Monday, April 09, 2007

Unforgiving, Begruding, Bitter, Resentful and loving it!


I posed a question to our pastoral staff today at lunch and we got a lot of thoughts out on the table, many good things shared, but no real definitive answer. My question was...can a person who is this way, not by accident or trial and error, but outright willful prolonged disobedience, go to heaven if they live this way until death?

Right now I know someone has been saved (supposedly saved) many years but is very unforgiving, bitter, begrudging and resentful - by choice. I have never met anybody in my life or ministry who is quite this outright honest about their unforgiving spirit, and seemingly contented to stay this way for life. And it's apparent they have no designs on changing. They have willfully chosen to become this way, and they are reveling in it. They become uglier by the day, but they are not praying for God to change them. They don't want to change. In fact, they do not even see themself as any of the problem."

Paul said in Romans 7: 15-25 "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

Here's the deal...

With the situation I refer to, the person is not like Paul in the aspect that they don't want to be this way. Although they would readily tell you they have been saved for a very long time and are a "seasoned Christian," they would also readily admit that they are choosing to not forgive. Despite all the years they have been in the church, and all the acts of service they have done, I really fear they may miss heaven. Despite going to thousands of church services, working in countless ministries, reading the Bible for hours on end, attending prayer meetings...my thought is, "they really might not make it..." and how sad...even tragic.

The sad fact is, in many cases, they have not truly been wronged. They either don't see things clearly, are deceived, or are overly sensitive. I'm not assuming. They admit they are unforgiving - by choice.

So my question is, when one chooses willingly to cherish their sin, are they saved? I realize all of us are sinners saved by grace. But most of us abhor our sin. We hate that we do it. We feel guilt, conviction, and we beg God to help us change. We are like Paul in that we do stuff and we say, "why? why can't I stop this? Lord, please help me! I don't want to live this way!"

But what about when a person says, "I'm saved, but I WANT to keep doing this. I don't want to give it up, I'm not praying for God to change me..." I know the Bible says if you cherish sin in your heart, the Lord will not hear you. Obviously our prayer life is hindered. But is our salvation hindered? The Bible says if you do not forgive others, the Lord will not forgive you? What does that mean? One staffer says it means the Lord will give you a good chastising when you get to heaven. I'm inclined to think one might not make it there at all if they keep on this way.

The bible says judge not lest ye be judged but it also says that we will be known by our fruit, also by our love. I see work of service from this person but that is about where it stops. I cannot judge their salvation but the fruit is another matter. And when we judge the fruit, and we find this, what is the definitive conclusion? Or is there one?

What do YOU think?

In any case, I am convinced, the person in question is extremely miserable, has been for a very long time. They think they are hurting others, but in reality they are only hurting themselves. They are driving themselves into a downward spiral that is sure to absolutely kill them (literally) if they don't stop. And then what in the world can be said about them at their funeral? I guess something to the effect of... "They really did a lot of acts of service for the church."

Could this be one of these situations the Bible speaks of in Matthew 7: 21-23? It says: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!"

I know we aren't supposed to judge a person's salvation. But taking the specific individual out of it, and just looking at scripture only and the subject matter aside from personality...what do you think? I am not endeavoring to be judgmental by my statements or question but I honestly want to know others opinions on this. I personally am of the belief that one can walk away from the Lord after salvation. I do not believe in "once saved always saved". I do not believe a person can "accidently" lose their salvation. I don't believe we lose it - we willingly give it up...walk away. While the person in question would not say they have walked away from the Lord and would point out many "spiritual qualities" of their life, they would admit and have readily admitted their unforgiving spirit, and their intent to stay that way. So what does one do with that? If you were their pastor, would you tell them their salvation is in question by doing so?

I am not one of those people who always believes those "I died on the operating table and came back to life" type stories about people seeing a bright light and Jesus and Him telling them, "It's not your time yet, you have more work to do" and sending them back. Those stories are a dime a dozen and while I don't discount all of them, neither do I believe 100% of them. With that said, I read a Christian book about unforgiveness that had a story about a man who apparently died on the operating table and was revived and is still living today, now preaching the gospel. His main message is forgiveness. He says the reason is, when he died, he was not a Christian. He momentarily went to hell and when he got there he saw his mother in law, who was always by all appearances a very God-fearing woman. He was absolutely shocked to see her there and cried out, 'WHY? WHY? If my mother in law is here, nobody has a chance!" His mother in law had always talked to him about Jesus. And now she was in hell. The answer he received was, "even with all the good your mother in law did, and the love she professed for Jesus, she had unforgiveness in her heart toward several people that she held on to for years." He saw his mother in law being tormented in hell. He was revived and lived and has made it his life's mission to preach on forgiveness. Whether that story is reality or not, I don't know however...I don't want to take a chance and find out.

All I want to say for my own life is, I want to be on the safe side. Not only do I want to get rid of all unforgiveness, grudge holding, bitterness and resentment so that I don't miss heaven - but I want to live a long healthy life here on earth. My daily prayer is, "clean it out, Lord. Help me to not do what I don't want to do. Keep me clean, for Your glory and honor."

1 comment:

Pastor Lisa said...

You want to be forgiven? Forgive. How does this choice of behavior emmulate Jesus? I don't see Him in it. We are to be imitators of Christ not sowing into our flesh. Wow Pastor Deanna.