<p> A Biblical Perspective of Karma: Does the Word of God speak of karma?</p>

Written by Paul J. Bucknell on March, 14, 2023

A Biblical Perspective of Karma: Does the Word of God speak of karma?

“Does the Word of God speak of karma? Must we face karma?”

Although many hear the word ‘karma,’ many do not understand its meaning. The Bible powerfully addresses the essential issues of life, sometimes more vaguely or indirectly. The Bible does not mention the word karma, meaning ‘action’ in Sanskrit, popularized by Hindu and Buddhist thought, but provides much understanding about the world perspective it represents.

Karma is most often understood as the curse which falls upon a person due to one’s former life, assuming reincarnation to be true. Karma is connected to fate because one believes the results of one’s present life are due to how one lived in a former life. One’s present life is evidence of wrongs done in one’s past life. One cannot change one’s fate but only hope to improve things for one’s next life.“(Hinduism and Buddhism) the effects of a person's actions that determine his destiny in his next incarnation.” (Online Webster Dictionary).

Eastern and Western Worldviews

It’s important to understand that karma is part of the eastern worldview. It’s a cycle, not a life cycle, but a vicious judgment cycle. Karma, seen in one’s life, is judgment for past wrongs, especially lowly forms of life. Hindus and Buddhists seek to escape from this cycle. They don’t want to be reborn but for their souls to be released.

Christians, because of the Bible’s teachings, also believe the way one lives life on earth is significant, but the similarities stop there. Reborn or being born again (John 3) is about people finding salvation in Jesus Christ. Christians know their sins will condemn them, and so they seek salvation in Jesus Christ. Judgment will come, but we will be protected through our faith in Jesus and live eternally with new bodies in a newly created heaven and earth. Instead of escaping from life, Jesus offers a rich life through belief in Him.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

God’s truth exposes these false assumptions, gives us the correct understanding and offers true hope. And though millions believe in karma, their belief misleads them and keeps them from searching for hope in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. 

Let’s use the Bible to examine three terms that support the belief of karma. Karma depends upon reincarnation, accountability, and judgment, three ideas the Scriptures speak much about. Though they will overlap, it’s helpful to distinguish them.

Reincarnation or Resurrection

The Bible speaks of the resurrection of a new body rather than reincarnation, one’s person reappearing later in another life form. The Bible instructs us that each person will experience judgment once, having only one life on earth. The Bible does not speak of a past life nor the opportunity of returning to earth for another life at chance.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27).

From Hebrews 9:27, we find the idea of reincarnation to be false. People, rather, “die once” and after that comes judgment. Though there is a coming judgment, men and women do not return to earth to live again. Nor does their penalty or judgment for their wrongdoing consist in living again, regardless of the life form.

God, in contrast to Grecian, and Eastern thought, teaches that the body is good. It’s our sin, what we do wrong with our bodies, that brings judgment. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries” (Mat 7:21). There is no impersonal and fearsome cycle of life as the eastern philosophies teach. The body (i.e., flesh) is not a curse but a blessing; even Jesus took on a physical, human body.

Biblically, everyone will come alive in a new body to face their judgment (see Mat 25:31-46).

45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mat 25:45-46).

Their judgment and rewards will affect their welfare forever, giving no further opportunity to better their circumstances. Eternity follows the above judgment scene, either to eternal punishment or eternal life.

Karma-caught in the grasp of one's wrongdoing: Discover forgiveness in Jesus!


People generally accept the idea of accountability. They believe the wicked will face judgment and those doing good will be rewarded. (Many modern-minded reject morals altogether.) This general sense of justice and ethical duty (i.e., knowledge of doing good) comes from being made in God’s image, and His sense of justice is evident in our consciences (Rom 2:15). Our choices matter, especially in how we treat others. This is the basic reason we have religions rather than merely philosophies. People sense their wrongs and hope to find spiritual hope and comfort.

Most people think of morality as a natural, built-in principle of life. It’s important because we need to discern what is good and bad. The eastern religions leave people in the dark. Without God’s teaching, they guess what is good or bad. God, however, has instructed us on what is good and bad. (In case you missed it, we are all bad and sinful—Jer 17:9).

So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord. (Lev 18:5)

To be sure, the Bible often speaks about the general judgment of evil-doers and the reward of the righteous.

5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. (Rom 2:5-11).

Hindus and religionists see karma and reincarnation in a negative light. Why? Well, if they somehow passed the test (and were saved), they would not be reincarnated. Their soul  (i.e., their spiritual part) would be released to join the ‘world soul,’ losing their individual existence. Paul, contrarily, uses God’s Word to affirm our guilt, and beckons us to believe in Jesus before meeting our Maker on Judgment Day.

The Scriptures bind the vital concept of accountability to the Creator God with judgment when they meet Him on Judgment Day. 


Judgment to many of us in the West is clear. Judgment is personal, bears on our eternal designation, and is overall fearsome due to our sin.

"And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”” (Rev 16:7)

Judgment results from failing in our accountability before God. He entrusts us with our bodies, time, gifts, and opportunities—all contributing to our identity and purpose. We, however, at times choose to do unloving and selfish things. On Judgment Day, God our Maker judges us.

Hinduism and Buddhism, without a Creator God, largely see any retribution for one’s wrongdoing as part of the operations of the universe or from one of their many gods. (Hinduism has many different beliefs.) God the Creator, however, claims all responsibility to exercise His full justice.

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Rom 12:9).

God is a personal being. Sin is an infraction of His rule and expectation. Paul elaborates how the Law and our conscience become the means God uses to notify people of His expectations. With karma, there is no judgment or person to be accountable to. They believe in a mysterious process of impersonal judgment. It just happens. And this is where the ‘fate’ idea again pops up. Even Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, early on despaired of hope on how to break this perpetual life-death-reborn cycle. 

The Scriptures, speaking the truth, powerfully teach us of our personal accountability before God. 

One Step Beyond

The Scriptures speak not only of judgment but of how God saves! God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the dark world that people try to flee. People are not reincarnated, but God became human in Jesus Christ (i.e., incarnation). There was no way to save people but to die for their sins and hide them in His own righteousness. We might think of it as Christ hiding us under His righteous robe. Belief in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of our sins, belonging to His eternal family, and hope of Christ’s work in your life through His Spirit in you. 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).

Study Questions on Seeking God

  1. What are two differences between the general western and eastern world views? (Please remember, we are not including those influenced by materialism.)
  2. What is reincarnation? How do we know it’s not true?
  3. How is resurrection different from reincarnation?
  4. To the eastern worldview, why is the body a punishment?
  5. Explain how the eastern and western world views of moral accountability are similar.
  6. How does each group’s understanding of judgment differ?
  7. Why do those in the eastern mindset want to escape this world and not be reborn?
  8. How does Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God, help us?



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