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2022-01 Daily Devotional - Learning from God - plant shoots growing in the ground with a green background. 2022-01 Daily Devotional - Learning from God - plant shoots growing in the ground with a green background.

Questions and Answers | God's Perfect Judgment

Why did God create people knowing that they would make choices that would result in eternal punishment? I understand being separated from God or even annihilation, but why eternal punishment?

We acknowledge that, by our natural moral intuitions, the eternal punishment of the unrepentant seems excessive and cruel. However, we must also admit that our natural moral intuition, even at its best, does not compare to God’s perfect judgment.

Consider Job’s confusion at God’s justice, as he pleaded, “Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands while you smile on the plans of the wicked?” (Job 10:2–3). In response, God proclaims His greatness and goodness, which Job acknowledges: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:2–3). Whether or not we fully understand God’s ways, we sing with the great multitude in heaven, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments” (Rev. 19:1–2).

We are often calloused to the effects of our sins against one another. Although others, being made in God’s image, are worthy of our respect and love, we are prone to disparage and harm them in our selfishness with little remorse. In addition, we do not feel guilt proportionate to our own wrongdoing. Nonetheless, our sins are profoundly harmful. To sin against God, who is infinitely more worthy of respect and love, is to incur infinite guilt. The unrepentant in hell will remain unrepentant forever. Their eternal punishment is a consequence of their eternal sinfulness and not a result of divine cruelty.

BY Sanjay Merchant

Sanjay Merchant is Professor of Theology at Moody Bible Institute and a teaching pastor at Northshore Christian Church in Everett, Washington. He earned his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University School of Religion, and Master’s degrees from Biola University. He enjoys helping his students wrestle with hard questions of the faith, teaching courses on philosophy, theology, and apologetics. Sanjay and his wife, Erin, have four children and reside in Roselle, Illinois.

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