16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
I recently had the question, “If the punishment for sin is death and eternal Hell, why did Jesus only receive the death part?” Now I know. Jesus took the blame of sin on himself physically, but sin cannot co-exist with our perfect Lord in Heaven. The Bible says God will consume our sins by fire. He won’t just move them onto Jesus for eternity. He’ll destroy them.
I also think that we will lose our free will to sin after reaching Heaven. It sounds bad, but I consider it protection, a good thing. We won’t fall like Satan and his demons did. I think we will be protected as the remaining angels were.
Just some thoughts I’ve had lately. I realize more and more how important it is to be strong spiritually. Sometimes I get doubtful ideas and questions in my head. But if you are strong you will be able to hear God’s Spirit of Truth who has all answers.
– October 5th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
I think your question about Jesus and Hell is a good one, but it’s a shame you accepted such a vague answer. How exactly did this process of sin destruction work? Did the sin enter Jesus before, during, or after his death? At what point was it consumed by fire? Why does it have to be consumed by fire, specifically? And why does this only work for people who accept Jesus? I could go on and on.
I encourage you to ask these questions to as many different pastors and Biblical scholars as you can. You will find that many of them give you different answers, indicating that none of them know for sure. The reason they don’t know is because the Bible doesn’t adequately explain it. You would think that if God wanted to be understood, he would have written a book that is easy to understand.
It may have occurred to you that if you slip up and commit a sin in Heaven, you will lose your salvation and be sent to Hell (since sin can’t coexist with your “perfect Lord in Heaven”). Because this is so terrifying, you have come up with a solution that ensures you will be safe in Heaven: no more free will.
To me, this is also terrifying. If you are no longer free to do what you want, then you are no longer you. Your soul might go on worshiping God for eternity, but whoever you were back on Earth will be gone forever. Do you really hate yourself that much? And again I must point out that the Bible doesn’t adequately explain this concept. Couldn’t God have gone into a little more detail?
I’m impressed that you are already having doubtful ideas and questions. Sadly, you are latching onto any answer you can find without asking follow up questions. If you continue to do this, you may stop having doubts altogether. But if you are willing to return to these questions later, there may be hope for you.
— Matt, October 5th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.