Subject: Temptations
From: Sean Ho <seanho@seanho.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 12:49:21 -0700
Hi Sean,
 
I just feel that there is so much temptations in my life, more than I can ever cope with. I am having many doubts about God. For example: why does God allow someone to be tormented for eternity in Hell if He is compassionate?
 
I am sorry for being so abrupt. Please email me back when u r not busy.
 
Hi, so nice to hear from you!  I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond earlier!

Thank you for your honest questions; asking questions is how we learn and grow!  Please do feel free to ask me or any of the others whenever you have questions; if you think you might forget your questions, write them down or send us an email.  And most importantly, ask God about your questions and doubts!  It is quite okay to pray, "God, if You're real, then please make Yourself real to me!".

Your question about temptations is a good one.  You should understand that we all face temptations of many sorts: to be selfish, get angry, lie, cheat on tests, get jealous of other people, or think lustfully about things or people.  1Corinthians 10:13 states that temptations happen to everyone.  According to James 1:13-15, we shouldn't blame God for temptations; they are a natural part of our sinful hearts.  It's not always up to us whether we get tempted or not; sometimes the temptation attacks us.  But how we respond _is_ our own choice, and God promises He will always provide a way out for us.  We aren't strong enough to fight temptations on our own, but we cry out to God for His strength, and fill our thoughts with His words so that there's no space left for sinful thoughts.

It is true that God's standard for us is very high: He says, "Be holy, because I am holy" (1Peter 1:15-16).  God is the God of justice, and He is just in respecting our choices.  He gave each human freewill, and if we choose to go our own way instead of submitting to His way, then He won't force us to follow Him.  But we reap the consequences of our choices, and the consequence of our sin is death -- physical death, as well as eternal death in hell (Romans 6:23).  This is God's justice.  He would not be just if there were no consequences to sin, if hatred and selfishness and lust were allowed to continue forever unchecked.

But at the same time, God is also the God of mercy, and He demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die for us.  The just penalty for our sin is that someone needs to die, but the merciful gift of God is that we weren't the ones who died, but Jesus died in our place!  Not only that, but since Jesus is sinless, He didn't deserve to die, but His death is more than enough to pay for everything we've ever done wrong and ever will.  So cool!  This is God's mercy and justice, working together.

All we need to do is open up our hearts and receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus offers to each one of us.  That means admitting that I need help, that I can't fight sin on my own.  It means repenting, turning 180-degrees from the direction I was going, and heading towards Jesus.  And it means committing to follow Jesus in everything I do, to let Him be the "boss" of my life.  Jesus knows that we'll all stumble, we'll all get angry or prideful sometimes, but He offers us mercy.  God isn't up there keeping score of how many times we've sinned -- if He did, we'd all be in big trouble!  (Psalm 130:3-4)  Jesus offers us forgiveness and a clean heart.

It is quite okay to have doubts about God, as long as we don't give up searching after the truth!  If God is really who He says He is, then the more we ask and search, the more He will show Himself to be true.  If the Bible is just a fairy tale book, then the more we ask questions, the more it will be revealed to be false.  God promises that when we search for Him with all our hearts, we will find Him!  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

Take care; don't give up!

in Christ,
Sean

-- 
  Sean Ho, Ph.D.  ==  Assistant Professor  ==  Computing Science / Math
  (604) 513-2121 x3209  ==  seanho at seanho.com  ==  http://seanho.com
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