Let’s admit it, at some point we’ve all asked the following question: “Will I STILL go to heaven IF I (fill in the blank with your sin)?”
The answer is no AND yes. I’ll explain later but first let’s see how the question is often finished. If I skipped your sin because you are extremely holy and don’t have nothing to worry about, then fill in the blank with “self-righteousness.”
“Will I still go to heaven if I lied, gossiped, coveted, committed adultery, got drunk, punched someone, lusted after someone outside of marriage, murdered, killed myself, raped, stole, cursed, blasphemed, watched an inappropriate film, fornicated, committed a sexually immoral act, abandoned my children, cheated on my spouse?”
At the outset, the question is asked in desperation because in our cores lies doubt that we are truly saved. We doubt that Christ is a greater Savior than our greatest sin. In desperation we usually plug in some outrageous sin we’ve committed because for some of us, we are still habitually living in that sin and it is destroying us. For the rest of us we have committed that outrageous sin in the past and have overcome it through Christ but we are sometimes still unsure if Christ washed away that BIG sin with his blood.
If you are the former, living in ANY blatant sin you filled in the blank which you constantly run and are desensitized to it, it probably means you are not experiencing godly sorrow over your that sin which leads to repentance, I urge you to look at the book of 1 John to see whether you have been truly saved. Here are some crucial questions from http://www.gotquestions.org/signs-saving-faith.html on the matter of sin in the Christian’s life.
Do you walk in light more than walking in darkness? (1 John 1:6-7)
Do you admit and confess your sin? (1 John 1:8)
Are you obedient to God’s Word? (1 John 2:3-5)
Is your life characterized by “doing what is right”? (1 John 2:29)
Do you seek to maintain a pure life? (1 John 3:3)
Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? (1 John 3:5-6)
Do you “walk the walk,” versus just “talk the talk?” (1 John 3:18-19)
Do you experience victory over sin in your Christian walk? (1 John 5:4)
Let’s clear something up. None of us will fulfill these perfectly. If you can truthfully answer these questions with a “Yes” or a majority of them and are truly working on the others by depending on God to provide you with strength to obey him, I think you are demonstrating the fruit of genuine salvation. When John says in 1 John 3:6 that, “no one who abides in him keeps on sinning,” he means that no one who practices sin abides in God. So if we habitually, continually, constantly, joyfully and frequently practice any sin, we are not children of God. This certainly does not mean that Christians will be perfect and not ever sin in this life. By contrast, in verse 7, John says, “whoever practices righteousness is righteous.” This does not mean that doing good works saves us. The Christian does not do good works to attain and then maintain salvation; rather, good works prevailing in the Christian is evidence that there has been a genuine spiritual rebirth and we are children of God. Salvation is not the result of good works. Good works are the results of genuine salvation. We must understand this crucial difference.
When you practice sin, you get better at it. You make any excuses to justify it, and perhaps you seek out ways to set up the factors that cause you to commit that sin. You begin to fall into sin more easily, you don’t feel guilty over your sin and you become more desensitized to it. You don’t feel sorrow that you have offended a Holy God.
We can now rephrase the original question to get a better understanding… “Will I still go to heaven if I practice lies, gossip, covetousness, adultery, drunkenness, violence, lust, murder, rape, stealing, blaspheming, delighting in evil, fornication, sexual immorality and self righteousness?” See the difference? The answer is if you practice sin, you WILL NOT go to heaven. You will go to hell to spend an eternity of torment away from God’s presence and goodness and glory.
Look at what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor reviler, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
A problem of the human heart is that it categorizes sin, so sometimes we pick and choose what our hearts see as “BIG” and “BAD” sins and stay away from “little” and “innocent” sins and choose to call those sins “mistakes.” We stay away from cheating on our wives, but we gossip. We stay away from being alcoholics and getting drunk, but we greed over money. We stay away from punching our neighbor, but we have hatred toward them in our hearts. The combinations are endless. Notice that Paul in verses 9-10 includes sexually immoral people with a swindler (someone who cheats another in a business transaction) and a greedy person. Abstaining from certain sins while accepting others is Pharisaic is dangerous.
John says if you belong to Satan you practice sin. If you’re a child of God, then you practice righteousness. So what if I’m truly saved, have inward and outward evidence that I’m a child of God, I walk in the light and hate sin? If I do sin, I repent quickly and confess it to God and ask for forgiveness. What if while living in this manner, I fall into temptation and commit adultery on my spouse and die of a heart attack while in the act? Do I still go to heaven? Let me be more dramatic – What if I go into a deep, deep depression and take my own life, slowly by swallowing pills or instantly by jumping off a building? Let me be MORE dramatic – What if a man disrespects my wife and in anger I punch him so hard I kill him, his buddy pulls out a gun, shoots and kills me – do I go to heaven still? Let me pick a “smaller” sin. What if I lied to my boss and then get hit by a car without repenting for lying to him? Do I still go to heaven?
THE ANSWER IS YES!!! When Jesus died on the cross, he paid the penalty of sin for all who believe in him. He died for your past, present and future sin. Please note, I’m not saying if you are saved, nothing you do matters and you can sin all you want because you are going to heaven anyway. That is cheap grace, my friends, and it is wrong and Paul teaches against it in Romans 6:1-2:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Paul also tells the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Abounding grace does not perpetuate abounding sin in the believer. Abounding grace in the believer perpetuates abounding worship. Christians are free from sin, not freed to sin. Although sin is great and must not be ignored, I want to turn our attention to something bigger than sin…God.
GOD > sin.
Do we believe this? Do we really believe this? Let’s look at the following Scriptures:
“as far as the east is from the west, so far does the remove our transgressions from us.”
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
“..For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
God’s love is fervent and burns for his children. It is relentless. It will not let us go! And his grace is greater than our sin. If you are a child of God, nothing will take you away from the hand of God. You are eternally secure. Paul knew this and told the Romans in Romans 8:35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What a glorious passage! Paul is saying none of these things will separate us from the love of God. But there is one thing that will and that is SIN, however, the Christian is forgiven of his past, present and future sins. His sins are forgiven, blotted out, where they once made a stain, it is now spotless! There’s a subtle but significant difference between sin separating us eternally from God because we have no relationship with God through Christ as opposed to a sin committed against God which was forgiven at the cross because we have a saving relationship with God through Christ.
How wonderful it is for the Christian to know that no matter how hard and far they fall from grace, grace is already farther catching them and picking them up, even in their last few minutes of life. If we committed a grave sin or any sin for that matter and died, praise be to God that he placed that sin on Jesus on the cross and Jesus paid my penalty by dying for me so that I may be with him for eternity.
If the Christian believes that they will go to hell if they die shortly after committing a grave sin, then there was no salvation through grace by faith but rather through works. On the contrary, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” No one gets to heaven because of what they did or did not do. They get to heaven because they trusted in what Jesus did (lived righteously) and didn’t do (commit any sin).
The Christian does not have to fear that one day he or she may slip and fall moments before death and spend eternity without God. Christ died for all of our sins including the ones we don’t realize we have committed and have not repented of! When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He really meant that the penalty for all your sins was being paid in full.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”