It's Christmas time again. It seems like the busiest time of the year. Buying presents, wrapping, decorating our homes, preparing for travel, planning parties, the list goes on and on. Hopefully we also think about Jesus. It's His birth that we are celebrating. It almost seems like a footnote to all the other activities we are engaged in at Christmas time. If you consider the two most popular religious holidays of the year- they are Christmas and Easter. For one, we think of Jesus' birth, the other His death (actually His resurrection). But between those two events Jesus had a lot to say.
What was Jesus main message to the world? What was He all about? Was His main message that we love one another? That we do good deeds? That all of us would just get along, and have peace on earth? It's none of those. The peace that we should be most concerned about right now is having peace between God and us. According to the Bible, when a person dies they will stand before God to be judged. (Hebrews 9:27) The question then becomes how will you do on that day? Will you be found innocent or guilty of breaking God's laws? God's standard for us to get to heaven is complete perfection. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." James 2:10
Are you perfect in all of your thoughts, words, and actions? You may respond, "No, nobody's perfect, but I'm still a pretty good person." Let's see if God agrees with you, by looking into what He has said in Scripture.
- Have you ever told a lie? How many lies do you have to tell to be a liar? Just one. The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 21:8)
- Ever stolen anything? Thieves won't enter God's Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 6:10)
- Have you blasphemed God's name or used it carelessly? "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." (Exodus 20:7)
- If you hate someone, God calls you a murderer. "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:15) We can violate God's law by attitude and intent.
- Jesus warned, "You have heard that it was said , 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:27-28) Would Jesus find you guilty of committing adultery of the heart? Adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1Corinthians 6:9-10)
At this point you might be saying something like, "My God isn't this strict." or "To me, God's standard isn't this high." If the Bible is true, then you would be an idolater, and you're believing in a god that doesn't exist. This is what the Bible says. Don't you think that it is extremely important to find out if this is true or not?
I have to say this...In case you're thinking that I am claiming never to have broken these laws, you'd be absolutely wrong. I've broken them all, maybe more so than you have. Yet, I have great confidence that I will die and go to be with God in heaven for eternity. How can I say that? Please read on...
Does the fact that you have sinned against God scare you? It should. You have actually angered Him by your sin. God really does get angry, and His wrath is very real.
Consider this passage -
"Because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of judgment is coming, when God, the just judge of all the world will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning." Romans 2:5-9
All of God's anger and wrath is then poured out in a place called hell. Many people believe hell is not a fitting punishment for a few lies, stealing small stuff, and lusting after pretty girls. Let me explain why hell is appropriate. If I tell a lie to my son, nothing is going to happen to me. If I lie to my wife, I'm on the couch that night. If I lie to my boss, I could lose my job. If I lie to the government, that's perjury, I'm going to jail. Same crime committed each time, but what changed? It's the one who was lied to. It's not that our crimes are so huge, it's against whom those crimes have been committed. Crimes against an eternal Being, are deserving of an eternal punishment.
I know this seems harsh, and this is not what you expected to read, but here is my problem, I believe this, and I think that many people not only don't believe this, but don't even know this. Telling someone that they deserve hell may not appear to be loving, but the fact is, I deserve the same fate. I'm not holier than you, I'm just forgiven. I hope and pray you are too. If I knew the way to be forgiven, and I didn't tell you, that would be extremely unloving. So I hope you understand where I'm coming from.
Maybe you think that God is good and will therefore overlook your sins. God is good, that is why He must punish the guilty. If you were guilty of terrible crimes and went to court and said to the judge, "Judge, I am guilty, but I believe that you are a good man and will therefore overlook my crimes," the judge would probably respond by saying, "You are right about one thing; I am a good man, and it's because of my goodness that I am going to see that justice is done, that you are punished for your crimes." The very thing that you are hoping will save you on judgment day, God's "goodness," will be the very thing that will condemn you.
This may sound strange, but the worst thing you could do at this point is to try to clean up your life. You realize that you have sinned against God, so from now on, you will try to do the best you can. Again, in a court of law, should a judge let a murderer go because he says he will now live a good life? No, he's in debt to justice and therefore must be punished. The law of God is simply like a mirror to see all the dirt that is on us. You wouldn't use the mirror itself to try to get clean, you would use water to wash away the dirt. The sight in the mirror is not pretty, but if you don't see that you are unclean, then all that "dirt" will still be there on judgment day as evidence of your guilt, and then it will be too late to be cleansed.
God Himself made a way where His justice and His goodness could come together. God is holy. We are sinful. Yet, He still has great love for us. There is no amount of "good" that we can do to make up for our crimes against God. They must be punished. The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23 Somebody has to die. Yes, you'll die physically, sin requires that, but you've got a choice about what the Bible calls the second death. "The lake of fire is the second death." Revelation 20:14
The only thing that would satisfy the demands of God's law was the suffering death of the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ. We broke the law, but He became a man to pay the fine. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to satisfy God's law. God showed His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) He suffered unspeakable agony, so that you wouldn't have to be punished for your sins. His sacrificial death and resurrection mean that you are no longer in debt to the law, and God can now grant you everlasting life. Death no longer has a legal hold upon those who belong to Jesus Christ.
The Father sent His only Son, Jesus, who is God, to die in the place of rebellious sinners so that by His death, we might live. The world's greatest love story is summed up in the following verse - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Jesus said, "There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 How can you show more love than giving your life for someone else's?
Yet, if we trust in our own goodness to enter Heaven, we are saying to God, "I should enter heaven because I have done good - I have earned my way in." When we talk of entering heaven by being good, by trying to keep the Ten Commandments, we are tossing God ten cents of "self-righteousness", which is a terrible insult to Him, in the light of His sacrifice. The only thing we can do is humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and receive the gift by trusting Jesus Christ alone. If you want to trust in your own goodness, then you are saying His agonizing death on the cross wasn't needed. The Bible says, "For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 You cannot earn a gift.
Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:15 To repent means to turn from your sins, and turn towards God. Realize that you have lived under your own authority. You've lived the way you wanted to. You have lived without regard for God and His rules. Doing what you want, when you want, without concern that you are sinning against the one who gave life to you and sustains your every breath. The choice is before you right now- continue pursuing the fleeting pleasures of sin, which never fully satisfy, and carry the price tag of an eternity in hell, or humble yourself and turn to The Lord for forgiveness and receive eternal life, and the promise of heaven after your death.
Stop believing you're going to heaven because you're a good person, in God's eyes you're not. But God is good, and He will save you from the wrath to come through repentance and faith. Put your faith in Jesus Christ the same way you would put your faith in a parachute. You don't merely believe in the parachute - you put it on. You know you're going to have to jump (death) so please don't "jump" without Jesus. If you die in your sins there is no second chance. God will give you justice, and you will end up in hell forever.
Lastly, please think about this, and count the cost. God makes no promises that this will be an easy life. In fact, the Bible says that you will encounter many trials, troubles and persecution for following after Jesus. Fighting against sin and living for God is extremely hard, but well worth it. Any troubles you encounter are nothing compared to the trouble that awaits those who don't have their sins forgiven on the day of judgment. God would rather forgive you than punish you. I don't want you to receive the punishment that both you and I deserve either. Please give this some serious thought, and don't put it off any longer. Confess your sins to God, put your trust in Jesus, who is the only way of salvation, and you will have peace with God. Then share with others the good news.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. God Bless and Merry Christmas