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What Is Karma?

Karma is a theological concept found in the Buddhist and Hindu religions. It is the idea that how one lives one’s life will determine the quality of life one will have when one is reincarnated. In other words, if one is unselfish, kind, and holy during their lifetime, one will be rewarded by being reincarnated (born again into a new earthly body) into a pleasant life. However, if one lives a life of selfishness and evil, one will be reincarnated into a less than pleasant lifestyle.

The entire concept of karma is based on the theological belief in reincarnation. It is sort of a “you reap what you sow” idea with the reaping to take place in your reincarnated life. The Bible does not agree with the idea of reincarnation, so therefore, it does not support the idea of karma.

In Hebrews 9:27 it states, “And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this (cometh) judgment.” This Bible verse makes clear two important points which, for Christians, negate the possibility of reincarnation and karma. First, it states that it is “appointed unto men once to die…” Meaning that humans are only born once and only die once. There is no endless cycle of life and death and rebirth that is promoted in the reincarnation theory. Second, it states that “after this (cometh) judgment…” Meaning that there is no second chance, like there is in reincarnation and karma, to live a better life. You get one shot at life and living it according to God’s plan, and that’s it.

The Bible talks a lot about reaping and sowing. In Job 4:8 it says, “Even as I have seen they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” And in Psalms 126:5 it says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” And in Luke 12:24 it says, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”

In each of these instances, as well as all the other references to reaping and sowing, the act of receiving the rewards of one’s actions (reaping) takes place in this life, not in some future life. It is a present-day activity and the references make it clear that the fruit one reaps will be commensurate with the actions one has performed. In addition, the actions or sowing one performs in this life will affect one’s reward or punishment in the afterlife.

This afterlife is not a rebirth or a reincarnation into another body here on earth. It is either eternal suffering in hell (Matthew 25:46), or eternal life in Heaven with Jesus, who died so that we might live eternally with Him. And it is this life that our actions of sowing should be oriented towards. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:8-9, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Finally, we must always remember that it was Jesus whose death on the cross resulted in the reaping of eternal life for us, and that it is faith in Jesus that will gain for us this eternal life. It says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Therefore, we see that the concept of reincarnation and karma is incompatible with what the Bible teaches about life, death, and the sowing and reaping of eternal life.