How can I follow God when He is so strict?


First of all, I can't thank you enough for your time. There's a lot more I want to talk about, possibly so much that neither you nor I have enough time for.

Before I ask you more questions I want to continue to discuss this issue of sex and what not because it's been haunting me for a while. This will take time. I read over your last message and checked out the chart about salvation. I don't feel like I quite understand it. I'll try and e-mail you as often as possible.

I understand I'm in denial, among other things. I want to get better, but at the same time, I don't completely because I'm afraid, and also because I'm free-spirited, part "good boy" to make sure I don't fall from grace, but part "bad boy" to appeal to a girl I want. I don't know how to explain myself so you can understand better. It's also very difficult because I'm very easily aroused, etc.

Above all other things, after reading your website and different things the Bible says, the God from the Old Testament really doesn't seem to have changed much in the New Testament. Honestly, I'm starting to feel like He wants everyone to be another Jesus. It just seems like everyone's damned to hell anyway. That's the one thing that scares me the most. Also, I saw on the website somewhere that there is no purgatory and confession is useless and created by man. How can this be? So after being raised Catholic I'm to abandon what they say? How can one become close to God again without confession? Now with all I've done wrong (Everyone says I'm hard on myself, and yes, I can see that, but it helps me to improve myself) what do I do? I've wanted to go to confession for some time so I can wipe away my sins and start over. Now I guess that's out of the question.

The second thing that scares me most is definitely related to the first. I'm really starting to grow skeptical of all this. It feels like my faith is not as strong and possibly decreasing. Now there's another part to this that scares me most. Not much excites me, my parents tell me I was never really a happy boy and that on the rare occasions that I smiled when I was younger it was so precious to them. I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression. In addition to that, I'm hard to please, apathetic, primarily bored, and possibly bipolar. Hopefully, that might help you in your discussions with me.

This leads to the last thing that really scares me. Where's the room for fun? I admit I'm irresponsible and such, but really? I'm in college right now and I'd like to be able to enjoy myself and take care of and make my girlfriend happy and help her out of her own apathy, her eating disorder and other things (I do a lot more for her than I've ever done for another girl, and that says a lot), hang out with friends, be able to drink (once a week on the weekend on average), etc. All of this I've just learned about how strict the New Testament of the Bible really is and it is pretty upsetting and disappointing and explains to me why more and more people abandon God. I've always believed in God, but with all that's going on now, I find myself questioning Him more and more (or at least His Word or the Bible... maybe even His existence... but that's a stretch).

I look forward to your response. Thank you.


I realized from your first note that there was much more going on in your life than just the problem of your sexual sins. I am willing to discuss all these matters and more, but before we go further, let me explain where I am coming from. Obviously, I'm not a Roman Catholic, though I have a fairly good grasp of the religion. I consider myself only a Christian, with no denominational ties (I Corinthians 1:10-13). I am a preacher, which means I function as those old-time town criers for the king, only my king is Jesus. As such my duty is to accurately relay Jesus' will to people. "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11). I don't make up laws, I just help people understand God's laws.

You noted that there isn't that much difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. It is an excellent observation! I know many adults who missed that point. Think about it some more. Why would you expect a different God? The New Testament was written by the same Holy Spirit who wrote the Old Testament. One of the characteristics of God is His eternal nature. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). We are used to people who sometimes radically change the way they behave, but it would be a mistake to consider God in the same light. That would be treating God like a man (Romans 1:22-23). And one thing God is definitely not is a man (I Samuel 15:29). “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

In other words, the same God talked about by John, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), is the same God behind the Old Testament. But you missed a point. God isn't in the business to destroy His creation, if He were, there would have been no reason to save 8 people from the flood when mankind had become so corrupt. Have you ever read the next verses in John? "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). Even when you read the Old Testament, God stated the same thing. The laws He gave were not to punish people but to save them from harm. Moses told the Israelites, "And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day" (Deuteronomy 6:24).

But it would be a mistake to assume that God's desire to save men from their own sins is so overriding that He is willing to accept men in their sins. Continuing in John we read, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:18-19). This is why Paul said, "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off" (Roman 11:22). The God who upholds justice is the same God who loves you and me beyond our comprehension.

So, let's get back to your particular struggles. God didn't make you a sexual being and then tell you to be righteous, you must not have sex. He laid down laws to warn you that having sex outside of marriage is dangerous to your well-being. He wants you to have sex. He wants you to enjoy it. "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love" (Proverb 5:18-19). (By the way, in poetic terms, "your fountain" is referring to your penis.) It man who gets God's Will mixed up and thinks that denying your body's desires somehow makes you more holy. "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). Therein lies the problem, when men make up rules, even with the best intentions, they often make up rules that ultimately are not for the betterment of man.

We can get into why later, but suffice it for the moment that God says that sex within a marriage makes a man and woman better people, but sex outside of marriage causes harm.

Satan, as I'm sure you have been told, isn't interested in what is best for people. He is trying to destroy God's handiwork. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Imagine it this way, there is a fork in the road, a point of decision. To the left is a multi-lane highway and to the right is a small country road. God has put up a sign (His Laws) tell you that the road to the right is the only safe direction. Meanwhile, Satan is putting up billboards about how wonderful it is to sail down the multi-lane highway. And what you can't see is that the multi-lane highway ends abruptly at a cliff. Satan knows that highway is dangerous; he doesn't care; he wants to see how much havoc he can cause.

Satan knows that you have strong sexual desires (as most men do). He doesn't want you to wait for marriage because that would be following God's rules. So he uses those very desires that God gave you to rope you into breaking God's rules. That is why you feel so torn. You know what you ought to do and you know that God's way is best, but Satan's offer is so alluring. Paul spoke of the same quandary in his own life. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:18-24). Sound familiar?

It is not that God is keeping you from having fun. The problem is that you're buying Satan's line that sinning is fun. ""Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell" (Proverbs 9:17-18). And on some level sin is fun; just as bashing in a car is fun for some people or spray painting graffiti over the side of a building; but such fun is not good for you in the long run. God is telling you that there are safe ways to have fun. And that fun will lead you to eternal life in heaven. All you get from Satan is a few moments of pleasure and it often comes with a lifetime of grief.

Now concerning the avoidance of responsibility and the doubts about God, they are actually related issues. If you admit to yourself that God exists and that He has made laws you are to follow, then that means you are responsible for breaking those laws. But you know you are basically a good person, so you don't want to admit that you are wrong. Therefore, you are seeking out an escape from the dilemma by doubting God. This eases your guilt to a point -- no God means no rules. But I think that deep within yourself you know that this isn't true and that it doesn't solve the problems. It is only a denial that a problem exists.

I haven't touched on all the points you raised, but I don't want to make this response too long. I do hope gives you some encouragement and that you will write again soon.

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