This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Does God Let Us Get Away With Stuff?

i just came across a verse that i don't know what to make of:

"For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD's commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite." (1Kings 15:5)

Really? David never messed up except with Uriah? What about the other people who were hurt?--Bathsheba and the baby and all the people David made a party to his crime? i know we could say, "well, 'in the case of' is general and covers the entire incident and everyone involved." Okay, fine. But what about letting his men eat the show bread? What about taking that census near the end of his reign? And what about what history doesn't record?--surely David sinned other than just the one awful weekend, right?

There may be ways to textually resolve all this. But the question it really raises in my mind is how God judges us in total. i've heard a lot of guys try to explain away all the polygamy in the Old Testament, but i have never gotten over the gut feeling that either it wasn't wrong at all, or else God just plain let some of those guys get away with it. And listen, polygamy is just one example. Read the OT and some of the men's lives recorded there. They are heralded as heroes of faith, and yet some of them were jerks (Jacob or Samson are pretty good examples).

So here's the question that's interesting to me: Do we really have to do everything right all the time? Is it possible that someone could die having never repented of certain behaviors and yet still be eternally safe? Is it possible there are sins i will be sinning for the rest of my days and never change and nevertheless be redeemed by Christ on the last day?

i used to tell myself that it was about an attitude of repentance. And i'd say that's basically how i still understand things--that as long as a person who's in Christ maintains a disposition of penitence (and thus, growth), that they are safe and can know they are safe and are in no danger at all eternally. This means that perfection is not required, but nor is it okay to live in sin.

But what do you want to say about men in the Bible who seem to have sinned impenitently even up to their deaths? i know the cards that a lot of people play when dealing with these questions:

The Ignorance Card -- Well, we honestly don't know whether or not they'll be in heaven or not because it doesn't tell us. So it's not our place to assume they're saved for eternity.

Historical Service vs. Personal Salvation -- Well, look, all those guys were servants of God in the sense that they were used by God to fulfill His historical purposes for bringing about the grand scheme of redemption, but this does not necessarily imply anything about their individual salvific statuses.

Those points are fine and good points, and i would still present them as possibilities myself in the discussion. The problem i have with playing these two cards is that (1) they're merely strategic and (2) they're only possibilities.

(1) They are strategic in the sense that a person who plays these cards is basically already committed to saying that no one could be personally saved if they died with sins-unrepented-of. But that presupposition is, itself, in question here.

(2) They are possibilities in that they are speculative, and they are no more or less a legitimate possibility than is the fact that at least one of the historical individuals in question truly did die with sins-unrepented-of and yet was still eternally safe.

It still seems like a live option is that someone like David (especially when you think about 1Kings 15:5 in view of several other passages in which his actions seem sinful) had sins that even though he didn't repent of them God didn't count them against him.

What does this mean? What would it imply about salvation for individuals today? Anything? Nothing?

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