I believe God at times grants the temporal requests of unbelievers, just as Jesus healed all those who came to Him. But just because God helps unbelievers does not mean they have a close, saving relationship with God. They are still spiritually dead, lost in sin, and condemned before God. They may feel they have a spiritual connection with God, but that connection is a lie. (See Matthew 7:22-23.)
A true spiritual relationship with God requires two prerequisite things on our part, and two saving things on God’s part: Our part consists of:
- * Repentance: We must repent of our sin. This is not a requirement to live a perfectly sinless life, for that is impossible. It is a heart thing: we must lay down our animosity to God as He has revealed Himself, and what He has already declared about our state of relationship with Him. (Acts 3:19)
- * Faith: We must trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us, for we cannot save ourselves. (John 3:16, Acts 4:12)
In response to these two things, God does the following:
- * Forgives: God forgives our sins, solely on the basis of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. Apart from what Jesus Christ did, God cannot forgive us and remain just and holy. Forgiveness always has a cost, and God paid that cost. (1 John 1:9)
- * Regenerates: God grants us new life through His Holy Spirit so we are no longer spiritually dead. Apart from this, any feeling of spiritual well-being is a lie. (Titus 3:4-5)
All of this is exclusive to any other means of attaining a relationship with God. In other words, there is no alternative way to a true relationship with God (John 14:6). Guilt must be dealt with.
Guilt has an objective side and a subjective side. Subjective guilt is what we feel when we know we’ve done something wrong. Objective guilt is a legal state of being. The world is concerned with eliminating guilt feelings. This can be done through various means, including confession of past wrongs. But this does not eliminate the legal status of being guilty. I cannot go to court as a defendant and tell the judge, “But I don’t feel guilty!”. Objective (legal) guilt must be dealt with first before subjective guilt. The only way to get rid of legal guilt is through the steps shown above.