Something to Avoid
Many things we dont know about hell. But Jesus and the new Testament writers used every image in their power to tell us that hell is real, its terrible, its something to be feared, and something to avoid. In his description of the last judgment, Jesus taught that some would go to eternal punishment, some to eternal life (Matt. 25:46). In other words, hell will be as real and as lasting as heaven.
The horror of hell is not physical pain. After all, the Bible tells us hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), and theyre not physical beings. Rather the fire and outer darkness and the thirst depict spiritual separation from God, moral remorse, the consciousness that one deserves what hes getting.
Hell is disintegrationthe eternal loss of being a real person. In hell the mathematician who lived for his science cant add two and two. The concert pianist who worshiped himself through his art cant play a simple scale. The man who lived for sex goes on in eternal lust, with no body to exploit. The woman who made a god out of fashion has a thousand dresses but no mirror! Hell is eternal desireeternally unfulfilled.
But theres another side. G. K. Chesterton once remarked, “Hell is Gods great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human personality.” Hell, a compliment? Yes, because God is saying to us, “You are significant. I take you seriously. Choose to reject mechoose hell if you will. I will let you go.”