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When you finally realize you deserve Hell

iStock/Getty Images Plus/adventtr
iStock/Getty Images Plus/adventtr

Man naturally assumes he is good enough to get into Heaven, and certainly not bad enough to be sent to Hell. But what if I told you that man’s natural assumption is upside down? You see, Scripture reveals that no one is good enough to deserve Heaven, and everyone is sinful enough to deserve Hell. 

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) has been called America’s greatest theologian. He wrote, “The damned in Hell are sensible of the heinousness of their sin. Their consciences declare it to them. And they are made sensible of it by what they see of the greatness of that Being, against whom they have sinned.”

But if lost souls in Hell are fully aware of their sinfulness before God, why do so many people on Earth fail to see the eternal consequences of their sinful behavior?

Without the Holy Spirit, we fail to see our true condition and our need for the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins through faith in the Messiah. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Our congregation offers this prayer at the beginning of every worship service: “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me; Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me; Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me; Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.” And then right before God’s Word is preached, we sing that prayer again.

How could we understand anything about God, sin, salvation, eternity or Christian living apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds? Jesus said, “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).  

Scripture declares, “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). In other words, man’s best efforts fall far short of God’s perfect standard, and man’s worst sins reveal the corrupt nature of his heart.

Scripture states that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). God measures sin differently than we do, and God’s holiness requires perfection in order to enter his presence.

Yes, you read that correctly. God requires perfection. Just think about it. The whole purpose of Jesus dying on the cross as the sacrifice for sins was so that Christ’s perfect righteousness could cover our sin and make us holy in God’s sight (see Romans 3:21-26).

“Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need — one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:25-26).

You are not good enough to approach God on the basis of your own righteousness, and neither am I. We desperately need to be convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit in order to appreciate why Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).

“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).

Are you eagerly anticipating Christ’s return, or are you living as though you do not have an immortal soul that will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell? (See Matthew 7:13-14).

Jesus identified those who “will be thrown into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). Jesus described Hell as a place where “everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49). Why such extreme consequences? Because God is perfect in holiness and his wrath against sin is so intense!

Thankfully, Jesus endured the agonizing punishment we deserve to pay. “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53:5).

A mother who loves and cares for her newborn child is doing a noble thing, and yet even such maternal tenderness is not able to wash away a single sin. Likewise, a career criminal who sits in prison can only come to the Father through the Son. Jesus proclaimed, “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15).

In the words of Robert Lowry's 19th-century Gospel hymn: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Oh! precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Jesus accomplished on the cross what you and I could never accomplish for ourselves. “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). God sees his children as perfect in his sight through the blood of Jesus, and followers of Christ “are being made holy” as we become more like Jesus in our daily life.

“God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God commands you to repent of your sins, (Acts 17:30) and he offers you the free gift of everlasting life in Heaven.

“Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

God loves you very much and he wants you to come to Heaven! (see 2 Peter 3:9) The Word of God assures us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

Some people wake up in time to do something about their lost condition, while many others only come to realize the eternal consequences of their sin after being thrown into Hell (See Luke 16:19-31).

So, when will you realize you deserve Hell: Before Judgment Day, or after?

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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