Answers to Your Questions
Q: Many religions teach that it is necessary for us to suffer in order to truly please and draw close to God. Is this true?
A: No! God loves us and wants us to be happy and enjoy life. He created this beautiful world to help us experience His love and love Him in return. One of the best ways we can show Him that we love Him and are thankful for all He’s done for us is to be happy and praise Him continually.
But sad to say, a lot of people don’t realize that God wants them to be happy. They equate godliness with suffering and self-denial, and physical pleasure with sin. Some poor, misguided people even go so far as to torture themselves, thinking that will get them closer to God. They sit on nails, put skewers through their cheeks, walk barefoot on hot coals, whip themselves, have themselves nailed to crosses, and suffer all sorts of other self-inflicted pain because they think that the more they suffer, the more “religious” or “holy” they will become. This, thank God, is not the case according to the Bible!
It’s true that there are times when we may need to sacrifice or suffer, but according to the Bible we do not need to inflict it on ourselves as a means to gain personal merit with God. If we suffer through life’s trials and tests, there’s usually a good reason for it—it’s a result of us giving of ourselves to help others, or necessary to help us learn something we wouldn’t learn otherwise—not because we think we are going to gain righteousness by it.
Q: If self-denial, sacrifice, and suffering are not the way to salvation, then what can I do to save myself?
A: Nothing! You can’t save yourself—nobody can! Yet the central belief of most religions is that we can be good enough to save ourselves. In fact, when you think about it, there are really only two schools of religious thought: the do-it-yourself religions, and the God-alone-can-save-you kind.
Most of the world’s religions teach their followers that they can save themselves by their own piety and good works, by their own holiness, by their own suffering and self-denial, or by strict obedience to the laws and traditions of that particular religion. But according to the Bible, no man yet has been good enough to earn his own salvation. “There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). If we could save ourselves, then we wouldn’t need God—which is exactly the point of some false religions today.
No matter how earnestly and sincerely we try by our own piety, good works, or suffering to get close to God, become “enlightened,” or attain salvation, we will always fail to reach this goal. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
But there’s good news, too. In spite of our mistakes and sinful nature, God wants us to have a close personal relationship with Him. He wants to be our closest friend, whose love, faithfulness, concern, and care we can always count on. He wants to be our nearest and dearest helper and friend, so He sent Jesus to do what He knew we couldn’t do for ourselves—pay for our sins.
Each of us has made wrong choices at some time or another. We have acted selfishly and unlovingly. In so doing we not only hurt others, but we hurt God, who is saddened when He sees us going the wrong way.
We’re all sinners by nature, and our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The only way we could be reconciled with God was if our sins were atoned for, and only Jesus—who was Himself perfect—could do that. Jesus gave His life “a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
God loves you so much that He gave His only Son to die in your place, and Jesus loves you so much that He did that willingly.
Dear Jesus, thank You for dying for me so that all my mistakes and wrongs can be forgiven. I now open the door of my heart and ask You to come in. Please forgive me and give me Your gift of eternal life. Amen.
Copyright © Activated Magazine. All rights reserved.