever! You cannot pray to God apart from Jesus, you cannot love others apart from Jesus, you cannot bring God glory apart from Jesus, you cannot walk by faith apart from Jesus. It’s all in Jesus Christ!

Use God’s Word to drive you to Jesus. Listen to what Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life.” – Jesus in John 5:39-40. Use the Bible to encourage you to run to Jesus. Use prayer for more faith in Jesus Christ, not as a grocery list for God to take care of all your wants.

The Apostle Paul did in Philippians 3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more…But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

Paul was a man who knew that he was only capable of wickedness apart from Christ, and so he RAN to Jesus all the days of his life. No, don’t believe that Jesus was running away from him. He’ll never run away from us, but open His arms to us and beckon us to come. But every power of darkness is doing whatever it can to keep us from Jesus. We must strive to get to Jesus in humble prayer and study of God’s Word. We must talk about our pursuits with the body of Christ and pray for one another and encourage each other and fight together. We must go to Jesus. He is as necessary to us today as He ever was. Do not be confused, Jesus Himself is our peace, our joy, our hope, our life and eternal stability. If we drift away from Him, all of that is lost. 

Do not be a Christian doing Christian things, be a violent and radical follower of Jesus, because then and only then will the fruit of righteousness begin to take form in your life. We will witness, we will love others, we will abstain from sin, we will crave holiness, but it’ll be the supernatural power of Jesus Christ that hangs that fruit upon us – not our own efforts. Jesus is the bread of life! Eat of that bread as often as you can. Pray for more focus. Pray for more faith in Christ. Pray for more repentance of EVERYTHING else and fly to Jesus all the days of your life. Then, one day, we’ll stand before God and we’ll be blanketed in Jesus Christ’s righteousness, and God the Father will say to us, “Thank you for living a perfect life, welcome to My Kingdom – it’s yours forever.”

May we strive for Jesus Christ as long as we live and encourage others to do the same.

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