Saturday, June 7, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:12 -- On Avoiding Damnation

"That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
2 Thessalonians 2:12

As good as God is, we sometimes think we can avoid the reality of negative consequences for our actions.  We want God to save everyone, and for everyone to prove good in the end.  We love stories of redemption, and to see that even the worst people might have a good side and a desire to come back to the light.  We love it when Darth Vader becomes a good guy by turning to the light in the end.  :)
Please don't misunderstand me... God is indeed good, and it is true that in almost all cases, we can be redeemed, if we turn around.  If we come back to God.  But it is that "if" that stands in our way... and perhaps there is also a point of no return.  A point after which we cannot turn around--where we become "past feeling."  I don't know where that is, and really only God can say how far is too far, but I would definitely not follow in Darth Vader's footsteps or count on that kind of extreme deathbed repentance.
I think that the point here, in this verse warning us of damnation, is that we really have to change how we view the world.  It isn't enough by itself to just say sorry or stop doing evil.  We have to believe it is wrong, and also feel that it is bad.  And that is hard sometimes.  We don't always get there immediately.  We can trust God that it is wrong and stop doing it, which helps us not find pleasure in it.  But sometimes we still want to, or we take pleasure in the memories of when we *did* do it... so, at some point, I think we also have to learn why... so that we don't want to go back, so that we don't resent God taking whatever it is away from us.  ... Eventually, our heads and our hearts have to agree with our actions.  In addition to avoiding bad things because God says so, we have to ask God to teach us *why* something is bad, so that we believe not just in God's judgement, but in the *truth* that it is bad.  Then, perhaps, we understand the lesson completely, and can also teach others.
Today, let's avoid damnation. :)  Let's not do bad things, and let's also learn why they are bad, and understand on a level where we can also feel they are bad and not find pleasure in them.  That kind of understanding doesn't often come quickly, especially when we spent a lot of our time convincing ourselves the bad thing was okay to begin with.  But as we look to God for wisdom and understanding, he can teach us truth even in areas where we have been reluctant to learn.  The lesson might be uncomfortable or even painful, but I promise that it will be much better than damnation. :)

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