The Justice of Eternal Punishment

By Pastor F. M. Riley
Revised January 5, 2010

“And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you who ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him,”
Luke 12:4-5.


How could a “God of love” allow His creatures to eternally suffer in a literal “lake of fire” for all eternity? How could Almighty God be loving, merciful, and just, and yet not only permit such to happen but command it to happen?

These questions are being asked today by religionists, cultists, false teachers, and even misinformed and misguided preachers and laymen who desire to convince folks that there is no such thing as “eternal punishment” for sin.  What they are doing is appealing to “human reasoning” to make it appear that God would be unloving and unjust if He confined incorrigible sinners to a place of fiery torment for eternity.  These questions are thought provoking. What about it? Is God unloving and unjust in confining the incorrigible wicked to the “lake of fire” to be tormented eternally? Let’s examine the inspired Word of God and see if we can determine the real truth of this matter.

What is True Justice?

The dictionary I have in my library defines the word justice as being:

  1. The quality of being just.
  2. The rendering of what is due or merited.
  3. Conformity to the law.
  4. The administration of law.
  5. Theologically: An attribute of God, of His laws and judgments.

Justice has to do with LAW.  Mercy has to do with GRACE.  The two are not the same thing.  Justice in truth and in deed is served only when the full demands of the law are met. Law is inflexible and cannot be changed, perverted, compromised, or circumvented in any manner for any person, otherwise true justice cannot be dispensed.  True justice demands that every person be dealt with by the law on an equal and impartial basis.  There can never be any favors extended or exceptions made for anyone if true justice is to be upheld.  Justice absolutely demands that there be no respect of persons, but that every law breaker be given the exact same punishment for the same kind of offense.  The question of mercy does not, cannot, and must not, even be allowed to enter into the matter if true justice is to be upheld.  Mercy can only enter the courtroom AFTER the full demands of the law have been met.  Therefore justice and mercy are two completely different subjects, and must be dealt with separately.

In this study we are considering the question of eternal punishment being “just,” and therefore God Himself being “just” in dispensing eternal punishment to the incorrigible wicked.  Keep this in mind as you read this study.

Now let’s see how God’s inspired Word upholds this definition of justice…..

God’s Law

In Deuteronomy 4:8, Moses in rehearsing the Law of God before his death, set this question before Israel, “And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Here Moses explicitly declared that God’s Law given to Israel was absolutely righteous.  Since God’s Law was declared to be “righteous” by Moses, then what does God’s Law declare “justice” to be? Let’s see…..

In Exodus 21:23-25 the Law God gave to Israel explicitly states, “…then thou shalt give life for life.  Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

In Leviticus 24:19-20 God’s Law states, “And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.

In Deuteronomy 19:19-21 the Law explicitly states, “Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.  And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you.  And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

These Scriptures are commandments in God’s Law as given to the nation of Israel.  This Law was to be kept by the Israelites without reservation or exception being made for anyone.  See Deuteronomy 4:2 and James 2:9-10.  It is obvious that God alone laid down the only basis for true and equal “justice” for everyone.  If these laws were presently upheld in exact detail by the judges of the earth today, it would guarantee that every person would be dealt with by the law exactly as they themselves deal with every other person.  In other words, every law breaker would be punished by the law exactly according to their own works.

Many today tell us that such punishment of law breakers would be too harsh; entirely too severe.  They remind us that the Lord Jesus Christ taught that we should be compassionate, Matthew 5:38-41.  Indeed the Lord Jesus did teach compassion and mercy.  But compassion and mercy come under the heading of GRACE.  We are dealing in this study with JUSTICE.  The same New Testament that teaches true believers to show compassion and mercy to others, also teaches that when God dispenses JUSTICE upon the wicked who have rejected His mercy, He will do so strictly according to their works, Revelation 22:12.

In Revelation 20:12 the inspired Word states, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS.

We then see from these two passages of inspired Scripture that God’s standard of justice has never changed. When He sits in judgment of the wicked, He will deal with them exactly according to their works; that is, according to the inflexible LAW. 

Now what are the “works” of the wicked? I’m glad you asked…..

The Works of the Incorrigible Wicked

I want to remind our readers that the eternal “lake of fire” is not being prepared for men, but for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41.  Men that enter that place of eternal torment are intruding into a place that was not prepared for them at all.  They do so because they ally themselves with Satan in his wicked rebellion against God.  In effect, they acknowledge Satan as their “god,” their leader, their king, and their “Federal Head” [legal representative].  They then shall end up in the “lake of fire” because that is where their leader is going to end up.

Rather than acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, their Savior, their leader, their King, and their “Federal Head,” and following Him into eternal life, the wicked willfully choose to reject Christ and follow Satan into eternal damnation. Most of them don’t really believe that they are following Satan, and that their “way” of life will lead them into eternal damnation, but what they believe does not alter the truth of God’s Word one iota.  There is a very good reason why Satan is presented in God’s Word as “the great deceiver.” See Proverbs 14:12 and Revelation 12:9.

Keep in mind that all of this is a great legal procedure being worked out among mankind, and it reveals the absolute JUSTICE of the eternal punishment of the incorrigible wicked.  Since the wicked, consciously or unknowingly, choose Satan as their “Federal Head,” let’s examine Satan’s “works” to get a clear picture of why Almighty God has chosen to confine him and all who follow him to torment in an eternal “lake of fire.”

Satan’s Plan and Goal

The inspired Word reveals that at some point in eternity past, the “anointed cherub” of Ezekiel 28:11-19 lifted up his heart in wicked pride and lusted after the throne of God Himself.  He set out on a mad plan to dethrone God, seize God’s throne and take to himself the glory, power, adoration, and worship, that rightfully belongs to God alone.  In his mad rebellion he became the one we Bible believers know today as Satan; the Devil.  Now through some 6,000 years Satan has pursued his insane goal of dethroning Almighty God.  In order to accomplish his goal, Satan has not hesitated to sacrifice MILLIONS of souls on the altar of his mad ego without showing them even the slightest concern.  Let us then take a look at the well deserved JUSTICE which the Lord will pour out upon Satan at the time of his judgment…..

Life for Life

The “lake of fire” is specifically called “the second death,” Revelation 20:14.  Death is the direct result of Satan’s rebellion against God.  Not only did Satan lead at least one-third of the angelic hosts into rebellion against God [Revelation 12:4;7-9], and thereby into eternal death [Matthew 25:41], but he introduced sin into the human race by deceiving Eve and thereby bringing death upon mankind, Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-6; Romans 5:12; 6:23.  For now 6,000 years mankind has gone down to the grave in defeat, seized by the cold hand of death.  Satan could care less about the multiplied millions who have died in these 6,000 years, and those who are yet to die.  Satan’s doctrine of self-justification proclaims that “the end justifies the means.”

There is no record in God’s Word, not even the slightest hint, of remorse or repentance on Satan’s part.  Satan would be perfectly content to let mankind go on dying “for ever” as he pursues his mad dream of overcoming and dethroning God.  Is Almighty God then unjust in rewarding Satan “according to his works”? Not at all! Satan will receive eternal death and suffering because he has shown himself perfectly willing to cause men to suffer and die eternally as he continues his rebellion against God, Revelation 20:14-15.  Therefore this eternal “second death” upon Satan and his followers is simply TRUE JUSTICE perfectly upholding the Law of God.

Thine eye shall not Pity

Listen now to the screams, the wails, the groans, of millions of people through the centuries who have been seized by the icy hand of death.  Why? Because Satan would stop at nothing to achieve his goal.  The screams of millenniums of suffering and dying souls has meant nothing to Satan.  Rivers of tears have not moved his cold wicked heart from pursuing his insane scheme.

Is God then unjust in allowing Satan and all who follow him, to scream out their misery in the “lake of fire” for all eternity? Is God unjust in rewarding him and his followers “according to their works”? Not at all! God’s Law will be upheld and TRUE JUSTICE will be served.  So be it! Read Matthew 13:24-42.

Burning for Burning

Look now at the “lake of fire.” Great billows of fire roll across this lake lifting up the bodies and souls of the damned, Matthew 10:28; Isaiah 66:22-24; Mark 9:42-28.  Then they sink again beneath the fiery waves to ever contemplate their terrible punishment.  Is this unjust? Is it too much for Satan and those who follow him to suffer?

Then think with me of the millions who have died on the idolatrous altars of Molech as wicked men and women burned their own children alive as a burnt offering to Satan, Leviticus 18:21; Jeremiah 32:35.  Think of the millions of Jews that were burned in the ovens of Adolph Hitler, one of Satan’s mad men.  Compare this to Daniel 3.

Consider the many children of God during this present dispensation who have been burned at the stake for their faith in Christ.  And who burned them? Satan’s followers! Think of the most diabolic weapon for the mass cremation of millions of people which has ever been invented; the nuclear bomb.  Before the coming Tribulation ends, millions of souls will perish in nuclear conflicts, and millions more will die as a result of the devastation caused by nuclear war. Think also of the MILLIONS of innocent unborn babies which have been callously murdered since the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973.  In many cases the bodies of these babies are taken to incinerators and burned. Satan has used FIRE again and again through the centuries of human history to torture, burn, and destroy as he has pursued his mad dream.  Then how perfectly TRUE JUSTICE will be served when God rewards him “according to his works,” Revelation 20:10.

Blemish for Blemish

Look now at the damned as a fiery wave lifts them high above the surface of the “lake of fire.” They seem to be clawing at themselves.  Look closer! They are not clawing at themselves, but rather at the hundreds of maggots covering their bodies.  Maggots are in their eyes, their ears, their mouths; all over their putrid bodies.  Maggots crawling, gnawing, devouring putrid flesh, yet the flesh on their bodies is never consumed.  Fantastic? Read Job 21:23-26, 24:19-20, Isaiah 14:11, 66:22-24, and Mark 9:43-48.

Yes, we shudder in horror.  Surely this is unjust.  Surely the wicked do not deserve such punishment.  But are we right? Is this punishment unjust?

Let’s step back through the history of the human race.  Look closely as the first man dies; righteous Abel, brutally murdered by wicked Cain.  Now watch the worms go to work on the body.  They crawl, they gnaw, they devour, until the body has returned to the dust.  This scene has been repeated millions of times through the centuries that have followed that first brutal murder.  Visit the bloody battlefields of the earth.  Even while the battles still rage the flies settle upon the bodies of the fallen and lay their eggs.  In a short time maggots are devouring the carcasses of the fallen.  Millions have died in wars instigated by Satan and his followers.  Does Satan care? Not at all! The Lord Himself said that “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” John 10:10.  If it took all eternity, Satan would continue his wicked scheme to overthrow God even while the worms were devouring the bodies of those destroyed.  Almighty God is then not the least bit unjust in rewarding Satan “according to his works,” and likewise all who choose to follow Satan in his wicked rebellion, Psalm 2:1-3. TRUE JUSTICE will be upheld!

Eye for an Eye

Now look again at the thick black smoke rising from the surface of the fiery lake.  It is so black and thick that it stifles the breathing and blinds the eyes of those being tormented there.  The smoke rising from this eternal “lake of fire” is sulphur, referred to in God’s Word as “brimstone.” Sulphur is one of the most deadly materials known to mankind.  When it burns it becomes a thick black smoke in which oxygen cannot survive and light cannot penetrate.

Is God unjust in allowing this to happen? Most certainly not! Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-4.  How many millions of souls have been blinded to the truth of God’s Word by Satan and his followers through these now 6,000 years? How many have been influenced by Satan to hide themselves in the darkness of sin, committing wicked deeds in the secret places of wicked men? How many have used darkness as a cloak to lay in wait and slay the righteous and shed innocent blood? Read John 3:19-20.  Every person in the “lake of fire” will be there because they loved darkness rather than light.  God then rewards them “according to their works.” He will give to them “…the blackness of darkness forever,” 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 1:13.  God’s Law will be vindicated. TRUE JUSTICE will be upheld.


Dear reader, do not allow “false teachers” to deceive you.  The “lake of fire” is real and it is eternal.  Every soul that rejects the LOVE AND MERCY extended to mankind by Almighty God will go there for all eternity.

God is not at all unloving or unjust.  God has done everything that is just and loving and righteous and holy to keep YOU out of the eternal fires of hell.  You see, MERCY did enter the courtroom of Almighty God in the person of God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Both the Father and the Son knew that fallen man would never be able to pay his sin debt and redeem himself.  Therefore the Son of God; man’s own Creator, volunteered to become a man Himself; Emmanuel; the God man, God in flesh, in order to satisfy God’s wrath against sin, thus paying the sin debt for man that fallen man could never pay.  And Almighty God the Father agreed to let His Son carry out this mission on behalf of fallen mankind, John 3:16.  I would emphasize that this agreement between the Heavenly Father and His Son took place in eternity past [John 17:5] so that every member of Adam’s race throughout human history has had the opportunity to receive Christ as their Savior.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, God’s only begotten Son, met every demand of the Law and paid the penalty in full for sin, Matthew 5:17-18; Isaiah 53:10-11; Romans 10:4.  On the basis of the sacrifice of Christ, God does extend MERCY, GRACE, AND LOVE to every soul that will acknowledge their guilt and come to Him through “…repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; 20:21; Romans 10:8-10.  The Law was completely fulfilled by Christ in your behalf and mine.

Then how dare the wicked [including some of these harebrained preachers today] to accuse God of being unloving and unjust.  The greatest act of love ever revealed to mankind took place at Calvary when God Almighty gave His own dear Son to satisfy the demands of the broken Law, John 3:16.  The Gates of Heaven now stand open to receive every truly repentant sinner who is willing to accept the sacrifice of Christ on their behalf.  YOU dear reader, do not have to go to hell.  YOU do not have to spend eternity in the “lake of fire.” The Lord Jesus Christ in a supreme act of LOVE for your soul, paid your sin debt, in your place.

BUT BE WARNED! If you choose to reject Christ as your Savior; your “Federal Head, then you have willfully chosen to follow Satan in his rebellion against God. Oh, yes you have! See Matthew 12:30.  As God’s righteous Law demands absolute JUSTICE for those who transgress it, so shall it be.  God is perfectly just, righteous, and loving, in confining in eternal torment all those who choose to reject Christ and follow Satan in his wicked rebellion against God.  TRUE JUSTICE rewards every man “according to his works.”

Therefore I urge you dear reader, to look to and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior and LIVE.  Reject Christ and you will die….eternally!

“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,” Revelation 20:15.

NOTICE: Permission is granted to any true believer or to any Bible believing Christian ministry to reproduce this study to share with others, or to quote from it in context as written.

This ministry is supported solely by the freewill offerings of those who feel led of the Lord to help us send forth God’s wonderful Word.

Please address all comments, questions, and correspondence to: Pastor F. M. Riley, 184 County Road 108, Harrisburg, Missouri 65256.

I can be contacted by email at: fmrglbd5@aol.com

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