Let’s be clear. I don’t do evil. I cover my eyes in a movie when something is even a little creepy. I don’t pay anyone to scare me, so haunted houses and horror movies are definitely not my thing. I may be strong and somewhat brave, but I don’t feel I have anything to prove. All that being said, writing on the subject of hell didn’t necessarily have me jumping for joy. To be honest, I even told my Community Group that I would have rather skipped out on this one. But in preparing my heart and mind to write about the realities of hell, God has continually reminded me that he alone is God He covers me, strengthens me, guides me, protects me, goes before me, provides for me, sustains me, gives me peace, loves me through anything I face, inspires me and fights for me. Hell is real, but it is not a reality I will ever face. To say that I am thankful doesn’t even begin to explain it. I am redeemed. I am a daughter of the king, a child of God, and I will not spend a minute separated from my Father.
“You’ll never accept the glory of the gospel without accepting the reality of hell.” What a powerful truth that co-pastor Paul McDill shared with us last Sunday! It’s not that I am an ostrich living in the land of denial, but I definitely don’t spend a lot of time thinking about hell. I know that it is a real place where pain, suffering, regret, punishment, fear, darkness, claustrophobia, death and torment exist for eternity.
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
— 2 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV
This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
— Matthew 13:49–50 NIV
The mere thought causes a lump to rise in my throat, but far worse than any of these is that, for eternity, I would be separated from God. God is always greater. There is nothing that can take away from or add to him, but my choice to accept him as my Savior is what allows me to walk in the confidence, truth and peace that my place in eternity is with him in heaven. It is only through God’s love, sacrifice, grace and overall provision of his righteousness for mine that I am made whole in him. My salvation and home for eternity could never depend on me, but I did have to accept Christ as my Savior. Hell would be the eternity I would face without God. I am just so humbled and thankful for my Provider, my Way Maker, my Jesus, who longed for us to be made right with him and made a relationship with him possible.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”
— John 3:16–18 MSG
Satan is cunning. He is deceptive. He is a liar. He longs to entice us and make things appear good that just simply aren’t. He is crafty. That is why we have to be on guard.
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
— John 8:44 NKJV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
— 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
Have you ever thought about a lion? He lays in waiting. He watches and silently sizes up his prey. He is a predator. Satan is the same. He watches. He looks for the places where he sees we are vulnerable. He knows our patterns. The word of God and God himself are his kryptonite, so we need to be ready. In the desert, Jesus gave us the best example and living illustration of how to stand against the devil: know God’s word and wage war with scripture (Matthew 4). Satan is just waiting for an opportunity to destroy our lives, but he is arrogant and deceives even himself. So call him out and put him in his place. He shudders at the very name of Jesus. There is no one that is a match for our God! If we are in Christ, Satan will never have the victory.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
— James 4:7 ESV
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
— 1 Peter 5:9–10 ESV