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February Questions and Answers

Can I commit a sin in my dreams?

I suspect many people have wondered about this. The short answer is that you cannot commit a sin in your dreams because sin involves personal choice; sin is an act of the will. In sleep, your subconscious is working on your mind, processing the things you’ve seen, heard, or are anxious about. Dreams are not reality. That being said, dreams can be instructive; they can alert us to thought patterns that inhabit our conscious or subconscious mind. You may be able, as one person put it, to “see your sinfulness through your dreams.” They may also point to things you need to stop looking at or watching or to places and even people you need to avoid. Foundationally, we must stay close to God in prayer. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:7–8).

How can we use God’s gift of language in a redemptive way? Given everything happening, it seems there is no civil or respectful discourse. Do we need to speak softly and carry a big stick, because truthful voices are being silenced?

Years ago, I saw a movie in which a priest went to the roof of the church, ripped open a feather pillow, and let the wind blow the feathers in every possible direction. “That,” he said, “is gossip.” I know your question isn’t about gossip specifically, but this story illustrates the unexpected power of our words.

In an age of social media, we see little discretion used, and sometimes it is hard to practice it ourselves. In fact, the temptation to talk carelessly or casually abounds in this technological age. Few people practice restraint or that great virtue of prudence. We’ve entered a new era of name-calling and disrespect, and we’ve adopted a list of excuses for our verbal barbs. The combination of disrespect and viral posts has drained discourse and disagreement of their nobility and has reduced our conversations to the lowest common denominator. For Christ-followers, restraint based on biblical principle is appropriate, a restraint that never resorts to the cowardice of silence when words are necessary, but helps choose our words carefully and with conviction. Christ spoke loudly against wrongdoing when He cleared the temple and had stern words for the money changers (Matt. 21:12–17). At other times He remained silent or almost silent, such as when He was brought before Pilate (Matt. 27:14) or when asked to publicly condemn the woman caught in adultery (John 8). He saved His words of condemnation for hypocritical religious leaders who were making the grace of God unattainable and leading people astray or for those with power who treated others with disdain or condescension. His responses were always right and wise whether He spoke up or said nothing. As humans, we won’t always be right or wise, but we can look to Christ’s example of grace and truth, of wisdom and integrity when we speak or when we are silent.

Why doesn't God cure my anxiety and depression?

I can’t help sighing when I read this question. I have often wondered the same thing. In Psalm 77:1–3, the Psalmist writes, “When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands, and I would not be comforted. I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.” Here the psalmist expresses an honest and vivid lament.

Some of the great saints of the faith struggled with depression. John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, also wrote a spiritual autobiography called Grace Abounding that expresses his agony over never feeling quite secure in his faith, though he was a staunch believer. Augustine, one of the church fathers, was given to anger and severe depression. Charles Spurgeon struggled with chronic depression because of overwork, illness, politics, and other limitations. He wrote, “I could say with Job, ‘My soul chooseth strangling rather than life.’ I could readily enough have laid violent hands upon myself to escape from my misery of spirit.” He even told his students about his depression so they would understand when they too were afflicted.

The hard reality is that we do not escape the maladies of this life. We are caught in a fallen world. Christianity is not the quick fix it is often mistakenly presented as being. We are, however, given Christ, whose death and resurrection guarantees us the hope of eternal life where all things become new. And because He came to earth as a man, He understands us and offers His presence in the midst of our sorrow. In the words of the Psalmist again, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:13–14).

BY Dr. Rosalie de Rosset

Dr. Rosalie de Rosset has been teaching at Moody Bible Institute in the Communications Department for over five decades. She is occasionally featured on Moody Radio. Rosalie is a published author, respected speaker, and talented writer. She lives on the northside of Chicago, a city she enjoys for its natural beauty and multi-faceted art offerings.

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