A few years ago a young man killed a girl and threw her body in a deserted area. He admitted the crime when arrested. He even took detectives to the body. When charged and prosecuted for the murder, however, he grew incensed. He considered that admitting the crime, then volunteering to reveal the location of the body would exonerate him.
In his book Operation Last Chance Efraim Zuroff found the same attitude in Eastern Europe when hunting former Nazis collaborators against Jews. It was “relatively easy” to draw admissions of guilt from those involved. Eastern European governments, including the Baltic republics freed from Russian domination in the 1990’s, expressed regret over the inhumanity of those years. They also apologized for the wickedness of their people in hounding and harassing Jewish civilians. But, both the individuals involved at the time, and the governments looking back at the time, considered that acknowledgements, regrets, and apologies were sufficient to protect them from judicial action.
That’s the killer-boy all over again. He’s the killer-Europeans all over again. They’re all the wicked sinners in every age all over again. Some of us only reluctantly admit we’re sinners. Some more freely. Some with no reservations at all. But how many of us admit we deserve God’s punishment beyond this life for our sins? After all, don’t we suffer enough in this world? Don’t we bear burdens now, some directly from our mistakes? Is it necessary for us to continue paying after death for sins we feel death itself should forgive?
Sorry, dreamers. As II Corinthians 5:10 makes clear, God holds us accountable at Judgment for every unforgiven sin. The only way to be exempt is to have Christ’s sacrifice forgive us. The only way we can be righteous before God is to be declared righteous by our faith in Jesus Christ.