God's Judgment of Unbelievers

Fire and brimstone

Unsaved sinners will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.

Some folks refer to this truth as "
the fire and brimstone message." It is a message that is stated MANY times in the Bible. The Bible's main goals in giving this message include...

  • Warning unbelievers of the urgent necessity to believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved.
  • Motivating Christians to bring the Gospel of salvation to as many people as possible.

Both of the above goals have LOVE as their motivation. From that standpoint, the fire and brimstone message is good to preach, good to teach, and good to hear.

For some folks, however, this message brings consummate sadness. Why? Because
many of us (myself included) have unsaved friends and loved ones who already have died and gone to their ETERNAL destiny.

For Christians in this situation, the Bible's message of fire and brimstone not only motivates, but also brings great sorrow.

  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power 2 Thes 1.9


The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. Ps 9.17

There is no use in denying the fact of Hell. Hell exists! It is a terrible place!

Even so, Christians whose unsaved loved ones have died might find some degree of comfort in this essay. How? By learning more about the facts that God considers when an unbeliever stands before Him for judgment.

The goal of this essay is to compile these facts.

As you read this essay, remember -- we are talking EXCLUSIVELY about God's judgment of UNbelievers.

The relative seriousness of different sins

Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.'' John 19.11

All unrighteousness is sin, and
there is sin not leading to death. 1 John 5.17

And he that killeth a beast, he shall
restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Lev 24.21

(Jesus said...) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation." Mt 23.14

The books of judgment

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. Rev 20.12

How will God judge the "seriousness" of an unbeliever's sins?

The Bible states that God will judge unbelievers based upon a special set of books.

Because God is omniscient (all-knowing), God Himself does not need these record books. Rather, these books are kept for the benefit of...

  • Each unbeliever who is judged
  • The angels and people who witness the judgment of each unbeliever

Specifically, the purpose of the books is to show everyone that God's judgments are fair, just, and based upon facts.

The following paragraphs list several of the "judgment books of God."

The book of knowledge

Luke 12.47-48 makes it clear that God's judgment shall give due consideration to the amount of knowledge that the unbeliever had concerning God's will.

For example, an unbeliever who has heard and rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be judged more severely than one who has not been given the Gospel.
  (Jesus said...) "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

he who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few.

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
Lk 12.47-48

The book of law

...as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law Rom 2.12b   The book of law is (primarily) the first five books of the Bible -- those books that Jews call The Torah.

Unbelievers who seek to attain righteousness
by their own efforts will be judged by the degree to which they actually obey The Law of God, both in spirit and in deed.
For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2.10   A wise person will not want to be judged under The Law of God for the simple reason that it is humanly impossible for a sinner to obey The Law at all times.
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Gal 3.24

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all
our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isa 64.6)
  God gave us the Law to convince us that our only means of salvation is to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior.

Those who seek to be their own savior will have to stand (or fall) on their own works.
This is a hopeless situation, but it is one of their own choosing.

The book of conscience

(God commanded...) "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat...'' Gen 2.17a

Genesis records that God commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam disobeyed.

  • By disobeying, Adam learned good and evil.
  • The knowledge of good and evil has been inherited by all descendants of Adam, including you and me.
  • The knowledge of good and evil is a small voice that each person has in his or her head -- a voice that says, "This is good," or "This is evil."
  • We call that small voice our CONSCIENCE.

...having their own conscience seared with a hot iron 1 Tim 4.2b

If a person habitually disobeys his conscience, it is like he is repeatedly burning a wound into his flesh.

As explained by 1 Timothy 4.2b, a person who repeatedly ignores his conscience will (in effect) cause it to form
dead, unfeeling scar tissue.

Eventually, that person's conscience will find no wrong in even the most horrible of deeds or thoughts.

For this reason the human conscience is NOT a perfect judge of good and evil.
for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them Rom 2.14-15
Although the human conscience is not infallible, an unbeliever WILL be called to judgment for those occasions where he or she deliberately violated his or her own sense of right and wrong.

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Jam 4.17

The accountability for obeying one's own conscience will hold true for acts of omission (failing to do good) as well as acts of commission (doing evil).

The book of words

Every word a person speaks is recorded in heaven.

There are people who have never physically beaten anyone, or murdered anyone. Yet they have committed horrible abuses with their words.

If you call someone stupid, or tell someone that he or she is useless or no good, you are committing an act of vicious brutality upon that person's basic humanity.

If you gossip, you are committing character assassination. Character assassination is an act of murder.

As is proved by Matthew 5.22c,
God looks upon the brutality of hateful words as a heinous sin.

At the judgment, an unbeliever will be held accountable for every careless, hurtful word that he or she has ever uttered.
  (Jesus said...) "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." Mt 12.36-37

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 3.9-10

(Jesus said...) ..."whoever says, `You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire." Mt 5.22c

The book of secrets

Jesus said... "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mt 5.28

in the day when God will judge the
secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Rom 2.16

For God will bring every work into judgment, including
every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil. Eccl 12.14

(God) have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. Ps 90.8

"Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?'' says the Lord; "do I not fill heaven and earth?'' says the Lord.
Jer 23.24

"Secret sin" is doing evil in your thoughts, even though your outward actions appear good and kind.

  • If you relish pornography, you have (in the eyes of God) committed fornication.
  • If you harbor secret thoughts of hatred and prejudice toward another person or race or culture, then you are guilty (in the eyes of God) of violence, even murder.

By the same token, if you long to feed and clothe the poor but lack the ability to help, God accounts that you DID feed and clothe them.

The book of secrets records both the good and the evil within each person's heart.

At the judgment of unbelievers, these good and evil secrets will be weighed in the scales of God's justice.

The book of works

The book of works records each person's acts and deeds, whether they are good or evil.

At God's judgment of the unbeliever, these works will be weighed in the balance of God's justice.
  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. Rev 20.12b

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Mt 16.27

The Lamb's book of life

But there shall by no means enter it (heaven) anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Rev 21.27

There is a final book to list here.

It is the Lamb's book of life, wherein is recorded the name of each and every person who has received Jesus Christ as Savior.

  • Those whose names are listed in the book of life, have received God's GRACE. They will go to heaven based on the works of Jesus Christ.
  • Those whose names are not listed in the Lamb's book will instead receive God's JUSTICE. They will go to hell based on their OWN works.

If you are an unbeliever, the choice of destination -- heaven or hell -- is YOURS ALONE.

To have your name written in the Lamb's book today -- right this very instant -- believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved!! (Romans 10.9-10)


The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
But everyone to come to repentance.

2 Pet 3.9

Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Gal 6.7

In summary, the Scriptures have shown us that...

  • An unbeliever will be judged based upon his or her own words, thoughts, actions, and knowledge of God.
  • The "degree" of punishment will be commensurate with the extent and seriousness of the unbeliever's sins.
  • God will give due consideration to all aspects of the unbeliever's life -- the good as well as the evil.

Those of us who have lost unsaved loved ones can take at least a degree of comfort in knowing that God's judgments will be
PERFECTLY just and righteous.



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