How many people are trained by fear to produce moral behavior instead of growing in grace? Fear is a powerful motivator. The most powerful... but not the most productive.
"Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;" - Luke 6:37 ESV
Many say that if you hold a grudge you will go to Hell based on this verse others believe in a karma type system that insists that if a person acts a certain way then the forces of the universe set in motion a series of events to make sure a person gets a taste of their own medicine.
Then there are the 'weeping teeth' passages. I like to call them that anyway...
"When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 8:10-12 KJV
"So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 22:10-13 KJV
"But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 24:48-51 KJV
"And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:" - Matthew 25:30-31 KJV
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." - Matthew 25:1-13 ESV
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." - Matthew 7:22-23 KJV
Some look at these verses and say, 'See! God casts his servants into outer darkness if they do not do the right things.' but the point is missed entirely. These aren't salvation passages so much as damnation passages.
Behavior isn't the issue when it comes to salvation. Knowing Jesus is the issue. Knowing Jesus gives us a white garment. Knowing Jesus fills our lamps with oil. Knowing Jesus is the difference between 'doing many wonderful works' in God's name and being a wonderful work that God has produced.
God never uses a fear that has torment to motivate change... never ever. If we have never experienced forgiveness then we can't forgive and forgiveness is cut off from us. If we try to dress ourselves for the feast then we have a deep problem because we haven't made a true transaction with God.
Forgiving isn't how we get forgiveness. Seeking oil isn't how we get oil for our lanterns. Not lusting... not lying... being diligent... these things don't impress God. Our righteousness is filthy to God. Rags used to contain a mess are just dirty rags.
"On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." - John 7:37-39 ESV
All of the 'weeping teeth' passages were given to people who could not yet experience the Spirit because He had not been given yet. They would. Jesus didn't lose anyone.
So if anyone tries to scare you into being better and claims that God is behind it don't believe them. If you use that tactic on yourself knock it off. It isn't the Gospel. No one has ever been transformed by fear. True change has only ever come by awe and love.
Turn to Jesus and you will turn away from everything else also. It might take time for the ugly things to drop away but they will.
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," - Titus 2:11-13 ESV
Grace will change us into the new person God has made us to be. Our effort only gets in the way.
This morning I see Jesus and my lamp is suddenly filled with oil. Just like the water was turned to wine. Just like the oil that is produced in the olive tree's olives.
"The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. ... But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." - Romans 13:12, 14 ESV
I see the righteousness He has given me and I put the armor on as if it is a wedding garment. It all comes from God. It is free of charge.