Popular Christianity often portrays God as an all-loving, all-tolerant, all-forgiving Father above who would never send someone to Hell for some small infraction of the law because God loves His creation too much to see a ‘good’ person suffer in eternal punishment. Many religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and the World-Wide Church of God, reject the doctrine of eternal punishment altogether. Many in the church who admit to the strict teaching of eternal punishment refuse to acknowledge the possibility that God would condemn a person over an unrepentant curse word, an unrepentant lie, or an unrepentant lust in the mind. People find comfort in seeing God as a protector, as a loving and understanding overseer and judge, but there is a dual nature to God that many find troubling and ignore.
Paul in writing to the church at Rome explains that the Gentiles were grafted into the fold of Christ that all may find salvation through Christ’s sacrifice (Rom. 11:11-24). Paul, however, warns the Gentile converts telling them that if God would cut down the natural branches (the Jews), He would not hesitate to cut off the new, grafted branches (vs. 21). Paul concludes, “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22). God is both loving and severe. God will punish and reward with the same equality and judgment (Rom. 2:11).
Anyone reading the Old Testament can see the severity of God, even toward His children. God destroyed the whole world in a flood, God sold His people into oppression when they disobeyed Him (Judges), God punished the nation of Israel through the terrible wickedness of the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Persians. God allowed the tragedies of His people because they disobeyed His law and refused to repent (Ezekiel 18:20-28). God never turned the other check toward disobedience, God never tolerated the small sins (Leviticus 10:1,2). God gave very detailed instructions and expected the Israelites to follow them down to the smallest letter (Joshua 1:7,8; Matt. 5:18). Some modern theologists have suggested that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of the New Testament. However, the historical events and recordings from the Bible all stemmed from the same mind and power (2 Tim. 3:16). God has always been both loving and severe in His dealings toward humanity (James 1:17).
Many who claim to be Christians want to put their faith in a God who will tolerate a few violations to His law; they want to believe that God will not send them to hell for what they consider to be a small sin, but this is not what God said, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). God will not hesitate to damn a person to hell, even if that person is considered by others to be a ‘good’ person. God will punish and reward as He has written, and no amount blind faith will change God’s judgment (2 Thess. 1:8; James 4:4; Luke 6:26).
In life, wise people understand how one small act can have a snowball effect. One small lie will inevitably lead to two and eventually one must continually lie to cover the last lie until one’s whole life is about trying to keep all the lies straight. A child steals a stick of gum when he is little could grow into a bank robbery when he is older. The unchecked lust of the mind could easily lead to pornography addictions, fornication, or even adultery, which would tear apart a person’s family. A person has one puff of a cigarette thinking that they will just try it, then ten years later they have a drug addiction that consumes that person’s life. The Devil draws one line in the sand telling a person, “Cross it. It’s just a small step, no big deal.” Soon that person can’t even see where he started. General observations in life reveal the dangers and effects of ‘small’ actions people know they should not do. Why should a person be surprised that God condemns these ‘small’ actions?
The author of Hebrews writes, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). True faith is believing who God claims to be and believing that God will do what He says He will do. In like manner, Paul asks King Agrippa, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). Essentially, Paul asks, “Why should it be such a surprise to you that God did what He said He will do?” Faith in a god that is not described in the Bible, or only seen by reading half the verses in the Bible, is nothing more than an idol god. Jesus says, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). If a person chooses not to believe that God will do what He says He will do, or is who He says He is, then that person will die in his/her sins.