I was reading a blog a few days back, and there was one comment from a conservative Christian that really stuck with me. Essentially, he made the claim that while he was an atheist, nothing prevented him from doing whatever he wanted. If he wanted to hit an innocent person, he did. If he wanted to hurt an innocent person, he did.
Now that he was a Christian and thus aware of the eternal consequences, he no longer acted as he might want to, but rather as God did. In his words, since atheists didn't think they faced those same consequences, there was nothing stopping them from doing whatever they wanted, nor was there any reason for them to stop.
The thing that really struck me about both of these scenarios is that the commenter doesn't demonstrate a sense of empathy in either case. He doesn't care who he's hurting, the pain they might feel or the humiliation.
And in the case when he's a Christian, the thing that's stopping him? Again, not empathy. Not the recognition that this is a fellow human being. What stops him is the threat of Hell. He doesn't want to suffer, and so he won't do whatever he wants.
(And, on an interesting note, if God truly had changed his heart, then shouldn't he no longer want to do the desires of the flesh/old man?)
If that's what prevents him from hurting others, then I'm all for it. But this isn't someone I'd want to maintain a connection with, nor be alone in the same room. Because the inference I'm getting from this is that he's not restrained by his lack of desire to cause me harm. He's restrained by his desire to not go to hell. He's restrained by a selfish desire, in terms of how the outcome would impact him.