05 January 2011

Paying for the wicked we have done

Here is a simple yet complex question. How much good does a person have to do to repay for the wicked they have done?

Can we ever make good for the bad? I would guess that this question depends on the perspective of the person who was wronged. For example, can a killer make good with the family of a person he killed? Can a liar make good with the victim he lied to?

Obviously both examples are on each end of the spectrum, but the question still remains. Can we make good for our bad deeds?

Which leads us to further ask, when is the bad made good? Who makes that call? The victim? The family of the victim? or how about the person who is trying to reconcile the bad?

In my 43 years on this rock, i spent the first 17 years being a good boy with the exception of normal teenage crap. The next 15 or so years, i spent some time in the Navy and living a lifestyle that most would call, un-christian like. The last 11 years i have been trying to renew my faith, live a good life, and walk the path my religion says i should.

When i started bringing religion back into my life, i started finding deeper meaning, a purpose for my life, and started to understand the difference between love and lust. All this, in my opinion, has made me a better man. My religion helped me get through some of the darkest days of my life. I always knew there was a reason for what happened and at times i walked by faith, not sight.

But those 15 years sometimes haunt me. I tell people that i have not always been a nice person. I did things back then, that when i think of them now, it shames me for the way i acted and reacted to situations. So how do we make good or atone for those bad actions.

How do we take back all the hurtful things we have said to others? I don't know if there is an answer.

When we answer to God for our actions, do you think it is like a scale? With all the good on one side and the bad on the other? Or do you think it is a list and the good will never outweigh the bad? One way or the other, we have to pay for those bad deeds. Whether it is here in our lifetime or the after life. Atonement must be made.

The Protestants tell me that Jesus died on the cross that my sins may be forgiven. I ask Jesus to forgive me, all is forgiven, and i am on my way to Heaven. My Priest says it isn't that easy. My Priest tells me that Christ died on the cross for mankind as a whole, to re-open the gates of Heaven, and allow us by Faith and Works, to works towards the ultimate goal of reaching Heaven upon our death.

He gave me an example; Let's say your neighbor builds a new house. The house is beautiful and you are jealous of his good fortune. One night, you take a can of paint and throw it on the wall of your neighbors new house.

After a few days, you start feeling guilty, and you go tell your neighbor that you did it. You agree to paint that part of the house and bring back the beauty of the new house. Although the new paint job covers up what you have done, the stain of what you did will always be there. My Priest said that the stain is like sins on our soul. We may cover them up, but they are always there under the surface. On the day of our judgement, those stains will be revealed, and then we will have to answer for them.

In my opinion, unless the person you wronged truly forgives you, those stains will remain on your soul.


Tawna said...

What's the point of a Savior unless we are actually forgiven of the wrongs we have done? I believe with the exception of murder (I think the Bible backs me up), we can be forgiven and made clean again from any sin. Do you think Christ would have agreed to have performed the atonement if he knew that in spite of his suffering, we would still be accountable for our sins?

Our actions make us who we are. You wouldn't be the man you are today were it not for your experiences in the Navy. I have not lived a perfect life; I have a son who was born out of wedlock. I've committed many other kinds of sins throughout my life, too. I try to continually be repentant. Can I forget that my son was born? No. I'm a more compassionate person because of my experiences. I'm a more insightful person because of my experiences. Would I recommend a life of sin in order to gain compassion? No, I believe there are better ways to develop one's character than through sin.

I think what matters is that we try to stay on the straight and narrow path, and try to constantly re-correct and be moving - however slowly - in the right direction. I think as long as we are repentant, and also making efforts to perform good works, Christ makes up the difference. I believe his promise in Isaiah that though our sins were as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.

Jess said...

God doesn't have to punish people. All God needs to do is give even the worst of the worst a conscience and allow them to punish themself.

I wouldn't worry about your past. It's as far away as tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Scripture tells us (in Hebrews 7:27 & 10:10, right off the top of my head) that Christ dealt with our sins "once for all." The word is hAPAX, meaning "once for all time." His sacrifice was not only sufficient, but also efficient to deal with all of your sins: past, present, and possible. We cannot possibly do good in and of ourselves (Isaiah 64:6 tells us that even our very best, most selfless deeds are as filthy as used menstrual cloths in God's eyes). The sin we are born into as well as the ones we commit are all dealt with when we place our faith in Jesus Christ to make atonement. We don't do good in order to be saved; we do good *because* we have been saved and we want to please God and be increasingly conformed to Christlikeness. I would recommend you read through Paul's epistle to the Romans for an excellent, logical treatise on salvation through faith by the grace of God.

Ray, if you ever have any questions you don't want to post here, you are more than welcome to e-mail me.

God's best to you and yours.

Eunoia said...

Other religions have things like Karma which have additive/subtractive properties. So in their system of beliefs, these things are indeed quantifiable, as your first question implicitly suggests.

So what can we learn from them?

Anonymous said...

Answer to your first question- yes, we can make good for the bad deeds we have done. The answer to your second question is none of the above. There is only one you have to answer to.

I do not agree with your priest. Although it is a good thing to get forgiveness from those whom you have wronged (mostly for you than for them) it does not determine in the least bit you course of direction in the afterlife. If you commit a sin/crime, it does not have any bearing on your afterlife of rather or not those on earth that were offended forgave you or not. It only matters if you are truly sorriful for your sin/crime in your heart and if you have repent for them.

Like you mentioned, some teach that you can sin on Friday, go to church on Sunday and all is forgiven. This is true but misleading at the same time. If you are truly sorry for your sin and you make every effort to sin no more, your good to go and you will not commit the same sin again. If you commit the sin again next Friday, you are not truly sorry for your sin only sorry you got caught. And this is one you will have to answer to standing before the pearly gates. Later.

Diane said...

I know this is late, but check out 1John 1-5, and with James - he is talking about faith & works - the faith comes first, and the works are a fruit of the faith that is in you. You are not working your way to heaven - You are doing the outflow of your faith. Sorry this is a poor way of putting it, but If you look in James 2 I believe, it talks of this.

Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Then you show your faith by your works. That's why James said faith without works is dead. i.e. just sitting there like a lump.

By the way, I took your recommendation for Monster Hunter International, and loved the book!