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Friday, April 08, 2011

Unjust Consequences

It used to bother me a great deal. I knew that God promised eternal torment to unrepentant sinners. I knew that Hell was for eternity. I got all that. But ... why? How was it a just consequence that a life of temporal sin would result in an eternal punishment?

There came a time that it dawned on me that I was thinking about it all wrong. I was equating the time of the sin with the time of the punishment, and that made no sense at all. With that kind of thinking, the courts would say, "Well, it took him 10 minutes to kill the guy, so he is going to spend 10 minutes in prison." Of course that makes no sense. We all understand that the punishment for a transgression isn't based on the time it took to commit it, but the heinousness of the crime. Theft can be done just as quickly as murder, but they receive radically different consequences because theft is against property, but murder is against a person. (As a side note, if we're going to argue that human beings are simply biochemical bags, the product of Evolution, then our current system of justice is going to have to be revolutionized because terminating the life of a biochemical bag called "human" would be no more egregious than terminating the life of a biochemical bag called an ant. Just a thought.)

So, we understand that the seriousness of the crime determines the penalty. That's clear. We got it. So I came to think of sin as not merely "doing bad things", but in terms of Treason. And not merely in terms of Treason like it would be against a nation, but as Treason against the Most High -- a sort of Cosmic Treason. And while Treason against a temporal nation is punishable by temporal death, Treason against the eternal God would be rightly punishable by eternal death. Okay, I guess I see that.

But I still didn't get it. I mean, I thought it was clear, and I was good with that, but it has become much clearer to me as time has progressed. Consider this. If the purpose of the universe is to glorify God (Psa 19:1; 1 Cor 8:6; Heb 2:10; 1 Cor 10:31), then what does this tell you about the worth of the glory of God? You see, we're human. Being both finite and sinful, we can't even fully grasp the glory of God and we fall short. The crime is monumental. The affront is vast. It is an assault on God, His glory, the entire universe. As bad as some crimes are that we recognize, this one eludes us in its magnitude. And since we tend to side with fallen Man rather than Sovereign God, we can, when faced with the specter of eternal torment, begin to think, "That's not fair!"

Don't go there. You don't want "fair". It is not justice that you seek. The stark demands of justice would require that each and every one of us spend eternity in torment. If that sounds harsh, you've missed the enormity of the crime. Maybe, just maybe, if we can begin to pay attention to the vastness of God's glory and begin to get a taste of it, we can begin to see how far off we are and how right Hell is. Then it wouldn't be Justice that we desire. It would be Mercy that we would crave, and salvation would breed overwhelming gratitude.


Dan said...

I've been going to church for pert near two decades. I've heard only one sermon on Hell. That might explain why the gratitude factor in our salvation has deteriorated so much; and maybe even what has propagated the entitlement mentality in our society.

As a new Christian I began to realize early on the butterfly effect of my sins.

Stan said...

"Pert near"? What are you, from the South? (Oh, yeah, you are. Never mind.)

It was Jesus who said, "He who is forgiven little, loves little." It isn't a stretch at all to see that we've managed to minimize our sin problem enough to make loving God a small thing.

jeremy boddie said...

Many people think that God burns people eternally in hell but is that what the bible teaches. How would a son look at his father after his father took his finger and put it over a stove for 10 seconds. We are supposed to have a healthy fear of our father not a scared fear. Any loving sinfull father would not do that to his son no matter how many time he disobeyed. That not punishment that's being cruel. If a sinfull human father would not take his sons finger and burn it for 10 seconds despite many chances Why Would Our perfect heavenly father burn our souls eternally in hell fire.

Aside from that the bible teaches us what happens to us when we die. Think about it if the wicked dies and goes to he'll that mean everyone would have external life bad and good people. But the scripture say that those who believe have external life John 3:16

Eccl 9:5,10. The living no conscious that they will die but the dead are conscious of nothing at all

When adam eventually died god said he will return to the dust.

Romans 6:7 he who has died has been acquitted from his sin. The punishment of sin is death not eternal torcher

Life after death only is possible for those going to heaven

Stan said...

All well and good, Jeremy ... except that some of the clearest teachings on the eternal torment of hell come from Christ (Matt 3:21; 25:41; Mark 9:44-49; Luke 16:23-24). Revelation 20:10 indicates the wicked are "tormented day and night forever and ever". Jesus calls it "eternal punishment" (Matt 25:46).

The eternal torment of sinners doesn't feel good ("that's being cruel"), but it is biblical and it is in alignment with the enormity that is the Cosmic Treason of sin.