Question: Will I see my abusive ex-husband again in heaven? He claimed to be a Christian.
Answer: As you probably already know, the answer to your question is not simply a matter of what you or I (or anyone else) would like it to be. As Christians, we try to be faithful to what God has told us about heaven in His Word.
Let’s think together about three things that I believe will put your mind at ease.
1. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is an authentic believer.
Jesus Himself said, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Many who claimed to be Christians while they were here on earth will be surprised on the last day to find out that they were not. This could very well be the case with your ex-husband. Of course, none of us knows until that last day, for sure, who was and who was not an authentic believer.
Our own hearts are sometimes difficult to understand, let alone the heart of another. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). It sounds, from what you have said, like your ex-husband did not consistently display a godly lifestyle while you were together. However, it is possible that toward the end of his life he came to a saving knowledge of Jesus. (Remember the thief on the cross in Luke 23?)
On one level, you may find this to be a relief. But it is also a warning for us—that we do not assume we are Christians simply because we go to church or try to do good things. Authentic faith always leads to a changed life. If you have sins in your life that you have not dealt with, I encourage you to do so today. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:15). How sad it would be for you to worry about seeing your ex-husband in heaven, and then end up not being there yourself.
2. Every Christian believer in heaven will be made perfect.
John said, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Every one of God’s children will be made like Jesus Christ in heaven. We will be without sin. So, all of us—you, me, and your ex-husband—none of us will be made perfect in this life. We still continue to struggle with sin, all of us, to the very end. Sin will not be removed from us until we get to heaven.
So, if your ex-husband was a genuine believer, he will be a very different man from the one you knew. You do not need to fear seeing him in heaven. I suspect, if he is there, that he will want to profusely apologize for the many ways that he hurt you.
3. Heaven will be a place of joy, not pain.
In a vision John was given, he says about heaven: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
The first thing to say about heaven is that God Himself will be there! So that will mean joy for all who have loved Him and longed for His coming. But it also clearly means that there will be no sin in heaven. And since every cause of sin will be excluded from heaven, all the effects of sin—tears, death, mourning, and pain will pass away too. Your ex-husband, if he is in heaven, will no longer cause you grief, sorrow, or pain. These things will no longer be a part of your experience in heaven.
I hope and pray that you will be encouraged by these things. I pray that you will be able to reflect on these verses and see that there is nothing for you to worry about regarding your ex-husband. Either he will be in heaven, and be a very different man from the one you knew, or he will not be in heaven at all.
Warmly in Christ,