Will Good Unbelievers Be Punished Less Severely?

Q. Because my sister is a non-believer, and accordingly will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, my question is will she know WHY she’s in Hell and understand that had she just accepted Christ as her personal savior she would be in Heaven? And because she’s a good, kind, generous, and giving person, will her punishment be less than say someone who murders or molests children? I continue to pray daily for her salvation because I know what’s coming.

A. Personally, I think it’s a trick of the devil to persuade believers that our good and kind and generous but unbelieving loved ones will have an easier time in Hell than people who were “genuinely” bad. It allows us to be less diligent in doing everything possible to get them saved while there’s time.

In John 6:28-29 Jesus clearly stated that the only work God requires of us is to believe in the one He sent, who is Jesus. This is confirmed in several other places in the Bible, and everyone who stands before God will know whether or not they’ve met this requirement. Since that’s the only work God requires of us I think it will be the only basis for judgment. Lacking that basic requirement none of a person’s other “good” works are worth anything in the sight of God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us without faith it is impossible to please God.

The Bible also says that no one on Earth is righteous. (Romans 3:10) The idea that there are relative degrees of good and bad come from man, not God. Just as there are no degrees of salvation for believers, there are no degrees of punishment for unbelievers. Keep praying.

Remember, no one will go to Hell because of their sins. We’re all sinners. The only people who will go to hell will be those who refused to accept the only remedy God provided for their sins, the shed blood of His Son.

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