This is the fourth in a series of posts on hell. The first two posts set the foundation for the answers presented here.
Question: Why cannot God merely forgive people? He asks us to forgive others, but then does not do so Himself.
Put simply, God does offer forgiveness through his son Jesus, but people do not want to accept that route. It is as if a husband has committed adultery and left his wife, and the wife says “I’ll forgive you if you forsake your girlfriend, come back home, and promise to be faithful to me.” But the husband says, “I don’t want to forsake my girlfriend. You’re being evil for not forgiving me and letting me have half your paycheck.” We want to enjoy God’s blessings without giving honor to God or spending time with Him. So at the end of our lives God says “You had plenty of chances your entire life to come to me, but you loved the world more than me.” John 3:19-21 tell us that God is light, and people love darkness rather than light, so we reject Him. Jesus tells us in Luke 14:16ff that many people hold other things more important than God and His offer of forgiveness, so God eventually lets them have what they want: total separation from God, which is hell.
God asks us to forgive others, but only because He forgave us first (Colossians 3:13). The bible teaches us that when men reject God’s ways and insist on going their own way, we are to put them out (1 Corinthians 5:1-5). Forgiveness is always offered, but if it is not accepted, and the person insists on going their own way instead of God’s, we never force humans into church against their will, nor does God force people into heaven against their will (see Part 3 of this series).
Question: How can it be fair for people to suffer forever for a temporal sin? Even on earth we put people in prison for a time, but eventually they have paid their debt and we let them out.
The sin is temporal, but it is against an eternal being, God. All our sin is a sin against God. For example, King David committed adultery with another man’s wife, then murdered the man to cover it up. When confronted with his sin, David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13). Thus sin is against a perfect, holy, righteous, eternal being, God, and the consequences are just as dire.
If a man goes and sprays paint over someone’s property, such as a car, he would be rightfully charged with a crime. But if the man sprays paint on the Mona Lisa, he should be charged with a greater crime, since the damage is greater. If we sin against the greatest and most beautiful being, God, we are guilty of the greatest crime and deserve the greatest judgement.
More in the next blog post.