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Is hell eternal separation from God?

Throughout the Bible, it is evident that there are two location options for human souls to go to after death—heaven or hell (Matthew 25:34, 41, 46; Luke 16:22–23). Those who are righteous inherit an eternity in heaven, while those who are unrighteous are sent to an eternity in hell. There is only one way to be declared righteous before God, and that is by putting faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, acknowledging His death and resurrection as provision for the forgiveness of sins (John 3:16–18; Romans 10:9). The souls of those who have been made righteous through salvation immediately enter the presence of the Lord upon death (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).

The unrighteous are banished to eternity in hell upon death. This eternal damnation is described as outer darkness (Matthew 8:12), a prison (1 Peter 3:19), and a lake of fire (Luke 16:24; Revelation 20:14–15). Second Thessalonians 1:8–9 describes the eternal consequences for those who are unrighteous before God: "in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." The worst part of hell is being eternally separated from the Lord.

There will be no second chances to repent and be saved after death (Hebrews 9:27; Jude 1:13; Matthew 25:46). Hell has no redemption to offer, only suffering. The distinction between light and darkness, good and evil, will be unmistakable. To be in hell is to be apart from God's light (1 John 1:5), peace (Ephesians 2:14), mercy (Lamentations 3:23–24), joy (Matthew 25:23), and love (1 John 4:8). To be apart from God is to be separated from all that is good because He is the source of all that is good (James 1:17).

Jesus Himself bore our punishment for sins, but until we put our faith in Him as our Savior, we will not receive His forgiveness and eternal life: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). In Jesus, we are no longer condemned but forgiven: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Instead of being condemned for our sins and sent to an eternity in hell, Jesus' sacrifice gives us the ability to have everlasting life with Him in heaven (John 3:16–18).

If you have not yet received Jesus as your Savior and you are interested to know more, please read our article "How can I be saved?".


Related Truth:

Does hell exist?

Who will go to hell?

Does heaven exist?

Will everyone go to heaven? Who will go to heaven?

How can I be sure that when I die I will go to heaven?


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