Will the wicked live forever? Many people believe so. They believe that the wicked will have eternal life in hell while the righteous will have eternal life in heaven. However, the Bible teaches that the wicked will be destroyed in hell, not live forever in hell. The Bible does not teach that the wicked will live forever. In fact, it teaches quite the opposite. Consider the following facts about humans and immortality.
Humans are not inherently immortal.
Humans are created beings (Gen. 1:26-27). We have not always existed. God created humans, for He is the Giver of life (Gen. 2:7, 18-24). By nature, we are not inherently immortal beings. The Bible teaches that God alone is inherently immortal:
“…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:15-16).
When God created man and woman, He gave them life. Yet, life was lost in the garden of Eden when mankind sinned (Gen. 2:17; 3:1-6). Therefore, even if one wanted to attempt to argue that God originally created Humans with eternal life, then that eternal life was lost in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were forced out of the garden because their sin separated them from God.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen. 3:22-24).
Adam and Eve did not have eternal life, for the source of eternal life was being guarded by the cherubim. Here is the point: Humans are not inherently immortal. However, God made a way for humans to have eternal life. This brings us to our next point.
Jesus took the penalty humans deserve: The penalty Jesus took is death.
Since Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from God, they would die (Rom. 5:12-14). The Bible teaches that:
“…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Unfortunately, the “wages” of sin (i.e., what we deserve in return for our sin) is death.
“The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
The reason why Jesus came to earth was to take upon the penalty we deserve, the penalty of death (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Jn. 5:11; Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; etc.). Because of sin, we all die a first death (Rom. 5:12-13). However, through Jesus, we can live forever (Jn. 6:39-40). As stated earlier, we do not inherently possess eternal life, it is only a promise given to those who are faithful to God (1 Jn. 2:25; Rom. 2:7).
The Bible teaches that all mankind will be raised from the dead, the wicked and the righteous (Jn. 5:24-30; Mt. 25:31-46; Acts 17:31-32). The wicked unto destruction and the righteous unto eternal life.
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:8; Compare also with 1 Cor. 15:50-58).
God imparts eternal life only to the righteous.
Only those found in the Book of Life will receive eternal life (Ex. 32:31-33; Psa. 69:27-28; Phil. 4:3; See Also: Rev. 3:5; 21:27). Those not found in the Book of Life will receive their wages of death (Rom. 6:23; Ezek. 18:20). Those who rejected God’s free gift of eternal life have
“…judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life…” (Acts 13:46).
The punishment for the wicked is also everlasting, but it is not everlasting life (Mt. 25:46). Their punishment is complete and utter destruction (2 Thess. 1:7-9). They will be cast into hell, the lake of fire where they will perish with no further opportunities for redemption of life or future resurrection (Mt. 7:13; Jn. 3:16; Phil. 3:19; etc.). This is why Jesus said:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28).
In contrast to the final destruction of the wicked in hell, the righteous will receive:
“…the gift of God which is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23).
When the wicked are destroyed and death itself is destroyed and finally no more, the righteous resurrected will be
“…raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:52-57; See also: Gal. 6:8; Jn. 5:24; 6:40; 2 Tim. 1:10).
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish…” (Jn. 10:28).
God imparts eternal life to those “…who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality” (Rom. 2:7). The Bible repeatedly teaches that only those who followed and trusted in God while on earth will receive eternal life (Prov. 12:28; Jn. 3:36; 4:14, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47, 54; Rom. 5:21; 1 Tim. 6:12; Titus 1:2; 3:7; 1 Jn. 1:2; Rom. 6:23; Mt. 19:16, 29; Mk. 10:17; etc.).
The crown of eternal life is what is waiting on the faithful child of God (Ja. 1:12). What was lost in the garden of Eden in Adam can be found in Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:15-21). Those found in the book of life will be able to partake of the tree of life in heaven and live forever.
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).
For the faithful, the curse of death will finally be defeated and destroyed once and for all.
“In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life…the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him…And they shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 22:3, 5).
Will the wicked live forever? No. Only the righteous will live forever.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting live; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40).
The wicked cannot live forever because they will not be given eternal life. I will leave you with the words of Paul the apostle.
“What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
– Kevin Pendergrass
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