Notes on backsliding and temptation

[94 Jul 12]

[Hebrews 6:1-6] Those who backslide knowingly, really backslide. This passage has got me worried, in conjunction with the dream I woke from wondering whether I could have died and gone to hell. I wish I could talk to Brother Tom about this -- he seems the most understanding and calm about this sort of thing, and the least judgemental (but I hope he's still correct). And also this reading sounds very absolute, but God is forgiving; and if I were evil through and through, would I have been able to do the little bits of good that I have done (notably including some also in the area of friendships with women -- cheering up and encouraging some particular friends, for example). Or perhaps those are not examples of Christian goodness in me -- even the heathen do as much, as to love those who will love them in return. I must show love to those who won't love me back -- but the first `leper' I can think of that way (and the second, for that matter) would certainly `love me back' although in fact in a possessive manner -- but then, in fact they wouldn't in the ordinary sense be able to do anything for me (other than in some sense put me in my place! but at the same time risk making me feel swollen-headed!)

I feel that I have been doing this, but I still have time to stop some of the worse things that I am heading towards: a friendship which is potentially turning into a smutty affair, with someone I don't really even like that much, but do lust after (I must bear witness in that one, by my change of heart!); my arrogance towards particular types of `the poor'.

I know that I've done wrong; I know that there are wrong desires still in my heart, and at least in part I dislike them, and wish they weren't there, but still feel the temptation of them. So, it really does simply come down to resisting temptation, I suppose.

But Christ says that all things except sin against the Holy Spirit can be forgiven. And Paul talks at length in [Romans 8] about ``it is not I that sin, but sin that dwells within me'' (look this up in other translations!)

One thing that's for sure is that we can't pretend [Hebrews 4:13]. Fortunately God has experienced the temptations that we experience (but without yielding to them -- but he has experienced the temptations!) -- [Hebrews 4:14-16],

Particularly about smutty temptations, and keeping myself pure for if I ever do marry: [Hebrews 13:4] ``Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.''

[1 John 1:8-10] seems much gentler, more consistent with the loving nature of God: ``If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins''. I was surprised, looking further, to see [1 John 3:6] because it seems very evident that we do sin... but perhaps it is no longer we that sin, but the sin that dwelleth in us [Romans 7:17-25]. It's all very complicated to me!

[97 Sep 15]

That all seems more distant now -- one of the things that changes when you don't push it! Much more aware of God's love, while acknowledging that the temptations carry on anyway -- but we are given Grace to help us.

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John C. G. Sturdy

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