Readers of C.S. Lewis will recognize the allusion that hell is a jail cell that is locked from the inside. This is a powerful image but what does it mean? Also what are the implications for hell? What is hell like?
First, let’s explore the image of the jail cell. Let me be clear. God does not want to put us in a jail cell or in any form of hell for that matter. God wishes that all of his creatures would join Him in heaven. He is a good God, kind to all who love him and extremely caring for his believers. But God is not into forcing people to do things. He wants us to make our own choices. From the beginning of man and woman, He did not force Adam and Eve to sin and he does not force me to sin. He also does not force me to love Him.
Real love, I was told by a very wise woman, is manifest when you give your loved one total freedom to choose and they choose you. They could go somewhere else but they don’t. When people are given the freedom to choose to follow their own way, they are in danger of sinning and think of it…if they choose sin it is like a jail cell that is locked from the inside. They have put themselves in the cell and they have the key to get out, but they are staying in it, due to their choices and the love for their sinning.
Even though the jail cell communicates a strong message, consider how Pastor Hamilton describes it. Of course, none of us know what it will be like. His idea is that first of all, it is full of people of do not wish to live by the will of God. They would rather do things their own way. They are “narcissistic” with an attitude that they have to look out for number one. They are prone to take advantage of others. They are users.
Goodness is not a part of hell. There are no boundaries in hell as people do exactly what they want. And everyone in hell is trying to get the “upper hand” on everyone else. Another image that Pastor Hamilton uses which is frightening comes from the famous poet Dante, who tells of a resident in hell who is gnawing on the flesh of another. Not much concern for others there…
The place is a veritable “nightmare”. Elmer Towns in his book Bible Answers for Almost All Your Questions says hell is a “place of memory and remorse.” The rich man in Luke 16 remembered his lost condition. It is also a “place of thirst.” He cried out for water because he is tormented by the flame [Luke 16:24]. It is a place of misery. He was in torment as he lifted his eyes from hell. As I have alluded in another post, it is a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth [Matthew 13:42 and Matthew 24:51]. Maybe the most telling aspect of hell is that it is a place where man is separated from God. Towns says that unsaved people joke about how they won’t be lonely in hell: “all my friends will be there.” However in Revelation 2:1, 20:6, 14 and 21:8 hell is described as a second death and not only will people there be separated from God; they will be separated from others too. There is no indicated that you will enjoy the company of your friends in hell.
Pastor Hamilton has spent a lot of time in his book Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White explaining the position of Christians who are quick to send people to hell [the exclusivists] and he has explained the position of Christians who are inclusivists [all are accepted into heaven]. He is neither. He believes that hell is real and some people are going there.
“The inhabitants of hell [are] ever seeking to do whatever they wish to one another. This is utter darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He quotes from C.S. Lewis “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end ‘Thy will be done’”.
Living a life where exerting my will is the only thing on my mind will get me in that jail cell at the end of my life, you know that one where I can get out. I have the key which is living a better life, but I don’t choose to use it.
I stay in the cell because I love my sins.
What a bad decision.