Can religion change a person for the better?

My own brother, and one of my sisters joined that religion (using it loosely), and my brother committed murder within years of joining. He’s also responsible for one of my sister’s death. He was diagnosed having schizophrenia. I can understand why he joined in the first place needing forgiveness from God.

There were signs he was different to say the least as a child - tormenting/torturing animals. My sisters and I witnessed this ample times. He tormented us and my parents til the day they died.

I don’t feel sorry for myself. You know the old saying: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t ask why anymore. It is what it is no more - no less.

Religion isn’t the answer for everyone. I think a lot of us hope it were. Wow!
My brother is lost in his belief of redemption by works which is why he’s stuck there being brainwashed into thinking it’s up to him. If he follows the rules, he’ll be saved. So sad … If he only knew Jesus. he’d have a choice to accept freedom. He’s basically hanging on. It’s got to be hell on earth - the limbo he lives in must be a torment. On the other hand, he has blinders on.

Don’t get me wrong. Anything is possible. I know I cannot help him, and I cannot trust him. He cannot even trust himself. He’s in God’s hands.

Do you have a relative who lives in similar circumstances?

We all live under similar circumstances, with differing experiences. Too often people look to the rest of the world for spiritual guidance, ignoring that we come internally equipped with everything we need already.

This dream we live is the illusion.

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Depends on the person.

There was this one guy, a friend of a distant relative. For much of his life cheated on his wife, drank heavily, stole, etc. A general all around ■■■■■■■■

And then about his early 50’s, he “found Christ.”

And everybody wished he would just go back to being a lying, cheating, drinking ■■■■■■■■ :rofl:

He was a 10th as annoying as a lout then he was at a Christian. :smile:

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I think often troubled individuals embrace religion because they’re seeking something outside of themselves to make them happy.

In that case, religion becomes no different than wealth, sex, material possessions - and that obviously isn’t faith at all.


Sure…anything can change anybody for the better.

All depends on the circumstances.

‘Better’ is barely measurable without a priori moral, religious or ideological presumptions. Confirmation bias, all over this.

Religion is a way of life that puts God, and the ways of God, first. After love of God and His ways is love of one’s fellow man. In displaying this love it is best not to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.

Ultimately, unless they ask directly, few should actually know what it is that changed a person’s life, they should just see a life has been changed.

What religion did he accept?

I think religion can help someone change for the better if they want to change.

7th Day Adventists

Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is the only thing that can change a persons character. However, it is a joint effort. Jesus, and all of the New Testament makes it clear it is NOT works that saves a person, but repentance. It is AFTER the person repents and asks forgiveness that they receive the Holy Spirit, then the character change can begin and the fruits of the Spirit begin to manifest in a person. If a person is the same a while after accepting Christ than they were before, I would question whether they were sincere in their accepting Jesus. It is the people who know your brother that can observe him over time and get a good indication of his sincerity. It is difficult to fake a change of character for an extended period of time.

I was a Seventh Day Adventist but left that church. They preach a salvation by grace message, but also believe you can lose your salvation if you fall away from the “truth”. That “truth” focuses on faithful observance of the Sabbath, and to a lesser extent, eating only the foods specified in Leviticus 11. To me, this focus puts them more into a salvation by works belief than salvation by faith. My observation is that the mainstream SDA church has pretty much gone the way of the world. Pay lip service and tithe and the conference is satisfied, they have no real concern with your personal behavior outside of church. I do feel for your situation, and your brother. My sister is also in that church. She puts her Christian hat on Saturday morning, goes to church, then takes it off the moment she goes home and lives her life in such a way that no one would ever suspect she’s a “Christian.” Despite my criticisms of the SDA Church, I do believe there are genuine born again Christians there. The Holy Spirit continues to work on people and convict them of the truth, sometimes we just don’t quite see the direction we’re supposed to go. Hopefully, you’re brother is sincerely saved, just not able yet to see that path that God wants him to take. God has near infinite patience and time. Sounds like the only thing you can do is to pray. It DOES work, but sometimes it takes a while…

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Yes…nothing more annoying than the recently converted…lol.

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This is the kind of thoughtful nonjudgemental feedback and support I was looking for. My sister of the same thought as mine also died eight years ago. I miss her.

I come from a family of seven, so I had many sibblings. It’s true in this case - the good die young. Remaining are my brother and one sister in the SDA church. One other sister is 84 and mentally simple from the shock treatments she received many years ago from a long depression after her last child was born. She talks and acts like a twelve year old.

For my whole life, I was looking for a stable, loving big brother I could look up to. I found him in Jesus in 1988. I don’t think I could have survived and even thrived otherwise, as I have. I don’t belong to an organized church, and I don’t want to. Jesus is my rock and my staff.

In spite of it all, I am thankful.

Thank you, Optrader.

How are you and family doing?

Like everyone else, we have our ups and downs and the issues of life. I left the SDA Church in about 2002. I was disallusioned by what I was seeing and the direction it was taking. My wife and I were “homeless” church wise until 2009 when an acquaintance invited us to his church. It was a Baptist Church and we have been there ever since. God has worked wonders in our home and marriage since then.

Of my siblings, my oldest sister is still paying lip service to the SDA church- when she goes, she went the way of the main conference, which is to say, toward the world and the results are evident in her life.

My youngest sister got out of the SDA church when my parents divorced. It was our dad that dragged us kicking and screaming on Saturdays after he became an Adventist in the late 70s. She got into a very worldy life that brought her a lot of grief. She married badly, divorced, went back into the world and then about 10 years ago married a man 30 years older than her and had a baby! Her husband just turned 80 and they have a 7 year old daughter… The good part of that story is that she married a Christian man from the Pentacostal church, she has accepted Christ and has a new outlook on life. Not the way I’d want to come to the Lord, but if that’s what it takes…

My older brother spent his life in disbelief and scorn about God. I suspect a lot of it was due to the outright Hypocrisy he saw in professing Christians. I have been praying for and witnessing to him for several years and just this week, I got a text from him saying he had a great burden on him and that he felt compelled to bow his head, bend his knees and finally ask Jesus for forgiveness!!! God IS GOOD! He literally never gives up. PRAYER WORKS!

Keep praying for your brother and anyone else, even if they seem unreachable. God can, and does draw people to himself…

How about you? You don’t belong to a church! How come??

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Well, I must say I am pleased to hear about your brother. What joy! I am truly happy for you in the Lord.

After my sister died, I found no support in the church. They weren’t equipped to deal with my loss.

Most of my life, and as far back as I can recall, I didn’t believe in myself. We were mentally abused. Nothing we ever did was good enough.
I was afraid of trying new things. I was afraid of
going over a bridge - afraid it would fall. I wouldn’t and couldn’t volunteer an opinion for fear of criticism. I was basically scared of my own shadow. I could not finish a project because I knew the praise wouldn’t come.

At around nine years old, a teacher took me aside and told me I was good. I argued with her that I wasn’t. It went back and forth until she got the last word. I kept this delicate treasure deep in my heart and never told anyone, but I chose to hang on to that nugget of hope just in case.

When I gave up my hang-ups, a great weight was lifted. The fear was gone.

Not knowing what had happened to me, I went back to church trying to find the answer, and little by little what was said in the sermons rubbed me the wrong way. It offended the liberty and joy I had innitially known.

One day after a particular sermon, I was sure what the preacher had said was not what God put in my heart. My mind also rebeled. I went home and locked myself in the den and announced I wasn’t to be disturbed. I grabbed my husband’s bible. I was determined once and for all to get to the bottom of this dilemma. It opened to Romans, and boy, it came alive. I had markers of all colors and underlined all those passages (there were many) about freedom, and the fact that God has written his laws in our hearts, and we know this instinctively. I read all nignt. I especially was touched by Paul’s writings. That’s when I became truly free. This happened roughly six months after I first trusted Jesus and a couple months after my sister died.

It was a little tentative at first. I determined to rid myself of old beliefs, dogmas, religious articles, etc… I chose to listen to christian radio - Focus on the Family w/ Dr. Dobson - Wayne Monbleau of the Loving Grace Ministry (went to see his band in New Haven, Ct once). Purchased and listened to dozens of their testimonies on tapes. I read most of the Joshua books by Joseph Garzone, and I got other people to read them (went to his one week retreat). I went to other denominations’ bible studies. One paster, Jim VanPelt, in the Congrational Religion couldn’t figure me out. He never heard my story. I had to move to VT to be near my parents who were both ill before I had a chance to share. Both have passed away many years ago now.

So you see, I have kept myself free of a religious congregation per say, but I do take care of keeping my liberty intact. I cannot forget how it used to be - the pain, the doubts and the fears. Most of all, I am reminded of the grace I received.

I know and realize it’s not for everyone. We are all different, we are in different places spiritually at any given time. We have different needs, wants and desires.

As Wayne Monbleau described a dream he had many years ago, I knew there would be fewer people obstructing the beauty of God the higher I hiked up the mountain on my way to the summit. The adventures and the sights I experienced were unbelievably worth it beyond desires and imaginations.

I’m glad you’re doing ok.


Thank you very much.

That is a sad story and I wish you well my friend. I understand that you’re not feeling sorry for yourself but…I feel your pain.

All of us are on a journey and it’s very complicated. When you contemplate all the balls each of us must juggle, if we are to be financially, spiritually, socially, mentally and family-wise…successful, it’s a difficult task…period. Your brother was dealt an additional difficulty…mentally. I can’t even begin to fathom how to overcome that.

The Lord Jesus is for everyone IMHO. First…one must admit how small we actually are and that we need help. In most all that I do, in most all that I contemplate doing…I pray first. I’ve come to acknowledge how small I am and how much guidance I need. Therefore I pray.

Over the decades, the challenges have gotten larger and my need for The Lord’s help has increased. What’s happened along the way is that I’ve been humbled even more. I’ve been brought to my knees…to understand that I’m a fallible human being. The arrogance of my youth has diminished much as the realization of how much I don’t know, becomes more visible to me. The weird thing is, the more I learn, the more I realize just how much I do not know and need The Lord’s help. This lesson in life is an important one. It’s a spiritual foundation in which to grow. Hopefully over the decades I have grown and I wish this for all. That said, it begins with each of us…humbly coming to The Lord and asking for help on a daily basis.

This begins a journey where if my experiences are average…after lovingly praying, you’ll observe your personal Red Seas part…right before your eyes and upon personally witnessing this, it increases your faith. Each time it happens, your faith grows even more. I’m convinced that this is The Lord’s path for each of us but it begins with recognizing our fallible humanity, approaching The Lord in humility, presenting your daily hurdles to Him, asking for guidance and then to boldly face each encounter with the understanding of helping all of those you can…along the way.

That said, I wish you well on your journey my friend and I’m sending up a prayer for you. Your OP is very moving and has inspired this prayer that IMO…you deserve.

Psychologists and psychiatrists can also help you change. Especially if you desire to change.

Sure. But should we make that an “instead of” when perhaps it works better as an “along with”?

I think that there are some talented priests/ministers/rabbis, etc. Many are trained in social work. If it includes religion, or doesn’t, I hope that people find help. I’m an atheist. But I have had problems (who hasn’t). I was under the care two talented psychiatrists. I will not go into my diagnosis (which by the way was never discussed). Here is how it helped. It helped me to form a more committed relationship with my girlfriend and we now have been together for 30 years (and eventually married–I did not marry until I was 50). It helped me to take more risks in my professional life, which resulted in many rewarding relationships and projects that may not have ever happened. The big difference in my case, I think, was that I was not cool with the trajectory of my life. I wanted to change. If religion helps, great. That was not me.