Theme: Eternity in hell is no joking matter 
This weeks lessons describe the horrid nature of hell and the importance of knowing our destiny.
Matthew 25:41-46
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus’ description of hell throughout the gospels is significant. Yesterday I mentioned that hell is a total separation. Today we will look at three other characteristics of hell that Jesus discusses.
Hell is a bad association. We learn something interesting about hell in these verses that is not taught explicitly elsewhere, at least to my knowledge. It is that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41). If hell was prepared for the devil and his angels—the angels that followed him in his rebellion against God and are now known as demons, we can be certain that they will be in hell some day. And if that is the case, it means that those who have refused Christ and have shown it by their neglect of Christ’s followers will be sent there to be with those demons.
Some people think of hell as a place where the devil torments sinners. But Jesus pictures hell as a place where fallen angels and rebellious human beings are together in their suffering. What a terrible association! What a destiny! To spend eternity shoulder to shoulder with an evil being whose one goal has been to defy God and bring others to share his suffering forever! Will the demons not gloat that they have succeeded in bringing some human beings to hell when these might have believed on Christ and might have exchanged eternal punishment for heaven? Will they not gloat over you, if you are there?
Hell is suffering. I suppose the references to hell as a place of “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41) or “burning sulfur” (Revelation 20:10) are symbolic, if for no other reason than that the demons are disembodied spirits and thus cannot be punished by fire in the literal sense. But what of that? The purpose of imagery is to point beyond what literal language can convey. So if a literal burning by fire is bad, the reality of hell’s suffering must be immeasurably and inexpressibly worse. Even if the suffering is only mental, internal, or psychological, it is something that produces an eternal “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
Hell is darkness. After fire, darkness may not seem so bad. But this is a darkness that shuts off all sight of others, indeed, all sight of everything, even sight of oneself. The only thing that will be left is the conscious, mental self in its rebellion, Can you recall that horrible poem by William Ernest Henley?
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
But no one will be thanking God for his soul in hell. Cursing God is more like it. Yet even the cursing will mean nothing, for the punishment is fixed forever and no words or actions will ever change it.


What is taught explicitly about hell in this chapter of Matthew?
How do you know hell will be more than physical pain?


What kind of suffering have you experienced in your life? Know that hell will be far worse. Put your suffering into that perspective and rejoice in God’s gift of salvation.

Study Questions
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