The Greek word "phobia" means fear, such as in arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), claustrophobia (the fear of enclosed spaces), and hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words). The Greek word "hade" refers to hell or the underworld. Therefore, hadephobia is the fear of hell.
A fear of hell is understandable. In the Bible it is described as a horrifying place of eternal torment. Jesus says that hell is a place where a fire burns continuously and worms continuously devour (Mark 9:47–48). He also says hell is dark and characterized by weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30). In Revelation 14:10–11, hell is described as a lake of fire filled with brimstone, smoke, torment, and unrest. Revelation 21:8 says, "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
Who is destined for this terrible place? Those whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 20:15).
But there is good news: you can avoid hell. You don't have to be afraid of this terrible fate. How?
First, if you put your faith in Jesus Christ as God's only Son who came to save people (John 3:16–18) through the power of His death and resurrection, you need not fear hell (Luke 12:32). First John 4:13–18 addresses the fear of hell, judgement, and more: "By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love."
The thing is, every person has sinned and that sin is a rebellion against God. He cannot abide with that and such rebellion must be punished (Romans 6:23). No one can ever do enough good or enough penance to make himself right with God. All stand condemned apart from Christ (John 3:16–18). However, God made a way for you to be forgiven of your sins (Romans 8:34) and be made right with Him. Jesus took the punishment for your sins. Only through the death of Jesus can you avoid hell because He bore the punishment for sin and then defeated death itself by rising from the dead. When you put your faith in Him, God credits Jesus' righteousness to you (2 Corinthians 5:18–21). God also gives you eternal life. There is no fear of hell—of being separated from God's loving presence. "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38–39).
If you struggle with a fear of hell even if you are saved and beginning to understand the depth of Jesus' love and power for you, there are some things you can do to help.
Immediately, you can remove any depictions of hell—movies, music, other representations of evil—from your life. Just toss them.
Fill your mind with God's Word (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16–17). Understand that hell is a place for the devil, who is real but defeated (John 16:11), and for those who are deceived by him (Matthew 25:41).
If you continue to suffer from a fear of hell, you should get some qualified professional help to make sure there is nothing clinically amiss. Ask your pastor or seek out a professional Christian counselor.
Once you grasp God's great goodness and mercy and accept His Son Jesus as your Savior, your destiny with Him is sealed (John 10:28; Romans 8:31–39; Ephesians 1:14). Those who are counted as God's children are fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15–17; 1 John 3:1–3). If you are saved, your eternity will be spent in heaven with God. Hell is no longer something to fear.
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:14–17).
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