Having the Holy Ghost and Going to Hell

I was reading a book today, and it was very convicting. In fact, I went through our movies and pulled about 15 out to be thrown away. I was happily surprised to see how many I didn’t have to throw away because the standard was pretty stiff.

Maybe I should be convicted about just how many we have.

The book, The Great Gospel Deception, was good for me. The conviction hurt. I needed it.

But one thing struck me hard, I felt depressed. I laid down for just a few minutes trying to sort out whether it was further conviction and, if not, to wonder why it bothered me so.

The author suggested that people who watch movies that have sex scenes in them aren’t saved. He gave some really good reasons. We dosn’t watch sex scenes. We own a DVD player (ClearPlay) that filters movies so that it’s like watching a TV version. Today, I threw away movies that had sex scenes or flirted around too much. I agree they’re not worth watching, even with a filter.

There was a time when I struggled with pornography, You might as well know; most people who know me know. I confessed it to the church (the men at least) and my wife. In fact, sadly, I had to make that repentance twice.

I was teaching at the time. I was a Christian that people looked up to. It took the help of friends to bring me to control my lusts and be obedient to God.

Was I unsaved that whole time? If so, did I suddenly become saved without knowing it by repenting for that sin and turning away from it? (I guess using “repent” and “turn away from” in the same sentence is redundant.)

I don’t think so. I think I had the Holy Spirit. I think I did a lot of things in the church that were giftings of God. I had long periods of repentance and obedience, and I had long periods of ongoing sin.

I’m certain I am not the only one who has lived like this. In fact, I have a friend who wrote a book about deliverance from secret sins, and in particular pornography, so there’s at least one other. He’s public about it, too.

We all know that he and I are not the only ones.

I do, however, have to agree with the writer that I was probably headed to hell for long periods of my Christian life.

Whenever I was practicing that kind of sin, I wondered. Jesus said that if you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have already committed adultery in your heart. Those who commit adultery don’t inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5). It’s as simple as that. I know, at least on a surface reading of Scripture, I should expect to be condemned at the judgment.

How Could a Christian Be Condemned at the Judgment?

The standard answer is that people who think they are Christians will be condemned at the judgment. We have an example of that in Matthew 7:22-23:

Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ 23 Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

I don’t agree with that answer. I don’t think the apostles or the early churches agreed with it, either.

Therefore, brothers, you are not debtors to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you will die. However, if, by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the flesh, then you will live. (Rom. 8:12-13)

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. Whoever sows to the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. Whoever sows to the Spirit will reap everlasting life from the Spirit. Therefore, do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap [eternal life], if you do not lose heart. (Gal. 6:7-9)

Yes, I know I added the words “eternal life” in brackets in that last Scripture quote, but that’s because I want you to look at the context. Paul just says reap in v. 9, but reap what? Most of you probably have a word you would insert after “reap,” but it wouldn’t be “everlasting life.” The context, however, demands “everlasting life.”

I don’t know how you can read those two passages without reading that Christians are being told that they have the power to live by the Spirit, but if they live by the flesh instead, they can expect to die, and that means spiritually. Even those who put to death the deeds of the body are going to die physically. Romans 8:12 is not about physical death.

If you want to dispute that, don’t. You are among those whom I don’t want to comment on my blog. If you can’t see that Romans 8:12 is not about physical death, then you’re not looking, and it’s a waste of time to discuss anything with you. Instead, put a comment that says, “I’m blind, purposely, please pray for me.” It will help you. There’s some very godly and effective people of prayer who read this blog.

If you have real, honest questions, feel free to ask them.

Think about the “therefore” that is in Romans 8:12. As a lot of preachers have told me, “When you see a ‘therefore,’ find out what it’s there for!”

“Therefore,” in the case of Romans 8:12, is there for verse 11, which says that if the Spirit is in you, then he will give life to your mortal bodies. If you go all the way back to the start of chapter 8, you see that Paul is telling the Romans that the Spirit of Life, the one that is giving life to our mortal bodies in verse 11, has delivered us from the body of death as described in Romans 7. If walk in the Spirit, if we set our mind on the Spirit, then the righteous requirement of the Law will be fulfilled in us, and the peace of God will be in us.

So in Romans 8:12 Paul is addressing people who have the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit in you has given life to your mortal body, then you are no longer indebted to that body. Don’t live by it. Instead, put its deeds to death by the Spirit that dwells in you.

Simple enough to say; much harder to do.

And it’s much harder in this age that tells you that if live according to the flesh, you will live.

It’s not true.

Here’s another passage like it. Peter tells us to add virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). (So much for “don’t add to your faith.”)

It’s what he says afterward that’s so surprising.

Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble. For thus you will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:10-11)

There’s no doubt in this passage what “these things” are. He uses “these things” twice in verses 8 and 9, thus tying the knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love that we add to faith to “these things” in verses 10 and 11.

The word “thus” means “in this way.” “In this way” you will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal kingdom. In which way? By doing “these things.” It will make your calling and election sure.

So who is supposed to add to faith?

Clearly Peter is speaking to Christians. Christians are the ones who have faith, and we are to add to our faith if we want to make our calling and election sure.

So What If We Don’t Add to Our Faith? What If We Sow to the Flesh Instead?

Does God really have to take the Holy Spirit away from us if we start practicing sin? I know people quote some verses about God being of too pure eyes to behold sin, but if the Holy Spirit can’t be where sin is, then we’re all toast. Jesus hung out with sinners, remember?

The Kindness of God

I know modern evangelicals hate that idea. Most of them can’t conceive of the idea of a Spirit-filled Christian beginning to practice sin, then dying and going to hell. Obviously, at some point, that means the Spirit has departed from that person, even if it’s on the way to the judgment, but the whole idea has never even been thought about by most people, except maybe some radical Pentecostals. They’re usually not afraid of the word works, and they can acknowledge that the judgment is by works, not by whether God granted you the Holy Spirit.

Why would it be bizarre if God gave you every chance to repent and be rewarded with an entrance into his kingdom?

If you fall into practicing some sin that could condemn your soul to hell, which dozens of Scriptures (some given above) says is possible, why should God take his Spirit from you and completely ruin your chances of repenting? God is kind. He wants you to come to repentance, and your best shot is for God to continue to deal with you by the Spirit.

If you harden your heart, he will have failed, and your time in hell, whether you are instantly annihilated or tormented forever (I still can’t come to grips with that doctrine), will be your fault. He will have done everything, pleading with you from outside through brothers and from inside through the conviction of the Spirit to bring you to repentance.

Think of King David. He was living in adultery and guilty of murder until the prophet Nathan came to him. He repented, and the judgment of God came upon him, but only the temporal judgment of God. Eternally, his soul was saved.

What if God had removed his Spirit from David like he removed his Spirit from Saul? David’s heart surely would have hardened, and no repentance would have been possible to him.

James writes, “Brothers, if any of you err from the truth, and someone converts him, then let him know that the one who converts the sinner from the error of his ways will save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins” (5:19-20).

Paul warns the believers at Corinth, “We shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to receive the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

“Do not grow weary in doing good,” he tells the Galatians, “for in due season you will reap [eternal life], if you do not lose heart.” How are they going to not grow weary and not lose heart if they do not have the Holy Spirit to empower them?

Continuing in sin without repentance clearly carries the judgment of not inheriting or entering the kingdom of God. Whether you have the Holy Spirit or not, if you harden your heart to “the least of these,” you will be one of the accursed sent by Jesus into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (hopefully to perish eternally, rather than to be tortured eternally).

That’s how it is. Preaching something different to Christians is not nice or sweet. It is not going to help them. Our modern Gospel that tells us that God will kindly forgive us when we are looking at pornography every day, or living in selfish ambition and the pursuit of “piles of cash” every day, or blowing our top every day, or gossiping (slandering) every day–that’s not nice. That’s a lie.

You may not be able to resolve those problems by cutting off a hand, and I doubt Jesus was hoping any of us would cut off a hand or cut out an eye, but you need to cut off something: friends, job, lies from the modern gospels … something!

Get free. We have changed the gospel, so it lacks the power that Paul’s Gospel had. Our gospel only sometimes reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith, so we turn the New Testament on its head, claiming it says things it does not say, in order to excuse the lack of power.

We need to repent, go back to saying what the apostles say said, like “add to your faith” and “walk worthy” so that you can walk with Jesus in white and not have your name blotted out of the Book of Life.

The thought will frighten the socks off us, but if we lament, and mourn, and weep it will do us good because it will motivate us to cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. It will motivate us to “pursue” holiness, rather than claim we have it even while we are living unrighteously, so that we may see the Lord.

Note to self: I owe people some references from the early Christians on this matter.

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16 Responses to Having the Holy Ghost and Going to Hell

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hello. In regard to being “in sin” means you may be headed for hell, I am reminded of the definition of “a sin” as opposed to “practicing sin” as a habit of life. I believe that a person can struggle with sin yet still be in Christ. Where that line is between being in Christ vs having rejected Christ by that behavior, I do not know. Possibly when you no longer have the conviction of sin. I surely do not want to find out. It truly comes down to who/what you follow. Sow to the flesh, you will reap corruption. Sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life. Thank you for your blog and your honesty. Very edifying 🙂

    • paulfpavao says:

      Thanks for your comment. Paul said “practicing” the works of the flesh would keep us out of the kingdom of God. Americans are always asking, “Well, if that’s so, where’s the line.” Part of me wants to say, “How should I know? Ask Paul. He said it.” The answer, though, is that Americans need to get used to the idea that no line will be defined for them. Walk in the light, obey Jesus, and his blood will continually cleanse you from every sin, says John. Walk in darkness, however, and it won’t be so. Where’s the line? Don’t get anywhere near it, and you won’t have to worry about it.

  2. Jon says:

    It is surely correct that the Holy Spirit will exhort us in different ways at different times. Speaking personally, it is usually not either the comforting encouragement or warning of judgement God that convicts, but simply the sheer fact that something is wrong and needs to be repented of (or that something I’m not doing is right and needs to be repented to).

    Paul, I found this comment of yours interesting.

    “However, I’m sure some of the fainthearted and weak read what I write, feel like it’s directed at them, and they simply feel punched in the gut by me, not convicted by God.”

    I wouldn’t say I find this with your writings these days (largely due to the positive email correspondence I have had with you) . However, I would definitely say that about the stuff that the author of the book you linked above writes. I fell into a black depression after stumbling upon his website (over 6 years ago now) and even today find it very unbalanced, even though much of what he says is true.

  3. paulfpavao says:

    For those reading, let me give you a little context. John is a dear friend and brother. We belong to the same church, and he is the office manager for my business.

    Okay, that said …

    I suppose that “we love him because he first loved us” should be sufficient motivation for all of us. It would be awesome if that worked for everyone.

    It doesn’t, though, and I needed a healthy dose of fear to overcome. I believe I had a healthy dose, not an unhealthy one.

    Addictions can be like that.

    • benjamyn24 says:

      Some need fear and others a dose of love.
      We cannot say what He cannot be to us, just that if we are his, He will handle us as He sees fit. I think that may be one reason David was considered a man after God’s heart. I’ve needed both at times.

      • paulfpavao says:

        I once did a study on the Greek word “parakaleo.” It is translated exhort, beg, plead, encourage, comfort, and several other words. I read every verse that had “parakaleo” (the verb) and “parakletos” (the noun). Finally, I decided the word means, “To use any verbal means possible to get someone to do something.”

        The Holy Spirit is called THE “parakletos,” which is usually translated “Comforter.” Theologians often just call him “The Paraclete,” leaving the Greek word untranslated. By my definition, the Holy Spirit is our helper to coax, cajole, comfort, beg, plead, exhort, and even sternly rebuke and frighten us–whatever works–so that we became what God wants us to be.

        “Warn the unruly; comfort the fainthearted; help the weak; be patient with everyone.” (1 Thess. 5:14)

        “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Cor. 5:11)

        Well said, Benjamyn.

    • Makes sense.

      When I’ve thought about it more, even now, walking up and dwelling on it, I’m like, “duh, you’ve changed plenty out of having God’s wrath scare the tar out of you.”

      I feel like the most long lasting changes are the ones where we really let him deal with us as a Father… A truly loving father. In fact, I would believe that we’re saying the same thing.

      The Father’s judgments are all to help us become what we’ve been made to be. They’re never spiteful or cold like mine. His judgments and kindness are the same. He is love, and nothing but love will come from him.

      And sometimes that love will make us very afraid and get up and repent.

      Just thinking out loud here

      • Wanda Tillman says:

        “The Father’s judgments are all to help us become what we’ve been made to be. They’re never spiteful or cold like mine. His judgments and kindness are the same. He is love, and nothing but love will come from him.

        And sometimes that love will make us very afraid and get up and repent.”

        Amen and Amen
        ‘Lord I believe; help my unbelief’ because without Your help I simply am not strong enough. I believe in You; but need help believing in myself and the thought that I can be what you made me to be. Only the Father’s Love can give us that strength; the strength to abandon the desires of the flesh, grow and reach out to the Spirit, despite our fears.

      • paulfpavao says:

        Communication in the internet is important, but difficult.

        Part of the problem is in my last comment. We are to warn the unruly but encourged the fainthearted and help the weak. I direct a lot of posts at the unruly because they’ve created a lot more false doctrine than the fainthearted and weak have.

        You’re none of the three, so I don’t worry about you. However, I’m sure some of the fainthearted and weak read what I write, feel like it’s directed at them, and they simply feel punched in the gut by me, not convicted by God.

        It’s so hard to know what to do because I believe the false doctrine needs to be weeded out. It slays people spiritually. I need a meter on my blog that is continually counting higher with a caption that says, “4,100 goats slip into hell every day thinking they are sheep.”

        That’s 300 million people in the United States, 70% of which claim to be Christian, and 60% of those say they are not growing or backsliding. If each of those 60% of 70% of 300 million people live to 80 years, then 4109 of them will be dying every day.

        And that’s assuming that the 28% of Americans who believe they are godly, growing Christians really are, which we all know is not remotely true.

  4. You know, I’m going to say something converse to your last comment here… When I really think about it, It’s never been fear of the judgement that has caused any great repentance in me. It’s always his kindness. His relentlessness in coming at me, claiming me despite me… it’s driven me to repentance over and over.

    The call of my Father to “be who I am made to be.” wow… what a call. I am an adopted son. These sins I’ve practiced, these evil deeds, they have no place on a son. It’s like opposing magnetic fields. It’s not made for us. We’re made for fellowship with the almighty, and the works of the flesh won’t cut it.

    Maybe I’m a wuss, or maybe I’m arrogant, but thinking on the judgement has never produced anything but fear in me. Thinking about my Lord and his amazing, mind boggling goodness, however, has blown my mind and caused me to run screaming from my sin when I’ve realized just how far I was from his presence.

    Hope that made sense.

  5. Ruth says:

    Wow Paul this is hard not necessarily wrong but hard. Mercy triumphs over judgement? I know that is for the believing and repentant but it gives me hope because defeat is a sin like any other directly related to unbelief. Maybe we need to be focused on God s good intention towards us and His will in us to both will and do the work to be done and to bring us to repentance and righteousness. I m counting on it.

    • paulfpavao says:

      It is hard. I have experienced the mercy of God being showered on me even during times I was practicing sin. I don’t want to compromise the Scriptures, though. God, obviously, foresaw that he would deliver me, and perhaps he even regarded my contempt for myself as repentance.

      However, it was fear of judgment from God that drove me past my fear and shame to make a public confession and ask for help. I was not “caught.” Had I not let the Scriptures slap me in the face, I don’t think I would ever have confessed, and I don’t think I could have obeyed on my own. “Exhort one another daily, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

      The fact is, it was important for me to be delivered from my lack of vulnerability, and perhaps God used a shameful sin to deal with my closed heart. Again, though, without knowing the righteous judgment of God, I don’t know that I could have pushed past my fear of people.

  6. Very thought-provoking article, thanks 🙂

  7. Wanda Tillman says:

    Many thanks for the links to related articles. Very illuminating!!

  8. Wanda Tillman says:

    I am reminded here of a passage from Ezekiel in Ch 3 verses 17 through 27 and also in Ch 33, where Ezekiel is being charged with being a prophet and a watchman to Israel, and it is explained to him that if he is aware of a transgression or sin and and does not give warning about it, then he [Ezekiel] is as guilty of the offense as the person who commits it and his soul is in danger. If he gives warning and that person chooses to not listen, that person will pay the penalty, but that Ezekiel’s soul will be saved because he was faithful in performing his task.

    One of the teachings of Jesus was that he came to fulfill the law not obliterate it. He is our example of how to live that our soul might be saved. Jesus certainly had faith, but he also did works to further the belief (faith) of those around him. How can we do otherwise without putting our souls in danger?

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