“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36
Jesus’ death propitiated, or turned away from us, God’s wrath against sin.70 Those who refuse this gift have the double penalty of wrath for their sins and for rejecting God’s Son. Jesus Himself taught this in John 3:18, saying, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Unlike Jesus’ words to the sheep, to the goats on His left He will say, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”71
However, this does not mean that the relatively nice sinner suffers equally with Satan or his most committed human servants. There are degrees of punishment in hell like there are degrees of reward in Heaven. Jesus told the people of Capernaum that it would be worse for them in the judgment than for Sodom.72 The one who sins knowingly and willfully will receive a more severe beating than the one who did not know.73 Both in life and in hell some sins receive more severe punishment, because that is just.74 This fits the scriptural teaching that some sins are qualitatively worse than others in that the depth of their evil and the damage that ensues is greater. Jesus illustrated this when He told Pilate, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”75
Who is the most godly person you have ever known personally?
70 Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10.
71 Matt. 25:41.
72 Matt. 11:21–24.
73 Luke 12:47–48.
74 Num. 15:22–30; Lev. 4:1–35, 5:15–19; Matt. 18:6; 1 Tim. 5:8; James 3:1; 1 John 5:16–18.
75 John 19:11.