Hi everyone, welcome back to Serenity in The Spirit! I hope you are keeping well as we head into the final weeks of 2020.
Today I wanted to speak about a question that I believe prevents people from taking an interest in Christianity. How can someone who has done terrible things enter heaven but someone who lives well, looks after others and is generally a good person may not?
This question stems from the belief that heaven and hell separates good from evil - where only good people go to heaven after death and bad people go to hell. Whilst this could be used as a basic summary, it does not encompass the true reason for heaven and hell nor is it the complete explanation for why some spend eternity with the Lord (heaven) or eternity without Him (hell). Note: When I refer to people going to heaven/hell or speak of where people will spend eternity, I am referring to the resting place of person's soul.
Romans 10:9 explains to us the true way to get to heaven: "Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (When you are 'saved', your heart is right with God and your soul will go to heaven).
This verse tells us that simply being a good person is not what determines where your soul goes after your body dies. It is by truly believing in Jesus' death and resurrection and confessing it with our mouths, that we are able to enter heaven. With His death, Jesus took on the burden of our sin meaning His death symbolises the spiritual consequences of sin (eternal death/hell - Romans 6:23). Should we choose to accept this and recognise what Jesus did for us, our souls no longer need to die for the sins we commit throughout our lives because Christ already did. The resurrection of Jesus represents our new lives as Christians, adopted sons or daughters of God.
This is the good news that Christians often refer to as the Gospel. It is good news because we do not have to earn our way into heaven by doing good deeds. Jesus tells us that only God Himself is good (“And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” - Mark 10:18) This means that, if it was left to us, our souls would never enter heaven because no matter how many good deeds we do, we would never reach God's standard of good due to our not-so-good deeds: sin. Fortunately, Jesus's death and resurrection gives us the opportunity to go to heaven despite our sinful tendencies.
So, to answer the question of the title, a murderer (or any other criminal) can go to heaven if they confess that Jesus is Lord and believe it in their hearts. If a murderer truly believes this then their heart will be full of repentance and remorse for their actions and they will truly seek the forgiveness of God. As Jesus died for all sin, the murderer can be forgiven and enter heaven just as anybody can if they follow the steps of Romans 10:9, God shows no partiality. Their identity as a 'murderer' will be lost in the eyes of God (“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!“ - 2 Corinthians 5:17) and he or she will simply become an adopted son or daughter of God even if the world and the devil try to label them otherwise.
Now, whilst the sin of murder does typically carry a more negative consequence that is easier to see than some other sins, God is still displeased with all sin. Unless you have sought true forgiveness for the error of your ways (e.g. blaspheming, idolatry, adultery, just to name a few), you cannot enter heaven (the wonderful presence of God).
I truly believe that you, yes you, are reading this for a reason. God does not want you to go to hell but He will not force Himself onto you, you must choose Him and you must do it before it is too late. For more information or if you would like to make this decision please feel free to reach out to us, we would love to pray with you and for you. You can also check out some of my other posts that go through a number of Christian principles and speak about how we can practically live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God.
If you disagree with what I have written or still have any doubts or questions, we would love to hear from you too. We can't promise to have all the answers but our heavenly creator does. Please leave a comment or reach out on our social media for a discussion :)
Thank you for reading, I really hope this clears up a common misconception of the idea of heaven and hell in the eyes of Christians.
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