It’s a staple of due process in the American Judicial System: all people are presumed innocent until they can be proven guilty. Not only is it an important concept in the judicial system but also in everyday life. For if someone accuses me of something, I expect them to be able to prove that I in fact did it before I’m going to willingly take accountability for it (unless I know I did it of course). I’m thankful this is the way we operate in America because it’s the best way we can pursue justice in a broken world.
Although this is the best way we humans can enforce justice between each other on earth, I think it’s important we recognize this should not be our viewpoint in how we relate with the Holy God of the Universe…
Many of us have bought into the lie that we are entitled to God and the benefits that come from knowing Him just because we are “good people.” By the world’s standards, being a “good person” would seem to be adequate enough. I mean, how can God possibly not accept us if we’re innocent of all the MAJOR offenses? In our eyes, we’re innocent until God can prove us guilty of something truly “heinous.”
This line of thinking is backwards however. For “heinous” in our eyes (on a human-to-human level) is wholly different than what God’s view of heinous is. For in our view, we all could be deemed “heinous” (for we all offend and hurt each other on some level) AND AT THE SAME TIME we could all be deemed “good” (for we all were created in God’s perfect image and do some level of goodness to one another).
Where do we draw the line?
The Bible tells us ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3: 23) and none of us deserve to be in communion with Him (Romans 6: 23) . Thus, we are all already GUILTY before God and there’s nothing we can do in our guilty state to change that by our own power (Ephesians 2: 1-10).
God is holy and pure, and because He is holy and pure, He cannot even look upon sin and evilness (Habakkuk 1: 13).
Thus, the question of “How can a loving God send ‘innocent’ people to hell?” is totally backwards and misleading–for God cannot even look upon the guilty and none of us are innocent!
The real question then is “How can a perfect and holy God allow guilty people into Heaven?”
For we are all guilty. We don’t deserve God. We all deserve hell…
But thankfully, that’s when God’s love and compassion comes in. For He loves and cares about us so much that He doesn’t end the story there! Rather He came down to earth Himself–through His Son Jesus Christ–to cleanse us from all guilt, from all sinfulness, and from all shame, so that we might be called INNOCENT in His eyes forevermore (John 3: 16)!
“Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 3-8)
It’s not enough to just know about this great gift, however. We must respond to it with a repentant heart, a faithful spirit, and a humble attitude (Romans 10: 9). Only then are we given the privilege of coming into relation with Him.
And nothing compares to the greatness of that…