Sins Damage the Human Soul

If you were to ask Christians what is wrong with sin, they might answer and say sins are wrong, or evil, or bad, or hurtful, or rebellious, or against God. All of these are correct. However, they miss one of the most important aspects of sin. Sins are destructive.

Sins damage and eventually destroy everything they touch. Sins damage loving relationships. Sins damage the physical body. Sins damage the environment. Sins damage marriages and families. And sins damage the human soul.

The human soul, which was created in the image of God, is our capacity to think, to choose and to feel. It is also the core of our being as a person, able to have loving relationships with other persons. Something this dynamic and this powerful must consist of more than just a few simple pieces. Like the human body, the human soul must be comprised of billions of finely designed and intricately connected pieces. Just because we cannot see the human soul doesn’t mean that it is uncomplicated or unstructured. And just like the human body, when one piece of the human soul is damaged, the entire soul is damaged and functions less well.

Sins are to the human soul like what a knife is to the body. If someone were to stab you, you would feel pain and your abilities would be lessened, depending on how much damage was caused by the knife. In the same way, when you sin, or when someone sins against you, your soul becomes damaged. You thinking becomes unclear. Your decisions are less constructive. Your feelings are uncomfortable, perhaps agonizing.

If someone where to stab you, you would need healing to recover your abilities and freedoms. You would need to be healed for the pain to go away. The same is true for the soul. We all need inner healing – a saving of the soul.

How does God do this? It doesn’t just happen because of the passage of time. Nor does it happen just because a person becomes a Christian. God heals the human soul when the injured person practice all aspects of God’s forgiveness. God heals us when we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness. God further heals us when we forgive the people who sin against us. And God further heals us when we ask the people we’ve sinned against to forgive us.

Sins damage the human soul, but God heals the human soul and restores broken relationships when we practice all aspects of His forgiveness. Jesus makes forgiveness possible. Jesus said it this way in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.”

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What is “Life?”

What is “life?”

When Jesus said, “I am the way.  I am the truth and I am the life,” what did He mean by that?

And when He said, “The thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy; I came that they might have life abundantly,” what did He mean by that?

Life is not in an object (gold, money, house, nice clothes, car, etc.)

Life is not in a place (Heaven, Hawaii, the mountains, a favorite vacation spot, etc.)

Life is not in a thrill (sky diving, roller coaster, sex, driving fast, etc.)

Life is not in an accomplishment (the highest grades, closing the biggest deal, climbing the highest mountain, etc.)

Life is not in a position (being the biggest, the fastest, the prettiest, the CEO, the leader, etc.)

Life is not in anything you put into your body (food, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, etc.)

Life is not in how you look (bigger, smaller, younger, older, etc.)

Life is not in what you do (paint, sing, design, build, organize, etc.)

Life is not in recreation, or work, or youth, or strength, or freedom, or marriage, or singleness, or health.

According to God, life is an experience.

Life is an experience that happens when real love happens.

“Life” and “love” are almost the same thing in the Bible.

Where there is real life (what the Bible would call “eternal life,” that means, “His” life) then there is real love.

Where there is real love, then there is the experience of life (the thing we all were made for and all long for).

When there is no love, there is no life.

Where there is no life, there is no love.

And since love cannot happen in a relational vacuum, this means that life, real life, can only be experienced in loving relationships with other persons (God first, then other people).

This is why Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind,” and then to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

So, if you want to experience life, then pursue the deepest, practical, loving relationship with God. Then pursue the deepest loving relationships with as many people as possible.

Love is the willingness to sacrifice self for the well being of others.

God is love.

“For God so loved the world that He gave…”

God already loves you perfectly all the time. However, do you feel His love? Are you loving Him in return?

Unfortunately, we are imperfect lovers…and so are the people around us. We cannot make people love us.

The good news about love is that the deepest experience of love is in giving it, not receiving it. (Remember what Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”)

Other people may not love you, but you can always love them. And in loving them in sincere, practical ways through the Jesus who lives inside you, you will experience real love. And in experiencing real love, you will experience real life — God’s life, eternal life.

Jesus said, “The thief” (sin, living for self) “comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly” (to the maximum extent, overflowing, beyond your imagination!)

God is love.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is love.  Jesus is life.  Jesus makes it possible for us to love.  Jesus makes it possible for us to experience real life.

Let Jesus live in you and through you. Love God and love others today, everyday. Experience life to the fullest!

Looking For A Man Who Will Really Love You?

Most women want a man who can love ONLY her.

However, a man who can love only one woman is not really loving her. He is only loving something “about” her — her looks, her intelligence, her laugh, her history, something she does for him, her money, the way she dresses, etc. If someone ‘loves’ you ‘because’ of something about you, then their love is not real, it is not unconditional.

Real love is unconditional. Conditional love (which is not really love) says, “I love you because…” and “I love you if…” and I love you when…” and “I love you as long as you…” Conditional love is not really loving the person. It is simply an attraction to something about that person.

Well, what if that “something” changes?

What if your looks change, or your money disappears, or you stop doing what he likes, or he discovers something about your history that upsets him? What then? If he “loved” you “because” of those things, then he will stop loving you when those things change.

Real love says, “I love you” period.

There are no “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts” in real love. Just, “I love you!”

Real love actually says, “I love you and there is nothing you can do to stop me. I will pursue you. I will seek your best interests above my own. I will sacrifice myself to meet your needs. And nothing you are, nothing you have done or will do will change my commitment to love you!”

This is how God loves us…unconditionally.

This is how we are to love each other…unconditionally.

And this is the kind of love every woman needs. She needs a man who will love her no matter what.

Do not look for a man who can love “only” you. That kind of love is fleeting and vulnerable, built on sand. It will fail. Pray for a man who can love any and every woman in a healthy, godly way, just as Jesus does, but chooses to love only you in a special way. That kind of love will never fail, no matter how you change, or the circumstances around you change. Real love never changes because it is unconditional. Real love never fails.

Our Concept of Salvation Can Hinder Our Practice of Forgiveness

 When the ‘salvation’ of God is understood as merely being ‘saved from Hell’ so that we can go to Heaven, and that being ‘saved’ happens when a person:

  • Believes in Jesus
  • Accepts Jesus as their person savior
  • Prays a ‘sinner’s prayer
  • Goes forward or raises their hand
  • ‘repents’
  • Gets water baptized
  • Confesses with their mouth Jesus as Lord

then, what does that ‘saved’ person NEED TO DO beyond ‘getting saved’ (so they can go to Heaven)?

Absolutely nothing!

However, the Bible does not speak about salvation in this way.  The Bible does not talk about salvation as a means to escape Hell and go to Heaven.  The salvation in the Bible is a salvation from sin.  And the sin we need to be saved from the most is the sin that is inside of us.  We all need to be saved from who we are, people who sin.  We are incredibly valuable and worthy of love, but we need to be changed from the inside out.  This is the salvation written about in the Bible, the salvation Jesus came to make possible.

‘Life’ is not in a place (i.e. Heaven).  Life is experienced in a way of living.  Live is experienced when we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and when we love people the way God loves them.  Sins bring the experience of ‘death.’  Love brings the experience of ‘life.’

This is why becoming more and more like Jesus here and now comes closer to defining biblical salvation than where a person resides after they die.  This is how the biblical writers spoke about salvation.  And this kind of salvation motivates people to pursue Jesus, to turn away from sin, to do the things that allow God the opportunity to thoroughly transform them from the inside out!  It motivates them to practice ‘life transformation activities.’  Practicing biblical forgiveness is one of the six life transformation activities.* 

This way of thinking about ‘salvation’ moves real Christians to “…work out their salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13  And what is God’s “good pleasure?”   It is not simply to re-locate us to a better place to reside after we die, but to change us, to make us like Jesus.  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Jesus), so that He (Jesus) would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29

If salvation is simply a relocation project accomplished when a person ‘believes’ in Jesus, then there is very little motivation to do anything to ‘work out our salvation.’  But if salvation is from sin, the sin that is inside of us, and if that salvation begins and continues with a faith in Jesus that compels us to want to become like Him, then we will eagerly work to do the things that allow God to transform us into His image. 

Let your desire to be like Jesus compel you to practice His forgiveness.

 

*The Six Activities of Life Transformation are:

  1. Exposure to and the assimilation of truth
  2. Healing through the practice of all aspects of biblical forgiveness
  3. Deliverance from demonic influences
  4. Personal experiences with God
  5. Making protective choices
  6. Creating nurturing environments

To see more, go to http://www.forgivenessministries.com/pdshop/shop/category.aspx?catid=6.

How to Minister to Hurting People

How to Minister to People

When They are Sharing Something Important to Them

(How You Would Like Others to Minister to You)

First – LISTEN

  • Actively – give feedback to be sure you are hearing them as they want to be heard
  • Ask questions – draw out more
  • Demonstrate interest in who they are, what they are saying and what they’ve been through
  • If you have experienced what they are sharing with you, briefly let them know it (without making your story the focus of the conversation), so that they will feel more connected to you
  • Listen without giving solutions
  • Listen without giving Bible verses or trite sayings
  • Listen for their feelings
  • Connect with their thoughts

Second – EMPATHIZE

  • Let yourself feel what they are feeling as much as possible – pray for this

*The more healed we are the more we are able to do this.

  • Show them that you are feeling some of what they are feeling
  • Do not assume that you feel exactly what someone else if feeling if you have never gone through the situation they are describing
  • Empathy is not a solution, but it provides comfort, which changes a person’s experience of pain
  • Connect with their feelings

Third – PRAY WITH THEM

  • Pray for God to reveal Himself to them in this situation
  • Pray to discover God together
  • Pray to stop trying to be in control of the situation and let God be in control
  • Pray to ask God to give directions and resource
  • Connect them to God

Fourth – OFFER SOLUTIONS

  • Partner with them in discovering and following God’s directions
  • Don’t do for them what they need to do for themselves
  • Help to make it possible for them to do what they need to do
  • Connect them to God’s solutions

It is a terrible thing to be alone.  God did not design us to be alone.  (Genesis 2:18)  Real ministry is about creating loving relationships; connecting with people’s minds (listening), connecting with people’s hearts (empathizing), and connecting them with God.

“Do I need to ask God to forgive me?

I was taught from the very beginning of my Christian life to ask God to forgive me.  Your probably were taught to do the same thing, too.  In fact, asking God for forgiveness is one of the three most common prayers prayed by people; the other two being:

  • “Lord, save me!” and
  • “Lord, give me …”

Asking for God’s forgiveness is just normal.  However, we do not need to ask God to forgive us, at least not to forgive us for the penalty of our sins.

 This is because God, completely apart from any involvement from us, paid for all of our sins through the death of Jesus Christ.  It is as if you owed a bank ten million dollars, had no means to pay the debt back, and someone you didn’t know, without your awareness, paid off your debt for you.  And even though you did not know what was going on, the bank would cancel your debt immediately upon receiving the other person’s payment for your debt.

Jesus did that for you.  He paid a debt you owed to God and could not pay yourself.  He paid the debt without you asking Him to do so.  God planned for Jesus to do this from before the foundation of the world.  Jesus volunteered to do it, without ever asking you if you wanted Him to do it.  God has accepted His payment.  God has forgiven you of the penalty of all of your sins–without you even asking for it!

This might be a new thought for you, and perhaps one you find difficult to believe.  Maybe this will help.  No where in the New Testament are Christians instructed to ask God for forgiveness.  In fact, nowhere are non-Christians told to ask God for forgiveness.  (There are only four possible exceptions.  Can you find them?)  However, we were all taught to do so even though the New Testament does not tell us to ask God to forgive us.  Why?  Because He already has!

The good news of the Bible is not that God will forgive us if we believe, or if we ask, or if we repent or if we do anything.  The forgiveness of the penalty of sins is not accomplished by anything we do.  God does it through the execution of Jesus Christ.  The good news of the Bible is that God has already forgiven us through the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world.  2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says,

      “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ … namely that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them …”

God has forgiven us for the penalty of our sins, not because we ask, or believe, or anything.  He has forgiven us because He has accepted the death of Jesus Christ as the full and just payment for our sins!  We do not need to ask Him to forgive us, but it would be exceedingly appropriate for us to say thank you for His forgiveness and to live our lives of gratitude to Him.

“If I forgive someone, should I try to forget what they did to me?”

Forgiving someone does not mean that you will or should forget what they did to you.  Forgiveness is not forgetfulness.  In fact, remembering what someone did to you is extremely important in learning how to appropriately love this person.

True forgiveness always leads to love.  This love will be more than words, more than warm feelings.  The love that flows out of authentic forgiveness will take action.  It will try to help the offender in the best possible way, for their good.  Knowing how to do this, how to love your offender appropriately, is built upon truth and reality, not denial and wishful thinking.  You will not only need to remember what they did to you, but discover the reasons why they did it.  This will give you insight and will help you to discover how to best love your offender appropriately.