Q. I do not quite understand how I can make it to heaven while I sin in my heart, and constantly ask for forgiveness. Why do I have certain fears, knowing that I will be cast into hell for this?
A. Thank you for the question. I am not sure exactly what you mean by sin in your heart. When an individual becomes a Christian he turns the control of his life over to God. This does not mean that we become sinless. It doesn’t even mean that we become mature Christians overnight. It does mean that we are different and we have allowed the Lord to control our life. Humans are not very wise, powerful or virtuous by nature. We are born into a sinful world and sin is inside of us. Most of our sins are motivated by a desire to run our own lives without God’s leadership. If we become converted Christians (we have allowed God to enter our heart and take control), then there is a difference inside of us, but we are still humans. Since we are still humans, we are prone to sin. It is therefore very important that we work with the spirit of God, that lives inside of us, to produce virtuous living. His spirit gives us the power to avoid much of the sin of this world but not all. If we have truly committed our life to God, then when we sin we will feel sorry for disappointing Him and will repent of this sin and turn from it. This repentance will include trying to make the sin right (if possible), and it will also include a real desire to avoid sin in the future. If we are not really Christians (we haven’t given our life over to God), then we can’t live without real sin. If we simply don’t believe in God, or if we are avoiding Him, we don’t have His Spirit and therefore have very little power to avoid sin. We simply do not have the power to overcome sin without the Spirit of God in us. In an unbelieving state, we cannot experience the peace of God, since we are not part of His kingdom yet. In this state we should fear hell; it is this fear that draws us to God. Some people believe that if our heart is right with God, we will serve Him out of love and not just fear. The Bible says that if we do two things we have fulfilled all the requirements of Christianity. Matt 22:37 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If we are trying to serve Him only because we are afraid of Him and what He might do to us, we do not really know Him as we should. We must know Him good enough to want to be close to Him, to view Him as a close personal friend, to love Him with all our heart and to be at peace with him. To know God is to love Him. He is so loving that if we are close to Him we cannot help ourselves, we fall in love with Him. If we hold our heart back, then we will not experience this closeness. God has said that we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart. Of course, being human, we do not love perfectly, but if we are Christians, there is a strong desire to do so. Sometimes we feel guilty and fearful because of the way we were raised or the way we think. If you have given your life to the Lord and you can detect that His spirit is working inside you, you can feel confident that if you come to Him, He will forgive you. If the guilt and fear continue, then it is possible that something in your past or in your thinking that is keeping you from feeling forgiven, even though you are. I strongly suggest that you find a good Bible teaching church to attend and talk to the pastor or a caring Christian about how you feel. Many times, if we just change our thinking in small ways, we notice big changes in our feelings and actions. You might also put your name on the prayer list, on this website, so that others can ask God to help you find the peace and assurance that you appear to desire.