5.18.2015

I Don't Believe in the Devil


I believe in God. A God that is full of goodness, but a God that should also be feared. I also believe that we are called to be disciples. That we are instructed by God to share His gospel with the people around us.

I'm not perfect at sharing the gospel. In fact, it's pretty hard for me at times. A few weeks ago, it really struck me that something was preventing me from feeling a strong desire to share the gospel. Something was preventing my heart from breaking for those that aren't saved. I felt confused because I so deeply believe in God, and I believe that His goodness should be shared with those around us that don't know him. So what was preventing me from sharing this?

I came to the realization that my problem isn't necessarily related to my belief of God. Instead, it's related to my lack of belief in the devil and hell. Although I think the gospel should be shared, something deep inside me doesn't feel the desperation for those that are lost like I should. I had somewhat of an epiphany and realized that this lack of desperation is related to my lack of belief that these people will go to "hell" when they die. That they will suffer. Now, I do have the understanding that they won't be in heaven, but it's really hard for me to understand what the other alternative is.

Hell is a very strange concept for me. I didn't grow up in church, so it wasn't something I was taught to fear from an early age like many people were. Before I was a Christian, the thought of hell didn't really scare me and it still doesn't. Now, that's a problem. Especially if it's preventing me from sharing the gospel.

I have realized how little I know about what the gospel says about hell. Sure, there's a lot about the devil, but it's mostly symbolism and I sometimes have a hard time understanding it. I have been trying to intentionally further my understanding with the hope that it might help to create this deep desire for me to pursue those that don't know Christ. That I will fully understand what not being saved means for people. I think this is the beginning of a long journey.

Can you relate to this? What prevents you or encourages you to share the gospel?

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33 comments :

  1. I have quite the opposite problem - I was raised in a church where that idea was definitely talked about, a lot, and ingrained into the back of my mind. However, to an extent, I ended up thinking way too much about it, doing some intensive studying on the subject, and walking away with a variety of perspectives that still really stressed me out. So, I guess I would say that it can go too far in the other direction, that an (over)emphasis on it can be a bad thing, and can detract from focusing on the goodness of God. I've had to trust that God's ways are higher than mine, he is the ultimate perfect Judge and knows our hearts, and I have to put faith in Him that he will handle all fairly... I think there's so much mystery to the concepts of Heaven and Hell beyond just a handful of times Jesus spoke about both. One interesting thing I learned from studying about it though, was that although in church when I was young any time Jesus spoke of the "Kingdom of Heaven", I thought he was referring to Heaven as in the state of the afterlife. However, I've read a bit from Scott McKnight and others, and for us to be a "Kingdom People" and the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus was referring to, is more of a here on earth bringing peace and justice in the present, and also in the future. . . Sorry for the all over the place thoughts, but such a vast topic, with so much to be thought about!

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  2. I do relate to this and a lot of what you say about Christianity. I was raised in church and I could never get on board with being taught that God is vindictive. I don't understand it. Also, I'm a liberal Christian which scares me from sharing the gospel. I fear being judged for my beliefs on both sides; does that make sense? Like I can't be a Christian because I believe in certain "liberal ideals" and I can't believe I'm "liberal ideals" because I'm a Christian. Sigh. All of that to say that I do relate and also feel confused about hell and the devil.

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  3. I struggle with this and I did grow up in a southern baptist church where Hell was always talked about, sometimes even to scare those into believing. I think now that I am out of that type of teaching I seem to think it isn't as BIG of a deal when in reality it is still a HUGE deal. I love that you took this step to share you heart about this topic!

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  4. hmmmm heaven and hell, it's something so concrete within the structure of being a christian, and the gospel, and within scripture...but it' something we don't know too much about - because it is eternal, and we only received little glimpses here and there through scripture (some scripture on hell: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-hell-21-eye-opening-scriptures/ )

    and some on heaven ( http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/heaven-bible-verses/ )

    I would really, REALLY, encourage you to dig deep in this.
    It is fundamental theology you really need to wrestle with and understand for your own walk but also to help in understanding (more in depth) and sharing the gospel.

    If you don't already own this book, invest in it. it will challenge you and explain SO MANY things! Systamatic Theology by: Wayne Grudem http://www.christianbook.com/systematic-theology-introduction-to-biblical-doctrine/wayne-grudem/9780310620822/pd/620882?dv=c&en=google-pla&event=SHOP&kw=academic-0-20&p=1179710&gclid=CjwKEAjwm-aqBRD39YPqhbzthzYSJACFj-AtdtSlJTuDiF-Bm0BtJYyPHMmz_Gtd2piuMkI5fUPEBhoC9anw_wcB



    also i'm always here if you want to chat/have questions.
    My undergrad was in Youth Ministry, and i'm super passionate about theology and learning more...and hey, if i don't know the answers, i'll dig deep to find them! haha

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  5. Interesting! I'm curious what you studied, I think I NEED more perspectives! I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experiences, and they weren't all over the place at all!

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  6. I'm a liberal Christian too, which always makes things hard. I think people are just naive. Jesus would be a liberal if you ask me. But that's another conversation. I think once I met my husband, who is also liberal, it really changed things for me and I learned that you didn't have to be conservative to follow Jesus. But I agree, it makes it hard to fit in on either side.

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  7. Thanks, girl. I'm definitely still working to find that middle ground. I would like to have a healthy fear haha

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  8. Ha, thanks Amy! I do realize that it's a core theology, but I also think that this struggle is important to share in sharing the gospel because I'm sure I'm not the only one!

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  9. Oh i hope i didn't come across as belittling or anything like that!
    this is a good thing to be wrestling with - and being transparent in the process. SHOOT there are PLENTY PLENTY PLENTY of things i still look doe-eyed at when attempting to understand.
    It's also completely true that we will only get a glimpse of that understanding this side of eternity.

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  10. Yeah, I'm not sure it's something we are fully meant to understand anyways, but I am definitely honest with myself about need to know more of the theology behind it

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  11. And you weren't belittling! I appreciate the resources

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  12. I feel more torn in my own faith, and that's why I find it difficult to share. Unlike you, I was raised in church. But the older I've gotten, and the more I've gotten to know myself better and the world around me, the more I struggle with my faith. There are things that I believe that are in stark contrast to what is taught in the Christian church. The biggest example being that I believe in ghosts and "spirits". Being raised protestant, I was taught that such things don't exist. Yet I've have too many personal experiences to tell me otherwise. And I struggle with how this two differing belief systems can coincide inside me. And if I can't figure it out for myself, how can I share either one with others?

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  13. I think people benefit from hearing that Christians struggle with these things too because it's almost naive not to. So many Christians haven't thought critically about their beliefs and I think it's SO important to do that, so I don't think you should be scared of sharing at all. If anything, it probably makes your sharing more powerful!

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  14. There are a lot of things that I was "taught" either directly or indirectly that I've had to question. I've never questioned the existence of God, but I do question the importance of certain theological debates. Sometimes it just seems we're missing the point.

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  15. I can definitely agree with you. I'm a skeptic haha

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  16. Oh, I so feel you. On the flip side, I grew up in a Christian home, so I think my struggle is that I have been told for so long to be content that I'm going to heaven that I don't NEED to think about hell. So that puts me in the same place as you...it's hard for me to feel the desperation that I need to when reaching out to nonbelievers. Oh, the balance...

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  17. That's an interesting perspective, I never considered that it might put you in the same place for that reason. That totally makes sense! I pray that we would both feel the REAL desperation

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  18. Thanks for writing this! I really hate the idea that evangelism is about "getting people out of hell"-- I think that misses the point of coming alive to God simply because He desires for us to come to life. In addition, much of American evangelicalism has been influenced by high-federal Calvinist views of Hell-- as well as atonement and why Jesus had to die-- and it's unfortunate that we get less exposure to other ways of thinking. What encourages me to share the gospel is when I know that someone desires *more* out of life; when they're hungering for depth, adventure, victory and courage, they're in the right place!

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  19. YES! I think you make such a great point, and that's the idea of hell and the devil that I have a HUGE push back against! Thanks for your input!

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  20. I love your heart and your honesty, Cassie. This is such a hard topic. So so hard and really hard to understand because yeah, the Bible does talk in a lot of symbolism. I do believe that Hell is very real and so is Satan. I don't like how it's preached in such a "scary" way, but it is truth. I don't think that being "scared into salvation" is a good idea but it should be something we do consider. It's sad for me to think of the people that will go to Hell if they don't believe in Jesus. I know it seems so not politically correct to say that and you may not agree, but I believe that it's Biblical truth. Otherwise, what is the importance of the Cross? Like Amy, I hope none of that comes across as belittling :) It's just what I believe. I completely understand where you're coming from as I struggle with it too.

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  21. Thanks Kelli. You're awesome. Not belittling at all. In my head, I know that's what the bible says about unbelievers but I just haven't been able to internalize it fully yet I don't think!

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  22. I really really appreciate you sharing and found this (and the comments) interesting to read. In trying to formulate my comment, I realize that I have way too many thoughts to share in a neat little comment box. But here's what I will say:
    I believe hell is a very real place, the devil is real, and spiritual warfare (demons, etc.) is very real. I do not believe in shaming people to believe, and I don't agree with people who hold up signs saying things like "You're going to hell" if you have an abortion or whatever. However, when I think about people--anyone--going to hell when they die because they don't know Jesus, it absolutely terrifies me, and I've cried about it more than once. My desire is to share Jesus with as many people as possible, but my struggle is with not sounding like a crazy person running around waving my Bible everywhere. Sadly, I fall too far on the side of fear and don't share as much as I should or want to.
    But admitting that this is something you are interested in learning more about is really cool, and I'll be praying God will bless your desire for wisdom on this issue! I definitely don't have all the answers, and there are some things about God that we will never understand. If we could understand everything with our human minds, that would make God so much less powerful than I believe him to be!

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  23. YES! Thanks for sharing this, Amanda. I hope I can get to the point where I feel that desperately like you do. I think that's a good thing- as long as we don't move in to hell-shaming, etc. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and experience!

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  24. Absolutely. I'll have to go back through and find the titles of some of the more indepth studies, but I did find Rachel Held Evans "Hell Series" pretty interesting. She asked a bunch of different theologians with varying views on the topic to share, and I really appreciated the honesty and diversity of all the viewpoints. By providing them openly, it leaves you as the reader to do a lot of thinking on your own about what's biblical, what makes sense to you, etc, and I think looking through the different forums is a good jumping off point in thinking about it all. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/hell-series-ask-a-traditionalist-1-response-walls

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  25. I have so many thoughts on this subject, I don't know if I can fit it all in one comment. First, it takes a brave soul to be so transparent in their faith. It's hard to think about and talk about Hell because it is scary to think about, everyone wants to concentrate on everything good (and there is so much good) that we sometimes forget about or overlook the flipside. I believe there is a Hell, but I also believe in a forgiving and merciful God, BUT I also believe in a just God. I think everyone struggles in some way with discussing Hell as a real place and a real consequence rather than just the "idea" of Hell, and that's okay!
    My own personal journey with Jesus isn't a pretty one. There was a time in my life where I flat-out denied Him. To think that if something were to have happened to me during that time, that I would have gone to hell, absolutely terrifies me. Something about that just lights a fire under me to share Gospel. Every time I think about how AWESOME it is that Jesus saved me (and everyone else) from that awful fate, I actually become pretty overwhelmed with emotion & I really want everyone to know it. Because, seriously, how awesome is that? I will pray for your spiritual journey and that you find a way to peace and understanding! We could all use a little more of both!

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  26. alwaysablogsmaidMay 19, 2015 at 5:59 PM

    I am so glad you are open enough to talk about this. I grew up in church my entire life and the church definitely scares you into "do you wanna burn for eternity? Come down and we will make sure you go to Heaven, just pray this prayer." I love your viewpoint on this subject and I have no problem knowing you will overcome this hurdle. I believe in Heaven and Hell and I don't do a good job of sharing the gospel. It is definitely a long journey, but worth it.

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  27. That sounds really interesting! Thanks so much for the suggestion!

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  28. Thanks Kalyn. I also have this fire in me for how God saved me, but sometimes I think sometimes it would be even stronger if I really, deep down, believed people would go to hell (and believe it is a bad place), if they didn't commit their lives to Jesus.

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  29. Thanks, Cassie! It is always a work in progress!

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  30. This is beautiful Cass! Hell is definitely that elusive topic that isn't necessarily what most people want to focus on simply because we just don't know a lot about it. Some think it's a pit of burning fire, crying babies, etc. etc. I think it's a place where we would be fully exposed to the horror of our sins and not have the opportunities for redemption. And the fact that we wouldn't have an opportunity to redeem ourselves to be closer to God one day scares the sh*t out of me lol! Love your heart!

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  31. I so appreciate your honesty!!! I think it's so easy to skim over the topic of 'hell' and the seriousness of people going there. It is one of those reality situations that is easier to not think about it! As far as the enemy goes, what scripture says about him roaring like a mighty lion is SO true! he is fierce. Nothing angers me more to know how much he attacks us!

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  32. I've been a Christian for just over a decade & I still struggle with outright talking about Jesus and the Gospel, but I'm a big believer in that my actions will always speak louder than any words I speak.

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  33. I agree, but I also think we are called to share the gospel as missionaries and our actions sometimes only go so far since we are innately sinful. I have found that sharing how I was before I was saved and how that compares to now has been really helpful in sharing the gospel.

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I would love to hear from you! I try to respond to all comments.