Friday, December 3, 2010

Christian Mythology: 8. Hell – Myth: Hell won’t be so bad

Preachers give way too much credit to hell. I hear things like this all the time:

“When you ___ for God, all the power of hell will come against you to stop you.”

“Satan will use all the power in hell to ____.”

True, Satan himself is extremely powerful. But hell? No. Hell is just a place. It is a terrible place created for Satan and his demon angels.

Satan does not use hell as a weapon. Sometimes preachers use hell as a weapon. In addition to the examples above, they use hell to scare people into heaven. That doesn’t work. That’s not the gospel.

Satan does not reside in hell. Right now he spends time between earth and heaven. He is no longer the beautiful Lucifer angel of light. He no longer reflects the glory of God. But he still has access to the throneroom of God. He is still under the supreme control and authority of God.

Satan knows what hell is. He knows why it is there. But he won’t go until he is cast there in chains for a millennium. God tells us in Isaiah 14 that Satan was cast down to earth. He is here now spreading lies. Sadly, he is allowed to use the church, preachers, and false teachers to spread lies about himself and hell. He is the father of lies. He is a murderer.

All humans are conceived in sin. As soon as the sperm and egg unite, a sin nature is part of that very first cell. From that moment, all humans are condemned to hell. Apart from the saving grace of God through the blood atonement of Jesus Christ, hell is guaranteed. We are completely oblivious to this until God quickens us to life. We spend our entire lives unaware that hell awaits us at death. In our own power, effort, or wisdom, there is no escaping this reality. It is the certain future of everyone apart from God.

Most folks have a pretty good idea of what hell is. Fire, brimstone, smoke, pain, and punishment are the main ingredients. They mistakenly believe that is all future. No need to worry about it now. It’s probably a myth anyway. What folks don’t know is the true reality of hell. It begins with the planting of the sin nature at conception.

The sin nature separates us from God. We have no knowledge of Him as Abba Father. We have not His indwelling Holy Spirit. We have not the blood of His Son applied to save us from our sin nature. We remain unaware of this separation until one of two events happens. Either we die and wind up right in hell or God quickens us to life through the cross of Jesus Christ.

We suffer the consequences of this separation every day of our earthly lives. God uses this power to draw us to Himself. He does not desire that anyone perish. But He will not tolerate sin in His holy presence. He won’t take us to heaven when we die just because He loves us.

Hell has no power to bring somebody to salvation. Nor does hell have any power to prevent the will of God. It is powerless to thwart the works of Christians. The power of hell is its created purpose to eternally punish sinners. They will forever know that they are separated from God. They will know it did not need to be that way. Jesus died to save us from our sin. Amen.

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