By Steve Greene
What we believe about eternity impacts how we live today.
We have been exploring some of Jesus’ teaching about eternity, and even more specifically, heaven and hell.
Satan loves to entice people to put eternity in the back of their minds. We don’t need to think about it. There is no need to take hell seriously. Live a self-centered life. Idolize comfort. Reject sacrifice. Avoid persecution.
Some would prefer we never talk about hell. It is a topic that makes people uncomfortable. If you talk about the realities of hell, people might think you are a religious fanatic. If Satan can get believers to avoid the topic of hell, there is no real need to share our faith with those who don’t know Christ.
Contemporary Christians have been conditioned in their thinking. Talk of heaven and hell might seem outdated, uninformed or even uneducated to some. Most of us have heard people say things like, “I don’t believe in a God who would send good people to hell.”
There is a broad misunderstanding about our sinful nature and the character of God that causes people to wonder how God can send good people to hell. We attempt to convince ourselves that people are basically good, but according to the Bible, the heart is desperately wicked. People are inclined toward evil. Apart from God, mankind is on a downward slope.
I know this goes against a culture that tries to convince us that we are all basically good, but according to the Bible, mankind is wicked.
In Jeremiah 17: 9, we read, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” When we stand before a holy God, we will recognize the depth of our wickedness.
For instance, have you ever lied? Have you ever cheated or stolen? The Bible and personal experience both confirm we are not inherently good people. We inherited a sinful nature. We are bent toward sin. We are inclined to go in the wrong direction. That is why you never have to teach a toddler to be selfish. None of us need to be trained to be carnal. It is a part of our fallen nature. We are carnal and sinful people, and no one is exempt.
We have all sinned, but God is holy, and he cannot be holy without being just. Since he is just, he must punish our wrongdoing. Once we get a clear picture of who we are and what we have done, it is up to us to respond to God’s mercy, love and grace.
We’ll pick up there next time.