Q. I have a question regarding unforgiveness and hell. I recently saw a program where they claimed that true believers could go to hell if they harbored unforgiveness in their hearts towards anyone, even if they’re an unbeliever or a stranger.
They used Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 6:14-15 as their basis, and said that if you are a Christian there can be no darkness in you and that you shouldn’t believe the “once saved always saved” theory. I know I am a Christian, I have repented of my sins and turned my life over to Him. But what they said has really disturbed me and caused distress. Is any of what they said true?
A. Some in the Church delight in using scare tactics like this to make believers feel guilty. And that’s all it is. It’s an effort to steal away the joy of our salvation. In John 3:16, the most popular verse in the Bible, Jesus said that whoever believed in him would inherit eternal life. In John 6:28-29 He said that the only work God requires of us is to believe in the one He has sent. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul said that we’re not saved by our behavior but by our faith in God’s grace. In Romans 7:20 he said that when we sin, God knows that it’s not us but the sin nature that dwells within us, and in 2 Cor. 5:17-21 he said that we’re a new creation, as righteous in God’s eyes as He is. Then in Romans 8:38 he said that nothing can separate us from the love of God that’s in Christ Jesus.
There are about a dozen other verses that I could quote, but you get the idea. In Matt. 5:21-22 Jesus was saying that just because you don’t murder someone doesn’t mean you haven’t broken the commandment because anger is just as bad. He said the same thing about lust and adultery in verses 27-28. He was showing us that it’s impossible to keep the law and that’s why we need a Savior. And in Matt. 6:14-15 He was teaching us that forgiving each other helps maintain our relationship with God so we can enjoy His blessings here on Earth. It has nothing to do with our eternity. Otherwise He would be breaking His own promise that it’s our belief that saves us and not our behavior.
You should memorize 2 Cor. 1:21-22 and repeat it whenever someone tries to sell this un-Biblical guilt generating trash to you.
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
God owns you, He put His Spirit in you as a deposit guaranteeing what’s to come, and accepted responsibility for keeping you His.
In the idiom of the Old West, He bought and branded you, put you in His corral, and even if you break out and wander off, He’ll come after you and bring you back. Anything that conflicts with this is the doctrine of demons.