OceanSide church of Christ
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COULD IT KEEP ME OUT OF HEAVEN?
Victor M. Eskew
Jesus taught that there are two destinies that are facing mankind. He exhorts mankind to pursue the one that brings everlasting life. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
No person in his right mind should desire to enter into destruction. It is a place of torment (Luke 16:23). It is a place of fire (Matt. 3:12). It is a place of outer darkness (Matt. 25:30). It is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:51). It is a place wherein one is eternally separated from God (II Thess. 1:7-9). Once there, there is no coming back. It is a place of “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46).
Christians are well aware that there are “big” things that can keep them out heaven. Several lists are presented in Scripture that tell of sins that will bring destruction instead of eternal reward. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9-10). Most Christians are very careful not to do the big things.
The title of our article is: “Could It Keep Me Out of Heaven?” By “it,” we mean, smaller, less “seemingly sinful” things that we engage in. Some Christians play with immorality. They tell white lies. They drink a little alcohol. They curse from time to time. They play the lottery a few times a month. Occasionally, they visit the casinos. They smoke a little marijuana. They cheat on tests. Young people engage in petting while dating. Pornography is part of their computer time. The question is: “Could doing these things keep me out of heaven?” Isn’t sanctification part of the Christian life? Isn’t the child of God supposed to be seeking holiness instead of dabbling in sin? In I Thessalonians 4:7, Paul writes: “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” To the Romans, he set forth a similar statement. “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Rom. 6:19). Sin is not to be the habitual practice of the Christian. He is supposed to be abstaining from as much sin as possible (Rom. 12:9). Sin is what will keep one out of heaven (Rom. 6:23). Before we engage in any sinful or questionable activity, we should ask ourselves: “Could this keep me out of heaven?”
Another area that needs to be evaluated involves slothfulness and laziness. Slothfulness is seen in homes, in the work place, and in the church. The word “slothful” is found fifteen times in the Bible. It means “indolent, sluggish, and lazy.” The slothful individual fails to do his duty. He makes excuses as to why he cannot fulfill his responsibilities. He procrastinates. He allows others to do his work. He is a waster of time and of other people’s money. He hides his talents instead of using them to the glory of God. Will slothfulness keep one out of heaven? The Bible certainly teaches against it. “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). And again: “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). If the parable of the talents is truthful, we find the answer to our question. The lord of the one talent man called him “wicked and slothful” (Matt. 25:26). He also sentenced him to punishment. “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).
Another area wherein our question needs to be applied is in the realm of anger. We realized that it is possible to be angry and not sin (Eph. 4:26). We also realize that many do sin in their anger. Many times individuals sin with their words. They are short, crude, and hateful toward others. Their words are often ugly and sinful. Individuals also sin with their behavior when they are angry. Wounds and bruises have been inflicted on others. Property has been damaged. Sometimes people have been killed due to the anger of another. Are you someone who allows his anger to get out of control? Some get angry with little thought or regard for what they have done in their anger. Seldom, if ever, do they apologize for their angry outbursts. They certainly have no intention of bringing their anger under control. Could their anger keep them out of heaven? The apostle Paul tells us how to deal with our anger. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31-32, emp. mine, vme).
The purpose of this article is not to discourage us in our Christian walk. All of us need the grace of God and the blood of Christ in order to enter into heaven (I John 1:7-10). However, God has provided His will that He expects us to obey in order to get to heaven (Matt. 7:21). We must “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Eph. 5:15). We must be doers of the Word (James 1:22-25). Let us never be deceived into thinking that a sinful action that we engage in cannot keep us out of heaven. Let us keep Moses always in mind. He smote the rock instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:10-11). This kept him from the Promised Land of Canaan (Num. 20:12).