I have been reading your website for a few days when someone introduced me to it. I read the below Question & Answer for: I am old and have been away from the Lord for a long time. Can I ever reach heaven now?
I have always wondered about this for a long, long time. I won't say I'm a Christian (or a practicing Christian) though I believe in God and know what He expects (I think anyway) from me. I am a 22-year-old man and was brought up, raised, and baptized in the church likewise. But I'm young and also now that I'm independent (my own house, good job, money, girlfriends). I don't want to live the Christian life for now and just want to do what I feel is right ( women, sex, holidays, having different partners).
I just would like to enjoy my youth and adult life before I get old. I have seen too many miserable Christians. I do not want to live or be like that. Some who regret it maybe they should have lived a more balanced life and not just rely on or follow what God says for everything or follow the Bible through nit and grit -- e.g. not fornicating, having casual sex, experiencing having different boyfriends or girlfriends, etc. I have met a considerable amount of older Christians who do sometimes regret not enjoying their youth -- e.g. by staying pure and holy for the Lord.
I have always said to myself once I get to be an old man I can then and be willing to turn to God fully. Pray for forgiveness, repent and stop my sinful ways and obey God fully. As with this man I too would like to go to heaven before I die when I get old.
I totally agree with what you wrote in reply, which you said "Being a Christian is about changing your life. It doesn't matter if you change early in life or late. What matters is that you change."
I know once I get to be old I will certainly change and turn to God. I know God is real and God is loving and faithful but as for now at 22 I don't think I can or want to live for God. No way. I want to live my life and once I'm old I'll turn to God. And at least I can look back at my life and know I enjoyed my youth and adult life.
"Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, "I have no pleasure in them"" (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1).
It is interesting how people only see what they expect to find. While citing the prior letter of the elderly man who wants to go to heaven, you completely missed the simple fact that as he looked back on his life of sin he regrets what he had done. Because you want to sin, you look at it and think, "Great, I can sin and change later." But there are a number of flaws in your plans.
You assume you'll live a long life. It is a common assumption among the youth, but one that is inaccurate -- especially for a person given over to sinful living. Sins contain a lot of risks that tend to shorten a person's lifespan. "The fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened" (Proverbs 10:27). For example, you are caught up enjoying sex with whoever and whenever you wish. I can guarantee that sexually transmitted diseases are low on your list of concerns, but multiple sex partners mean a very high probability of catching these diseases, several of which have no cures. "Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away" (Proverbs 6:32-33).
You also assume that you'll change your mind later. That is not a given. You don't notice the contradiction in your position. If sinful living is more balanced and better for a person, then why change? How can you turn to God fully when you are convinced that following God isn't enjoyable? Yet, you know that the life of sin you have chosen is wrong because you won't enter heaven while involved in these sins. Your current plan is to sin, but in your later life, you only plan to change your behavior.
Repentance is changing your mind about sin and changing your behavior. As it is, you have no plans to ever truly repent.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Sin is contrary to godliness. God is willing and able to forgive the sinner, but you have no such desire.
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:4-10).
Sin is a trap. You may continue to think that one day you'll leave it, but today is never a convenient day to change. Much like the smoker, who says he can quit any time he wishes, quitting sin is always in the future and never comes. Eventually, you'll die, sooner than you expect, with all those plans undone.
There is an assumption that the sins that you plan will carry little or no consequences. You don't see the elderly man wondering if he can get to heaven because he is seeing the result of his life of sin. Farmers understand this matter better. They know that if you plant a corn seed, you don't get a crop of wheat. You get back what you sow. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Galatians 6:7-8). You think you can plant a life of sin and not see any impact from it. And there is another farming fact that you are overlooking. No farmer plants a seed and expects to get a seed back. He plants with the expectation of getting back much more than he put in. "They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). When you plant sin, you get consequences -- consequences that are far out of proportion to the amount of sin that you committed.
The life you are living means you will never know love. You won't have a wife who is completely committed to you and will be your companion for the rest of your life. Why do I say that? Because such women are not interested in men who are uncommitted to them and bounce from woman to woman and think they can bed anyone they please. You'll have children, but you'll see them grow up in broken homes. You'll think of them as drains on your income and not as precious gifts from God.
Another flaw is the view that being righteous is somehow a miserable existence. God's laws don't harm people, they make life better because they keep the followers from making serious mistakes.
"And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).
"Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:11-14).
"My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you" (Proverbs 3:1-2).
"For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (I Timothy 4:8).
Life without laws is chaos and anarchy. What a silly and blind notion that you can only have fun by sinning. "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalms 16:11). I've lived the life of a Christian. I have a great deal of fun and I can do it with a clear mind and a clear conscience.
I don't know of any Christians who find living a godly life miserable. I've never met a man who regrets that he didn't get drunk more often or stoned one more time or committed fornication more often. What I see all the time is the opposite; people who look back on their lives and wonder how they could have been so dumb as to think that sin would make their life better. Even in the hardships caused by the world's rejection of godliness, the joy of holiness remains a stable foundation. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:24-27).
I can't stop you from your self-destructive behavior, but I will ask you to remember what I told you as you move through life and see your house of cards collapse around you time after time.
May I say firstly many thanks for replying?
I do not see these as flaws as the fact remains that he is changing at his old age, which is what matters. Of course, he can look back now at his age (over 70 years) and regret it. He somewhat didn't before in his youth though he knew the life he was living wasn't right (as I am doing I believe). I for one don't need to be a Christian nor God to tell me that adultery and killing are wrong.
Sir, may I also say that you also assume I wouldn't live long. Neither you nor I know. I don't live in a third-world country and I don't involve myself in blatant dangerous activities. e.g. I'm not a drug dealer or a burglar, etc. OK, granted I may get run over by a car or something, but that would just be because of someone else's dangerous driving or I was just unlucky. I wouldn't have been run over just because of the sinful lifestyle that I'm currently living. It would neither be God nor Satan's fault. It's just life.
I also always practice safe sex and, yes, diseases are possible, but if you are careful they are highly unlikely. Also, there are many medicines for many STDs anyway. As long as I don't contract AIDS, then I'll be all fine. I also do not sleep with prostitutes or strippers. So I believe I'll be fine.
Also, this elderly man stated he knows he willingly was away from the Lord. He could have changed in his youth, but he didn't. Hence, I don't see the reason why I can't do the same. I do understand what God says, but God is loving and forgiving and I know He will forgive me also like this elderly man.
You say I have no such desire to change. So how do you know that when this elderly man was in his youth whether he also desired or not? You don't and can't know for sure either.
I know you care and you are warning me, but I am not going to waste my youth on godliness and be miserable when I see countless people who turn to God at a later stage in their lives, which they believed it was the right time to turn knowing they have lived and enjoyed themselves.
By the way, statistics show that people are living longer lives due to advances in medical science, so I don't see why I wouldn't live long. Only if there is a war or something in this country and when there is a war both Christians and non-Christians all die. God will not miraculously save Christians.
All in all, I do understand that if I die an untimely death, then it changes things, but I believe that is highly unlikely. Will I regret the way I would have lived when I get old? I'm sure I'll have regrets, but as long as I make heaven, then it all won't matter because I'll be in heaven and also wouldn't have that long to live anyway because I'll be old.
The fact still remains as you stated if I happen to live to old age, and I do turn from my ways, God will forgive me as he will forgive this elderly man. Right?
Sadly, what I see is a young man who thinks he can game the system and pull a fast one over on God. The reason I said that you won't repent is that I see no fear of God in you. "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil" (Proverbs 3:7). It might change in the future. The disasters you are setting yourself up for might actually shake you one day. However, this doesn't often happen. The typical path is complacency. You think that because you are getting what you want, therefore, you are fine as you are.
"Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.
"If I had said, "I will speak thus," Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me -- until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.
"Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image" (Psalms 73:12-20).
The most likely thing that will happen is that you'll continue to delay until you run out of time.
"Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God"" (Luke 12:16-21).
"Therefore hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one; lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner; and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say: "How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! I was on the verge of total ruin, in the midst of the assembly and congregation"" (Proverbs 5:7-14).