Is there good in Lord Voldemort?
Well? What do you think? Is there good in Lord Voldemort? I recently got into a debate with a friend who argued that there is, indeed, good in Voldemort, however small its presence might be, and that if redemption was ever possible for Voldemort, it would be through belief in that good that's within him.
For those of you who don't know him, Voldemort is the villain and self-proclaimed Lord from the Harry Potter series. Voldemort's goal is the genocide of the non-magical world (and anyone who would attempt to side with them). For the sake of this blog post, all you really need to know is that he's a bad dude, an Adolf Hitler-ish individual.
My friend argued that there is some good in Voldemort, based on the fact that Voldemort started out as a child of unfortunate circumstances - the unloved and orphaned Tom Riddle. Because he was a victim of circumstances, in my friend's argument, it means that Voldemort is not through and through evil (even though his actions might be). So what do you think? Does that mean there is some good in Voldemort? And is that good the key to Voldemort's redemption?
It's an interesting question because it quickly brought our debate from the world of Harry Potter to our own world, raising questions on the topic of the redemption of fallen humanity. Are we redeemed by believing in ourselves? Do we find salvation by tapping into the good that lies within us? Does God save us through the spark of good that he has put in our hearts?
Although there are several ways of answering this, I'd like to give the Bible the first word. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). Let me quickly unpack that and we should have our answer.
(a) By grace - Through God's undeserved actions toward us
(b) we have been saved - redeemed from sin, rescued from punishment
(c) through faith - through trusting (and as Galatians 2:16 makes clear, trusting Jesus, not ourselves!)
(d) This is not your own doing - your redemption was not accomplished by you!
(e) it is the gift of God - it is, from start to finish, an undeserved, unearned gift from God
(f) not a result of works - you neither accomplished it by the good within you or earned it by the good you've done
(g) so that no one may boast - God has done it this way so that no one who rightly understands their salvation can boast of it, as if it is their doing; Christians have no reason to be proud or arrogant, since their salvation has nothing to do with them!
So, are we redeemed by believing in ourselves? No! We are the ones who got ourselves into a place in need of redemption. We are redeemed through belief in another - Jesus Christ. By faith we grab hold of and receive redemption from Another.
And do we find salvation through tapping the good that lies within us, so that we may "climb out" of our sinful state? No! As the offspring of fallen humanity, we are bankrupt of good and, as Martin Luther put it, our will is by nature bound (enslaved) to sin rather than good (Ephesians 2:1-7). We are redeemed by the goodness of our Redeemer, not by the spark of good within us. Our salvation begins with the realization that we are bad and incapable of doing anything about it, because only then will we begin looking away from ourselves for a savior.
Now, there may be some of you who are professed Christians and don't view your salvation this way. That doesn't mean that you are not a true Christian. BUT it does mean that your interpretation of your salvation is faulty, which undoubtedly affects your relationship with God and others.
Finally, let's get back to our original question about Voldemort. Let's blend worlds with Harry Potter and say Lord Voldemort came to you with the same question as the Philippian jailer, "What must I do to be saved?" What would you say? I hope you wouldn't say, "Voldemort, there is good in you. Believe in yourself and you will find power to overcome your egomaniacal, wicked ways." Voldemort's belief in himself is what led him to be a egomaniacal, blood-thirsty villain. If there is any hope for Voldemort's redemption (and there is), it does not lie within him, but within the grace and power of Jesus.
And the same is true for you, reader. Even though you are most likely nowhere near the depravity of Voldemort, the difference is only in degree, not in kind. As Paul (Eph 2:1-10) and Jesus (Luke 18:9-14) and Peter (1 Peter 1:1-5) and John (20:31) agree, salvation comes through looking away from yourself and putting your hope of salvation in the mercy of Christ, not in yourself.
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This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.