We don’t usually think we’re evil people. You and I don’t tend to feel we’ve done anything outrageous. It may be that we’ve said some mean things to our siblings, but by the end of the day, we remind them that we love them. And while we may have failed to keep some promises, we did drive ourselves to exhaustion trying.
This is a really common argument. I was struck by it once again when I read a message online. Someone said something to the extent that if hell exists, it is reserved only for truly evil people. As I read it, it seemed to me like the emphasis was on the unspoken “not you and me.”
This mindset that you and I are essentially good – that we don’t deserve anything so severe as eternal punishment in hell – comes from comparing ourselves to each other.
On the scale of human virtue, we are so far above Hitler, terrorists, and human traffickers that “comparing” hardly seems like the right term. It’s a no-brainer; of course we’re good! We’re practically innocent!
And yet, I think there’s at least one major flaw in that sort of reasoning.
If I was inclined to title my post as long and complicated as I wanted, I might have called it: “Don’t stop comparing yourself, just change the way you do it.”
See, I believe there is a standard against which we ought to compare ourselves because I believe there is a standard against which God will judge us one day. How we measure up to that standard will determine our ultimate destiny: heaven or hell – God’s presence or eternal damnation.
When God judge’s you, he won’t compare you to Hitler. He will compare you to Himself, infinitely Holy. Suddenly, you don’t seem so innocent anymore. Just as 100 is as far away from infinity as 1 is, so a single hateful thought is as far away from infinitely Holy as is the massacre of millions.
Is there hope for anyone then?
Why even try if we’ve already failed?
Some of you are probably anticipating the answer: Jesus.
When a soul trusts in Jesus for their salvation – when they believe in his death and resurrection, when they bow to him as their Savior and Lord – it is not that God forgets their sins or His standard of judgment. Rather, He looks at the punishment He poured out on Jesus 2000 years ago, and accredits that punishment to the trusting soul. Then, it is finished. The sins have still been committed, but so has the due punishment been paid.
Welcome, dear ransomed soul, into eternal life.
Would you discuss with me?
- What is your experience with the mindset that regular people like you and me are essentially good and don’t deserve Hell? Have you ever believed it? Do you still believe it now? Do you know others who believe it?
- How is this way of thinking a stumbling block that hinders people from salvation? (Or would you argue that it isn’t a stumbling block?)
- How can we sensitively and graciously speak truth into these people’s lives?
I know, I know. If I have any concern at all for the series I’ve started, I had better write another post about vulnerability. This topic of comparison is simply weighing heavier on my mind and heart right now; I thought it would be a more sincere post.
If you’re wondering how I’m doing after last week’s desperate post, first of all, thank you for your concern. Right in line with God’s gracious character, He has brought me back to a state of normalcy.