The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Help for Stressing Christians: Is God punishing you?

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Believing that God is mad at you when He really isn’t results in all kinds of needless angst and misery. Believing that God is very difficult to  please is what drives many sincere souls to get stuck in endless confession sessions and cycles of self-persecution.  And yet the reality is that every serious Christian spends a lot of time fretting over problems that don’t really exist between them and God.  Why is this?  Because before you can accurately assess God’s current view of you, you must first understand some basic principles about how God relates to you, and those principles are rarely discussed by the Church.

Here’s an ugly truth: it’s very advantageous for Christian leaders to keep you stuck in deception.  When you are insecure in your own standing with God, you are much easier for other humans to manipulate and abuse.  This is why the Church works so very hard to stomp out any confidence you try to develop in your own relationship with God.  She doesn’t mind you being confident—as long as it’s an arrogant, self-exalting kind of confidence.  But the calm, quiet confidence that comes from a solid trust in your Shepherd’s good Character and willingness to personally lead you in life—that is something the Church doesn’t want you to experience, for then you wouldn’t feel dependent on her, and you’d stop being such a sucker for every money making scheme she comes up with.

Well, God is not the Church, and He wants you to develop that calm, quiet confidence that will bring peace and joy to your soul.  As we said, such confidence is the result of you developing strong trust in the goodness of your Shepherd and in His willingness to lead you personally in life.  When you have the kind of confidence that God wants you to have, you spend a lot less time stressing that He’s upset with you when He really isn’t.  Spiritual discernment is the ability to tell when God is talking to you and when He isn’t.  There are two keys to getting better at spiritual discernment. The first is to learn some basic truths about how God relates to you, and the second is to depend on God alone to guide you in life.

All wisdom comes from God.  He is the only Source of truth that you can trust, which is why you need to be looking to Him to guide you in life.  When you read an article like this, for example, you should be saying, “Lord, if there is any truth to this, help me to recognize it and embrace it.”  You don’t just say, “Hey, this is a Christian website, so everything on it must be correct.”  You should never be accepting any teaching about God without asking Him directly.

THE GOAL

Now the goal of this post is to arm you with some essential truths about how God operates so that you can stop getting stuck in false guilt.  All humans rely on emotions and circumstances to assess their standing with God.  This system is guaranteed to lead you astray, so it needs to leave your life.  In this post, we’re going to teach you how to accurately assess God’s view of you in the midst of difficult circumstances, and we will teach you how to respond to your circumstances in a way that benefits your soul.  Anytime you’re feeling concerned about God being upset with you, run through this checklist to see if you’re using the correct discernment tools.

HOW TO TELL WHERE YOU STAND WITH GOD

STEP 1: Identify the issue that you think is causing problems between you and God.

What specific thing did you do that you now think God is holding a grudge about and/or punishing you for?  Write it down or say it out loud so that you can focus your mind. For example:

“I got an abortion.”
“I cheated on that test.”
“I had an affair.”
“I lied to my boss.”
“I haven’t been tithing.”

Some of you think God is punishing you for something more general, so if this is the case, be specific about the quality that you think is causing Him to reject you.

“I’m gay.”
“I’m a drug addict.”
“I’m a pedophile.”
“I’m hooked on porn.”
“I’m a woman.”
“I’m ugly.”
“I’m stupid.”

If you think there are multiple issues that God is currently holding against you, write them all down, but then you’ll need to address each item separately.  When we lump multiple issues together, then toss up our hands in despair and say, “Forget it, I’m such a loser,” we are not practicing good discernment skills.

STEP 2: Determine if you were guilty of spiritual rebellion.

God gets mad at you for one reason: because you are spiritually rebelling. Before it is possible for you to be guilty of this kind of rebellion, the following must be true:

1. Before you acted, you were clear about what God wanted you to do in a specific situation.
2. You chose to disobey Him because you were refusing to submit to Him as the Supreme Authority in your life.

Timing and motivation are critical points here.  God takes full responsibility for communicating His will to you.  If He does not provide you with clear instruction ahead of time, then He does not accuse you of disobeying Him.  You can’t disobey Him when you don’t know what He wants.  Let’s run through some real life examples that demonstrate how important timing is.

At the time Joanne got an abortion, she did not understand that it was wrong.  It was only later on that Joanne learned that God does not approve of abortion. 

Is Joanne guilty of rebellion?  No, because God did not tell her ahead of time not to have an abortion.  He told her after the deed was done.  When God informs us that something we did in the past goes against His moral code, He is not angry with us.  He is simply informing us more about His standards so that we can know Him better and have more opportunities to please Him in the future.  It is a positive thing when God helps you understand more about His standards.  When God educates us like this, He is inviting us closer to Him.  But instead of being happy about this, we often assume that God is angrily criticizing us for messing up in the past because we don’t understand how God defines rebellion.

Let’s do another example:

Sara knows that God hates abortion.  When Sara gets pregnant after being raped, she feels strongly convicted by God not to abort the baby.  Instead, God tells her to have the baby, then adopt it out, since she is not personally equipped to be a mother.  Sara really wants to please God, but she is terrified of what her father will do if he finds out.  Sara fears her father will not only assault her, but that he’ll also try to hunt down and kill the man who raped her, thus landing himself in trouble with the law.  Because she really wants to please God, Sara pleads for Him to give her the courage she needs to obey Him.  But God doesn’t give her the courage.  Sara remains terrified, and when her well-meaning friend gets her an appointment at an abortion clinic and pressures Sara to just get rid of the baby quietly, Sara caves in and gets the abortion.

Is Sara guilty of rebellion?  No.  But why not?  She knew what God wanted her to do, and she didn’t do it. This is all the information we humans need to condemn each other, but God is not a human, and He judges differently than we do.  Let’s review the two components of spiritual rebellion.

1. Before you acted, You were clear about what God wanted you to do in a specific situation.

Sara qualifies for rebellion here, because she knew what God wanted her to do in her situation before she decided to have the abortion.

2. You chose to disobey Him because you were refusing to submit to Him as the Supreme Authority in your life.

This is why Sara flunks the test for spiritual rebellion: she really cares about pleasing God.  Sara’s problem is not a lack of submission, it’s a lack of courage.  She pleaded with God to give her the resources she needed to stand her ground and obey Him, but God intentionally withheld those resources from her.  Sara has the right soul attitudes, but she was unable to follow through with obedient behaviors.  What does God judge us by?  Soul attitudes, and this is why He is not angry with Sara.

As we said before, timing and motivation are critical elements of spiritual rebellion.  When the conviction comes after you’ve done the act, then you are not guilty of intentionally defying God, because you did not know what He wanted.  When you sincerely care about pleasing God, yet you lack the emotional, physical, or material resources you need to follow through on His instructions, you are not guilty of rebellion.

Who does God get mad at?  Only souls who are engaging in spiritual rebellion.  Now think about the specific action you did which you think God is angry about.  Ask the following questions:

#1. Did I understand that God did not want me to do what I did BEFORE I did it? 

If the answer is YES, go on to #2.  If the answer is NO, you haven’t rebelled, so go on to STEP 4.

#2. Did I refuse to obey God because I was refusing to respect Him as the Supreme Authority in my life?

Here’s where all of you addicts need to do some honest soul searching.  Why do you keep looking at the porn, doing the drugs, sleeping around, or whatever else it is you’re up to?  Is it really about you saying, “Stuff You, God, I don’t care what You want”?  Or are you caving in because you are feeling totally overwhelmed by core needs?  You see, a lot of humans are going to say, “If you really cared about God, you’d clean up your act.”  But this is not what God says.  God says, “I’m looking past your behavior and judging you by how you really feel about Me in your soul.”  If you’re stressing out over the issue of God being mad at you, you clearly care about His opinion, so it’s going to be pretty tough for you to argue that you’re holding a rebellious attitude towards Him.  This is the great irony of talking to guilt-ridden Christians: the ones who feel the worst often have the best soul attitudes.  It’s only the souls who really care about pleasing God who are going to feel devastated by Him being displeased with them.  If you don’t care at all about pleasing God, you wouldn’t be reading this post.

Now this second question is a vital one for those of you who are afraid that God is rejecting you because of a quality or characteristic about yourself.  If you’re gay, let’s get real about your motivation.  Is this really something you chose or were you born this way?  If you were born gay, then there was no choice involved, so how can you possibly pass the second part of our rebellion test?  You can’t.  The same goes for all of you pedophiles.  Did you sit there saying, “Gee, when I grow up, I’m going to choose to get turned on by kids just to stick it to God?”  Of course not.  Your sexual attraction to kids welled up from within and you didn’t get any say in the matter.  Unlike foolish humans, God doesn’t confuse your sex drive with your soul choices.

Rebellion is a soul choice, not a characteristic that was thrust upon you through genetics, trauma, or some other means.  We can’t choose what turns us on sexually.  We can’t choose what gender we’re born with.  We didn’t put ourselves together inside of our mothers’ wombs.  So if you’re thinking that God hates you because you’re the wrong gender or the wrong ethnicity or because you’re missing parts or because you have too many parts, you need to really look at this test for rebellion and realize that you are flunking it big time.  You have to be able to say an honest yes to both questions before you can even hope to qualify as a spiritual rebel, and if you’re not rebellious, then God’s not mad at you—period.

Now for the small minority of you who are going to be able to say yes to both of these questions: what does that establish?  It means that back when you did whatever you did, it was a rebellious act.  But here’s where we get to the next critical point: being rebellious in the past is an entirely different deal than being rebellious right now.  And since we’re focused on determining how God feels about you right now, simply being able to point to a time when you were giving Him attitude isn’t good enough.  We now have to go on to STEP 3.

STEP 3: If you rebelled, did you repent?

This step is only for those of you who passed the test for rebellion in STEP 2.  We all get snarky with God at times, and if He was as merciless as we humans are, then He’d hold eternal grudges and demand a thousand apologies and get off on seeing us grovel in the dirt without ever agreeing to forgive us.  But happily for us, this is not at all who God is.  God is incredibly easy to reconcile with—so easy, that’s it’s hard to get our minds around.  Most of us treat Him like the unforgiving humans we have known, and this results in us refusing to accept the forgiveness that God has already given us.  Well, going in around in a depressed funk because you won’t acknowledge that God has already forgiven you is an epic waste of time, so this is another bad pattern which we need to break out of.

So let’s assume that God told you to do something, and you told Him to shove it with true bratittude. Will God be mad at you? Yes, and if you don’t repent quickly, He’ll start dishing out the discipline.  So how do you call an end to your hissy fit and get back into a better place with God?  It’s simple: you repent.

Like rebellion, repentance is a soul attitude, not a behavior.  This is a critical point to understand. Many Christians are erroneously taught that repentance has to be a right soul attitude AND a behavior.  Then they’re told that the behavior part is so critical that if you don’t do it right, it will make your soul attitude irrelevant.  So why do we do this?  Why do we insist that God considers our actions to be more important than our soul attitudes?  Because this is what we humans do, and we are insisting that God be like us even though He isn’t.

Humans can’t see into each other’s souls—actions are all we can judge each other by.  This is why we exaggerate the importance of behavior and downplay the importance of intentions.  It’s like good old James, who tells us:

What good is it, dear brothers, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? (Jam. 2:14) 

Notice how James says it’s the external actions that count, not the soul attitude.  This is because James is a human who is far too invested in judging everyone around him.  James wants to be able to tell true believers from posers, so he cooks up his own “salvation according to James” rulebook, in which he says that everyone has to convince James that they care about God by acting sweet and charitable.  The apostles John and Paul do the same thing—they all insist that true believers never sin, and of course they pick and choose which sins they want to emphasize.  Well, systems like this are just based on our carnal desire to judge and condemn each other so that we can feel superior.  But what does God say?  God says that human opinion isn’t worth a hill of beans—it’s only His assessment of you that counts for anything.  God then says that He judges you by your soul’s response to Him, not by your external actions.  God says that when your soul is refusing to submit to Him, that’s rebellion.  But when your soul then decides to stop being a brat and re-submits to Him, that’s repentance.

Now to get you out of bad repentance habits, we need to use a metaphor.  Spiritual rebellion is like a door that’s standing open.  Repentance is when you walk over and close the door.  Now once the door is closed, can you close it again without reopening it?  No.  If the goal is to go from open to closed, how many times do you need to repent to make that happen? ONCE.

Here’s how many Christians try to repent:

CHRISTIAN: “I’m so sorry that I treated You with such disrespect God.  I’m done rebelling.  I want You to have Your way in my life again—please make me all that You want me to be.”

GOD: “Great, then we’re good.”

CHRISTIAN: “Really, God, I’m so sorry about what I did.”

GOD: “I heard you the first time.  We’re good.  Let’s move on.”

CHRISTIAN: “But I’m really sorry.”

GOD: “I know.  Can we move on?”

CHRISTIAN: “But I feel so awful about the way I treated You.”

GOD: “Well, I’m over it, so let’s move on.”

CHRISTIAN: “But it was so wrong of me.”

GOD: “How long do we need to keep going over this?  It’s done.  Let’s move on.”

CHRISTIAN: “But You must still be mad at me.”

Are you seeing how tiresome this kind of cycle can become for God?  When we repent, God immediately accepts our repentance and is ready to move on.  But far too often, we are the ones who are holding up the show by refusing to accept how easy He is to reconcile with.  We often insist that God is holding a grudge when He’s really not, then we refuse to be open to hearing Him address any other issue with us.  Take Joe, who is racked with guilt over the fact that he sexually abused his daughter years ago.  Back then, Joe was in a state of spiritual rebellion, but he repented a long time ago.  The problem is not that God is angry with Joe over his past actions—it’s that Joe is refusing to move on.  Every time God engages with Joe, Joe turns the focus onto his past sins.

GOD: “I love you, Joe.”

JOE: “No You don’t, because I’m a sicko who did his daughter.”

GOD: “I’m over it, Joe.”

JOE: “No, You’re not.  You hate me for what I did and that’s why You’re not talking to me.”

GOD: “I’m talking to you right now.”

JOE: “No, God doesn’t talk to creeps like me. I’m such scum. I’m unforgivable.”

GOD: “I forgave you years ago.”

JOE: “You’ll never forgive me.  I’m such a dirt bag.”

Who is being the problem in this situation?  Joe is.  He’s digging his heels in and refusing to accept who God really is.  Now in real life, it can be brutally hard to accept that God has forgiven us when we can’t even forgive ourselves.  This is what’s stopping Joe: he can’t accept that God is so much more gracious than he is.  So how can Joe improve his communication with God in the midst of his guilt-ridden state?  By practicing submission.  Listen to the difference in this exchange:

GOD: “I love you, Joe.”

JOE: “That’s so hard to believe after what I’ve done.”

GOD: “But it’s true.”

JOE: “I want to believe You.  Help me to accept that You could really be this merciful.”

GOD: “I will.”

Instead of stonewalling God, Joe is owning his struggle, and asking for help.  Because Joe is choosing to be receptive like this, he’s going to make progress and get unstuck from wallowing in the past.

So after running through STEP 2, you determine that you did something in the past with a rebellious attitude.  Using our door metaphor, you’ve opened a door that God told you to leave shut.  Well, now you can repent by walking over and closing the door.  Once you repent, you will be instantly reconciled with God.  You only ever need to repent ONCE to correct a situation of rebellion.  Once the door is closed, stop trying to close it.  Instead, acknowledge the change that has happened and be open to God turning the focus off of the past.

There are two reasons that God will keep bringing up your past sins. One reason is if you are in  a state of rebellion and you are refusing to repent out of it.  But the far more common reason among serious Christians is that you are refusing to accept God’s mercy.  When we obsess over our past mistakes, God will then keep discussing the past in order to help us break out of our obsession.  But the far better choice is for us to recognize that we’re the ones refusing to forgive ourselves and ask God to help us move forward.  God is not a human, and we need to stop treating Him like one.  He is a whole lot nicer than we are, and He is far easier to reconcile with.  When we refuse to acknowledge this, we’re wasting a wonderful opportunity.  So now let’s run through our test for repentance.

Which statement best describes your soul attitude towards God right now?

A. I really want God to be pleased with me, because I recognize that He is the Supreme Judge and His assessment of me trumps all others. I recognize that I was wrong to defy God in the past, but now I want to do better. (This is alignment.)

B. I don’t care about pleasing God. I want to do what I want to do. I am my own boss. (This is rebellion.)

If you chose A, then you are not in a state of rebellion, which means you have already repented, so go on to STEP 4.

If you chose B, then you are currently in a state of rebellion, which means you need to repent.  Repentance is when you stop embracing a B attitude, and instead choose to embrace an A attitude.  If you’re having trouble making the switch, then ask God to help you by praying something like this:

“God, I recognize that my attitude is rebellious, but it seems to be working for me right now and I just can’t find the motivation to change.  Help me to get over myself and want to align with You.”

Not only is God a gracious Judge who is super easy to reconcile with, but He is also quite willing to meet us where we’re at, even when we’re stuck in some bratittude.  He just wants you to ask for help.  If you ask Him, He’ll help you.  It’s when we refuse to admit that we need help that we end up in more trouble.

Until you’re ready to repent, you’re not ready for STEP 4.  But once you can identify with the A soul response, then it’s time to talk about how you should be responding to your negative circumstances.

STEP 4: Positioning yourself for growth.

It is usually negative feelings and troubling circumstances which cause souls to ask, “Is God punishing me?”  Well, punishing implies an element of anger.  Who does God get angry at?  Only spiritual rebels.  Are you rebellious?  Not if you’ve been following our instructions on how to move through this checklist.  By the time you get to this step, you have either determined that you are not guilty of rebellion (because you failed to meet the criteria of STEP 2), or you have repented out of your rebellion by following the instruction in STEP 3.  Either way, you are now a soul with a right soul attitude but crummy circumstances. So how should you interpret what’s going wrong?  Well, we’ve already ruled out punishment.  When God is punishing people, He does so to motivate them to repent out of their rebellious attitudes.  That’s not you, so why is God making your life a mess?  Because He wants to teach you positive spiritual lessons which will strengthen your relationship with Him.

There are two basic ways that God draws you closer to Him. First, He teaches you new insights about who He is and how He operates.  Second, He helps you cultivate soul attitudes which please Him. Both of these elements are very important and they’ll come up over and over in your walk with God.  So now that you understand that you and God are in a good place (because He’s not mad at you), it’s time to look for the positive lessons He wants to teach you, and that means asking the following questions:

#1: Is God presenting me with new insights about Him that I didn’t know before?

#2: What critical soul attitudes is God helping me develop by putting me through my current struggles?

TRUST is about gaining confidence in God’s good Character.  Is my TRUST in God’s goodness feeling challenged right now?

SUBMISSION is about learning to yield to God’s will for my life.  Is my SUBMISSION to God being challenged right now by Him asking me to do things that I don’t want to do?

DEPENDENCY is about recognizing and embracing my total dependency on God for all things.  Is God putting me in a situation that is forcing me to feel how much I depend on Him to help me in life?

REVERENCE is a respect for God’s Authority that is motivated by fear of His awesome power.  Is God showcasing His awesome power in my life right now?

Let’s do some applications to see how this works out.

Aaron is a firefighter who has been blaming himself for freezing in fear when he saw his partner get buried under a pile of burning debris.  Unable to forgive himself, Aaron has assumed God has been holding a grudge against him for his cowardly actions.  So when Aaron’s son fell off of his bike and got a severe head injury, Aaron assumed God was punishing him.  But as he goes through this checklist, Aaron realizes that he is not guilty of rebellion in God’s eyes, nor is God angry at him.  Now Aaron can reevaluate his current situation.  Instead of viewing his son’s illness as a form of punishment, he starts looking for positive lessons.  He asks, “Is God teaching me any new insights about Himself?”  Well, yes, God is teaching Aaron that God is much easier to please than Aaron thought.  Aaron is also realizing that courage comes from God—Aaron can’t just work it up within himself.  Ever since the accident with his partner, Aaron has been much more afraid at work, but now he’s seeing an opportunity to practice the soul attitudes of DEPENDENCY and SUBMISSION, so whenever his station receives a call, Aaron prays, “God, I have no courage apart from  You, and I understand that Your will is different than mine.  Sometimes, You want people to get injured and even killed like my partner did.  Help me honor You by accepting Your will, even when it upsets me.”  Aaron is also seeing ways that he can practice right soul attitudes in the situation with his son, so when worries arise, he prays, “God, help me to TRUST that You are good, and that You love us and give us what You know is best for our souls.  My son is Your creation—help me to leave him in Your hands and accept however You decide to work out his situation.  Maybe he’ll make a full recovery, maybe he won’t.  But what matters most is that I am putting You first in my life.” 

Because he was able to correctly discern his standing with God, Aaron has been able to start dealing with his guilt and fears in positive ways.  Instead of being consumed with his past cowardice and repenting over and over again, he is now being very receptive to the positive lessons God is showing him and he’s making great gains in his personal relationship with God.

Let’s do another one.

When Monica’s 16-year-old son gunned down several of his classmates and then shot himself, the whole town blamed Monica for being a terrible mother.  And Monica was a terrible mother—never around, slack with the discipline, and so consumed with drowning her own pain in alcohol that she just didn’t have the resources to nurture her son.  But what does God think?  When Monica goes through our discernment checklist, she realizes that no matter how much she’s messed up in the past, she can be pleasing to God today by sincerely desiring to please Him.  So she asks God to make Himself her First Love, then she starts looking for the positive lessons that He is teaching her in her current circumstances.  As terrible as it was to lose her son, she realizes that God used her boy’s violent death to wake her out of her own spiritual stagnation.  She realizes that God is far more merciful than the humans who are condemning her, and she learns that God works with every soul on an individual basis.  Even though people are saying that Monica’s son is in Hell and that she played a large part in driving him there, God shows Monica that this isn’t true.  God only condemns souls who rebel against Him for too long, and rebellion is only possible once God communicates His will to us.  Monica realizes that God worked with her son and gave him all of the information he needed to end up on the right side of eternity.  Monica doesn’t know anything about the spiritual choices her son made, but she is now practicing TRUST that God is good and gracious.  She is also practicing SUBMISSION by asking God to help her accept that her son might be lost forever if he refused to submit to God on earth.  She is practicing DEPENDENCY by acknowledging that God is the only One who can help her with her many addictions.  Because Monica is taking the time to listen to God and seek His truth instead of just accepting the condemnation of other humans, she is finding help in dealing with her grief and seeing hope for her future.  She is realizing that she doesn’t have to stay stuck in her self-destructive patterns, nor does she have to be defined by her son’s choices. She can move out of her small town and start a new life somewhere else.  She can keep learning more about how kind and loving God is and pursue a deeper relationship with Him.  Before her son died, Monica was a stagnating mess. But because she has looked to God for help in dealing with this tragedy, she is in a much better place.

As these scenarios demonstrate, when we turn to God and ask Him to show us His truth and draw us closer to Him, we will find that no matter how bleak our situation is, there is always hope.  No matter how bad we’ve been in the past, God makes it possible for us to immediately reconcile with Him and start moving in a positive direction.  The key is to recognize that God is the only Source of truth that we can trust.  We have to ask Him before we just run with our own assumptions about how He views us.  We have to ask Him before we let others interpret His actions for us.  When God speaks, He gives us reasons to hope.  When others speak, we often feel beat down in despair.  Remember that it’s all about the relationship to God, and He is always going to draw you closer to Him, not push you away.  So if the only message you’re hearing is that you’re some unforgivable loser, then what you’re hearing is a lie and you need to ask God to show you the truth.


So now that we’ve explained how this checklist works, here’s a quick summary of the steps that you can apply to any specific issue that you think is causing God to remain angry with you:

FOUR STEP DISCERNMENT TEST TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: “Is God punishing me?”

STEP 1: Identify the issue that you think is causing problems between you and God.

STEP 2: Determine if you were guilty of spiritual rebellion.

#1 Did I understand that God did not want me to do what I did BEFORE I did it? 

If the answer is YES, go on to #2. 

If the answer is NO, you haven’t rebelled, so go on to STEP 4.

#2 Did I refuse to obey God because I was refusing to respect Him as the Supreme Authority in my life?

If the answers is YES, go on to STEP 3.

If the answer is NO, you haven’t rebelled, so go on to STEP 4.

STEP 3: If you rebelled, did you repent?

Which statement best describes your soul attitude towards God right now?

A. I really want God to be pleased with me, because I recognize that He is the Supreme Judge and His assessment of me trumps all others. I recognize that I was wrong to defy God in the past, but now I want to do better. (This is alignment.)

B. I don’t care about pleasing God. I want to do what I want to do. I am my own boss. (This is rebellion.)

If you chose A, then you are not in a state of rebellion, which means you have already repented, so go on to STEP 4.

If you chose B, then you are currently in a state of rebellion, which means you need to repent.  Repentance is when you stop embracing a B attitude, and instead choose to embrace an A attitude.  If you’re having trouble making the switch, then ask God to help you by praying something like this:

“God, I recognize that my attitude is rebellious, but it seems to be working for me right now and I just can’t find the motivation to change.  Help me get over myself and want to align with You.”

Once you can identify with A, go on to STEP 4.

STEP 4: Positioning yourself for growth.

There are two basic ways that God draws you closer to Him. First, He teaches you new insights about who He is and how He operates.  Second, He helps you cultivate soul attitudes which please Him. Both of these elements are very important and they’ll come up over and over in your walk with God.  So now that you understand that you and God are in a good place (because He’s not mad at you), it’s time to look for the positive lessons He wants to teach you, and that means asking the following questions:

#1: Is God presenting me with new insights about Him that I didn’t know before?

Make a list of any new insights God is teaching you and ask Him to help you properly apply them.

#2: What critical soul attitudes is God helping me develop by putting me through my current struggles?

Examples of critical soul attitudes:

TRUST is about gaining confidence in God’s good Character.  Is my TRUST in God’s goodness feeling challenged right now?

SUBMISSION is about learning to yield to God’s will for my life.  Is my SUBMISSION to God being challenged right now by Him asking me to do things that I don’t want to do?

DEPENDENCY is about recognizing and embracing my total dependency on God for all things.  Is God putting me in a situation that is forcing me to feel how much I depend on Him to help me in life?

REVERENCE is a respect for God’s Authority that is motivated by fear of His awesome power.  Is God showcasing His awesome power in my life right now?

Identify any positive soul attitudes that God is working on with you and ask Him to help you embrace those attitudes.

FURTHER READING:
Identifying False Conviction: Three Easy Tests
What it Means to be Aligned with God
Relating to God: Recognizing the Trap of Symbolic Pain
Understanding Divine Judgment: Illumination, Empowerment & A God Who Delights In Mercy
Repentance Q&A
Repentant Sinners: Is it wrong to stop feeling bad about the past?
What To Do When People Won’t Forgive You
Overcoming Shame

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