They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
For the authors of scripture, heaven’s location is a secondary reality to the goodness, mercy, and grace of God. Hell’s location is secondary to the reality that God has been rejected.
“Damnation is the state of the human soul when it is cut off from God, and salvation is the state of the human soul when it is united with God,” explains Douglas Beyer. “It isn’t imposed on us by God from the outside, but arises from the nature of what God is.” (Beyer composed a wonderful summary of C.S. Lewis’ understanding of hell, from which many of Lewis’ quotes this week were drawn.)
Hell is the termination point for those who cut themselves off from God and are finally left with no other options. We see this supremely in the personification of evil — for whom hell was designed. “Satan’s monomaniac concern with himself and his supposed rights and wrongs is a necessity of the Satanic predicament,” C.S. Lewis writes in his Preface to Paradise Lost. “Certainly, he has no choice. He has chosen to have no choice. He has wished to ‘be himself,’ and to be in himself and for himself, and his wish has been granted.”
We underestimate how rejection of God builds until it consumes. In The Great Divorce Lewis wrote, “It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no ‘you’ left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.”
Lord, thank you that what saves us from these choices isn’t brute strength to make better choices but the overwhelming glory of your mercy and grace as given to us by your son. Like the psalmist we see evil all around us. Help us also to see the reality of evil in our own hearts and the way it sets us on a path to destruction. Father, set our sights on Jesus, our hope of glory. Overwhelm us with your grace.
Life and Death Apart from God
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org