Friday, October 25, 2013
The First Lie
Has anyone ever told a lie about you? How did you feel? A few years ago I spent quite a little time on a local internet forum. I enjoyed being a part of conversations on a variety of topics. The forum was supposed to be anonymous and it was against the rules to use people’s real names. One of the participants posted lies about me and my business on the forum. I never knew who posted the lies. I have no idea how many people believed them.
If you have had lies told about you, I’m sure you didn't like it. Imagine how God feels when lies are told about him. From the very beginning, Satan’s plan has been to tell lies about God. Speaking about Satan, Jesus said, “He is a liar and the father of lies”.
Satan told the very first lie recorded in the Bible. In an encounter with Eve, while Satan was taking on the appearance of a serpent, Eve told him, “God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.
The very first lie that Satan told was, “You won’t die”. Interestingly many people today believe this first lie. We know that Satan said “You won’t die”. Let’s see what God has to say.
Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”. James 1:15 says, “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death”.
God says that sin leads to death but many Christians say something very different. They say that the wicked will live forever. What did Satan tell Eve? Even if you disobey God, You will not die. Does the Bible really teach that God will keep people alive forever in hell suffering torment that never ends?
Let’s take a look at God’s character. Psalms 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face.” Justice is the foundation of God’s kingdom.
Are we to believe that our heavenly Father hates unrepentant sinners so much that He tortures them in flames through ceaseless ages? What kind of justice is that? What kind of a person would burn someone alive and deliberately prolong the process?
Many sincere people are saying, "If the Bible teaches that God tortures sinners in hell forever, then I reject the Bible. And I reject that kind of God."
In Romans 2:5,6, the apostle Paul speaks of the “righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds.” Surely it would be all out of proportion to torture the wicked for eternity for the sins of a brief lifetime.
God has never been a vengeful tyrant—and He won’t become a vengeful tyrant when the time arrives to punish the wicked.
The Bible teaches that there is life only in Christ. 1 John 5:12 says, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” A person burning in hell would not have a pleasant life, but he would have life. According to the Bible, the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment.
In Psalms 37:20, David said: "the wicked shall perish, ... they shall be consumed; into smoke shall they consume away." In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said: "fear him [God] which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." In 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul wrote that the disobedient "shall be punished with everlasting destruction."
Another dilemma for those who believe in eternal torment is the measure of what it cost Jesus to ransom the sinner. Jesus gave His life to redeem man from the grave. Sin is a capital offense. The penalty for the unrepentant sinner must match the penalty Christ paid for sin, his life, not eternal life in hellfire.
If the wicked live eternally in hell, then they have the same thing as the righteous except in a different place. Who could give them eternal life but Jesus? John 3:16 settles this issue so clearly and simply. I like the way it reads in the new version, The Voice. “For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life”.
Those who do not believe in Jesus will perish. They will die. They will die the second death-an eternal death from which they will never be raised. It is everlasting destruction, an endless, eternal punishment, because it is an endless, eternal death.
And what about those who believe in Jesus and receive everlasting life? John described their future home with these words in Revelation 21:4, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Can you find any room in those wonderful words for any suffering on the part of anybody in the whole recreated universe? God said crying and pain would be no more. Would someone in eternal torment cry? Would they be in pain? If you knew that your loved ones were being subjected to the most horrible painful torture how would you feel? Would you cry?
The most wonderful news is that nobody needs to be lost or burned in any kind of hell at all. All of us can have everlasting life through Jesus Christ, through simple faith in Him, and I hope you’ll choose to have faith in Jesus.