It only takes one shark to ruin your day. So, what if there was only one sin that could ruin your afterlife? What if there was only one sin that God judged us all on? That would make things kind of easy, wouldn’t it? We’d certainly know how to get into heaven or why we find ourselves slip-sliding down into hell, right? So, what would that one sin be?
I suppose that one sin would have to get to the heart of the matter of why we were heading for hell, wouldn’t it? It would have to plow through all the other sins and be the head sin of all sins. It would have to be a real deal breaker. It would have to be clear to us that our judgment by God was just and fair. In other words, we would have to know what the one rule was that we were supposed to keep and yet failed to keep, wouldn’t we?
That one sin would have to offend God so much that all of our other sins pale in comparison to that one. Would it be murder? Or would it be mass genocide of an entire race? Could there be one sin that tops all of those? Could there be one sin that is so pervasive that it is one that is done by every single person on this earth?
When I look at the really evil people who’ve lived in the world, I don’t find it hard to find way bigger sins than I’ve ever done. It doesn’t take a long stroll through history before you stumble over one of them. But, their fates are sealed and I’m still here. There is no way I could go about doing the things they did. Some of these current mass shooters have tried. I don’t think I could ever get to the place where I’d be so cold and unfeeling as to even think about doing what they did. So, am I in the clear? Did I cover all of the ‘sin’ bases in the game of eternity? If I am better than another then maybe, I’ve moved up the ladder (if there is one) and I’ve stepped right on over the Hitler’s and Stalin’s of the world to being at the head of the line in heaven for admittance. I may be only number 1,123,456,789 in line for heaven but that may beat out the other 10 billion or 15 trillion behind me. I’ll just stand here in line and hope that my good enough in terms of God were just that, good enough. I’ll just hope that the cut off number for being in heaven at least includes number 1,123,456,789.
But, what if it’s not a competition? What if there is no line and judgment is done on a one-on-one basis? Then I’m toast. Is that the gamble that I have to take or can I really be sure that I’m in?
After having read the Old Testament, I am amazed that anyone got it right with God at all. It was pretty tough going for the Jewish people. Ceremonial washings, sin offerings, and the million and one ways which you had to be careful or you were doomed are all part of what made it so hard. But, now that Jesus has come and He fulfilled all the requirements of the law according to the Jewish sin offering, are things also different in the judgment department? I mean, if there was just one offering for sin and there is only One Way to heaven (through Jesus), then wouldn’t it make sense that there would be only one sin that you would go to hell for?
During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He was asked by His disciples to state what His commandments were. Every established Rabbi (teacher) who had followers in Jesus’ day had a set of codes of conduct or rules to live by. Jesus, however, didn’t recite the 10 commandments or any other religious rules according to established Judaism, but He said that there were only two and they were taken from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. First, you have to love God with all you’ve got (paraphrased) and second, you have to love your neighbor as yourself.
So, if I were to guess which one of those would be the one failing (or sin) that God could get anyone in the final judgment for it should be one of those two, shouldn’t it? Or would it be failing at both at the same time?
The reason I thought of this kookie idea in the first place is because I started to think on Jesus’ gift of His death on the cross. It’s definitely pivotal in the New Testament. It is a deal breaker and a deal maker, so to speak. The essence of the letters that follow the four gospels (which recount Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead) are filled with testimonies and explanations of why Jesus had to go to the cross. It changes the entire tone and meaning of the Old Testament scriptures. It makes a pretty bold statement that the core of what Jesus’ life was about and the point of having the Old Testament in the first place was to lay the groundwork for Jesus’ earthly life at all.
It was after I pondered all of this, I began to think that God only had to judge each of us based on whether or not we accepted Jesus’ free gift of His death on the cross, His shed blood, His resurrection from the dead and that He truly was God in the flesh in the first place. I mean, since God chose to send His Only Son to die for us then I can’t imagine anything more egregious to the Father in heaven than to NOT accept this free, gracious, One-Way-kind-of-gift, would you? I think that if I were the heavenly Father I would get a bit enraged at the thought of some human sticking up their nose at it. I’d hate it if a human was flippant, disrespectful or dismissive about something I thought was so vital that I’d base my only book on it and keep it as the central theme.
But, then the thought crept up in me that there would have to be one other reason why someone wouldn’t get into heaven. I came to that conclusion because I know how insincere humans can be. If it’s free they want it but if it’s free it doesn’t have great value. That’s the way we think. So, people accept this free gift and think, “Wow, so glad I covered all the eternity bases. Now I can head on home, live how I want and when I die free and clear!” But, are they really?
What if the second part of that had to do with keeping up with what one started when they accepted Jesus’ free gift of release from their sins? What if this was a bit of a test to see who was sincere and who let the cares of this world choke the life right out of their initial dedication to Christ? What if it was whether we stuck with Jesus and held onto our faith or whether something excited us more and we left Jesus, confident that things were A-OK with Him?
So, I imagine the judgment taking place and there I am standing before God Almighty, when my life flashes before my eyes. What will I say about all the bad stuff I did that offended Him? What about the stuff I did that clearly showed that my acceptance of Jesus was bogus and not heartfelt?
Fortunately, for me, all I have to say at the judgment is that “I did believe Jesus was and is the Only Son of God. I did and still do believe that He died on the cross for my sins and that I accepted Jesus’ free gift of freedom from those sins so that I could now stand before You, God Almighty, assured that I would have eternal life just as Jesus promised”. I would also add that, “I daily took up my own cross and followed my Savior.”
What would you say? What if that were the only offense to God that you were judged on? What if that is the one sin that is looming over your afterlife? After all, the problem with the boaters in the picture at the top of the post isn’t that there are thousands of sharks in the ocean. Their problem is just the one looming over their heads ready to devour them.
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John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” NIV