Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why sinners should not despair

I want to reiterate that one of the most hurtful and disrespectful mindsets toward God is that there are some things that God cannot forgive.

I've written before, and generations of preachers have given sermons on this subject, how the saddest and greatest sin of Judas was not the betrayal of Jesus, but his committing suicide in despair. Imagine if he had turned to God for forgiveness and then found, to his astonishment, that Christ resurrects and appears to the disciples three days after his crucifixion! Judas could have been one of the great witnesses of Jesus and his authenticity, his authority.

So this is the point that I want to make today. I know that many people have committed dreadful sins, and I'm not talking about stealing or hanky panky with someone else's spouse. I'm speaking of blasphemy, the spreading of heresy, sacrilege, murder, witchcraft and sorcery, and the abuse of the young and helpless.

It is a selfish affectation to think, "Well, I've been so horribly bad that who cares if I go to hell anyway, because I 'deserve' it."

Well, this is what you do not realize. As part of your judgment and punishment, God will reveal to you all the people who depended on you in the future, and who would have been the recipients of your protection and help had you stayed alive and repented.

So, for example, when God judged Judas, God would have shown Judas how different Christianity, and the entire world, would have been if Judas had stayed alive, repented, and became an outspoken witness for Christ. All of human history would be different today if Judas had not, in his despair, figured he "deserved hell" and thus took from God God's right to dispense mercy to those who repent. I cannot describe for you the agony that Judas would have experienced in such judgment by God, where God lays bare all that would have happened if Judas had stayed alive, seen the resurrected Christ, believed, repented, and thrown himself full heartedly in spreading the Good News.

Likewise, those of you who are the most dreadful of sinners today, if you think you "deserve hell" and that hell is somehow endurable, know that you go to hell knowing the faces of the many people you never got to know, who would have depended on you and would have had restored lives if only you had stopped feeling sorry for yourself and gotten cleanly and sincerely about God's business. That knowledge, of infants who die, of people who suffer, of souls that are lost, all of whom could have been helped if only you had repented, stayed alive and been clean and true with God, is what makes hell even worse than the torment and the burning.

The lost opportunity cost is laid out before you by God, and trust me, it is the ultimate in the horror movie.

When you deny or curtail what God can or will forgive, you are usurping his authority and that is all part of denying the reality of God himself. I write this message because I know it is pointless to argue with those who refuse to believe in God as he truly is, however, I know how "compensatory" and "pre destination" and "dispensation" logic works in sinners, and this you need to hear. When you are stuck in a ledger mindset of sin, well, then OK, wallow in it, but know that you are forgetting that God will reveal to you-when it is too late-the entire ledger, which is the lost opportunity costs of all the people in the present and the future that you let down, denied, and allowed to suffer.

Letting Jesus down was bad enough for Judas, once he was judged by God. But far worse was knowing how easily he could have joined with Jesus to "fix it" for countless other human beings in future generations, if only he had stayed alive, sought forgiveness, and provided witness with his whole heart and soul.