Jazzimusaurus asked a great question in the “Itching Questions” page if you would like to check out some of his other ‘humdingers’ as my old maths teacher would say. This question is quite a profound one that alot of people ask so I thought I’d make it its own post.
Jazzimusaurus: ” ‘Christianity is very unique from other religions in that it is not about rules or guidelines or laws that must be fulfilled in order to get into heaven it is actually the opposite’ So you’re practically saying, the most evilest person can go to heaven as long as they believe in Christ?? I mean, I kinda look favourably on the guidelines that need to be fulfilled. I mean isn’t it kinda iunno gay that you who have done nothing but good go to heaven and someone whose done nothing but evil can just cause they believe in Christ…and as much as having all your sins punishment taken by Jesus sounds tempting wouldn’t it be better if you faced judgement for your actions?? ”
I’m going to attempt to explain a concept that is probably the most rejected concept of Christianity. In Romans it says this:
“But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? ( I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say – as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say – “Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is reserved.
“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
They have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“…Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silences and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin.”
Here Paul is writing a letter to a church in Rome. The definition of righteous is being ‘right’ with God, so being in a spotless relationship, no sin to account for. Since everyone is sinful, no one is ‘right’ with God.
Paul has identified how people can react to being told that they are sinful. They can recognise that our sinfulness shows us how sinless God is and therefore we are bringing him glory and ‘enhancing his truthfulness’ so why should we be condemned as sinners? So in a sense its showing the angle you are presenting, if I can be saved, then I’ll just keep on doing evil, still get into heaven and by doing evil create a contrast for which Gods purity can be seen more clearly. But as Paul says “Their condemnation is reserved”.
I’m sure you agree when I say that they have not had a change in heart. If you become a Christian, you are recognising that you are sinful, that you’ve wronged God and you can’t get yourself out. So you ask God to forgive you and if you have an honest heart, he will. Think about it this way, if you are honestly sorry for something, would you go and do it again and again and again? No, you try not to do it again.
For example, a friend of mine just got her P’s, it was a wet day and she drove too fast around a corner because she was so cocky. As a result of her thoughtless behaviour her car fish-tailed in an intersection. This freaked her out so much that now she is so conscious of the speed limit and never ever speeds.
The same thing applies to sinning. There is no way you can stop yourself from sinning completely, but you can try to, if you believe and are a Christian, you feel the consequence and apologise to God. He forgives, no matter how many times you ask.
The point of becoming a Christian is so that you can be freed from sin and made alive in righteousness. Later on in Romans 6:15-23, Paul explains when you recognise your sin and accept God’s solution (which is Christ), then you are dead to sin. You no longer belong to it and no longer have to answer to it. But just like the slave that has been freed from a lifetime of service, they will still respond to their old master out of habit. So will we, once saved, still respond to sin out of habit. The thing is: we don’t have to anymore.
Also you mentioned these people as the ‘evilest’ in a sense we are placing ourselves above them, looking down at them, thinking we ourselves are ‘less evil’ than those Paul talks about.
In his letter to the Romans which I quoted above, Paul draws on a conflict that happened in his own time, that of the Jews and Gentiles. Before Jesus came there was this idea that only the Jews were Gods people. There are passages in the Old Testament that talk about God accepting Gentiles into ‘his people’ but they don’t receive the full benefits etc etc.
The Jews always had this attitude towards the Gentiles as ‘more’ evil people than themselves. This is magnified in the fundamentalism of the Pharisees in the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
When Jesus came he brought in the new covenant, so the new contract with God if you like, that sounds so official, sorry if this image doesn’t work for you. This new covenant included everyone, both Jew and Gentile alike. (Gentile are people who aren’t Jews).
No longer does the law of the Jews divide people, that law is only there to make them realise they are sinful. Fulfilling the law which is impossible, would mean that they don’t need God or Jesus’ sacrifice and can make their own way to heaven, sad for them, this doesn’t work.
Therefore both Jew and Gentile are ‘all under sin.” So everyone is sinful, you can’t distinguish between ‘evil’ and ‘evil’ because ‘no one is righteous, not even one’. No one can make it into heaven by fulfilling the law because that would mean that you are sinless. I am confident that every person in the world has at one time or another lied to someone, talked about someone behind their back, or maybe stolen, pirated music or films, or maybe they have thought evil things about a person, judged them at a glance…..
That’s why we need Jesus, because without him we haven’t got a chance.
No one is sinless, not even one.