Before You Die
How would you finish this statement: God is ______________. What descriptive words come to mind? Perhaps you’d answer loving, kind, patient, generous, merciful, or powerful.
However, let’s talk about another attribute of God. I’m going to finish the statement with "God is just". You see, God is perfectly just and God loves justice. Because of God’s love for justice, He will punish all sin. Do you love justice? Do you love justice as much as God does?
God forbid this from ever happening, but let’s say your close family member was kidnapped, robbed, brutally beaten, sexually molested, decapitated, and left dead in a ditch.
Imagine that the murderer was never caught. He went on to do this to several other people without ever being brought to justice. He lived to be 70 years old and then died with no punishment for his actions.
Would you expect that if God is just that He would punish this murderer? Of course, you’d expect justice. Your soul cries out for justice beyond the grave to be brought upon this murderer.
Well, God will punish murderers, but He won’t stop there. God will also punish all liars, thieves, adulterers, slanderers, drunkards, those who practice magic arts, idolaters, and the sexually immoral.(See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 & Revelation 21:8 in the Bible)
The problem is that we all fall into at least one of these categories if we honestly judge ourselves by God’s standards. Let me show you what I mean.
Who of us can say we are not guilty of telling lies. Think about the times you lied to your parents to get out of trouble or to stay out past your curfew. Have you ever lied to your boss, or perhaps lied to your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend to stay on good terms with them? How many lies must one tell to be called a liar? The answer is just one. We’re all guilty before God of telling lies.
What about stealing? Think about the candy bar you may have stolen at the grocery store as a youth. Your heart was pounding, you knew it was wrong, but you did it anyway. Maybe you haven’t stolen from a store, but what about an answer on a test? Did you ever cheat on a test in school, or copy the homework of someone else? This is also stealing. What about small things like pencils, erasers, or paper clips at work? Just because they’re small doesn’t mean it is not stealing. What about cheating on your taxes? Did you ever lie about your income? How many things must one steal to be called a thief? Again, the answer is just one. If we’re honest about it, we’re all probably guilty of stealing.
Are you guilty of dabbling in the magic arts? Have you ever had your palms read, used a Ouija board, sought advice from a psychic, participated in a séance, or had any other active involvement in the occult? All of these practices are forbidden by God’s word and are considered wicked in His sight. Not only that, but participation in these practices can open doors of your mind and soul that were never intended to be opened. Would you leave the front door of your house open all night? Of course not, a critter or thief could enter and cause you problems. In the same way, participation in the occult can lead to demonic possession and oppression. See Mal. 3:5, Lev. 19:31, Deut. 18:9-14, Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:15 for examples of condemnation of these practices in God’s Word.
How about sexual immorality and adultery? Have you ever had sex with someone who was not your husband or wife? God calls this fornication, and He’s not okay with it even if you both “really love each other.” Maybe you actually slept with a married man or woman. This is called adultery and is a serious offense before God. But, it doesn’t even need to go that far. Jesus said that if you even look at a woman to lust for her, you’ve already committed adultery with her in your heart! That means that God not only sees and is concerned with what I do, but He also judges my thoughts.
Think about it, God knows all of the wicked, evil thoughts you’ve ever had. He knows every time you did something nice for someone, but you had a bad motive for doing it. He knows every time you stripped that man or woman down to naked with your eyes and imagined yourself doing forbidden things with that person. Nothing is hidden from God, he sees all of your actions and thoughts 24hours a day, 7days a week. Be honest, we’re all guilty if we search the innermost secrets of our hearts.
If you are guilty before God in any of these areas, don’t make the mistake of trivializing your sins. God hates sin, and because He is a perfect judge, He has sentenced all sinners to punishment. If God failed to do this, He would not be a perfect judge. God’s punishment for sin is death.(See Romans 6:23) This is not just a physical death of our body, (we’re all heading for that) but a second death of our souls, an eternal death in a lake that burns with fire. (Revelation 21:8)
You might say, “Oh, who cares, Hell will be okay. All my friends will be there and we’ll party down.” Not so, Hell is described as a place of outer darkness, and a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 22:13) You may have friends there, but you won’t be hanging with them because you’ll be in a place of total isolation, only hearing the cries and pain of those around you who so desperately wish they could go back and have a second chance. It is a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48)
This description makes me think of everlasting rot and decay, yet somehow at the same time eternal pain and suffering for all that dwell there. The pain and misery will never cease, and neither will the regret and remorse of those in this awful place. It will be the absence of every simple pleasure a man enjoys while living, and the magnified presence of every misery and suffering he experiences or witnesses here on earth.
Don’t think your good deeds will save you.
God doesn’t wheel and deal and take bribes. He’ll never say, “Oh you lied or stole something? Don’t worry about that. I remember the time you gave some change to that homeless man, and the time you walked that old lady across the street. I’ll just let this one slide.” What kind of just judge would say anything like that in a court of law? In an earthly court of law, if the leader of a great charitable organization is caught having murdered someone, he is not let off the hook because of his previous good deeds.
In heaven’s courtroom, good works are not weighed on a balance opposite of evil deeds. Your good works do not cancel out the sins you’ve committed in God’s sight. You could give all your money to the poor, feed the homeless daily, house and clothe orphans, take care of the elderly, and donate all your skills and time to charities, but these good deeds would not reserve you a ticket to heaven. No, the truth is that a person could go straight to hell with a choir robe on, a communion wafer in his mouth, and soup all over his clothes from
feeding the homeless. Your good works won’t save you.
You may ask, “Then what hope do we have?” God provided a way to be forgiven of all of our sins. God the Son, Jesus Christ, left heaven and became a man here on earth. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He never lied, never stole, never committed adultery, never disobeyed his parents, never hated anyone, and always kept God the father first in His life. He fulfilled God’s law perfectly, and therefore was the only man ever to deserve heaven by His righteous life. Instead, He chose to take all of the sins of mankind on Himself, and suffer the punishment for those sins by willfully dying in our place.
Men took Him and they whipped Him, slapped Him, spit on Him, punched Him, placed a crown of thorns on His head, a reed in His hand and mocked Him. They then beat Him with the rod that was in His hand. After this, they led Him to mount Calvary, forcing Him to carry His own cross much of the way. They nailed Him to the cross in His hands and His feet.
He died a bloody, painful, gruesome death. He was dead for three days, and on the third day something very special happened. Jesus told His followers ahead of time that he was going to be crucified, die, and rise again on the third day. He did just that. He rose from the dead, and is alive forevermore! Over 500 eyewitnesses saw Him in one sighting alive from the dead. He went through all of this pain and misery to pay YOUR debt to God the Father for YOUR sins. He proved that He conquered death and hell by rising from the dead. Jesus paid for every sin committed by mankind past, present, or future. The debt for sin was paid in full at the cross. However, there is something you must do to access this forgiveness.
If I were to write you a check for a large sum of money, sign it, and hand it to you, what must you do to access the money? You must cash the check. In the same way, Jesus has paid for your sins, but to access that forgiveness you must repent and put your faith in Him.
In Acts 20:21, the Bible talks about turning to God in repentance and having faith in Jesus. Clearly repentance involves turning away from sin and toward God, and having faith in Jesus involves trusting in what He did for us on the cross to save us. That is what we must do to access the forgiveness – repent and put our faith in Jesus. When you do this, the Bible says you pass from death to life and become a new creature. You will be spiritually born again as God pardons you from your sins, and gives you the free gift of eternal life. He welcomes you as a citizen of heaven instead of giving you what you deserve in hell. In heaven, people will never experience pain, suffering, death, or heartache ever again. It will be perfected joy for all of eternity in the presence of Almighty God for those who live in heaven. As a believer here on earth we may have to face terrible pain, persecutions, and hardships. However, as 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” It will all be so worth it in the end.
So here’s the question at hand: Are you ready to repent and put your faith in Jesus? No one pencils death in his calendar, it just happens. You can’t plan to get right with God in the future, because you don’t know if you have a future. Today is the day of salvation, and now is the time of God’s favor. I implore you to think soberly about your eternal destiny, repent, and put your faith in Jesus. If you’re ready to do so, you could pray a prayer like this:
Lord Jesus, I know that I’ve sinned against You and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross to pay for my sins and that God rose You from the dead. I place my trust in You alone to save me. Send Your Spirit to live in me and teach me how to love You the rest of my life.
If you’ve decided to follow Jesus Christ, it is the best decision you’ll ever make. He’ll never leave you or forsake you. You have been born again into God’s kingdom, and your new life begins now.
You need to replace your sinful habits with godly exercises. Here are four tips for spiritual health in your new walk with the Lord:
- Read a portion of the Bible everyday. Also, do whatever the Word of God tells you to do.
- Pray everyday. You are now a friend of God, not an enemy, so set aside a time of day to spend time with your Friend.
- Begin attending a Bible preaching church. You need to be around other Christians to grow in the Lord.
- Share your new faith with others. Jesus said that if we confess Him before men, He’ll confess us before His Father in heaven, but if we deny Him, He’ll deny us. Tell others that you’ve become a Christian, be unashamed.