The Imperfect Christian
Experiencing God's Power: Forgiveness
Suggestion: Bible Gateway is an excellent site to read passages from these bible studies. Simply copy and paste the passages I list here into Bible Gateway's search field and press 'Go'. You're all set to start reading the passages.
How many times have you heard that?
Unfortunately, most people believe that Christians need to be flawless, and they have no tolerance for the "imperfect Christian".
I'll tell you straight up; belief in "Godly Perfection" only leads to self-pride, secret lives (secret sins), and a host of other problems that end up destroying a soul.
Before your soul is destroyed, read this first essay in a series of teen Bible studies, that uncover the secrets to accessing God's power.
I'll get straight to the point; the first step to obtaining God's power is to seek forgiveness.
We all sin. We all screw up from time to time. God wants us to realize that.
I'm a father of two boys (ages 6 & 8). I get upset when they fight, or act bad. When I speak to them, and they stop and apologize, I get over it (forgive them). However, when they fight or act bad and then turn to me and give the "what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it" look, I tend to...not take that too well.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Psalm 103:8-14"
God doesn't like that attitude either. He wants us to humble ourselves before him. Now that doesn't mean we have to be submissive and let everyone walk all over us. We just have to realize that God is the boss, the one in control.
I'm going to point out the important characteristics of God. Remember:
My relationship with my earthly father wasn't perfect, but Dad pretty much always gave me the benefit of the doubt. He recognized the things I was going through because he, himself, dealt with many of the same things. I was still punished when it was warranted (although, that didn't happen much, ay Dad?), but Mom and Dad both continually re-enforced the fact that they loved me.
- The Lord is compassionate and gracious
- He is slow to anger
- He does not treat us as our sins deserve
- As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on all who fear him
- As high as the heavens are above the earth is his love for those who fear him (obey him)
- As far as the east is from the west, so far as he removed our transgressions from us
God loves you too. You may be punished from time to time, but God knows what he's doing. He knows you're an "imperfect Christian", and just wants you to grow up to be strong. My favorite passage on dealing with punishment from God is Hebrews 12:4-11. I highly recommend you read it right now!
How do you get past the past (past sins)?
So glad you asked.
It's very simple: In order to get past your past failings, all you need to do is ask forgiveness from God. That's IT!
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Matthew 7:7-11"
See what Jesus says? "Ask, and you will receive."
Think back to your relationship with your father/mother/legal guardian. When you asked for something...let's say for example it's lunch, and you ask for a ham sandwich. Did they give you a rotten tomato? Or maybe they gave you rat poison instead?
Of course they didn't! You may not have gotten exactly what you asked for, but you got something good for you to eat, right? (If you didn't get anything, shame on your parent/guardian!)
God is the same way. In fact, he's MUCH better. He is perfect, and can only give perfect gifts.
I guarantee, if you ask forgiveness, he will forgive you.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Micah 7:18; Matthew 6:14&15"
Now, I was going to say, "He will forgive you unconditionally". However, one thing God doesn't want is for us to hold a grudge. If you won't forgive someone who wrongs you - God won't forgive you.
If you are holding on to some past hurt someone inflicted upon you, let it go. God asks us to leave room for his wrath. Remember, he's in control.
Something else I need to point out; when you go to God to ask forgivness, God may ask something of you in return. He may ask you to bring something to the "alter".
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Genesis 22:1-13"
In these verses, we see that God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son. In case you didn't know, his son had been born of him around the age of 100 - that must have been tough.
How did Abraham react? What did God do in the end? More importantly, what did he provide?
God provided an escape goat (well, an escape ram). He provided a replacement sacrifice.
The point is, when you go to God in repentance, He may ask you to sacrifice something to show your obedience. It may be a friendship, a love, a family member, a material object - something related to the sin you are asking forgiveness for.
And trust me, you'll know what's going on when the time comes.
I went through something similar to what I describe here, and when God provided the replacement sacrifice, the story of Abraham and Isaac immediately rushed to the forefront of my mind - I knew I was forgiven and could move on.
God may test you this way, and in the last minute, He may provide an escape route.
Your job is to obey God. If you do what he asks, you will be rewarded.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Matthew 11:28-30"
If you're ever tired, or unsure of what to do, or unsure whether you should go to God with a problem, remember that Jesus is always close by to lean on. Yoke yourself to Jesus.
A yoke is used to tie two or more oxen together to pull a load. The load is shared by the oxen. Like the oxen, Jesus will help you carry the load if you constantly keep him in the forefront of your mind.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read James 1:2-8"
You are fighting for your space in the world. You battle with parents, friends, teachers, siblings, and only God know who else. If only somebody would listen to you, you could make their problems go away!
Oh, I know the feeling!
The other day my wife was cutting my hair and says to me, "You have a grey hair!"
Without missing a beat, I reply, "Finally! Maybe someone will listen to me now."
As you can see, even in my thirties, I was feeling like my opinion never mattered.
On a side note, you might as well get used to it guys, when you marry - your opinion doesn't matter anyway ;-) (I'm only kidding ladies, you treat us pretty well...).
My point is, there will be all kinds of struggles and temptations that cross your path on your journey through life. Some temptations you will ignore or defeat, others you will fall into and get trapped.
There will be some sin in your life that provides a constant struggle. Some days you will do great, other days not so great, still others - not good at all, and then you're right back to doing great again.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Judges 2:1-3; 2:16-23; 4:1; 6:1; 13:1"
Notice anything peculiar about those verses?
Israel turned away, and then repented, turned again, repented again, turned, repented, turned, repented.
Sounds like a spoiled kid, doesn't it?
Well, I guess all Christians are spoiled. God has so much patience. My sister keeps telling me, "You can only have patience for so long."
I happen to agree with that, because I'm a little impatient. Okay, I'm a lot impatient, but we're working on that.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Psalms 103:14"
The thing is, God knows we are but dust.
You're going to struggle. God knows that, just keep going back to him. He'll forgive you. You're still his child.
Hold on though. Does that mean you should keep on sinning?
"Imperfect Christian: Read Romans 6:11-18"
By all means no. DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GODS GRACE!!!
That makes God very angry. I know it makes me angry when my kids take advantage of my generosity. Makes sense, right?
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break:
Read 2Peter 1:3-11"
Upon reading these verses closely, you can see that when "getting saved", Christians accept a process of cleansing, testing, and molding, which ultimately makes us like Jesus.
When you accepted Jesus into your heart as savior, you probably weren't healed of all sin and evil desire overnight, were you? (if you were, lucky you!) God wiped the slate clean, and continues to wipe it clean every day.
When you wake up tomorrow morning, it's a new day. In all aspects of the phrase! The day is new. The slate is clean from God's perspective.
Yes, you may have some consequences to deal with from the previous day or days, but in God's eyes, you're still his child, and he uses this day to do some more cleaning. Each day is spring cleaning day in God's world!
Can you imagine for a moment, literally laughing with God over some of the stupid things you did while you were an "imperfect Christian"?
God: "Do you remember when you did *blah*? What were you thinking? Well, I know what you were thinking, because I'm God. But it was funny, don't you think?"
You: Deer in headlights look. You're still in awe that you're laughing with God about something stupid you did on earth.
Fade to black
Pretty much how it would go, right?
Well, I think so.
It's time to go. I just have one more point to make.
"Imperfect Christian Bible Break: Read Romans 8:28-31"
In all things, God works out something good. Your good decisions and your bad decisions. God uses them all to make you a better son/daughter.
What more can I say except, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"