Your Inner War Will End
How Heaven Frees Us from Sin
Article by Marshall Segal, Staff writer, desiringGod.org
Imagine a life without your sin. If you hope in Christ, one day you will walk out into a world in which it will not be possible for you to sin anymore. Not only will temptation itself have fallen extinct, but any molecule in you that might have possibly been drawn to sin will have been surgically removed, never to materialize again. Your new body — new heart, new hands, new mouth — will never meet the sin you knew so long. Your lifelong plague will be lifted.
You cannot imagine how sinless you will be, and just how exhilarating it will be to be finally free. The sin that remains in us has made us deeply, unshakably suspicious of ourselves. To date, we have lived only on the unstable ground of a real but unfinished righteousness. Every thought, every word, every act of good has been tinged by the dying coals of our iniquity. Some part of us, however small, has pulled the other way — selfishness, laziness, insecurity, fear of man, greed, lust, doubt.
But imagine, for a moment, a world without your particular besetting sins. Without any of your sin. Not only will you never again commit these sins, but no one else will either — ever.
Nothing Unclean Will Enter
When we walk the streets of the new and lasting earth, we will search, high and low, in vain for sin.
We will roam neighborhoods, and never envy our neighbor — or be envied by him. We will walk in and out of homes, in and out of conversations, and never encounter another whiff of anger. We will eat meal after meal, each more delicious and meaningful than any we tasted on earth, and yet never feel another unhealthy craving for more (or another stomach full of guilt).
We will visit city after city filled with activity, creativity, and industry, and yet never uncover even an impulse toward selfishness or greed. We will wander through the whole world, and yet never resent what we do not have or have not done yet, and we’ll never wish we had more than someone else. We will live through weeks, in and out of work and rest, and never again be tempted to laziness. We will work, but never toil. We will enjoy rest, but never slide into sloth.
We might browse the Internet (or whatever glorified technology we have), and yet after a billion searches never find anything online (or in us!) that would lead to lust. In fact, we would never find anything that did not give our hearts far more pleasure in Jesus than anyone ever found in pornography.
“Nothing unclean will ever enter it,” Revelation 21:27 says of the new earth, “nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” John saw the home God will build for us, and it was immaculately free from sin. Nothing unclean will ever enter or disturb our eternity with Christ.
All Causes of Sin
The sin that once ruined the world has already lost the war for the universe, and one day it will be forcibly removed from every home and family, from every neighborhood, from every government and nation, from the whole earth — and from you. When Jesus describes the end of the age, he says,
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41–43)
The Son will not only exile sin from his new kingdom, but he will remove even every cause of sin. Nothing in heaven will ever tempt us to sin.
If we will be sinless, never even tempted to sin, why would God have to remove the causes? Because, in his wise plan and perfect jealousy, the glory of a world without any temptations must exceed one filled with conquered ones. The staggering silencing of all temptation will forever prove just how sovereign our King is over every movement and desire in his kingdom.
Before we take even one step onto the new earth, everything that might have destroyed us will have already been destroyed. The blessings we enjoy in Christ here will come to fuller, deeper, stronger fruition. And all the warnings against sin will fall away — not because sin would be any less serious, but because sin will have been wiped out completely.
Oh, That Day
And not only the sin out there — in our relationships, at our workplaces, on the Internet — but the sin in here. Each of our sins really does come, not from some brokenness out in the world or in someone else, but from within us (Mark 7:20–23). Sexual immorality, adultery, and lust; murder and anger; coveting and envy; deceit, gossip, and pride — they all find their root, their cause of causes, inside our own hearts. And when we see our King, he will hurl every wayward impulse or desire or habit into his fiery furnace.
It’s no wonder, at all, why the words of Robert Robinson still resonate so deeply in us three hundred years later:
Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood-washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day
Perhaps the sweetest hope of a sinless heaven is a sinless me. This work-in-process, often-wandering son of God knows how tenacious sin can be, even forgiven sin. So I savor the words of 1 John 3:2: “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Actually seeing King Jesus — real shoulders, strong enough to bear the world, real eyes, filled with electrifying fire, real hands and feet, pierced to pay our debt, a real smile, warm and wise and sure — seeing him, really seeing him, will be so surprising, so exhilarating, so satisfying, that it will be purifying.
Seeing him as he is now will make us someone we have never been before.
Oh, Today When Freed from Sinning
Knowing that we will see him one day will make us someone different today. John’s next line connects the hope of future sinlessness with our current fight against temptation.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)
Or as Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart [today!], for they shall see God” — and be made purer still. The hope of heaven has everything to do with the war against sin, because we know how this war ends and who we will one day be. Every inch of progress we make is an inbreaking of our great hope, our future self, our promised land.
As we wait for heaven and fight our sin, we are meant to look back, in horror, at how God has hated and judged sin throughout the Bible (1 Corinthians 10:6). And God means for us to look forward at just how sinless we will be, knowing that nothing impure in us will survive seeing him. And then, with eyes behind us and before us, and with God for us and in us by his Spirit, to go and sin no more.
Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have a son and live in Minneapolis.