Can We Enter the Kingdom of Heaven Now That Our Sins Have Been Forgiven?
Sunday August 5th, 2018. Cloudy.
After the meeting today, a brother came seeking me, his face filled with worry. He said that God requires people to be sanctified, but that he often involuntarily commits sin, and if he always lives like this in sin, then will he be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes? I told him that the Lord Jesus was crucified and that He took upon Himself all our sins, paying the price with His life. I said that our sins had been forgiven because of our faith in the Lord Jesus, and that the Lord no longer saw us as sinners, and that as long as we could give up everything and expend ourselves, work hard for the Lord, and endure till the very end, then we would be raptured up into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returned. After the brother heard me say this, he looked as though he hadn’t gotten the answer he’d wanted, and he left looking somewhat disappointed. As I watched him walk away, I felt some very complex emotions. To tell the truth, didn’t I have the same worries as this brother did? Thinking of how I had believed in the Lord for many years but had often been bound by sin, and had been living in a condition whereby I sinned in the daytime and confessed in the evening, I didn’t wish to keep living that way either. But I really wasn’t capable of overcoming sin, and so I often prayed to the Lord and strengthened my reading of the scriptures. And yet I never resolved the problem of my sins. The Lord is holy, so would He commend someone like me, so filled with sin?
Tuesday August 7th, 2018. Cloudy.
Today I had a quarrel with my wife over a trivial matter, and I feel both self-reproach and distress. How come I’m repeating past mistakes again? This evening, I wept as I prayed to the Lord and confessed my sins, and after I’d prayed, I still felt upset. I thought of the Lord’s teachings: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). These words are primarily asking us to love God with all our hearts and all our souls, and secondly that we have to love others as we do ourselves; brothers and sisters should encourage each other, be tolerant and patient with each other and give each other comfort and consolation. This is something we should do as Christians, and only in this way can we live lives which glorify the Lord and testify to Him. But over the past years of my belief in the Lord, I haven’t even met this one requirement: When at home, sometimes my wife and I quarrel over small matters; when at church and brothers and sisters say things that cause me to lose face, I start to feel prejudiced against them, and sometimes even ignore them. Most of the time, I pray saying that I wish to love the Lord, but when something unpleasant happens at home or some accident happens, I still misunderstand and blame the Lord, thinking “I’ve expended myself for the Lord so why doesn’t He protect me? …” Oh, nothing I do meets the Lord’s requirements nor conforms to the Lord’s will. Although I often pray to the Lord, I still sin often, and I cannot control it no matter how much I may want to. I often think: “Although my sins have been forgiven because of my belief in the Lord, I still always sin and displease the Lord. If I carry on this way, will I be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord comes? How can I stop committing sins?”
Recently, I’ve frequently consulted the Bible, and sought the pastors and elders out many times, but I’ve never gotten a satisfactory answer. This issue is directly linked to the important matter of whether or not I will be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and I can’t let it go no matter what. The Lord said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I believe that, as long as I have a seeking heart, then the Lord will surely enlighten me.
Sunday August 12th, 2018. Overcast.
This morning, after saying an earnest prayer to the Lord, as usual, I opened up the Bible and began my spiritual devotions. I then read a verse in Revelation that stirred my heart: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). The Bible is telling us clearly that those of us who haven’t been cleansed cannot enter into it, and doesn’t this “it” refer to the kingdom of heaven? Then I read chapter 7, verse 21 in theof Matthew: “Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” And also John 8:34-35 say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever.” As I contemplated these verses of Scripture, I thought that, although I’ve prayed to the Lord and read the Bible every day over all these years of my belief in the Lord, and have often spread the gospel and worked, given things up and expended myself for Him, I still knowingly commit sin, I sin and then confess, and I can’t adhere to the Lord’s teachings or practice what the Lord requires. I’m clearly not someone who does the will of the Father which is in heaven, much less am I someone who has been cleansed, so will I still be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven? The kingdom of heaven is God’s kingdom and God is holy, so how could someone who is covered in filth and who always sins ever be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven and live together with God? It seems as though entering the kingdom of heaven is not as simple as we imagined!
Monday August 13th, 2018. Cloudy yielding to sun.
Today, I bumped into Brother Zheng, who I haven’t seen for ages, and I was really happy to see him. As we chatted, I mentioned the thing that had been puzzling me all this time. After I’d told him about it, Brother Zheng gave me fellowship, saying, “Man’s sins were forgiven when the Lord Jesus was crucified, and when we believe in the Lord, our sins are forgiven and we are saved. But what exactly does it mean to say that our sins are forgiven? If we can understand this issue, then we would know why we still commit sin even after believing in the Lord and having our sins forgiven. When it comes to whether or not we will be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven, we first have to take a look at the background to the Lord Jesus’ appearance and work. At the end of the Age of Law, man was being corrupted more and more by Satan and was committing more and more sins, so much so that there was no longer any sin offering that they could make that would have sufficiently atoned for their sins, and people were in danger of being condemned and sentenced to death by the law of the time. Against this backdrop, God became flesh as the Lord Jesus and was crucified on the cross as a sin offering for man, and thus man’s sins were forgiven once and forever. Thereafter, so long as people prayed, confessed and repented in the name of the Lord, then their sins were forgiven, and they were no longer subject to the condemnation and punishment of the law. Neither did God see man as sinful any longer, and people could directly pray to and call on God, and enjoy God’s abundant grace and His provision of the truth. From this it can be seen that our sins were forgiven because of our belief in the Lord, and that what is meant by ‘our sins were forgiven’ is simply that God has forgiven us our sins of violating His laws and commandments and of going against His word. That is to say, the Lord will not remember our sinful deeds of violating and offending God’s laws. But our satanic dispositions and sinful nature, which causes us to sin, have not been forgiven by God, and it is precisely because our God-defying sinful nature and satanic dispositions continue to exist that we are still capable of frequently committing sins. It can therefore be seen that our sinful nature is something that is most defiant to God and is in opposition to the truth, and if we do not resolve our sinful nature, then the problem of man’s sins will be impossible to resolve, and we can even commit sins worse than that of violating the law, and entering into the kingdom of heaven will be utterly out of the question. The Bible clearly states: ‘But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16). ‘For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries’ (Hebrews 10:26-27). ‘For the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). From these verses I saw that if our sinful nature remains unresolved, and we still live in a condition whereby we sin in the daytime and confess in the evening, then though we may believe in the Lord till the end, we will still perish, for God is holy, and mankind which is filthy and corrupted is unworthy to receive God’s blessings and promises, and will be unable to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Right now, my heart feels somewhat brighter, and I understand that our sins being forgiven means only that the Lord has forgiven us our sinful deeds of violating God’s laws. But we have not yet resolved our God-defying sinful nature, so no wonder I can’t resolve it no matter how much I may want to, when I live every day in a state of sinning in the daytime and confessing in the evening! Thank the Lord! The fellowship I received today really was so clear, and I feel like the clouds have passed and I can finally see blue sky. As I was leaving, Brother Zheng gave me a book and said that all of his understanding came from reading this book, and I felt happy.
Wednesday August 15th, 2018. A clear day.
Thanks to God’s love, I’ve felt pretty good these last few days. From this book which Brother Zheng gave me, I’ve come to understand many truths that I had not previously understood, and it has undone my many years of confusion and bewilderment. I read in the book: “For, in the Age of Grace, the demons were cast out from man with the laying on of hands and prayer, but the corrupt dispositions within man still remained. Man was healed of his sickness and forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this does not mean that man no longer has sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”). “You only know that Jesus shall descend during the last days, but how exactly will He descend? A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of theof God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance” (“Concerning Appellations and Identity”).
Reading these words and then thinking of what Brother Zheng had communicated to me, suddenly everything became clear to me. It turns out that the Lord Jesus only did the work of redeeming mankind, thus enabling our sins to be forgiven and us to be saved through our belief; what He had not done was the work to totally cleanse and change man. Although the Lord forgave our sins, He did not absolve us of our satanic nature, and the corrupt dispositions within us, such as arrogance, selfishness, deceit and wickedness, continued to exist. These things are deeper and more obstinate than sin, and unless this God-defying satanic nature and these corrupt dispositions are resolved, we will keep involuntarily committing sin and defying God. This made me think of how we have always lived in sin. For example, in our dealings with others, we always want to take advantage of them and not lose anything ourselves; when we see others who are better than us, we often express the corrupt dispositions of jealousy and disobedience; we don’t say anything when someone displeases us, but our hearts become filled with hatred for them; when God graces us we feel happy, but when He doesn’t grace us we blame Him, so much so that when natural disasters or man-made calamities strike, conceptions arise within us about God, and in serious cases, we can even deny and betray God…. Every day, we live in this vicious spiral of sinning, confessing and then sinning again, like Paul the apostle said: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). If God hadn’t come Himself to perform the work of cleansing and changing man, then none of us would be able to cast off the bonds and constraints of sin, we would be overcome by sin, we would follow the evil trends of the world, covet the pleasures of sin, and nothing we lived out would have even a shred of normal humanity. Even people whoall their lives, or those religious leaders who know the Bible well and who have an encyclopedic mind when it comes to Scripture are like this—none of them can cast off the bonds of sin. So, even if we could have our sins forgiven a thousand times, ten thousand times, we would still not be qualified to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Thank the Lord! These words are so precious, and they have resolved this issue that has perplexed me for so long. So how exactly can we get rid of sin? Will this book have a way to do this? I must keep reading …
Thursday August 16th, 2018. Overcast turning sunny.
In the afternoon, the sun managed to shine through from behind thick clouds. I’m sitting in my library as I carry on reading that book.
I give thanks to God’s enlightenment and guidance! Within this book, I’ve found the way to cast off the bonds of sin: “The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”). “Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. And so, after man was forgiven his sins, God has returned to flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment, and this work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and shall gain the truth, the way, and the life” (“Only He Who Experiences the Work of God Truly Believes in God”).
When I read these two passages, I suddenly saw the light: As it turns out, if we want to cast off the bonds and constraints of our satanic and corrupt dispositions, we must accept God’s work of judgment in the last days and then our corrupt dispositions can be changed and cleansed, and only then will we be qualified to see God’s face, attain the complete salvation of God, and live forever in God’s kingdom. I couldn’t help but think of something the Lord Jesus said: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12-13). And these prophecies in the Bible also came to mind: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). As it happens, the Lord Jesus long ago prophesied that He would come again in the last days and would perform His work of judgment in order to utterly cleanse and change our corrupt dispositions, and allow us to gain all truths and attain the complete salvation of God. But I was so ignorant and blind; I didn’t make the effort to contemplate or seek the Lord’s will within His words, but instead I held to my own conceptions and imaginings, believing that the Lord Jesus had taken our sins upon Himself, that our sins had already been forgiven, and as long as we gave everything up to follow the Lord, then we would be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now it seems that if the problem of us committing sins is not resolved, with our bodies filled with filth and corruption, we will ultimately be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven, just as it says in this book: “You must know what kind of people I desire; those who are impure are not permitted to enter into the kingdom, those who are impure are not permitted to besmirch the holy ground. Though you may have done much work, and have worked for many years, in the end if you are still deplorably filthy—it is intolerable to the law of Heaven that you wish to enter My kingdom! From the foundation of the world until today, never have I offered easy access to My kingdom to those who curry favor with Me. This is a heavenly rule, and no one can break it!” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks”).
These words carry authority and power, and I understand that God is both merciful and loving, and yet He is also the righteous and holy. God does not permit filthy, corrupted man to enter into His kingdom, and if our sinful nature is not cleansed and changed, then even if our sins have been forgiven, and on the outside we appear to do some good deeds and we give everything up, expend ourselves and work for the Lord, our dream of entering into the kingdom of heaven will forever be just a dream!
The clouds really have passed and I now see the sunlight! I now know at last that those of us who have attained the Lord’s salvation have only had our sins forgiven and have been redeemed, but we have not rid ourselves of sin. We must still accept God’s work of judgment in the last days and be cleansed, and only then will we be qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven and attain eternal life. This precisely fulfills what was prophesied in the Book of Revelation: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defiles, neither whatever works abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). Thank the Lord, for at last I know how to rid myself of sin!
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