From the slime of time long past the dusky gods have been among us, too warty for heaven. They have crafted worship by evil people who prefer hell in any manifestation to the Kingdom of God. The demon gods and their worshippers will some Day be mercifully banished, justly punished, perhaps finally destroyed or unmade. Some presume a theological issue here with God’s defeat in the loss of a soul. This they assert should not be possible.
The issue is not victory however, but choice. Punitive punishment is a necessary component to just deserts. How much is just? God knows. He permits His creatures volition to respond to His convicting call of love to serve and obey Him. If possessing a will means anything at all, which it does, it means there is a chance that even in the presence of His love, holiness, magnificence, kindness and goodwill, with all illusions supernaturally cast aside; even at the very threshold of home and family feast, that some will prefer self and evil and turn away fixed and irredeemable, while conscious of their choosing. This is life’s reality, arrival at choice, God’s intent. He, more than we, weeps for the sin-bound and Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene and a thousand from the man at the tombs. But Christ said to follow Him and did not compel. There exists the woeful possibility of a giving over to the dark side. The orgiastic, blood consuming, baby killing of Carthage, the moonlit circles of Europe, the Canaanite prostitutes, the African cannibals and their voodoo, the irreligious hate, have all had their lusty appeal over and above a great and good God who pleads for surrender into holiness and freedom. Embracing the shadows is frightful.
It is just here at this giving over that divine wrath enters the arena of sin and death. Here God destroys through a fearsome, consuming fire of wrath, fury, and love, where everything false is annihilated and no clinging evil left. Nothing in opposition to God will remain. All the attributes of God are harmonious expressions of His Beauty including divine justice, mercy, and wrath. Holy acts are never devoid of love and loving acts are never devoid of holiness. His justice requires absolute destruction of sin. God can’t be just without always being just. God can’t be merciful without always being merciful and when mercy requires severity, severity will be given. When no illusions remain and a willing persistence of self-enthronement stands with a shout and having been called, rejects the Holy Spirit and blood of Christ, the all-consuming fire that overcomes will at last purify the universe. (Matthew 12:32)
No amount of finite suffering could pay for the infinite sin of any act of rebellion against Holy God. Punishment alone does nothing to make up for or cancel any crime. Coveted sin which has oozed and puddled around the edges of the veil of atonement must be annihilated. God forgives and when sinners repent, through Christ, reconciliation and restoration are realized. But perishing, penalized, unmade man is the consequence of the proffered lie of sin with its scorned remedy. Finally, death must die. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” and it may be that God determines that His wrath find eternal rest. God’s wrath or anger is mentioned hundreds of times in Scripture and is a necessary part of love. Its purpose is to produce repentance and its meaning discovered in its final dimming. “In a little wrath I hid my face from Thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” His mercy, my desire. [1 John 1:9, Isaiah 54:8, 1 Corinthians 15:26, Psalm 30:5]