There is a message that most of us heard about regarding the gospel. It forms the basis of methods like The Roman's Road, The Four Spiritual Laws, and Ray Comfort's theory of using the Law to convict people before giving them good news. It is the idea used to keep legalism alive and control saints. What is it? It is the teaching that "sin can't enter into heaven."
Just the other day I spoke with a woman who was told that even though her husband was terribly abusive, she could not divorce him, and if she did, she would remain in continual sin before God. Or you may remember the fear associated with being in a movie theater if the rapture took place because that sin would cause you to miss the rapture! Then they created a list, varying depending on the 41,000 different denominations, as to which sins were major and risky, while other sins were safer.
But is it true, that sin can't enter heaven, therefore sinners can't go to heaven? I won't fully develop this idea, but let's look at just 4 reasons why that really isn't true.
1. God justifies the Ungodly.
Think about that. God justifies people who were not like him (un-godly) while they are un-godly. How exactly do we think that they don't go to heaven? In fact, Paul is clear that they do nothing different, they didn't earn it at all based on any good thing. If they died in that ungodly condition, they are just as "saved". Romans 4:5, "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly..." Believing doesn't mean they are now perfectly godly.
In fact, if sinless behavior is the measure of entry into heaven after death, then Jesus' death, burial and resurrection means nothing, and we are all in trouble. God isn't grading us based on the last act we committed. If you drive your car off a cliff because of drunk driving for the first time in your life, after you left sleeping with a prostitute, you would certainly be living an ungodly lifestyle at that moment.
Was it stupid? Yes! Absolutely.
Is it spiritually fatal? Absolutely not. We are not defined by our failures. We are defined by the gospel as sons and daughters.
Where was Isaiah, in Isaiah 6? He was having a heaven experience before the presence of God in the temple of his glory. It was God's idea to bring him there. Isaiah said HE was undone because he realized he was a man of unclean lips. The angels take a coal from the altar and cleanse his lips. But...he was there and it wasn't even Isaiah who put him there, nor was Isaiah in a state of perfection when he got in that scenario.
2. Satan was in Heaven
If there was any place in which the whole idea of "sin not being able to enter heaven" breaks down, it is right here. Was satan a saint? Yet we find several stories where he is in heaven before the Lord. Are we to think God loved satan more than humans, so satan could be in heaven in a fallen state, yet humans could not?
Job, 1:6-7, "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
3. Entering the Kingdom, is not about Going to Heaven.
Do I believe that we go to be in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit when we die? Absolutely! But is that they same thing as "entering the kingdom of God"? No.
Untold damage has been done by these ideas creating psychologically unhealthy people that fill mental health wards (with many, many Christians). It creates a harsh, cold task-master called perfectionism. It is the author of fear in hundreds of forms.
When the Bible speaks of entering the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, he is speaking about the same thing. When Matthew wrote to Jewish audiences, he wrote kingdom of heaven substituting heaven for God because for the Jews, to even say the name of God was to risk breaking the commandment not to take the name of the Lord in vain. So He used heaven, instead of God. Whereas in Luke, for instance, the exact same verses use kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God/heaven is an age in which the old kingdom of Israel was taken away and the age of Jesus ruling from the throne of heaven to the hearts of men would be established. Because the fall of Jerusalem was near in AD 70, Jesus and the apostles warned them that there would be some who would not enter the age of the kingdom if they did not trust Christ and stayed within the Law...thereby being self-judged by the last remnants of the Law system. Many would either be carried off as slaves to Rome or die in the fire that burned the city.
Heaven is not a reward for good behavior.
The kingdom of heaven/God is the age where Christ in truth and grace reign today as opposed to the age of the Law.
Besides that, the holy God came to take up residence within you. Think about that. He dwells with sinful people now, making their temple his home. It is a temple that sometimes sins. Yet, one believes that when they die, God can't have them there? Do you see the foolishness of that idea?
4. God is Not Counting the Sins of ANYONE Against Them.
Finally, the Apostle Paul made it very clear that God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD to himself, NOT counting men’s sins against them. (2 Cor. 5:19) So God is not counting the sins of anyone in the whole world against them. That is exactly what that says. If that is true, then it must be true then that no one is kept out of heaven because of any sin whatsoever.
This isn't a blog about faith vs. unbelief. It is strictly debunking the idea that anyone is kept from heaven when they die because of any sin whatsoever.
Does this mean that we will be behaving badly in heaven? LOL! Not one person in the unmitigated presence of the Father will be unchanged. Not one. (Every knee will bow and every tongue confess...that Jesus is Lord.)
Selah... think about that.
Yes, that probably raises many more questions. Good.
There are many ideas here that you may be discovering for the first time. My website is dedicated to the restoration of the optimistic gospel. There is a new day dawning in the world as God is opening the eyes of the blind across the globe. So here are a few articles that will clarify some things above:
The Remnant: Only a Few Will Be Saved?