No one wants to go to heaven. This “innocent person” who just “wants to be with God” doesn’t exist. Before the conversion of a man’s heart it is only ever seeking after its own good and personal pleasure. Humbling itself before a holy and righteous God is the furthest thing from that mindset. We all want to be validated for our sins and to feel justified in our thoughts, intentions, and actions, but we don’t want an authoritarian figure to exist at all because, if one does exist, it could tell us that we’re wrong. The more you learn about scripture, the more you bathe yourself in it and allow it to teach you, the more you see that this is true.
Look at the Jews in the wilderness – the minute that the tower of fire and the tower of cloud went away, and only one generation after they were fed daily in the wilderness, that their clothes and shoes never wore out, and that all of their needs were met – once that generation of people who physically saw and experienced that were in the ground, they started following their own desires and seeking their own plans. God had literally wiped out the people who lived there before them, and they responded to this by seeking out the demonic worship of the people who lived there before and self-worship that they wanted in their hearts all along.
There’s only about 1-1.5 generations between a great act of God and rebellion. Read through Judges if you want a window into the heart of man – read the book of Judges.
When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers.Judges 2:6–13 (ESV)
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.
These literally are the genetic descendants of Abraham – whose fathers and grandfathers were fed by God in the wilderness, who were the children promised to Abraham when he had only one “official” child, in the land that God had promised to Abraham, and this people turned from the faith of Abraham and sought the “gods of the land” – they went after the things that the people in the area had known, thinking that they knew better how to appease the “gods of the hills” and the “gods of the valleys” in Canaan so they could get the best crops and get peace. They forsake the God of all CREATION – who created the WORLD AND ALL THAT’S IN IT, for the “gods” of a specific set of hills. Why? Because that one would probably let them do whatever they wanted.
Look at every one of these people – God allows them to live their lives to their own worship and to their own plans for their own glory.
Each of the stages in Romans 1 were led with God allowing, or giving people up, to whatever they wanted – and why? Because they, of their own desires, refuse to acknowledge him. They won’t, but he allows them to do it on their own, and those whom God allows to do anything on their own, using their own sovereign free will, only ever end up seeking their own worship and their own desires.
Now, look at those whom God has saved – it’s clear that God interferes with their lives:
God violates the “free will” and “free heart” of man which follows after whatever it wants to its own glory, and changes that heart by inserting his Holy Spirit. He regenerates our seared consciences and turns us from our self-worship to, first, acknowledge the authority of a creator, then to understand the commands of the creator, then to bring us to the point of sorrow over our sin where we see our lives in reflection of this perfect and holy God. Once that’s taken effect in the heart / soul of a man, then it works on the mind until we can do nothing else than to ourward repent of our sins – but even this is just the capstone on a building that God has been creating in our hearts – a temple within us to our God and King, not made with hands – of our own desires and plans to worship God – but by his own actions to his glory so that he, not us, is the one to get the glory for the transformation in our hearts and minds.
IF, therefore, in the kindness of God, he allows people to pursue that which they most want in the world – their own self-worship (today known as humanism) – no matter how they frame it, calling it Christianity, or whatever, and he knows that they are only seeking to gratify their own desires but they wrap it in this “religious” coat, but this self-gratification is what they want most in the world. So God allows them to do so, to pursue the deepest desires of their hearts. Their consciences which reflect God’s character and nature scream at them when they sin, but they don’t care because it’s merely a whisper against their real god – their own desires – and therefore when they die, none of them can say that they “didn’t know” that they shouldn’t do those things which led to death.
So, those who pass into hell are doing so because God is allowing them to go to hell. The thing they want most is validation and to be left alone, so God gives them their hearts’ desire.
But for some people, those of the elect, we don’t get that. We don’t get to experience our hearts’ desires, nor do we get God leaving us alone. He interferes with our lives – he reaches into our chests and removes our sin-hardened hearts and replaces it with a heart that can hear his commands. He transforms our thoughts so that we no longer long to seek for our own desires, but instead we desire his thoughts, and his desires. He conforms our views to his views, and reveals to us the breadth and depth of our sins against him, and the impact of that sin, then, when we can stand it no more, our mouths erupt in repentance – revealing a faith which we’ve had since God first converted our hearts, but now can no longer be hidden within us.
And eventually, our thoughts, now God’s thoughts, and our desires, now God’s desires, are revealed in new decisions and new actions from a changed heart and the rest of the world can’t ignore this change within us.
That’s the true picture of what salvation looks like, and how God handles the sin of mankind. God doesn’t play “duck duck goose” and randomly pick people to save while maliciously choosing to condemn the rest – but God, choosing to allow his creation to live life as they want to live it, will allow them to do so – even if it means that they will ultimately be condemned, but because the heart of man only wants to serve itself, he chooses to save some and does so in a way that only he can get the glory for that conversion, because if it were up to us, we’d only worship ourselves for our “decision to follow Jesus”.