What is the consequence of sin?
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 10:31 & 12:29)
From the very beginning, God made it clear that disobedience to His law would bring about death. Sin kills. We see the effect of sin all around us – people die everyday. But death, as we know it, is only the beginning of sin’s punishment.
What happens to the sinner after death?
The Bible speaks of a ‘second death’ (Revelation 20:14) – a death of unspeakable agony, suffering and pain. This death is God’s full punishment for sin. The Bible says that God has reserved a place for this punishment to occur and it is called ‘Hell.’
It’s hard for us to imagine a place of immeasurable and never-ending punishment. It’s also difficult to accept the fact that such a place exists. It just doesn’t seem fair! God is supposed to be a God of love!
We must remember, however, that God’s love is a holy love. He does only what is perfectly right. Think of all the suffering and agony that has been caused by sin over the course of history – countless wars, the Holocaust of the 1940’s, slavery in the 10th century and prior, acts of religious bigotry such as Muslim jihad or the torture tactics of the Inquisition in the 15th century, numerous massacres and revolutions, diseases such as AIDS and other STD’s brought on by sexual immorality, theft, rape, murder. Would God be a loving God to ignore all of the wrong-doing that has ever been done and pretend it had never happened? Would God be holy – that is, perfectly good and right – to behave as if hate and rebellion and immorality were okay? No, God must punish sin.
But why must His punishment last forever? Perhaps this is the hardest question of all, because it requires that we understand (or at least accept) the infinite purity and majesty of God. One’s punishment is determined by the dignity of the person who has been violated. A crime against a police office is judged more harshly than a crime against another criminal. If this principle is true, then think what it means for us – my sin is committed against a God who possesses immeasurable dignity; therefore, it deserves an immeasurable punishment. Anything less than hell for the sinner would be unfair.