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Are There Degrees of Eternal Punishment
by: Dalton Gilreath

I.              Introduction

a.    Contrary to popular belief, there is a Hell and it is eternal

                                          i.    The same word used for the length of Heaven is used of the length of time spent in Hell (Matt 25:46)

b.    Jesus is going to take out His eternal vengeance on those who are not saved (2 Thess 1:7-9)

                                          i.    God cannot lie (Tit 1:2)

c.    However, are there degrees of that punishment?

                                          i.    Will some suffer more than others?

II.            Is it in God’s nature to give different degrees of punishment?

a.    Consider the Egyptian’s son (Lev 24:23)

                                          i.    He blasphemed God and was stoned to death

b.    Consider David (2 Sam 12:10-14)

                                          i.    He committed murder and his firstborn was taken from him

c.    Consider Miriam (Num 12:10)

                                          i.    Miriam challenged Moses’ God given authority

1.    Her sin was that of jealousy

2.    Her punishment was leprosy

d.    Consider Uzzah (1 Chr 13:10)

                                          i.    He touched the ark and was killed instantly

                                        ii.    Are all these sins equal?

1.    Yes, there are no degrees of sin

                                       iii.    Are there punishments the same?

1.    No, some were killed, some lost a loved one, and another only suffered a disease for a time

                                       iv.    It is in God’s nature to give different degrees of punishment

III.           Does the New Testament give this idea?

a.    Those who die under the New Law deserve a worse punishment than those who died under the Old (Heb 10:28-29)

                                          i.    This is because we have Christ and His saving message

                                        ii.    Those under the Old Law did not and therefore were given less

b.    Jesus told His disciples to “door knock” (Matt 10:11-15)

                                          i.    Anyone who ignored His saving message would be punished worse than those in Sodom and Tyre (11:20-24)

                                        ii.    He then explains this is because they reject Him and His saving message (Luke 10:16)

                                       iii.    Once again we see a worse punishment based upon knowledge

c.    Peter said that it would be better to have never known the Truth than to learn it and turn from it (2 Peter 2:20-22)

                                          i.    It some way the punishment is not as bad for those who never learned the saving message of Jesus

d.    Jesus explains the degree is physical (Luke 12:42-48)

                                          i.    Notice, the servant who knew his Master’s will, will be beaten with many stripes

1.    The servant who did not know will be beaten with few

                                        ii.    So, there are degrees of physical punishment based upon knowledge of our Lord and His will

IV.          Does this mean there are degrees of sin?

a.    There are no degrees in the sense that one sin is worse than another inherently

                                          i.    However, sin does have a degree when it is purposeful or accidental

b.    When Moses came down from the mount Israel had made an idol

                                          i.    He called this a “great sin” (Ex 32:30)

                                        ii.    This wasn’t because idolatry is worse than other sins

                                       iii.    They knew better (Ex 20:1-4)

1.    The first two commandments condemned idolatry

c.    Jesus told Pilate the Jews sin was “greater” than his own (John 19:11)

                                          i.    This was because the Jews should have known better

1.    They were raised hearing of Jesus and the Romans were not

d.    There are two degrees of sin when considering the intent behind them

V.           Conclusion

a.    Willful sin deserves a worse punishment than “secret” sin (Num 15:27-31)

                                          i.    This is the way God has always made it

                                        ii.    God does not punish those who never heard the truth or died under the Old Law the same as those who heard the message of Jesus

1.    If we are given much God requires much (Luke 12:48)

b.    David sums it up in Psalm 19:7-13

                                          i.    May we be forgiven of secret sin and avoid the willful sin which makes us guilty of the “great transgression”