Your Sin and God’s Mercy


December 27, 2013 by mattfradd

The Prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32).

The Prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32).

Several years ago, while waiting in line for confession, to confess—for the umpteenth millionth time—a sin I couldn’t seem to stop, I became afraid. What if God’s mercy was running out on me? Slowly evaporating or something until one day he said, “enough’s enough. You’re cut off. No more mercy for your” (Like the soup nazi guy from Seinfeld).

I know that I’m not alone in this fear. Many of us anthropomorphize God, that is, reduce him who is infinite in all of his attributes (including mercy) to our level. Since we are unable to forgive continually, the same must be true of God, right?

False. Thank God!

In the midst of this fear, I was reminded of that scene in Matthew’s gospel where Peter approached Jesus and asked, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven'” (Mt 18:21-22).

Now what our Lord certainly did not mean, was that Peter was to forgive his brother 490 times and no more, but rather that his forgiveness ought to be perfect and consistent. Why? Because that is the nature of God’s mercy. Perfect and consistent.

If you are doubtful of God’s unfailing mercy towards you, may the three following quotes kick your butt:

1. You are Bathed in Love and Mercy

“I assure you, we are bathed in love and mercy. We each have a Father, a Brother, a Friend, a Spouse of our soul, Center and King of our hearts, Redeemer and Savior, bend down over us, over our weakness and our impotence, like that of little children, with an inexpressible gentleness, watching over us like the apple of His eye, who said, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice”, a Jesus haunted by the desire to save us by all means, who has opened Heaven under our feet. And we live, too often like orphans, like abandoned children, as if it were Hell which had opened under out feet. We are men of little faith!”

— Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée.

2. His Mercy Prevails Over All Malice

“I glorify You in making known how good You are towards sinners, and that Your mercy prevails over all malice, that nothing can destroy it, that no matter how many times or how shamefully we fall, or how criminally, a sinner need not be driven to despair of Your pardon…It is in vain that Your enemy and mine sets new traps for me every day. He will make me lose everything else before the hope that I have in Your mercy.”

— St. Claude de la Colombiere

3. The Confidence We Should Have

“It is not because I have been preserved from mortal sin that I go to God with confidence and love. Even if I had on my conscience all the crimes that one could commit, I am sure I would lose nothing of my confidence; I would throw myself, my heart broken with sorrow, into the arms of my Savior. I know how much He loves the prodigal son; I have heard His words to Mary Magdalene, to the woman taken in adultery, to the Samaritan woman. No, there is no one who could frighten me, for I know too well what to believe about His mercy, about His love. I know that in the twinkling of an eye, all those thousands of sins would be consumed as a drop of water cast into a blazing fire.”

— St. Therese of Lisieux

16 thoughts on “Your Sin and God’s Mercy

  1. Abandoned says:

    If God’s mercy is infinite, why does he still hold us temporally responsible for Adam and Eve’s sins? Not spiritually – Jesus Christ took care of that on the cross.

    You will notice we don’t live in the Garden of Eden and are required to suffer. We’re still under that punishment.

    • quixote2030 says:

      @Abandoned, I am no theologian, so please forgive me if I fail to answer your question to a degree that satisfies. Your question is simple, but has a great deal of depth to it. Here is my best answer at the moment:

      Death is a natural consequence of sin. A disordered nature producing sin is what we have inherited. The temporal consequences you refer to: the broken relationships between man and woman, their relation to creation, and to their bodies is evident. They are the physical and relational manifestations of what is broken within us and in our relationship to God. Certainly the punishments are established by God, but to what purpose?

      I think part of the answer is found in Genesis 3:22-23. I color code my bible with highlighters when I study, and I use a pink one for scripture passages that I associate with God’s love. I have highlighted these verses as love verses. It might seem strange considering that this expulsion seems like a punishment, but instead it reflects God’s great love and mercy. Instead of seeing us live forever sealed in our sinful natures by partaking of the tree of life in our sinful state God separates us from the garden.

      Perhaps, and this part is really my own uneducated conjecture, the physical manifestations of our broken relationships are intended to help us know physically what is clear spiritually. Perhaps that is not right, but I do feel confident in stating that it was a mercy of God not to allow us to live eternally as disordered sinners in the garden, and suffering is not always purposeless. Personally, intense suffering is what finally broke me down enough to hear God’s voice calling. I know that probably sounds trite, but it is nonetheless true. In my relationship with God now I take great comfort in His promises and in the opportunity to unite my suffering with the suffering of my savior. The cross to me is not just where Christ conquered sin and death, but where he united himself with us in our suffering and sense of abandonment (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22) that we could be victoriously united to his life.

      Again, this probably seems like a totally inadequate answer. There are many facets to your question that trouble human beings, and perhaps the fullest understanding of our suffering will elude us in this life. I have no doubts about God’s merciful love though. His restoration and promises are real. His sacrifice is real. It is part of what makes Christ seem non-sensical, and still wonderfully true.

      • Abandoned says:

        Then why did God create them imperfect? Write buggy software, and it will crash, guaranteed. They had imperfections (either pride, stupidity, naivete, or fear) and thanks to those imperfection, they were a cause in the fall.

        If they were created perfectly (as perfect as a created being can be – like the angels) then they wouldn’t fall (like the good angels didn’t fall) because they had full free will

        Why does God create us with the default setting of “you’re going to sin” and that it is so easy to sin? If God wanted us to have a real choice, then both sinning and not sinning would be equally easy to do.

        Punishing children for the sins of their fathers is a violation of Deuteronomy 24.

        God may be “loving”, but not temporally. He’s not just.

        Please prove to me that the third servant is wrong in Matthew 24 – that the master is harsh and mean and just unloving.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        Well, I don’t think that I can prove anything to you. At least not in the sense that you want it proven to you. I’ll address your questions to the best of my ability though. I think you are making a few faulty assumptions:
        1. That human beings are analogous to buggy software, inevitably doomed to fail.
        2. That God created us with a default setting to sin. This stands in contrast with your first assumption. Bugs are unintentional, a default setting would mean that God created us to sin. So you seem to be saying on one hand that God is incapable, and on the other hand that he is the deliberate author of evil.
        3. That because sinning is so much easier to do than good, therefore we should conclude that God did not in fact create us with free will.
        4. Implicit: that a being created in an unblemished state with true free will would only choose good. I think this is a strange and unprovable expectation that borders on rendering a free will choice no real choice at all.
        5. That we are being punished for the sins of our fathers, and that noting all of these things God goes against his own pronouncements of love and is in fact neither loving nor just.

        First off, comparing human beings to angels is too difficult in my opinion. We know so little about angels. Still, I will note that your contrast leaves out fallen angels entirely. I would be interested to know what you make of them. Regardless, it’s probably more profitable to focus on the root assumption of the contrast: that because good angels have actual free will they remain good, whereas because we are without free will we are inevitably given over to sin. All of your statements are tightly bound, and all center of the pivot point that our own tendency toward sin proves in some sense that we do not actually have free will. Hence the comparison to unthinking, programmed software with a default sin mode (or bug).

        I don’t believe we have a default sin mode, nor are we being punished for the sins of our fathers. Scripture never says so, and I think it is flat wrong. Instead I think we are living in the world our fathers altered before us. When you look at the first six chapters of Genesis you see a clear progression of sin from Adam to Cain to Lamech to the times of Noah. The reasons for this progression become clearer when we consider a child raised in a home where there is physical, emotional, and/or substance abuse. We all know that a child in that environment is going to be far more likely to repeat the mistakes of his parents. That doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t have free will, but it does mean that we are profoundly affected by the environment that we are raised in. I think you could legitimately say that our free will is impeded by these factors, but not destroyed. So the imbalance within our natures that tend toward sin is an inheritance from our fathers, but not a punishment from God. This, in my opinion, is a much better model to understand our fallen state than an analogy to flawed software.

        I keep coming back to Genesis because it is profoundly important to understanding what were made for, why things are the way they are, and what God intends for us. We are disordered people living in a disordered environment producing disordered people. It is Christ who steps into the midst of that and intervenes.

        I would like to say a lot more, but this is already a huge comment post. I’m sure I didn’t prove anything to you, and despite the format of my comment I’m not trying to debate with you. I’m not entirely sure if you are searching for God’s heart in all of this, or whether you have already dismissed God. As I said, I’m no theologian, and I’m a pretty poor apologist. I hope that you keep posting though. You are asking good questions. Hopefully others who are more gifted than I will also kick in to the conversation.

      • Abandoned says:

        I’m not saying God is the deliberate author of evil. What I’m saying is God is not just. Why are we still be punished for the sins of Adam & Eve (temporally)? We got kicked out of the Garden of Eden and we still don’t live there. God should have let his children back in. Punishing us for Adam’s sin violates Deuteronomy 24.

        When people are created with imperfections, those imperfections always lead to bad things.
        If someone is born paralyzed from the waist down, there is no way for them to run the Boston Marathon. No choice.

        If Adam was created with the imperfection of fear, the snake could have scared him into doing evil. Imperfection of pride? The snake brown-nosed him into doing it. Imperfection of stupidity? He’ll believe anything that the snake says. Imperfection of naivete? Same thing.

      • quixote2030 says:

        @Abandoned, this is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

        Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin—an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence”. Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle. (CCC 405)

        Did Adam’s sin fundamentally break relationships between man and God and man and creation? Yes. Did this breaking create corruption which we inherited, a disordered nature inclined toward sin, a disordered and fallen creation? Yes. Did it harm our ability to make free will choices? That is clear. Did it destroy our ability to make free will choices? No. Are we being punished for Adam’s sin as though it is our own sin? No, definitely not.

        Your understanding of the effects of the fall sound to me like a Reformed Protestant view. Luther exaggerated original sin as he did many other doctrinal points. We absolutely need God’s intervening Grace to be able to enter into a relationship with God, whereas Adam was born into that relationship. However, while Reformed teaching says that we have no free will involvement in entering that relationship, both Catholic and Orthodox teaching says that we respond to God’s Grace and invitation to life with a free will choice.

        Now, you might say that we are all suffering from the death, corruption, and damage caused by Adam’s sin so therefore we are being punished for his sin as our actual sin. I would answer that by asserting that God does not press the reset button on all of creation when a person makes a free will choice toward sin. We have to live in the world of our parent’s making, in other words with the consequences of their actions. Everyone in all time, regardless of religious belief (or not), should be able to agree with that last statement. It can be known through simple observation.

        I would also say that your understanding of perfection is broken. You seem to think that not only does each person need to be restored to the garden in a perfect state to have any free will at all, but that each person must be imbued with a perfection equivalent to God’s own to make a free will choice. The perfection displayed in Genesis is not a perfection of knowledge or ability, but of relationship. Man was born without corruption into a full relationship with God. We were created to be sharers in his life and what he had made. Made out of love. That is the perfection which we have lost. You however, though you may not see it, are creating your own definition of what free will means and requires. A definition that has not existed for the entire life of the church. You are in effect setting yourself over God and creating a standard by which God would have to replicate himself in not just image but in essence in order to meet your requirements.

        Last, you have been repeatedly conflating different concepts. A person being unable to make a choice to run the Boston Marathon because they were born paralyzed is a completely different issue than man being born without free will choice at all due to original sin. Be careful not to mix concepts. I don’t just say that because it makes discussion difficult, but I believe it will actually result in cementing false ideas in your mind.

        Again, super long post, but I don’t know how to answer your questions briefly. I would say that if you choose to respond again and want to continue to discuss you really ought to engage the points I have put forward rather than continuing to toss back the same questions. If you disagree then fine, but say why by specifically addressing the points. That will distinguish you as being someone honestly seeking dialog rather than someone just stirring the pot.

        May the peace of Christ be with you.

    • Abandoned says:

      “Are we being punished for Adam’s sin as though it is our own sin? No, definitely not.”

      Yes we are. MOST DEFINITELY WE ARE. Temporally. Not spiritually, this was repaired by Jesus Christ.

      Please take notice of the undeniable fact that we suffer, we don’t live in the Garden of Eden and God doesn’t care about temporal needs.

      I’ve read the Catechism and the Bible. There is nothing in either that answers my question why we are still held temporally responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin. Nothing. Nobody can answer that question.

      This is not just in any way shape or form, to hold us temporally responsible for the sins of our ancestors. This violates Deuteronomy 24.

      “Catholic and Orthodox teaching says that we respond to God’s Grace and invitation to life with a free will choice.”

      Unfortunately, God does not give me the grace to actually STAY in that friendship. It is easy to fall. It is hard to stay faithful. God does not want me and that’s why he absolutely refuses to help me get a job. God does not care about the unemployed.

      “We have to live in the world of our parent’s making”

      No,we live in the world of GOD’S making. God created people imperfect and thus the world is imperfect.

      “I would also say that your understanding of perfection is broken. You seem to think that not only does each person need to be restored to the garden in a perfect state to have any free will at all, but that each person must be imbued with a perfection equivalent to God’s own to make a free will choice.”

      So tell me how one’s free will is intact if we live in a situation that: Falling is extraordinarily easy and staying faithful is painful beyond belief. THAT is life.

      God makes it easy for us to fall. He does not make it easy to stay faithful to him.

      How is that free will? And what does that say about God that he does not want people so much that he makes it hard to follow him?

      “You are in effect setting yourself over God and creating a standard by which God would have to replicate himself in not just image but in essence in order to meet your requirements. ”

      No. That’s not true. I want things like they were before. I want to live in the garden of eden with one rule. I can do it! One rule, for crying out loud! I want that. That was what God offered, and I want that.

      But God changed the rules. He doesn’t want me.

      He won’t help me get a job. God does not love me.

      • quixote2030 says:

        @Abandoned, I hear your suffering clearly in your writing. I’m sorry if I offended you or hurt you with my debating tone. I have suffered in my life as have others I know and love, and I know how suffering has a tendency to profoundly shape our views of other people and God. I honestly don’t think you are going to find your answers spelled out in scripture or the catechism in a way that satisfies your need at this moment. Christ didn’t leave us the Church only to feed our knowledge of him intellectually. The body of Christ is intended to give us help in persevering through the suffering of life as well. I believe God works more often in our lives through other people and relationships than he does through supernaturally affecting our job situations, or healing our failing marriages, or overcoming our addictions.

        Falling is easy, but we continue to have mercy and Grace in Christ. Furthermore, transformation through the Spirit is real. I have experienced it personally and I have seen it. Failure is not a given. If I had not experienced it personally I would not emphasize this so much, but it is through Christ and the cross that this reality is received by us.

        Some of your points I do not know how to address much better than I have. I will ascribe that to my own limitations of knowledge and expression. When I say that we live in a world of our parents making I refer to the environment that our parent’s choices have surrounded us with from the moment we are born. I was raised in a home where alcoholism, infidelity, abuse, and exposure to pornography was part of my childhood experience. I have met many, many people for whom my childhood would seem a fairytale of stability and warmth. God did not make that environment. Our fathers and our father’s fathers did, and we have added our own share of sin and misery. Without God’s intervention in my life I would be (and was) raising my own children in a worse home environment than I was raised in. Instead, through His Grace I am being given the opportunity to raise my children in a home that knows God’s love and can see that expressed through parents who are being transformed.

        The life God created for Adam is the same life we are being called to. Just because we have over time introduced and abundance of sin and perversion into the world doesn’t mean that those same sins could not have broken Adam’s relationships. He had the benefit of being born into a world where those sins had not yet been introduced. Sin progresses, Christ heals. God does want you. I know you want to be back in the garden, and Christ wants to take you there. To something even better in fact, because through Christ’s uniting life we partake in the life of God even more profoundly than did Adam in my opinion. We have to walk through a lot of suffering on our way, but perseverance is also a joy and it is a gift from God. I have experienced that also. In the depths of my suffering I experienced that joy. That is not eradicated when we fall down.

        I will keep urging you to reach out to people, and I hope you are. Do not limit yourself to asking these kinds of questions, but invite people into your life to walk alongside of you. They will strengthen you through God’s grace and you will do the same for them. My hope is that you will feel God’s love experientially through those relationships in a way that intellectual debates over original sin will never deliver for you. When I have been weak I have often been lifted up by my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Sometimes it was having someone to pour my heart out to, at other times advice, and many other gifts besides. The body of Christ even with all of the warts of its particular members is an immeasurable treasure.

        No one can salve your wounds with fine arguments, nor are you expecting that I’m sure. Still, I wish I had better to offer you. I hope you won’t leave the Church behind. It is not just an institution of people, and there is more in it than can be encapsulated in the catechism.

      • Abandoned says:

        I don’t take offense, I see you’re trying hard to answer these heavy questions that I have no answers to. I appreciate your attempt at answering my questions.

        I love the Catholic faith and don’t want to leave it. Of all the religions in the world, it has the best and more complete answer about the question about suffering. The problem is that it doesn’t explain (nor does any other religion explain) why God holds us temporally responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin. I don’t intend to leave the faith, Jesus Christ is the way, the Truth, and the Life. The worst thing I can think of happening with me is that I’ll become a deist.

        It is good you’ve had the transformation through the Spirit. I had a gradual one years ago but things have come to a complete stop. I’ve had the dark night of the soul for too long for me to know if God still loves me.

        I wish I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I only have a corporate relationship – I’m in his body. I pray, it is only a monologue, not a conversation with God.

        I’ve tried to reach out to people on a couple of Catholic boards. No help there. I went to a couple of protestant boards. No help there either. Tried to get spiritual direction and my spiritual director died of a horrible case of cancer. Ugh.

        I want to know God’s love – temporally. That is if he loves me there. Lack of work is very demoralizing. No matter what I do, nothing is good enough for the employers. Got experience, education, certifications, skills – and no job. Go back to school twice, nothing.

        God has abandoned me and wants me to never have a job again. Eventually my savings will run out and my family and I be on the street begging for pennies from passerbys.

      • quixote2030 says:

        You are convinced that your suffering from unemployment is a result of God’s temporal punishment for the sin of Adam and Eve. Perhaps no one can convince you otherwise because your experience is confirming this in you. You want a satisfactory explanation of why this is the case, but you have seemingly cemented the answer in your heart that God is not just and does not love you. Either God must speak to you like a prophet or produce a job for you. This appears like angry bargaining with God to prove His love to you in a way that you will accept.

        You say that you want to speak with God. God has spoken to me as clearly as he ever spoke to Isaiah. For years I suffered intensely watching the most precious parts of my life fall apart. After Christ drew me into His life I thought everything would be better, yet the suffering did not stop but intensified. My marriage was destroyed, I feared for the safety of my children, and I was still battling sins that had clawed deeply into my heart. It was like watching my own childhood play out over my beautiful children but worse. I threw myself into the Lord because I had nowhere else to go. I poured myself out to the brothers God had brought into my life. I prayed and prayed and prayed, and I battled fear, lingering addiction, and loneliness. I tried to care for and raise angry, hurting children alone when often I could barely get out of bed myself. God never appeared before me through that time, and he did not flip a switch and take away my suffering, nor did he whisk me and my children away to the garden.

        Today my marriage is restored, my family is doing well, my children laugh and play and enjoy a stable home. None of that would have been possible without the suffering we went through. It was not wasted I promise you although it would take longer than I can write in a comment to explain it all. God has spoken to me through the love of my brothers and the transformation of my life just as clearly as He has spoken to any man ever.

        It is good that you love the Catholic faith and that you acknowledge that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What good will it do you though if His sacraments are rags, and your prayer can only be addressed to a silent God who is committed only to beating and humiliating His servants? If you are right then the Christian faith is a demon religion.

        There is no other counsel to give you but to pray and hope in God and place yourself in the arms of others who love you in Christ. Keeping working in hope toward a job. You have quoted Romans 8:23 in another post so I know you have read further to Romans 8:24-25. Scripture is replete with promises which give reason to hope for what we do not yet have. God has given us abundant reason to trust in His love first through the salvation that comes through Christ, further through His life within us in the Spirit, and again through the gift of the Church and the sacraments. Whether we are willing receive His love with trust is another matter altogether. The man who never had hope in the love of God and never began the race, and the man who gave up halfway because he lost his hope are in the same state. Persisting with Christ in trust and hope is one of the building blocks on which the personal relationship you desire is constructed.

        My tone feels insufferably harsh and insensitive to me reading back over what I have written but it is not meant that way. I don’t think you have given up hope, after all you keep seeking, but if you have already made up your mind what you are going to find then you will likely only find what you expected. I have been praying for you and will keep on praying for you. I am confident that we do not serve a demon, but a loving God and if a loving God then always loving. Even when his ways seem strange and inexplicable to us.

      • Abandoned says:

        “This appears like angry bargaining with God to prove His love to you in a way that you will accept.”

        Not bargaining. God already made up his mind, and I can’t change it. There is no negotiating with God, it is his will. It is his way or downstairs.

        I’m in desperate search for a mystic who will tell me what God really wants from me so I can lift the curse that God has placed on me. I hate not knowing what I’m supposed to do here. I absolutely hate it.

        I’m married (so far) and have a son (so far), and I never took a vow of poverty. I don’t ever recall taking one and wonder why God is requiring one of me. If I can’t get a job, how do I pay rent and take care of my family? Mind you, I don’t live in luxury or live beyond my means. Ordinary living expenses are now beyond my means because the unemployment benefits ran out and STILL NO JOB.

        “I know you have read further to Romans 8:24-25. ”

        Correct. But what is the hope that saves? I trust in God’s mercy when it comes to the spiritual. The temporal… comment.

        “God has given us abundant reason to trust in His love first through the salvation that comes through Christ”

        This is a wonderful spiritual gift. When it comes to all the wonderful spiritual things God provides, I have 100% trust and zero doubt. But when God only seems to care about the spiritual…..

        “Whether we are willing receive His love with trust is another matter altogether.”

        So where do I receive His love? If he won’t even bother to talk to me.

        Just think of it like this.

        You’re married. Your loving wife absolutely refuses to talk to you. Gives you no clue why.
        It is clear you did something wrong and you’re in deep doo-doo. You’d want to find out what went wrong and fix the situation.
        Did something wrong? Apologize and make up for it.

        Now when God doesn’t talk to me……it is because He is pushing me away.

        I need to find out why I’m being punished. I have to know what I am doing wrong, confess my sin, do penance and amend my life.

        But God won’t tell me what it is. He just punishes.

        I am in desperate need of a mystic who actually has conversations with God. I must find out. I need to have this curse lifted.

      • Chris Byrum says:

        I took a few days to think after your last response, but I still don’t think I have a better way to answer you then I did a few days ago. Not that you are looking to me for answers anyway, but I did want to be helpful. I do have a couple of final thoughts.

        First, your separation of what you consider the purely spiritual effects of Christ’s sacrifice, divorcing it from the physical and temporal, borders on Gnosticism in a sense. Futhermore, you are also setting Christ and his sacrificial love against what you view as the unjust punishment of the God in the Old Testament. God cannot be loving on one hand and spiteful and unjust on the other. To make Him so borders on Marcionism, in which Marcion believed that the Hebrew God was a wrathful, separate and lower entity. You may feel that it is unfair to place your views alongside those of well known heretics, but I think that your suffering and pain are twisting your views of God and the sacrificial death of Christ. These views are more than just improper. They will destroy your relationship with God if you continue to walk in them. God does not just care about your spiritual state and abandon you in this life. To think so is not biblical in any way, and it is not the teaching of the Church.

        You need to see that this view is experiential only, as in born out of your pain. You cannot only let your suffering inform your views of God. If you are going to include the teachings of Scripture and the Church in your worldview, which you obviously do, then you need to allow room to take in all of the teachings so that you can have a proper understanding of your life and relationship to God. Otherwise, as you are seeing for yourself, suffering which is in any context difficult to comprehend and live through becomes a crushing burden.

        Second, you really need other people to walk through this with you. Comment threads like this or Catholic forums are insufficient. You need to walk through this with members of the body of Christ who can talk with you in person. People in the Church can help you carry your burdens financially, emotionally, and help provide a corrective spiritually when needed. All of us are prone to letting experiences overwhelm us. I know personally what that is like. I don’t have any idea what your engagement with others in the Church is like, but I would just encourage you to dive in more fully and lean on those that God has placed around you. God will strengthen you through those relationships, and then you will see the transformation that is stalled now begin anew.

        This medium is such an unfortunate way to hold a conversation like this, so I am really sorry if some of my statements sound uncaring, overly blunt, or brutal. I never mean them that way, but electronic communication is devoid of the context that makes a complete conversation. I will continue to pray for you and your family, and I have been doing so. I am praying for your employment, and I am praying for your engagement with your brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, and I am praying that your relationship with God will become saturated with the knowledge of His love.

  2. Chris Byrum says:

    So important, thanks Matt. This is indeed a common and normal fear (I certainly have suffered from it), but one that is completely unfounded in the overwhelming evidence of God’s unending mercy. Too often we are like the prodigal son that comes home and feels so unworthy that he just wants to be treated like one of his father’s hired men. I was talking to my wife about this the other day. What if, when the father responded by calling for the finest robes for his son and throwing a feast, his son continued to feel so unworthy that he rejected his father’s gifts. It is important to remember that we are indeed sinners in need of His abundant Grace, but we are even more sons of God, and through Christ we are being restored to the place he has always prepared for us so that we may share in His life. What a great tragedy to lose sight of His love in the midst of our sins, and yet what an amazing gift to be able to grasp those promises as sinners and hold onto them with hope. Remembering who God is, what he has done, is doing, and will do yet brings great glory to Him. I am confident of that. Thanks for the post Matt, and the wonderful quotes.

    Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

    • Abandoned says:

      God’s unending mercy does not apply to the temporal realm. We are punished for Adam and Eve’s sins.

      • Chris says:

        Abandoned, God didn’t make us imperfectly. At least, not originally. The issue is that perfect free will, with Adam and Eve, does not mean “incapable of choosing evil” but “perfectly capable of choosing good or evil”. Perfection doesn’t mean the inability to choose sin. The good angels were made just as equally as the bad angels. Perhaps what you’re not realizing is that the essential argument of Christianity is that free will leads to the possibility of both events happening. A perfect flip of a coin doesn’t mean that it will always land in your favour, it means that it will always make several revolutions before landing and thus provide an equal chance between head and tails.

        God did make that choice possible for us, with our parents. Since Adam represents all of humanity, his actions carry spiritual and temporal consequences. Jesus’ sacrifice deals with both the Spiritual and Temporal consequences, by uniting Divinity to Humanity and by redeeming humanity through perfect self-sacrificing love. In this way, we deal with the temporal consequences of Original Sin through our union with the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross, as usual, is the answer to your question and to all really important questions.

        The servant of Matthew 24 was given the opportunity to make a choice about the wealth that he was given. The fact remains that the man chose, freely, to hide the money away and to not do anything with it. The man was more concerned about how he perceived the master to be, instead of actually seeing the master as he is. And the man was judged by his perception.

        The same is true for us. Those who see God as God really is, completely nonsensical-yet-perfectly-sensible Love, benefit from the sacrifice and risks that they make for this love. The ones who perceive God to be hateful, spiteful, judging, shall themselves be judged by this perception of God.

      • Abandoned says:

        “Christianity is that free will leads to the possibility of both events happening.”

        Yes. We have the 99.9999999999% possibility of evil happening and 0.0000000000000000000000000001% possibility of sainthood happening.

        God made it so it is very easy to fall. So easy, it is convenient beyond belief. Going to hell is ridiculously easy. God makes it hard, almost impossible, to be a saint. God makes it hard, almost impossible, to go to heaven.

        How do I have free will in this scenario? Seriously?

        “Jesus’ sacrifice deals with both the Spiritual and Temporal consequences”

        No. Only the spiritual.

        If Jesus Christ took care of the temporal problems, then we would be in the Garden of Eden with no suffering and an actual 50/50 chance of going to heaven.
        If Jesus Christ took care of the temporal, Romans 8 would not be saying our bodies are AWAITING our redemption (this means they haven’t been redeemed yet!!!!!)
        If Jesus Christ took care of the temporal, I would not out of work, being told that I am useless and have no value by employers.

        “A perfect flip of a coin doesn’t mean that it will always land in your favour,”

        No, it means I have a 50/50 chance of heads or tails. Heaven/Hell is not like that. It is 0.000000000000000000000000000000001%/99.999999999999999999999999%.

        “The man was more concerned about how he perceived the master to be, instead of actually seeing the master as he is.”

        But where did that servant get that perception? It didn’t come out of nowhere. The master mistreated, beat, and hurt that servant, pounding him into the ground.

        “Those who see God as God really is, completely nonsensical-yet-perfectly-sensible Love, benefit from the sacrifice and risks that they make for this love.”

        When God treats people in an unloving way, how are they to believe he loves them?
        When God tells me I am worthless and have no value and does not want me to get a job, how is that loving?

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