Christianity -- Christian Living/Scrupulosity

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Question
Hello Ryan,
I have some questions about Christianity, while being someone who struggles with Scrupulosity. If you are familiar with this type of OCD, please try to answer my questions. I was raised in an Evangelical Christian church and was very involved in youth group, church camps and purity culture. For me, Christianity is guilt, sins and constantly asking forgiveness. I don't like "the freedom" in Christ, that is not freedom at all. My questions deal with "once saved, always saved" and forgiveness.

If I knowingly sin, then die, am I going to Hell? If I am not trying to be a "good Christian" and I die, am I going to Hell? Am I still saved if I'm not 'trying' to be a "good Christian"? Is swearing a sin? Are bad thoughts a sin? Is being moody and not patient and not LOVING, a sin? What are the sins? Just the 10 commandments, even though thats the old testament? What are the RULES?
I don't want to go to Hell.  I'm working on the OCD end of my issues with a therapist, but what about the Christian end?
Thank you for your time,
Kylie

Answer
Hello, Kylie.  I'm glad you're seeking clarity about these things.  They are incredibly important.

I would start answering your questions by pointing out that Jesus' purpose and work are not primarily behavior modification but character transformation.  In other words, while your questions focus on actions, deeds and behavior, the greater focus that Jesus has is on the person that you are in character.

There is no doubt that deeds and actions matter, but they are not the primary focus because as Jesus said, from the heart flow our deeds and words (see Matthew 15:17-20 and Luke 6:45).  This does NOT mean that we can act however we want as long as our heart is good.  What it DOES mean is that how we speak and act reveal who we really are - they reveal our hearts.  This is why Jesus was so absolutely brutal against hypocrisy (which is acting like your something that you are not).  The religious leaders in Jesus' time on earth were actually wicked inside but were posing as righteous men.  He told them they were like cups that were dirty on the inside but clean on the outside (Matthew 23:25).  He also said they were like whitewashed tombs, pretty on the outside but full of death and everything unclean on the inside (Matthew 23:27).

So this is where I think your journey of seeing things truly and clearly can begin.  As you look to the Scriptures - and especially the words and ways of Jesus - hear Him and see Him teaching this foundational truth: God is interested in transforming who you are on the inside because He knows that this is who you are.  Your behavior will respond to this change and the change will be seen in your behavior as well.  Your words will respond to this change and the change will be seen in your words, too.  

Another key truth that I believe will help clarify some of the issues you're wrestling with is this: God is interested in restoring your relationship with Him, not just getting you to act better.  The good message of Jesus is called the message of reconciliation because He wants to restore the relationship that sin has broken between you and Himself (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:15-16; Colossians 1:19-23; Romans 5:10-11).  When you focus on knowing and loving God as Father, Shepherd and King, you find that you will obey and trust Him with peace and rest.  You'll come to find, over time, that you do not fear that He will reject you because you are in close connection to Him.  God does not reject us because we make mistakes; He rejects us when we live in rebellion against Him.  How can He have relationship with us when we defy Him and do not love Him?  

I would also ask you to consider a third truth that addresses your overall concerns: You are invited and called to be a disciple of Jesus, not a restricted religious person.  Jesus is more than the man who died for our sins and made a way for us to be accepted by God.  He is also the One who is willing and able to teach us how to become the kind of people who really fit in God's eternal kingdom.  Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus came proclaiming that the kingdom of God had come and that means that today that Kingdom is already here. We do not have to wait until we die to live in God's Kingdom.  Back then He taught people how to think and understand things they way they really are in God's kingdom reality.  Today He is alive and well and is still teaching us through His living presence in the Holy Spirit.  I hope you will more and more come to understand yourself as a disciple (student/apprentice) of Jesus and commit yourself to living with Him and learning all you can from Him.  (By the way, this way of life is incredibly adventurous and really is the antidote to so much boredom in being a Christian).

There is effort involved in becoming the kind of person you are intended to be, but we must never think that we can exert enough effort to make it happen.  There is a beautiful partnership between God's kindness (grace) and our efforts.  His grace fuels our efforts and  brings fruit from our efforts.  We need Him and His kind gifts for every step of our process, but Jesus our Teacher is calling us to give it all we've got.  When we do, He does the hardest part of the work and teaches, trains, shapes and transforms us.

I'll be glad to move on to answering some of your specific questions later, but I'd like to start with these underlying realities before we do.  I believe that as you wrestle with and come to embrace these things, you'll be in a better frame of thought to grapple with the answers to your specific questions.

Please let me know what you thoughts and reactions are to what I've said so far.  If you would like, we can carry on with more.  If you'd rather not, I'll understand and hope that what I've offered here will be helpful in some way.  

May God truly set you free from the fear and confusion that seems to grip you.  I am confident that He can and desires to.  Please continue the conversation however you would like.

Christianity -- Christian Living

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Ryan Parish

Expertise

I can answer just about any question about Christian living, believing that the Biblical revelation is meant to deal with all of life. Though not every modern issue is addressed specifically in the Bible, I feel confident in applying the grand principles of love, submission and Christ-likeness to all issues. I can't answer some questions definitively simply because God has not given detailed information on some matters. I can draw valid conclusions from what God has revealed, though.

Experience

I was raised in the church from my childhood, and have had an interest in God, the Bible and spiritual things from a very early age. At around the age of 15, I felt led to pursue a future in full time ministry. I've been in professional ministry since 2003, but was very active in teaching and encouraging Christians long before that. I preached my first sermon at the age of 15 and have found great joy in teaching God's truths ever since!

Organizations
Pastor of New Hope Community Church; member of the Christian Ministers Association.

Education/Credentials
BA in preaching from Hope International University (Fullerton, CA); full time pastor for five years; continually engaged in reading and studying to further my understanding of Scriptures.

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