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I am a believer but I had a thought of renouncing my faith. I have asked for forgiveness, but am I now condemned?
Thank you so much for your honest question, it is great to have the opportunity to set your mind at rest over some of the truth of what it means to be a Christian. It is also great to hear that you are a believer and that you will have a journey towards real freedom in Jesus Christ.
In answer to your question, let's start by building a good foundation for the answer. Many people across the world are very confused as to what it really means to be a Christian, and would see it as something like this:
To be a Christian means that I have committed to following Jesus, and to living the life He wants me to. I have realised that I am a sinner and therefore not good enough for God and have decided that from now on that I will live life as I am supposed to live it, in a way that pleases God.
These ideas, while they are a part of being a Christian, are not the heart of what it means to be a Christian, and if this is all a person understands then they do not really understand Christianity at all. The bible says these words in Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
The Bible tells us that to become a Christian is not primarily a decision on our part to reach out to God, but is primarily a gift from God. He is the one who pursues us, and as these verses tell us, grants us the gift for the faith we need to trust in Him to save us. The word 'grace' simply means 'unmerited favour'. The right to become a Christian is not something we earn by our good works and turning from our sin, but something that Jesus earned for us when He came to earth, lived a perfect life, died in our place, and rose again victorious over death.
The Bible tells us that Jesus gave up His own life so that He could buy us salvation. He suffered on the cross more than we can understand to purchase us forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God. His love for us is far greater than ours will ever be for Him, and the Bible says that once God has started a good work in us, He will most certainly complete it (Philippians 1:6).
So let me ask you a question: if God has given you this free gift of faith that you have done nothing to earn yourself; if Jesus paid such a high price to buy you forgiveness; if God loves you with an everlasting love and has promised to see you through right to the end: do you think that your salvation could be so easily lost with a stray thought, word or action?
The answer is clear; absolutely not! When a person becomes a Christian they don't turn into a perfect person overnight. We don't want to sin, but we still do, and God knows that - He knew it before He saved us. The truth is, we never did anything to earn our salvation, and so therefore cannot actually do anything to lose it. The price that Jesus paid on the cross for our sin covers not just our past sins, but our future sins too, and God is absolutely committed to the lengthy process of removing everything in us that doesn't belong, and making us the people He wants us to be.
Let me say a few words to your specific situation. I'm sure that the 'thought of renouncement' that you had was not a wise thought to be dwelling on, but we must always remember that our thoughts are complex things. We may not always know where a thought comes from, and cannot always stop thoughts popping into our heads, so our responsibility is not so much to completely regulate the thoughts that arrive in our minds, but it's what we do with those thoughts when they get there that really matters.
The Bible tells us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), so we don't just blindly listen to everything that comes into our minds. We ought to weigh up all our thoughts, and if those that enter our heads are untrue or unhelpful, then we refuse to listen to them! Any thought that tries to get you to turn your back on Jesus is an evil thought, and should be exposed as just that. The Bible makes it clear that there is no hope outside of Jesus, and any thought that suggests otherwise should be kicked out of our minds as fast as possible.
Secondly let's deal with the issue of forgiveness that is raised in your question. It is possible you are praying for forgiveness repeatedly, almost as if you are begging God to forgive you. This verse in 1 John should be extremely helpful for you in this regard:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
John tells us what we ought to do once we have sinned as a Christian. He tells us that we need to be open with God about what we've done rather than hiding it away as we can be tempted to do. We simply need to be honest, tell God what we've done and then the guarantee is this; God will forgive our sins. There is no exception to this - no sins that are just too bad to be forgiven, and so, though we still grieve over, and hate our sin, we needn't beat ourselves up over it but rest in the forgiveness that God freely gives us.
There is one last thing I want to mention before I close and it's this: it is true that the Bible sometimes gives conditions, or things that we must do in order to be saved, but these must always be read in the light of all that we've said above. Consider these verses as an example:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
In his first letter to the Corinthian church Paul reminds them of the good news of the Gospel that saved them, but also reminds them that to be saved they must hold fast to this Gospel. The warning Paul gives does not relate to the Corinthians just messing up and falling into sin a few times (and the Corinthians certainly did mess up in numerous ways), but is far more than that. When a person walks away from the salvation found only in Jesus Christ they have nowhere else to go, and the Bible makes it very clear that there will be people around us who seem to do just that. They may seem to have faith for some time, but when that faith is tested they will fall away, and never come back.
For those of us trusting Christ though we need not worry about these words. We should certainly heed the warnings, and do what we can to cling onto Jesus and continue in our faith. However, when we get to the end of our lives and look back we'll see, as we've already recognised, that all the time God was helping us, upholding us, and that we were kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:5) right to the very end.
I pray that as you seek God you would come to know the incredible joy and peace that comes from knowing we are secure in Christ, held safely in His hand, protected from any harm until the day when He will call us to be with Him forever.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Romans 8:31-39
- John 10:22-30
- Ephesians 2:1-10
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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