Recently, I had a good friend confide in me with some questions and comments about faith in Jesus Christ. Questions and comments of skepticism and self-justification—not in the belief there is no God—but in the belief that they are justified in living their life the way they choose and still be accepted and approved by a loving God. They asked some of the same questions and made some of the same statements about their belief in God, and about why they feel their life is okay—about why God is just fine with how they live, and believe, and love—that I have heard from a number of people, as have you. People living their lives on the edge with God, and the with the world, not committing to Him, but believing in Him. Staying close to Him, but not too close. Justifying that one thing (or two) that keeps away commitment.
Their common questions and comments will often go like this: "Do you really think God doesn't listen to, or answer my prayers, because I'm not a professing Christian like you? Even though I do believe He exists and I pray to Him? Does He not love me as much as you?" "Well, I don't care what you or any other Christian thinks I am supposed to do. If God thinks I'm sinning, He will convict me of my sin. Until I feel He has spoken to my heart, I think He is just fine with how I live." "Who are you, or any other Christian, to tell me I'm wrong or unsaved anyway? This Bible says that only God can judge me, right?" Sometimes the answers to such questions can offend or hurt people, and never is it your responsibility or right to purposefully tear down, hurt, or attack someone with Truth, but it is your responsibility to show them Truth out of the single, solitary, overwhelming motivation of love; of desperation that they know Christ; of wanting them to see their own worth in His eyes, and of revealing the hurtful deception that Satan has held them down with all this time. ( Charles Spurgeon)
For those who may be listening, and you are the one asking these questions, you are the one feeling this way, please honestly listen to, not only the Truth, but the indisputable logic behind God's love and wisdom. For Christians who don't know how to respond to these objections and skepticisms, listen closely to how you need to answer these people. For all who listen, on both sides of the fence, prepare your hearts to see Truth in honesty, and especially, in love.
Let's address this first, and popular question from sinners and saints alike: Does God hear the prayers of a sinner? Of an unsaved person who still believes, but is uncommitted? Yes, and no. Yes, God hears every prayer, from every person, ever. He is God, and that makes Him Omniscient and Omnipresent (All-knowing, Ever-present). But that does not mean that He answers every prayer that He hears. The only prayer He does answer every time, for every sinner is prayer for forgiveness and salvation: 1 Timothy 1:15. And I do believe that God will work in an unbeliever's life to reveal Himself and draw that sinner to Him when they ask Him with passion and sincerity. Beyond that (please do not be offended until you listen closely),
there is nothing Scripturally, that says God will answer the prayers of a lost person when they pray. Listen intently to everything we are about to cover, and it will make so much sense. First, before you think this was a prejudice or preconceived statement, see the following: Isaiah 59:1-2; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; 1 Peter 3:12; Proverbs 15:29. This last one, truly gives the reasoning behind why God does not answer: John 15:7. I mean this in total love, but total honesty, so that you can see the absurdity of this question: Why does it upset you that God will not answer your prayers if you are openly admitting that you do not follow Him as your God? More accurately, the real question should be, "Why do you feel you have the right to be angry with God for not answering your prayers?" If you openly admit you are not concerned with listening to Him, following Him, or loving Him back, and yet, you expect Him to do things for you, doesn't that mean you really have no interest in Him at all, and that you simply want what you can get? And yet, He is the bad One and you are the victim? Your relationship with God as your Father, and your relationship with Jesus Christ as your Redeemer and Savior are the only basis for any answer from God at all. If Jesus literally had to be tortured and die in humiliation to win the right to have fellowship with you—to win the right to hear your prayers—and you don't accept His gift of Salvation—you don't want to live for Him in return—you are basically saying to Him: "You're not good enough for me, but I need You to serve me when I tell you." He becomes a puppet on a string, rather than the God of the Universe deserving of worship and love. Why do you deserve to have your prayers heard by Him? It is not that He doesn't hear, or doesn't love, or isn't willing to be involved in your life, it is because your own wants and desires are more important to you than really having Him. Your sin, has pushed Him out of your life: Psalm 66:18. Many people think that prayer is all about asking and receiving from God—period. This is so far from Truth. When you know the real purposes prayer serves in the life of a believer, it becomes clear that answered prayer would not make a non-Christian happy even if God was willing to hear. The primary purposes of prayer are: 1) To talk intimately with Christ (Fellowship). [Do you want that as unsaved?] 2) To learn His will for your life. [Want that as unsaved?] 3) To bring His Power, to bear on doing His will, for His Glory. [Want that as unsaved?] 1 John 5:14. And if He didn’t answer prayer for this reason—if He did just answer all of our own self-focused prayers—He would cultivate a spoiled, selfish attitude, and hide the fact that you were not intimate with Him, and on your way to hell in your sins. It's not because you are rejected, that He doesn't answer your prayers, it’s because you don't want Him, or His Plan, or His love, or His control in your life—you just want His power. How does that make Him unfair to you?
But there is always one prayer He will hear. One that would make you happier than anything else you could receive in prayer; one He waits lovingly for you to pray every day; one He died to hear: the prayer that He would cleanse you from your sins, and you would finally choose to serve and love Him, as He does you.
Next Question: Why Do I Not Feel Convicted? My friend also said this: "Everyone is telling me the way I live is sinful, but I have never felt God had an issue with it! If God ever convicts my heart about how I am living, I will change, but He seems to be okay with where I am." This is one of the most dangerous places that a person could be in the world. If this is you, please seriously consider what we are about to study. First, why would you wait for God to tell you something personally and directly, that He has already clearly spoken as His will in the Written Word He's given to us? If you don't care enough to read it, and follow it there, why on earth would you follow it, if He wrote it in the sky? It is simply a reason to continue telling yourself that He is okay with your life, when He is not. Stop asking and even demanding that God accept you as you are and decide to accept Him as He is. His ways are quite a bit more wisdom-filled, and love-filled than our ways The entire Plan of Salvation is to understand that our ways are sinful and selfish, and repent of our ways, trusting His over our own. You are wanting to bypass the most important step in that Plan—repenting of what He calls sin. Do you trust Him as God or not? Secondly, I believe some of you may honestly be lying when you say, "I'm not convicted or guilty over my life at all,” because you just simply do not want to admit you are wrong. But, even to be hiding your guilt is better than the alternative, because, if you reach the point that you are no longer convicted by your sins—if you reach the point you are no longer feeling guilty that you hurt Him, don't trust Him, and are distant from Him in your sins—Scriptures describe this place very clearly: Ephesians 4:18-19; Romans 1:21-22, 24, 25. Scriptures clearly and repeatedly say that we can all reach a point that we purposefully turn away from God.., and embrace our own ways over His love for so long, that it becomes all too clear we will not love Him back, and He simply has to let us go: let us embrace whatever it is we want more than Him, in the hardness of our selfish hearts, guilt free. Why guilt free? Because we have seared our conscience with constant sin in spite of His pleas and warnings; because only the Spirit of God calling you and convicting you can make you even sense the need to turn from evil. When you begin to be completely numb to your sinful ways; when you begin to think they are alright, and God doesn't care how you live, even though it is clearly and completely against His revealed will; there is only one explanation: the Spirit has stopped trying to draw you home: John 16:7-8; John 6:44.
The last question/comment that I heard from my friend—that I have heard from the vast majority of people who have chosen to live a life away from God (purposefully), and don't want to be told they are in sin or danger: They simply say, "Only God can judge me, you can't." They would seem to be referring to these Scriptures: Matthew 7:1-2; Romans 14:4. Unfortunately, in context, these verses are referring to judging of others while we are knowingly living in sin ourselves, or judging the inner heart of a man, as far as whether his sins are deliberate or in ignorance. But Scriptures are very clear that we should call to judgment, the sins of another who knows the Word of God, and purposefully acts against It, not out of hatred or anger or self-righteousness, but because we love that person, and hope for their repentance and change: James 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 6:1-3; Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13. The painful truth is that we are not only allowed to judge the actions of those who know better according to God's Word, we are commanded to keep one another straight, for our own good, and those around us, who could be misled into sin, or could show God such disrespect and dishonor. We are even commanded to break company with those who purposefully break God's Laws and spit on all that He has done for them, in hopes that they will turn back to God in their shame. Notice, we are to hold each other accountable, that know better. We are not to judge anyone's actions that is outside the claim to know He exists, because they do not know His love, His price paid, His expectations in righteousness, or their own worth and purpose. It is our job simply to love and educate them in who God is, right where they are at that moment. Actually, it would be better if we were the only ones who could judge a fellow proclaimer of Christ, because when you say, "Only God can judge me," while you are purposefully living for self over Him; purposefully rejecting all He's done; purposefully against everything He died to bring to you—the last thing you should be bragging about or wanting, is the judgment of an Almighty, Righteous God: Hebrews 10:26-31. And when you stand before Him one day (and we all will), you will wish you had heeded the warnings and judgments of those that did love you enough to warn you of the road you were traveling. There are many who will judge your actions with self-righteousness, anger, and hatred (they are wrong)—and God will handle them in due time—but that does not remove your responsibility to heed the warnings of those who proclaim God's Words to you in love and sincerity: Galatians 4:16. How else will the world know they are lost, sinful, and in need of a Savior, unless God speaks through us to reveal your need? Your need for a Savior to wash away your sinful, rebellious ways? Whatever your sins, there is not another person who is more or less in need of the Blood of Christ to wash them clean as well. I don't call out your sins and ask you to face them out of self-righteousness or pride. I don't tell you out of disgust or judgment of who you are as a person, I tell you as a fellow sinner, who loves you, and sees your worth in His eyes, and wants to see you clean, loved, and secure in our Savior.
Can Jesus even hear your prayers? Have you grown callous and indifferent to your own sin? Do you get agitated when you are reminded of them? You may be drifting into a very dangerous place in God's eyes—a place where you are about to prove once and for all you don't want Him; a place where He may just give you what you want, and go away, leaving you to yourself, indefinitely. Humble yourself, give in to His Spirit, and come home to Him; no matter the cost. He loves you—still.
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