Hell and Holiness

The doctrine of hell is one that I have always excepted because it is in the scriptures and its reality is clearly taught by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. However to be perfectly honest there have always been reservations about it. Even the simple questions that the liberals ask would often come into my mind, ‘how can a loving God condemn sinners to hell?’ Or why does a simple lie, or an outburst of unjustified anger justify eternal punishment? These are honest questions. Now, I have not doubted hell’s reality, nor have I questioned God’s authority to cast people into hell, but I have questioned why it must be so sever. The answer I always receive whether from brothers in Christ, or in prayer is that it is all about the ‘holiness’ of God. Now I have accepted that to be true, but nonetheless until last night I had not grasped it in a way that I could understand, or even begin to understand. I mean, I have been through all the arguments about a just God not being able to forgive sin, and that if sin enters heaven then heaven ceases to be heavenly. Moreover I have understood that arguments that God is pure, so to unite with impurity would cause Him to be impure, nonetheless eternal physical hell as a means to separate the sinful from Himself seemed to go beyond His purposes, until last night. You see it is all about the holiness of God.

My wife has never abused illegal substances in her life, I have. The likelihood of me being sympathetic to someone who has ruined their life with drugs is far greater than the likelihood of her being sympathetic. A converted murderer is far more likely to be sympathetic to a murderer than someone like myself would be. You see we can sympathize with sin because in some sense we have committed the very same sins as other people. Even in the case of murder, we have had the same anger in us that leads people to murder. In the case of rape, we have felt the same lusts that drives a man of no self control to rape. In the case of embezzlement we have had the same wicked love of money. When it comes to sin, we are sympathetic, because we have sinned. The further a sin is from the type of sin we have committed, the less sympathetic we are to it. However, the more we are like the sinner in question, the more sympathetic we are to them. I hope this make sense. So for us to see it as normal and acceptable for a liar to go to hell if all they have done is lied is difficult, because we all have committed this wickedness.

God is Holy, He is not like us, He has not even committed the slightest of sin, and there is no reason within Him for sympathy with regards to sin. He is perfect, He cannot just look at sin with understanding, because in a sense He does not understand it. He cannot sympathize with it, because He has not committed it, nor ever even come close to committing it. Sin of even the most menial type is altogether foreign and atrocious to Him. No wonder He casts so many into hell, and rightly so, He has no reason, nor should He, to sympathize with sin. He is Holy!

Now the fact that He would send His Son to be tempted in all places, and to actually take all of that abominable sin upon Himself in order to grant us forgiveness is utterly unthinkable. Why would He bother? Because He is love! What an amazing truth, and it is absurd to think that anyone would reject Christ in the light of God’s Holiness and love, and yet rejection abounds, as I too was a Christ rejecter like the rest.

Anyway those are my thoughts for today.

((Added later)) - This post is worded a little poorly in that it would seem that prior to this post I had not come under the conviction that I deserved hell. I came under that conviction 8 years ago, and the Lord dealt with me and graciously saved me for His glory. Still over those eight years I could not quite understand the conviction, I knew what I deserved and that I offended God, but I could not grasp it with my intellect. My heart understood it, my mind did not, they both do now.

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