One day “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). The dead will be resurrected for either eternal life or eternal damnation (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29), and though everyone will be judged by works (II Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12), it will be to determine a reward in Heaven (I Cor. 3:12-15) or how severe the punishment in Hell (Rom. 12:19). No amount of good works will save an unrepentant sinner (Matt. 7:21-23; Eph. 2:8,9), nor will excuses, such as being raised in a bad environment. The Old Testament records entire civilizations being judged for evil they had obvious learned from a previous generation, and there will be no exception for the murderers, perverts, alcoholics and others who blame upbringing for their behavior. Many of them have siblings who grew up in the same environment and don’t behave the same way. When the siblings are identical twins, who share the same DNA, it also refutes the excuse that genes determine behavior. If true, one twin couldn’t be a psychopath, homosexual, alcoholic, etc. without them both being that way.
Sin entered the world when Adam and Eve ate from a tree they were forbidden to eat from (Gen. 2:15-17; Rom. 5:12-14). Tradition alleges it was an apple tree and that a piece of the fruit got stuck in Adam’s throat to form the lump that came to be called the Adam’s apple, a reminder that all humans have inherited his sinful nature. They story is partly true in that we have inherited the knowledge of good and evil from the first humans, Adam and Eve. Their act of disobedience opened their eyes and they realized they were naked (Gen. 3:7). Before that they were incapable of committing even the sexual sins that many feel justified in committing. The moral loophole is what consenting adults do behind closed doors doesn’t hurt other people, so they obviously care about the feelings of other human beings. They just don’t care how God feels, thinking their sexual behavior is their business alone. Now imagine someone who’s married having that attitude. Suppose the person has a secret affair and there’s no conflict in the marriage until his or her spouse finds out. After confrontation, the unfaithful partner responds, “I’ve done no wrong. Our relationship didn’t change after the affair, so how does this hurt you?” That’s the kind of attitude a lot of fornicators have about being unfaithful to God, who gave them their bodies and has more authority over them than any spouse could ever have. God owns our bodies and expects us to glorify Him with them (I Cor. 6:19, 20).
When God came to Earth as Jesus, He forced no one to convert and never taught there should be laws against sexual sins, a message much different than the one that dominates the Middle East. European traders gave that name to the part of Asia between them and the far eastern lands of India, China and Japan. North Africa was later included due to its similar culture that’s also influenced by Islam, which spread throughout the Middle East by conquest. Christianity, however, spread throughout the Roman Empire without war. Christians lived righteously by choice, not by law. (This isn’t meant as an attack on Muslims, who don’t all want a theocracy. It’s to point out that the Gospel message is effective without pressuring anyone to accept it.) “The wages of sin is [spiritual] death” (Rom. 6:23), a choice that doesn’t need to be hindered with legislation. This present life is a test for where we will spend eternity and is likened to “a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Life is short and then comes judgment (Heb. 9:27), a judgment that should be feared more than any punishment here on Earth, whether it’s for sexual immorality or something else. In most parts of the world people are under a secular government that allows them to “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). No Scripture says they should be denied that choice.
The legal systems of Europe were influenced by Roman law, and Europe’s laws then influenced those of nations around the world. What works well today worked well in ancient Rome, which for the most part maintained order while allowing people to choose their lifestyle as long as it didn’t disrupt that order. (Note: Secular governments can still have elements of Christian influence, with restrictions placed on behaviors that infringe on the rights of Christians. To illustrate, laws against public nudity protect people who don’t want to see it.) Jesus made it clear He wouldn’t replace Rome’s government with a theocracy when saying, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) He didn’t give Jews what they wanted, so they spitefully took Him to the Roman authorities they hated and falsely accused Him (Luke 23:12). His execution resulted in a new and better covenant for humanity (Matt. 20:28; 26:28), giving some the impression the rogue apostle Judas did a good deed by helping the Jews capture Him (Matt. 26:47-50). But Judas did it in exchange for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16), a greedy motive that shouldn’t be surprising considering he was a thief (John 12:4-6). Honoring Judas for betraying Jesus is like honoring a man who killed his parents to inherit their property just because they were organ donors who saved other lives by dying. God will hold the wicked accountable for their actions, even if they result in good (Rom. 3:5-8). Therefore Jesus said it would have been good for Judas had he never been born (Matt. 26:24).
According to a heretical book called the Gospel of Judas, Jesus was betrayed with good intentions. It’s one of many writings that contradict Scripture, some of which were allegedly written by apostles. Above all, their claimed authorship should be regarded with suspicion. Then there’s Paul eliminating any possibility of their authority by stating that even if he, an apostle, teaches something contrary to Scripture, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8, 9). Moreover, the apostle Peter did just that by knowingly giving others the impression that obedience to Jewish law was still required (Gal. 2:11-16). So even apostles were capable of leading people astray at times, and if one of them had written something contrary to Scripture during a time of bad judgment, it’s not in the Bible because God saw to it that it contained no erroneous message. No matter who wrote what, if it’s not in the Bible, it has no authority for doctrine. No one should add to or take away from Scripture (Deut. 4:2; Prov.30:6; Rev. 22:18, 19), as some of the Jews had. The Pharisees added to it (Mark 7:5-8), the Sadducees took from it (Luke 20:27), and Jesus warned against the doctrine of both sects (Matt. 16:12).
Some of the Jews were called whitewashed because they put on a display of righteousness while being inwardly corrupt. Whitewash, a plasterlike liquid, is good for covering blemishes and was responsible for the renaming of America’s executive building. Formerly called the Executive Mansion, the president’s house came to be called the White House after whitewash was used to cover its darkened walls that resulted from the British setting fire to it during the War of 1812. Like the White House, these Jews were stained under their clean appearance. Jesus called the Pharisees whitewashed sepulchers that appear beautiful and righteous outwardly, but are full of uncleanness within (Matt. 23:27, 28). And Paul called the hypocritical high priest Ananias a whitewashed wall (Acts 23:3). Being righteous in appearance only doesn’t please God, who knows the secrets of the heart (Ps. 44:21) and judges everyone by this rather than outward appearance (I Sam. 16:7).
Most sinners don’t even pretend to be righteous and Peter acknowledged some of them who thought it was strange if anyone didn’t join them in sexual immorality, drunkenness and idolotry (I Pet. 4:3, 4). They will have to “give account to Him that is ready to judge” (I Pet. 4:5) and then be sentenced to Hell because they were “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:4). Hell is often thought of as a place for murders and the like, and that much is true. The monsters who terrorize and kill prostitutes, for instance, will in the end be terrorized by a far worse judgment than that of their victims. Similarly, people more wicked than the Sodomites will have a worse judgment (Matt. 10:14, 15; 11:23, 24), yet Sodom’s inhabitants are still destined to Hell for their fornication (Jude 7). No one else’s behavior will play a part in their judgment and they will by no means be comforted by having a less severe punishment than others. Instead, they’ll be filled with fear and dread as they try explaining themselves when reminded of each and every sin they’ve ever committed.
Some people would like to turn the tables and hold God accountable for the way the world is because He knew what would become of His creation. But His creation isn’t the same as someone designing a car, for example, knowing the brakes will fail. In that case the creator, not the creation, would be at fault. Unlike an object that can do only what it was designed to do, we choose what to do. Adolf Hitler chose to execute millions of people he claimed were born bad due to their genes, but during his judgment he won’t be able to use the defense that he was born a murderer. Had he been cloned it would have produced a different person, just as animals cloned for their lean meat and high resistance to disease are different from one another. Though they have the same genes and are raised in the same environment, their personalities range from timid to aggressive. Neither genes nor environment invalidate free will. You are who you choose to be, and right now is the time for that choice. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t go to Hell and wish for eternity that you could go back to this present time to get right with God.
Copyright © 2018