During the last few days I have been very thoughtful about whether I’m worthy to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven based on my recent behavior and thoughts. I honestly admit that I have lots of faults that are sinful and I see that those sins are what puts distance between God and myself. I want to try and talk a little about my thoughts regarding this general topic.
First of all, what is a sin? I have learnt (from an amazing person, priest and RE teacher) that “sin” is another term to say “away from God”. The very first sin was commited in the garden of Eden. The German term for it is “Erbsünde” which translates to “heritage sin”; “original sin” in English theology. This very first sin is passed on from generation to generation and there is no way our ancestors could have gotten rid of it because it was not with them and still is not with us because of our current behavior. It still affects us because we are still parted from God – the very first humans were with him in the garden of Eden, but after commiting the very first sin they were thrown out.
This had a couple more consequences because being out of paradise is a lot less comfortable than being in paradise. Among those consequences is death. The amazing person, priest and RE teacher mentioned before had a very good way of describing the connection between death and sin, which is the connection between death and distance from god.
Imagine a plain strip of land on which mankind lives happily together with God. After the Erbsünde was commited, a huge abyss formed and separated God from His creation. This abyss is entitled death. If you now draw the line, it looks like this: Sin separates us from God and creates an abyss. This abyss is death, which, accordingly, is a direct result from this very first sin. There is nothing that can be done to overcome this abyss.
With the new testament, Jesus was born. Throughout His life, He proved to be the son of God. With the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection shortly there-after, He has shown us that He can overcome death. As death is a result of sin, He therefore has overcome the Erbsünde. However, since Jesus (the Holy Son) can be considered as “God among us”, He has shown us that we can overcome death and sin, too, and that we can be resurrected, too. Imagine the abyss again, but this time with a cross acting as a bridge from one side to the other.
Since it was Jesus who showed us how to be resurrected, this gives us an idea of how we can be resurrected, too. All we have to do is to acknowledge that He is the living son of God and that there is only resurrection through Him (remember the cross across the abyss. Without Christ, there is no cross thus no resurrection / John 14:6). To achieve resurrection through Jesus, we have to follow Him. If we want to follow Him, we have to live by His commandments, most of which are beautifully summarized in the sermon of the mount.
The core of what Jesus wants us to do is simple: Love God with every aspect of yourself, and love your next as yourself (Mark 12:33).
A little summary: to overcome sin, we have to follow the doctrines of Jesus Christ, most of which are around the topic of unconditional love for any human being, which is called agape. Yes, there is more to it than just loving everybody around you. In the sermon of the mount, Jesus has clearly stated what He thinks a “real believer” has to be like.
This includes, for example, to not pray out and loud just to make people think you are special. Or that we are not supposed to judge others because we are going to be judged by the same means.
The teachings of Jesus Christ are the key to resurrection. He showed us what sin is, and He showed us what righteous behavior is. It is His word alone that flattens the way to salvation because His word is the word of the Lord as He is God’s son born among men.
To sort of build a bridge back to where I started – not feeling worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. I think that by following the teachings of Jesus alone will save my and everybody else’s soul. When I do something wrong and thus harshly violate the teachings of Christ, I often feel regret. I say often and not always because I have not read the entire gospel yet and I might not be aware of every sin I commit.
I regret my lustful thoughts every time they occur and I regret every single time lust has taken the better half of me. Lust is a sin. But I have huge struggle overcoming these thoughts because my life has been dominated by lust before I realized what Jesus Christ has done for us and that his demands are nothing compared to that sacrifice.
And when I say that we only need the teachings of Christ to be resurrected, I mean it. The letters and everything that comes afterwards may be sort of interpretations and clarifications of the teachings of Christ, but I honestly think that we have to take a critical approach towards those. The Bible is a book, and books are edited by human beings who unofortunately are more often than not influenced by political or personal opinions. I am not saying that all the people who edited the Bible were misled on their path, but men are faulty. It is hard to not leave the track of pure and clean love for the easier route of personal preferences. And that’s why I think we have to think about whether those “additions” to the gospel have been written with the pure spirit of Christ in mind or not.
I think that passages like 1. Corinthians 5:11 are not what Jesus wants us to do. Although there are people who say they are good while actually being a manifestation of all evil, and although those people are more dangerous to a person’s belief than obviously unfaithful ones, we are obligated to love them. When they need a helping hand, we have to offer ours to them and hope to maybe make them believe by that; if they continue on their way nevertheless, there is nothing that you can do about it. Forcing belief upon somebody doesn’t work. But you have done what you were supposed to do – help someone else and not reject him. Let him be part of your life and hope that the spark of faith hits his heart when you help him and tell him the story of the gospel.
That’s sort of what I think about this whole sin-related thing and that’s what often keeps me going when shit gets real inside of my head. Jesus saves, nothing else. The Bible has been edited, letters have been added and removed, and we have to ask ourselves whether they deserve their place.
I don’t know whether this topic is very controversial or whether important people have already talked about it in this way, but that’s just the way I feel. It’s the gospel and nothing but the gospel.
Stay faithful, and stay alive.