Can We Sin in Heaven?

tree-of-good-and-evilFew people today find apologetics to be a stimulating pasttime. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the efforts of the apologist to be met by a yawn, or a quizzical look. But for those inclined to ponder inponderables, dialogue with another seeker can be quite rewarding. Recently, I took on the subject of whether we can sin in heaven, in response to a question that we received at PleaseConvinceMe:

1. If evil exists because love is a choice, then can there be love in Heaven where there is no evil? By the time we get to Heaven our proclivity to sin will be removed, but if sin is not an option, can we still use our freewill to love God? Can we have freewill in Heaven if we cannot choose whether to love or to sin?

2. Will we have a proverbial tree of good and evil in heaven so that we can still actively choose to love God after our sinful natures have been removed? If we do have an ability to sin in heaven, as Adam and Eve had in the utopian garden of Eden before sin entered humanity, then would we swap eternities and be sent from Heaven into Hell?

Here are my ramblings on the topic. I’d be interested in hearing yours.

To begin to respond to your question, it is important to make sure we are using words in the same sense. For instance, “love” can mean many things. Here, I think we are referring to the concept of “willing the good of the other.” Inclining your will toward the good of another is, of course, a choice. No one can force me to direct my will in a particular way. I can be forced to do an act, for example to help someone, but if my will is not inclined toward their good, or if I am simply indifferent, it would not be “love.” So, love does require a choice on our part, and while actions can be compelled, true love cannot.
The Bible also speaks of love of God in terms of following His commands. (See John 14 and 1 John 5) So, we might say that freely loving God requires that we direct our will toward obeying His commands.

Let’s take evil and sin next. You state that God allows evil to exist so that love can exist through choice. Drawing from Augustine, Aquinas and other Christian thinkers, it is important to recognize that “evil” is not a thing that exists. If it were, then God, who created all things, would be the creator of evil. But God could not have created evil, for that would make Him the source of evil, and therefore evil Himself. Instead, “evil” is the label we apply to the corruption of the good. It is not a thing, and therefore was never created. It is the extent or degree to which we have used our free will to depart from God’s will, by taking what He has given us (all of which is good) and corrupting it. On a practical level, we see evil, in the form of acts that are taken, as “things” but what we are seeing are acts of free will that constitute evil because they violate God’s law and nature…

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PleaseConvinceMe Blog: Can We Sin in Heaven?

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Recommended Resources: Heaven; by Randy Alcorn | The Great Divorce; by C.S. Lewis