We all know how much it hurts when someone breaks a promise to us, but have we ever asked ourselves why we feel so comfortable breaking promises we make to God?
The sad truth, is even when we know we are going to hurt God by breaking a promise, which usually involves sinning in a way we promised not to, we see more benefit from giving into whatever the enemy is dangling in front of us than keeping our word
Regardless of whatever we tell ourselves during, or after, these moments, these sinful, dishonest choices reveal how we care more about pursuing worldly happiness than showing God how much we love him–how can we feel so comfortable doing this?
We Cannot Be Honest With God If We Are Not Honest With Ourselves
This is going to sting, but if we, who claim to love God, knowingly do things to hurt him by sinning, and breaking our promises, we have to ask ourselves why this behavior is even an option, let alone something we think is okay enough to do on a regular basis
I mean, it is not like anyone is forcing us to sin or break our word, we do so by choice, but it is extremely rare for us to take responsibility for doing so, almost as if our behavior was conveniently out of our control
What am I talking about?
Look at the statements below, as we have all either said, or continue to say, these things when trying to justify our sinful actions, and broken promises to God as if we have no responsibility in how we live:
“If I sin, God will forgive me anyway so what does it matter”
“Yes, I know this is wrong, but God knows my heart”
“I will start giving once I start making more money”
“I really love God, I do not mean to hurt him by the way I act”
“I want to spend more time with God, but there is just not enough time in the day”
Now, these statements may sound rational at first, but on closer examination, we see they are really ideas like this:
“God, I expect you to love, and forgive me no matter what I do, who cares if I hurt your feelings while I seek happiness in sin”
“Even though this is wrong, I want it more than I care about our relationship, but I do not want to admit this because I might actually feel guilty”
“I do not want to adjust my lifestyle in any way, and I do not trust you to provide, so I will only give to others when I have what I want first”
“I like the idea of being in a relationship with you, and I know you well enough to even know what hurts you, but your feelings do not matter enough for me to change the way I act”
“I like the idea of spending time with you, but in reality, I like doing other things more”
No matter what we say to ourselves or others, our actions demonstrate the true desires of our hearts–words are meaningless when our actions contradict what we say
To show this is not exactly a new problem, look how Jesus openly addressed this in the parable of a man with two sons he asked to work, as many people claim to love, and have a heart to obey God, but they only do so with their lips, then turn and deny him by the way they live:
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard’
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him
Does the son who said “Dude, I will toootally do what you ask of me” sound like any of us?
Of course not, we all obey diligently without question!
Right, if that were true, the world would be a very different place
They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good
It is incredibly important to be honest with ourselves when it comes to separating what we say, or think, from how we live, as it is easy to say things that make us feel good, or sound nice to others, but the way we choose to live is what really matters
Uncomfortable truth or what!
Taking Responsibility For Our Decisions Means We Might Actually Feel Guilty Enough To Change Our Behavior
I know, I know, news and sports at eleven, the rocket scientist lab is on high alert over here, but we really need to think about this point
(Reflective pause, queue the elevator music)
The reality, is we do not like to admit things about ourselves we are not comfortable with, as we all like to see ourselves as good people, but sometimes the way we live is so far away from our intentions it is difficult to own up to
Yes, God understands we are not perfect, but he also gave us the power to choose how we want to live, as well as provided us with the guarantee he will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, which is why we need to admit we have an active role in every sinful decision–we are not powerless!
There will never be a situation or temptation we cannot resist, and overcome, this is God’s promise
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it
Back to our original topic about promise breaking, just think about how many times we have come to God filled with regret, sorrow, guilt, etc…, promising we will never do whatever it is again, only to find ourselves in the exact same situation after giving into temptation just like before, each time we do this, it is a willing choice–oops
Okay, since we now know we can always overcome temptation, no matter how inviting, we have to admit our choices to embrace sin are just that, choices, but what does it say about our character when we live a continuous, willing life of sin?
We Care More About Pleasing Ourselves Than Guarding God’s Feelings
This is where we get into some uncomfortable territory, as we know it hurts God when we sin, and break our promises, yet for some reason, we do not exactly take this into consideration when faced with temptation
I could ask why all day long, but the reality, is we just do not care enough about God’s feelings to alter our behavior, as in those moments, we are more concerned with gratifying our sinful desires than acting in a way that pleases him
(Reflective pause number two)
Wait, before we go on, let me ask you something: do you approach your relationship with God as if he has feelings or emotions, or do you see him as an unconditional teddy bear who loves, forgives, and embraces us without any need to adhere to a standard of conduct?
Honestly, sadly, many of us see God as an unconditional forgiveness dispenser who cleanses our consciences when it is convenient, rather than as the God of all creation who is to be greatly feared for his holy character
Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored
1 Peter 1:14-16
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire”
I do not know any easy way to say this, and I would ignore it even if I did, but the only reason we sin is because we do not understand who God is, or love him, enough to adjust our behavior
Do We Worship A God Of Our Own Imaginations Or The God Of The Bible
Most of us have either not read our Bibles enough to understand God’s personality, or, and this is the most common case, we do not take what we read in the Bible seriously enough to have it impact our lives or shape how we understand God
We often create a God in our minds we are comfortable with, regardless of whether it contradicts the Bible or not
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations
To demonstrate this, how can we read things like the passages below, where everyone’s reaction to seeing God was to be terrified or fall down as though dead, and not have it impact our image of who God is, as well as give us a sense of respect enough to not sin–the only reason, is because we do not take what we read in the Bible seriously
I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty”
I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades
On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude
I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground
Now, again, these are instances where people either saw God or just his angels, and they were completely paralyzed with fear, which is pretty far from the image of God most Christians have, as we claim to be in a relationship with him, even to the point of loving him, yet we somehow feel comfortable sinning as if it were okay
I mean, can you imagine any of the authors above, who were terrified beyond belief while in God’s presence, making sinful choices during those moments–not happening!
Keeping this in mind, unless we have enough reverence, respect, and fear of God in our lives, we are going to have a complacent attitude towards sin, as our motivation for letting it go will be much different, maybe even non-existent, ie: “If I sin, God will forgive me anyway so what does it matter”
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided
Now, I know many people will say this is an OT concept, but the fear of God is still what keeps us from sin today, as it kept Jesus from sin, and was also something Paul said was a cornerstone of his NT ministry
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord
(Take note Jesus did not just fear God, he delighted in the fear of God, which meant he was actually happy to respect God in such a way that it affected his life!)
2 Corinthians 5:11
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others
A lot of Christians say it should be the love of God that changes their hearts when it comes to sin rather than the fear of God, but even though this sounds nice to say, it does not explain why so many Christians hold onto sin for so long–unintentionally, saying this only demonstrates how little we actually love God since so many of us are willing slaves to sin
If We Continuously Sin Or Break Our Promises To God It Shows We Do Not Love Or Respect Him
We all talk about loving God, but did you know the Bible says loving God is demonstrated through obedience, it is not by singing songs or saying nice sounding prayers, it is only through obedience that we show whether we love God or just say we do–oops!
If you love me, keep my commands
1 John 5:3
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome
It is amazing to know God gives us the opportunity to interact with him on a personal level, yet he also leaves it up to us to choose how we want to navigate the relationship, even if it means hurting him when we choose to live sinfully
Now, remember, this is the same God people were terrified of when they saw him, as his personality, and holiness did not change from the OT to the NT
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever
Even though we have this freedom to act, think, and say whatever we want, we have to ask ourselves why we feel like it is okay to sin, knowing full well it will create separation from God, and hurt his feelings
For pretty much all of us, the answer is quite simple, despite its ugliness
We do not care enough about God’s feelings to keep our promises or stop ourselves from sinning
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear
1 Peter 3:12
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil
Like everyone else, I struggled with honoring God’s feelings for a long time, but God showed me something that changed my life
One day, when faced with an intense temptation to look at porn, which I was about to give into, God showed me a vision of Jesus beaten, and bloody while dying on the cross, then said,
“Would you do this at the foot of the cross”
…yeah, no, of course not
In that moment I was so humbled, and shocked to understand how much I talked about appreciating God’s sacrifice, yet acted in ways that did not show any gratitude, let alone regard for God’s feelings
And believe me, I had made so many promises to God about not looking at porn, which of course were all broken, it was embarrassing
This vision illuminated my conscience, and showed me how much I should be paying attention to God’s feelings during moments of temptation, not just focusing on whatever desires I had
When faced with temptation in your own life, ask yourself if you would really do whatever it is in front of the cross, as God gave us a conscience for a reason, but it is only valuable when we listen to it!
So you are saying that the one time justification that we receive from the cross is not enough. That the only way to be a “good Christian” is to every day be sinless?
It is uncomfortable for many, but the Bible is clear if we deliberately, and willfully hold onto sin in our lives, there is no sacrifice for sins left
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Notice how the author is clearly talking about Christians, as they reference trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot by the way they live
Many people teach salvation is unconditional, and irrevocable, but we definitely have to make a sincere effort to obey God, as he is patient when he knows we are genuinely trying, but also knows our hearts well enough to know when we are not–the only reason we choose to hold onto sin is because we love it more than God
Regarding being a good Christian, strong, mature Christians who walk intimately with God generally have tight control over sin in their lives, as it is completely possible to overcome sin to the point where it is not even a temptation anymore–God promised to equip us with everything we need to resist sin in our lives through the power of his spirit!
2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires
Also, I hope the point of the article was clear, as it is about considering God’s feelings when we are faced with temptation, not about salvation or whether we are good Christians or not
So are you saying we need to do good works to maintain salvation? Or are you saying that if after someone professes faith in Christ and then keeps deliberately sinning against God to the point of apostasy THEN they have thrown away their salvation?
This concept is probably the most challenging for any Christian to wrap their minds around, as many people teach extreme, though incorrect, doctrines either about earning salvation through works, o, on the complete opposite hand, receiving it unconditionally, and irrevocably without any life change, obedience or effort on the part of the believer
I am about to hop on a plane, but I wanted to send a note to let you know I wanted to give a detailed response, as I have been thinking of writing another article on this topic due to its complexity
To answer your question, the passage in Hebrews 10:26-29 shows we have to walk in obedience, which means not sinning, as if we willingly, deliberately reject God’s truth, and righteousness in favor of sin, and death, “no sacrifice for sins is left”
Now, it is important to understand this is in reference to people who at a stage where they are fully capable of not sinning, they just choose not to, which is different than those who are sincerely fighting, but still making mistakes along the way–God sees the two types of behavior very differently
When it comes to doing “good works to maintain salvation”, yes, we should continuously live a life which reflects a heart that is passionately hungry for God, as well as eager to see others brought into his kingdom
Jesus talked about this in the parable of the sower, as he openly said many would believe, even with joy, then fall away later when faced with temptation, life challenges, etc…
This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop
Also, when it comes to the idea of maintaining salvation, Paul openly said at an earlier point of his life he had not yet attained salvation, and, in fact, it was not until the very end of his life that he claimed it was a guaranteed, as at that point he was literally about to pass away, and he knew he had run the race with perseverance, holding fast to the love, and truth of God not just in his teaching, but in his life as well–this is something we need to consider, as if Paul taught, and lived this way, we are not exactly above it ourselves!
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing
Also, Paul took this even a step further, as he openly said that he exercised self-discipline, as, regardless of the teachings, and fruit of his ministry, he openly said it was entirely possible for him to be disqualified from heaven if he did not live according to the truth himself
Again, this is Paul talking, not someone we can dismiss!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize