If You Think You’re Going to Hell, Please Read This First

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Every Sunday the preacher shouted from the pulpit that you’re a terrible sinner. God is angry at you. Because of God’s wrath, you’re going to burn in hell for all eternity.
  • Your parents drilled it into you that you’re just no good. And they’re probably right. You just can’t feel good about anything you do.
  • You’ve done terrible things . . . horrible things. What you’ve done is so bad that you deserve to be in hell. There is no hope for you. You’re a goner.
  • No matter how hard you try, you just can’t be good. You know what you should do, but you just keep on doing the things you shouldn’t do.

If any of these are much too familiar for you, I’ll be straight: There are no easy answers. Besides, you’ve probably tried the easy answers already, and learned the hard way that they don’t work.

I’m also not going to tell you that all you have to do is believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus is great. I highly recommend it! Being born again is wonderful! But for Christians, believing in Jesus is only the start. Then come the many years of growing from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.

The fact is, if any of the things on this list describe your experience, then no matter how you slice it, you’ve got some hard work to do. And it may take years to fully recover, even with God’s help.

What I can offer you is new light and a new understanding of your situation. Nothing I say will snap you right out of it and instantly make your life a bed of roses. But it will give you hope that there is a path out. And it might help you take your next steps on that path toward the life of heaven God has in mind for you.

No matter what that preacher or your parents or anyone else has said, God created you for heaven, not for hell. And there is no reason on earth that you can’t find your way to heaven . . . no matter what your history.

So let’s straighten a few things out.

Is a wrathful God angry at you?

The short answer is: No.


Then what about all those Bible passages the preacher quoted about God’s wrath and fury?

Doesn’t the Bible say, “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11, King James Version)?

Well, there’s a funny story about that verse . . .

First, the word for “the wicked” came from an ancient Aramaic (or “Chaldee”) version. It is not in the original Hebrew text, nor is it in the other ancient translations. Even in the King James Version, the words “with the wicked” are in italics, meaning they are not in the original. So it should read, “God judges the righteous, and God is angry every day.”

But wait, there’s more!

You see, the Hebrew word for “God” in the second half of the verse could also mean “not,” depending on how the Hebrew is interpreted. And that’s exactly what most of ancient translations, including the well-known Septuagint Greek translation, have in that verse. The first half of the verse is also a little off in some of the older English translations.

What does this all mean?

The verse almost certainly should read, “God is a righteous judge, and is not angry all day.” (Compare Young’s Literal Translation for this verse.)

Picture a judge taking hundreds of cases, one after another, pronouncing just judgments all day without ever getting angry, even at the worst evildoers. That’s the picture the Psalmist is painting. And it’s just the opposite of what that old fire and brimstone preacher said!

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are lots of other verses in the Bible that talk about God’s anger and wrath. But as I pointed out in the article, “If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?” that’s just how God’s love looks to us when we’re bent on an evil and destructive path that’s opposed to God’s love.

God’s love is like the warmth of the sun. But what if you’re a snowman? What if you want to be cold and unloving? If you’re a snowman, God’s love looks wrathful and destructive. It’s a horrible, destructive heat that melts and destroys you.

When the Bible talks about God’s wrath, it’s talking about the effect God’s love has on everything that’s evil and false in us and in our world. It’s only when we identify with the evil and cling to it as our own that we feel God’s love as anger and wrath. And the Bible often speaks to us according to the way things seem to us, even if the reality is different from God’s perspective.

Did you know that the Bible talks about God’s love far more often than it talks about God’s wrath? Here is a beautiful passage assuring us that God feels only love toward us, whether we are evil or good:

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43–45)

And the famous verses from the Gospel of John:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16–17)

Notice that it doesn’t say God was so angry with the world, but God so loved the world.

So here’s the first ray of new light, and the most important new information about your situation: No matter what you may have been told, God is not angry at you. It’s just the opposite. No matter what you have done, and no matter how horrible or worthless a person you think you are, God loves you.

God sends you the sun of divine love, and the rain of divine truth, whether you are evil or good, and whether you are righteous or unrighteous.

There is nothing you can do to make God stop loving you. As the Psalm says:

O Lord, you have examined me, and you know me. . . .
If I go up to heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in hell, you are there.
(Psalm 139:1, 8)

Are you condemned because of what your parents did?

Our parents were responsible for bringing us into this world. They are supposed to love us, care for us, teach us right from wrong, and guide us toward a healthy and responsible adulthood. And some of us were fortunate enough to have parents who did a fine job.

Unfortunately, some of us were born of parents who fell far short of the mark. Maybe they just weren’t ready to have children. Maybe they were too focused on money or power or pleasure to really care about their children. Maybe they were just plain evil and destructive types who used and abused their children at will. Bad parents can cause great damage to their children.

If you were one of those unfortunate children, does this mean your life is ruined from the start, and you might as well just throw in the towel?

In ancient times, it was common for whole families to be condemned and executed for the offenses of the head of the household. For example, when three men named Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against God’s commandments to the ancient Hebrews about the priesthood, not only they, but their wives and children died as a result of their disobedience. You can read the story in Numbers 16.

However, in course of time, God pronounced an end to the practice of children being judged guilty for the crimes of their parents. This pronouncement comes in Ezekiel 18—one of the most beautiful chapters in the Hebrew Bible. Here’s how the chapter begins:

The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die. (Ezekiel 18:1–4)

The chapter then goes on to explain in detail that if a father is good, but his son evil, then only the son shall be held guilty; and if that son has a son who sees how his father lived, and resolves not to live that way, but to live a good life instead, then only the father, not the son, shall be held guilty.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

To us today, yes. Our justice system is based on individual innocence and guilt. To the ancient Israelites, though, this seemed quite unjust. They thought it was right and proper that if a man sins, his whole family should be punished!

God was quite clear, though, that this was not to be our practice anymore:

When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own. (Ezekiel 18:19–20)

However, when it comes to our spiritual and emotional life, sometimes we haven’t gotten the message. We think that because our parents were evil, and neglected or mistreated us, that means we, too, are doomed, and headed toward hell.

It’s not true.

Yes, we may have a long, hard road undoing the damage that our parents did to us. It might take much prayer, counseling, and much difficult and painful introspection and rearranging of our emotional and social life.

But God does not hold us responsible for the errors and sins of our parents. And neither should we. If our parents drilled into us that we’re just no good, they were lying to us. And if they used and abused us, they were perpetrating evil on us.

That lying and that evil was theirs, not ours. And though it did have a profound effect on us, there is a pathway out of the damage our parents did to us. It is the path of recognizing that what our parents did to us had nothing to do with us. It was their own immaturity, neglect, and evil, not ours, that damaged us. As we recognize that what they said was not true, and what they did was just plain wrong, we can gradually recognize that we ourselves are not what they said we were, nor did we deserve what they did to us.

If you were neglected or abused verbally or physically by your parents, it is not going to be an easy path out of what they did to you. But there is a path. And it starts with recognizing that you are not condemned for the sins of your parents. God created you for a reason. God loves you, and has prepared a place for you in heaven (see John 14:1–3, 1 Corinthians 2:9).

You have the rest of your life to leave behind the lies and the wrongs that were inflicted on you when you were young. You have the rest of your life to walk, even if painfully sometimes, the path toward the life of heaven that God has prepared for you.

Have you committed terrible sins?

What if it wasn’t your parents who did a number on you? What if you yourself have done terrible, horrible things? What if you don’t deserve to go to heaven because of what you’ve done?

If that’s the state of mind you’re in, then Ezekiel 18 has a message for you as well:

But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:21–23, emphasis added)

Based on his experience in the spiritual world, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) tells us that this is precisely how it works after we die. In Heaven and Hell #509, he writes:

No one suffers any punishment for evil things done in the world, only for current evil deeds. . . . Good spirits are never punished, though, even though they have done bad things in the world. This is because their evils do not come back.

Swedenborg is simply affirming what God tells us in Ezekiel 18: We are not held responsible for things we have done in the past. Only for things we keep doing in the present. If we have done something terrible in the past, but have repented of it, have reformed our character, and no longer do things like that, then none of the transgressions we have committed will be remembered against us.

If you have done something terrible, there is no way to undo it. You and those you hurt will still have to live with the repercussions of your actions. But one of those repercussions is not that you must go to hell for it.

Of course, if there is any way you can make amends for what you have done, you should certainly do so. However, when your time on this earth comes to an end, you will find your place in heaven or in hell depending on the person you have become in the present, and the way you are living now, not based on any wrongs you have done in the past.

As the old saying goes, “Every saint has a past, and every sinner a future.”

So please don’t worry about the terrible things you have done in the past. God has already forgiven you for them. God has no pleasure in your eternal death. No matter what you’ve done, God wants you to turn from your old ways and live! Now it’s time to build a new life for yourself, so that you won’t do things like that anymore. For more on how to do this, see the article, “What does Jesus Mean when He Says we Must be Born Again?

What if you keep doing things you shouldn’t?

It sounds like you’re in the same boat as the apostle Paul when he wrote:

I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. . . . In every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am! (Romans 7:18–19, 23–24)

As he went on to say, Paul found a rescue from this situation in Jesus Christ. However, as I said earlier, for Christians, believing in Jesus Christ is just the first step. After that comes the more challenging steps of living according to Christ’s teachings.

And for many of us who are very sensitive about our own wrongs and our own bad habits, one of the ways we don’t follow Christ’s teachings is to lay burdens on ourselves that are much too heavy—and are sometimes completely unnecessary.

In a recent article titled, “Is it Easy or Hard to Get to Heaven?” I expanded on this saying of Jesus:

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)

I invite you to read that article if you feel you just can’t live up to what you know is right.

Here’s another thought that might help:

Have you considered that even though you have some bad habits, and do some things that really aren’t good, maybe they aren’t really evil either?

Let’s face it: neither you nor I nor anyone else is ever going to be perfect. Each one of us will die as an imperfect human being, still thinking, feeling, saying, and doing some things that we really shouldn’t.

What we need is some standard by which to decide just how serious our bad habits and wrong actions are.

There are many possible standards. In case you don’t have one that works for you, may I suggest something really simple? The Ten Commandments. Especially the second part of the Ten Commandments, which is about how we humans are supposed to behave toward one another. I’m talking especially about these commandments (in their short versions):

  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet.

“Covet” is an old-fashioned word meaning wanting something that belongs to someone else. The problem with coveting is that it tends to lead to the other offenses: murder, adultery, stealing, and lying.

And about honoring your father and your mother, if the parents who raised you abdicated their parental responsibilities and did a number on you, feel free to think of God as your father and your mother instead. (For more on this, see “The Mother of All the Living.”)

Now here’s the question: Are the things you’re currently doing that are wrong actually against any of these commandments? Are you killing people, committing adultery, stealing, lying about other people, and so on?

If the answer is yes, then you do have a real problem—and you need to do the work of rebirth or “regeneration” in order to overcome it.

But if you’re not actually breaking any of these commandments, it’s quite possible that you’re laying too heavy a burden on yourself. Do you think you have to be perfect in order to get to heaven?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t continue to work on yourself. I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep taking steps to give up your bad habits and stop doing hurtful and destructive things. There is always room for improvement.

But are the wrong things you say and do really bad enough that you should go to hell for them? Chances are, they are not. They are simply areas where you still have work to do.

So go a little easy on yourself. The very fact that you’re concerned about your eternal state, and want to become a better person, suggests that you are on the path to heaven, not on that slippery slope to hell.

God wants YOU in heaven

God wants YOU for heaven

God wants YOU for heaven

Maybe you’ve given up on yourself. But God hasn’t given up on you. If God had given up on you, you would no longer be alive on this earth. In fact, here’s a thought to take home with you:

As long as you are alive and breathing on this earth, you can still find your way to heaven.

God has given us a lifetime here on earth because God knows that it takes some of us many years to whip ourselves into shape—with God’s help, of course. So use your time here well. Then you will not be disappointed when your time on earth is finished, and you move on to the next life.

If you still think you’re going to hell, consider these final words from Ezekiel 18:

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live! (Ezekiel 18:30–32)

Why would God say these words to us if God did not know and expect that we can leave our past behind, and live a new life?

Heaven is possible for you! The choice is yours. God will be with you, guiding and strengthening you every step of the way, because God loves you and cares about you. God has a job for you in heaven, and has prepared a home for you there. Do you really want to leave it vacant?

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth, The Afterlife
362 comments on “If You Think You’re Going to Hell, Please Read This First
  1. Doug Webber says:

    From what I have read, in the Near Death Experience when you enter the light you will see a life review of every single thing you did, not only that, how it impacted others. But perhaps those who have had an NDE see these things as they have not learned from them. If we learn and move on, we will just pass over those things: some do not even have a life review and pass right through. So good to review one’s actions now, not later, and periodically.

    Thanks for that note on Psalms 7:11. Did not realize that in Hebrew if you transpose the two letters that say “God” one gets the word “not.” I am sure there is some spiritual significance to that – those who oppose God say “no” to Him?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Doug,

      Just a quick note for now:

      It’s not necessary to transpose the two letters to translate that word as “not” rather than as “God.” It simply has to be pointed with a patach (a short “a” vowel) instead of a tsere (a long “e” vowel). Since the original Hebrew had no vowels, it could have gone either way. The testimony of the ancient translations suggests that it should have been pointed with a patach instead of a tsere, so that it would read “not” instead of “God.”

    • Lee says:

      Hi Doug,

      Yes, the life review is one of the fascinating aspects of many NDEs. This is something Swedenborg described over 200 years ago as commonplace for those entering the spiritual world. From the accounts I’ve read, the life review is not accompanied by a sense of condemnation for things done wrong, but rather a sense of learning from the experiences and actions of life, right and wrong. If we think of our past actions as learning experiences that show who we are and where we need to do some work on ourselves, then we do not have to live with guilt over past wrongs, but consider them necessary evils to move us forward out of our evils into what is good.

      • do8ug says:

        A couple of weeks ago my wife told me she was sitting at the computer and her father started talking to her. He said he was a father to her and she got into a debate with him where he understood and felt everything he had made her feel and ended with her saying I just want peace.
        She hadn’t seen him in awhile so I said “May be he died”. She found out he died near the time she had this talk.

        • Lee says:

          Hi do8ug,

          Thanks for stopping by and telling your wife’s story. Yes, when someone dies, their spirit does sometimes visit a still-living family member or close friend, as if to say goodbye. It sounds like your wife had some unfinished business with her father. I hope the encounter with him did give her some peace.

    • John Thomas says:

      Thank you SO much for this article. I was tail spinning and thought I was doomed to eternity in hell. Almost suicidal, you gave me an ounce of hope. Enough to get me turned around and back unto the path towards heaven. Thank you.

      • Lee says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m so glad to hear that this article helped get you back on track. Annette and I wish you godspeed on your spiritual journey!

        • David Harris says:

          Not that I’m saying I don’t think about going to hell, I’m sure every Christian art one time or another has had that thought criss there mind more than once. The way I see it, if you truly believe in the trinity and want to get to heaven have made the steps felt the pull at your heart had the tear stained cheeks of pure happiness and joy from that first moment you truly felt God I don’t believe what a sin is for some will be a sin for others. I believe that once you acknowledge and receive in that aspect that when God tells you it’s a sin you feel it in everything you are you will question what you are doing you will know so don’t think that all sins are equal and everyone the same. Not until that moment God lays it on your heart and you feel that deep questioning of the evil in that situation habit or action. There will be no question, and then when you realize that is when you need to work on correction but do not worry about perfection but only strive to do your best at being Christ like not perfect as Christ for no man other than Christ has or will ever be perfect. Also getting to the new testament our father also says that Christ his only son have his life for every sin past and present there is no need for the sacrificial lambs anymore we have the ultimate sacrifice and he has paid the ultimate price that is death he gave his life to cover all sins his love is that great a live like that will never condemn anyone they can only condemn themselves.

        • Lee says:

          Hi David,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments. While I don’t accept traditional views of Jesus “covering all sins,” I do believe that Jesus gives us the power to see, recognize, and repent from our sins and begin a new life. Not without struggle, but Jesus will be with us every step of the way if we are willing to follow him.

          Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

      • Mark Zogg-Kellett says:

        Yeah John I am fearing hell a lot right now in my life. I’ve even considered suicide to just find out, but that would be a terrible idea. I also am striving for heaven and faith in Christ. We are in the same boat, let’s figure this out!

        • Lee says:

          Hi Mark,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I don’t know if John will actually see this. However, I do hope this article, and the comments here, are helpful to you in keeping your life moving forward out of the darkness and into the light.

    • Rosalie Banks says:

      I thought it was such a coincidence you mentioned NDE’s, because the reason I found this page was due to a feeling I experienced during a Near Death Experience I had years ago. I entered a place of all consuming radiant light and saw an ancestor of mine, then I felt it starting to go away and I started to fear I was being sent to hell, and instead woke up back on earth. I felt the fear of that same experience of fearing hell today and it led me to google “how to cope with feeling like your’e going to hell” and I found this article. I feel a lot better after reading the article. I have a past history of christian upbringing and remain a spiritual seeker to this day. I don’t consider myself christian anymore, but I still believe in Jesus and other divine teachers/enlightened masters. I know and love God and believe in him with my whole heart and live with the intention of being a blessing to others and a “good” person. The preacher I had would definitely preach fire and brimstone and I think that has instilled an internal fear of hell. Thanks for this article, it has brought me peace on this underlying fear. Love and Light!

  2. Luciano says:

    Still, it seems like there is no salvation for the souls that are already in Hell. So the idea that someone that I love and passed away, could be right now in Hell, with no opportunity of getting out, and making his way to Heaven, is making me uneasy.

    What if someone that is in Hell changes his mind, and becomes suddenly a good person, will he find Hell disgusting and choose Heaven from now on, instead?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Luciano,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your your comments and questions.

      The short answer to your queries here is that in general, people who choose hell do actually have the opportunity to leave if want to. However, they do not want to because they find the atmosphere in hell more to their liking than the atmosphere in heaven. This may be hard to believe for those of us who find their pleasures disgusting. But the fact is, they do find those things intensely pleasurable, whereas they hate doing the things that those who choose heaven find enjoyable and good.

      So basically, people who choose hell don’t change their mind, because they are where they want to be, even with all the pain and suffering they must undergo as a result of the types of activities they find pleasurable.

      Very short version: It’s not that people in hell don’t have the opportunity to leave. It’s that they don’t want to leave.

      There is more about hell in this article:
      Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

      • Tony says:

        hi lee

        If the people are going to hell permanently for their eternity once they have died, then would it really matter that we care about them genuinely changing their minds and even had they changed their minds that won’t change the judgement set upon them from god because by then it would be too late right?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Tony,

          I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Are you talking about people changing their minds during their lifetime here on earth, or changing their minds after they die?

          Also, as I’ve said in various places, God doesn’t actually judge people to hell against their will. The people who go to hell go there because that’s where they want to be. Hell is where their own evil desires drive them to go. God’s judgment simply makes their true character clear by stripping away (after they have died) all their outer pretenses of civility, morality, and neighborly love, and baring their soul as it truly is.

        • Tony says:

          changing their minds after they die through their own choice

        • Lee says:

          Hi Tony,

          On this issue Swedenborg agrees with Christianity as a whole, that once you die it’s too late to change your mind. It is here on earth, through our life and choices during our lifetime here, that we make our decision for heaven or for hell. Once we go to the spiritual world, that choice has been made.

          And as I’ve said many times before, it’s not that we’re forced to go to hell even then. It’s that we’ve made our decision. At that point, we no longer want to do anything but what we’ve chosen on this earth.

          This doesn’t necessarily mean what we’re doing outwardly here on earth is what we’ll continue to do in the spiritual world. It means we will still act from the same motives and reasons for the things we have been doing here on earth. So our life in the spiritual world may end out being very different than it was outwardly on earth, as it appeared to other people. But it will be an accurate reflection of what’s within us, in our heart of hearts and in our true thoughts and attitudes–which we may hide from everyone else.

          And as I’ve said before, there is no “judgment from God” in the sense that God condemns bad people to hell whether they like it or not. Rather, the “judgment of God” as it actually takes place in the spiritual world involves stripping away any outward masks that we show to the world, but that don’t reflect our real, inner self.

          Seen abstractly, this judgment takes place by the light of heaven, which is God’s truth, increasingly shining on us and our life, penetrating any false exteriors we may put on, and revealing our true character, which we have built here on earth through our choices, motives, attitudes, and actions.

          The way we ourselves experience it is that more and more we cannot hide our true character, but say and do exactly what we think and desire. So it becomes clear to everyone exactly what sort of person we really are. And when our outward words and actions are fully in accord with our true inner self, we go of our own accord to our eternal home in heaven or hell. For more on how this happens, see my article, What Happens To Us When We Die?

          So the simple fact is that God does not send anyone to hell. Everyone who goes to hell goes to because he or she has chosen to go there, and is going there of his or her own free will.

          Is it still good to pray for people?

          Yes, it is.

          However, our prayers will have more effect if we are praying for people here on earth than if we are praying for people who have already gone on to the spiritual world. Not that our prayers have no effect at all for people who have passed on. But their choice has already been made, whereas people on earth are still in the process of making their choice–which is a lifelong process.

          Does this help at all?

        • Tony says:

          it does shed some light so basically our so called choice is permanent but we still have free will so even if you have “chosen” hell after death you can still do either good or bad actions or continue to do either even if you were a selfish person from your life on earth.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Tony,

          Not entirely.

          Yes, we still have free will in the afterlife, but it is a different type of free will. Here on earth, we have freedom to choose between good and evil. We also have a certain amount of freedom to act upon the things we want. That freedom is limited here on earth by laws and external circumstances. So here on earth our primary free will involves the freedom to choose between good and evil, whereas the freedom to act upon our choices is more limited.

          In the afterlife, that is reversed. There, our freedom to choose is greatly limited. We can and do still make choices there about what to say and how to act. But those choices are made within the boundaries we set by our life here on earth.

          To put that in less abstract terms, if, on earth, we chose to live for greed and a desire for unlimited wealth, then in the afterlife we can make choices about exactly how we’re going to go about acquiring wealth for ourselves. But we can no longer make the choice not to have that be our motivation. In other words, we can’t choose good motives over evil ones, because we already made that choice during our lifetime on earth. However, from our perspective, it’s not that we can’t make a choice for good motives over evil ones. Rather, it’s that we have absolutely no interest in choosing good motives rather than evil ones.

          On the other hand, our freedom to act upon our motives is more unfettered in the spiritual world than it is here.

          In heaven, we have full freedom to act upon every good motive and desire we feel. There are no laws or social strictures preventing us from full expressing our love and care for our fellow human beings, and for God—which are what motivate everyone in heaven.

          Even in hell, there are not the sort of codified laws and social strictures against evil actions that there are in every decent society here on earth. People in hell are free to act upon their evil desires as much as they wish to do so. Unfortunately, there are consequences for those evil actions, in the form of pain and punishment inflicted upon them by their fellow evil spirits. So although they are free to act upon their evil desires, they do so with the growing awareness that they will suffer pain as a result. And yet, they continue to act upon them as much as they are able because that is what gives them their pleasure.

          So yes, our choice made here on earth is permanent, and yes, we continue to have free will. But it is free will of a different type than the one we have here on earth. It is not the freedom to choose between good and evil, but rather the freedom to act upon the choice that we have made, and to decide exactly how we will act upon the particular primary motive (or “ruling love,” as Swedenborg calls it) that we chose during our earthly lifetime.

          And although theoretically we could still do either good or bad actions, if we have chosen good over evil, we have no desire to do evil actions, whereas if we have chosen evil over good, we have no desire to do good actions. So in general, people in heaven do only good things, whereas people in hell do only evil things of their own free will.

          However, people in hell are forced to do some good, in the form of work for food and clothing. So in one sense the people in hell do both good and bad actions. But only the bad ones are of their own free will, whereas the good ones are done out of necessity, so that they don’t have to walk around naked and starving.

          So people who chose selfishness over love for God and the neighbor here on earth no longer have any desire to do anything good in the spiritual world, even if they are sometimes obliged by necessity to do some good and useful work.

          However, I would stress that “selfishness” doesn’t mean thinking you’re selfish. There are a lot of very good people who think they’re bad people. It’s not what we think of ourselves, but what we actually do based on our real motives, that shows whether we are actually selfish or unselfish, meaning whether we are hell-bound or heaven-bound.

      • That makes no sense, Lee. The Bible uses the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” seven times in the New Testament as a description of the torments of the damned in the fiery furnace. That does NOT sound like they are enjoying themselves there in Hell. That sounds like I think you should pick up the book Erasing Hell by Francis Chan. Christians these days are afraid of speaking about the true horrors of Hell because they don’t want to offend anyone or turn anyone off toward the gospel… but the truth is that Hell is a VERY REAL place if you believe the Bible is true and take it literally- you certainly do not want to go there. Jesus calls it the “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46) and Jude 1:7 describes it as a “punishment of eternal fire.” That word eternal sounds pretty eternal to me. I think this blog entry could have been a lot shorter… all you had to do was say that Jesus Christ’s blood is the atonement for our sin. His sacrifice as the Perfect Lamb was ENOUGH. Believe on Him and you will be saved. Period. In John 6 Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me—Truly, truly, I tell you, he who believes has eternal life.”

        • Lee says:

          Hi Foundations of Sapphires,

          I understand that this is your belief. But my belief is quite different.

          The difference is that you take the Bible literally, as you say, whereas I read much of it metaphorically. Jesus was a master of parables. God is a master of parables. In my view, to take everything the Bible says literally is to focus on the letter, which kills, rather than on the spirit, which gives life (see 2 Corinthians 3:6).

          However, I do agree with you that hell is eternal, and that those who go to hell are punished. You can see more about this in my article, “Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

          As for your view of salvation, that it is sufficient merely to believe in Jesus, I simply don’t think that is taught in or supported by the Bible. I have read very carefully, for many years, the Bible passages that Protestants quote to support this belief, and I have come to the firm conclusion that that is simply not what those Bible passages say or mean. You can see more about this in these articles (for starters):

          I do respect your right to believe as you wish to believe. However, I respectfully request that you not come to my blog and respond to other readers here with your particular Protestant-based views of our being saved simply by believing in Jesus. There are plenty of websites that people can go to for that viewpoint. Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life presents a different viewpoint, which I believe is much more solidly founded on the Bible.

          Along those lines, I refer you to this article: “Today’s Christianity: Vastly Void of Truth.” If you wish to discuss these issues further with me, I would be happy to do so, either here or on your blog.

          Meanwhile, I wish you a wonderful New Year, and blessings on your spiritual journey.

        • David Harris says:

          Lee I don’t really think what he’s saying is bad maybe more misunderstood if your as open-minded as you say yes the entire bible is history parables future and a guide and ones belief isn’t going to doom him to hell you are taught and I can’t remember where exactly but it says for the one knowing not of God he shall surely enter the gates of heaven which could also come to be one taught by the wrong teacher so a person that’s taught wrong is one that does not know the truth so a child is what someone that needs teaching how can you say that what you say is the truth and his isn’t you have faith in what you have been taught and faith my friend is the center of knowing if you are bound for glory……….God’s time has no end so saying an eternity in hell is placing a limit on time, so eternity is only in man’s mind so yes I say that in what seems an eternity however long that may be yes a man’s eternity in hell is ended when he realizes and makes the correction. For I see God’s time is endless so for God’s word to say spend eternity is applying an end. Eternity depends soley on the individual.

        • Lee says:

          Hi David,

          Thank you for your thoughts. Foundations of Sapphires can speak for herself if she wishes. Meanwhile, for my view of hell, please see this article:
          Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

    • David Harris says:

      God’s time has no end so saying an eternity in hell is placing a limit on time, so eternity is only in man’s mind so yes I say that in what seems an eternity however long that may be yes a man’s eternity in hell is ended when he realizes and makes the correction. For I see God’s time is endless so for God’s word to say spend eternity is applying an end. Eternity depends soley on the individual.

  3. jehansonwriter2 says:

    Reblogged this on The Enforcers.

  4. jehansonwriter2 says:

    Thank you and your words and passages are a great comfort to me. This is what exactly, I’ve been looking for.

    • Lee says:

      Hi jehansonwriter2,

      You are most welcome. I’m glad the article is helpful to you. Thanks for the reblog!

      • Vinny says:

        I’ve non following Christ for last 16yrs.
        Sincerely praying attending church innindating myself with sermons.
        All alone!

        It’s bin non stop discouragement dissapointment heartache rejection loss n defeat. I simply cling to his promises n truths all to no redemption or help.
        Constant loneliness rejection.

        16 straight years!!!

        A constant curse n I can’t escape it. Pleading for years for some love help favour.

        I feel like a space filler doomed to hell here n now n afterlife.

        Wish I was never born.

        Ima Calvinist. I see God having a wonderful relationship with others….ya some temp trial n suffering but never to my extant.

        I’m now n have him very hopeless m bitter.

        I see crippled people with contentment.

        Why oh why does God need me to be heaven’s joke!

        • Lee says:

          Hi Vinny,

          Thanks for stopping by, and for your plaintive comment. I’m sorry to hear that your life is such a spiritual struggle.

          Not to put too fine a point on it, but being a Calvinist might be part of your problem. Calvin’s doctrine of predestination is great for people who are convinced they are among God’s chosen. But for those who think God has predestined them for hell, it’s a prescription for the ultimate levels of discouragement and despair.

          If you have taken that harsh Calvinist doctrine to heart, I would strongly encourage you to repudiate it from your mind and utterly reject it from your heart. It is a pernicious doctrine that makes God out to be a terrible tyrant who lifts some people up and crushes others down solely on the basis of arbitrary whim.

          For a better view of God’s nature, I invite you to start with these two articles:

          1. God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World
          2. The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus

          And about all of that pain and suffering, here is an article to start with: “If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?

          I know that this life can sometimes feel cruel, and all stacked against us. But despite all appearances to the contrary, the reality is that God does love you. And though the path may not be easy, there is a way to a more hope-filled life. See: “Is it Easy or Hard to Get to Heaven?

          At this Advent season Annette and I wish for the birth in you of a new sense of God’s goodness in an often bleak and weary world.

  5. Sophia says:

    Thank you for the inspiring article, it was beautifully written. I’m just worried that I am messing up my soul already. I feel like I am a pretty average 15 year old girl, but find myself disobeying the Ten Commandments to often. “Little things” like talking back to my parents or watching or reading something dirty I shouldn’t or lying or not going to church every Sunday for petty reasons. I’m afraid I’m not being a good HOLY Christian, I guess. Have I lost all my holy grace and innocence because of these sins?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sophia,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I hope it does help you.

      Not to make light of the things you’re doing that are troubling your soul, but do consider that you have now entered into your teenage years. Yes, of course you’ve lost some of your grace and innocence, because you are no longer a young child. You’re in the practice phase for adulthood, when you must face the struggles and temptations of the world, and make your life choice between good and evil. This is not a simple yes/no decision, but a long, drawn-out one that involves dealing with many difficult thoughts, emotions, and situations that will test you soul, sift what you are made of, and thrust you into difficult and painful choices that, over your lifetime, will determine who and what you will be to eternity.

      No pressure! 😉

      But consider that everyone faces struggles and temptation, and everyone falls short of the mark often enough in ways small and large. You are not alone in feeling you have lost your grace and innocence as you head into your teenage years and toward adulthood.

      Of course, it is best not to break the Ten Commandments. Our goal is to get to the point where we no longer even want to break them. But that is a long journey. We have many battles to fight both within our heart and mind and in our relationships with the people around us.

      My suggestion for you is that instead of focusing on your violations in the moment, you begin thinking long-term, and considering what you want for your life.

      What are your goals and aspirations? What do you want to accomplish with your life? How do you want to contribute to humanity, and to God’s kingdom? If you can begin to develop a sense of who you are and where you are going in life, it will give your life new focus and new meaning. You will begin to use your hours and days to move yourself forward toward your goals.

      And then, though you will still have conflicts with your family, friends, and teachers from time to time, and will still from time to time do things you know you shouldn’t, you will know that your life has purpose and meaning–and that will keep carrying you forward.

      God created you for a purpose. You are here for a reason. God loves you, and wants you to experience the joy and satisfaction of becoming a good and worthwhile person both here on earth and in eternity. This happens especially as you “seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness,” meaning strive to be the good and faithful person God wants you to be, and then “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33), meaning you will gradually overcome the flaws in your motives, character, and actions, and become a good and solid person who can enjoy the pleasures of this life while living for the truth and goodness of God’s kingdom.

      For more on the meaning and purpose of our life here on earth, please see this article: Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.

      And another article here that might be helpful: Is it Easy or Hard to Get to Heaven?

      Meanwhile, if you have more questions, please feel free to ask . . . as long as they’re not too personal.

  6. Mark ledain says:

    Hi Lee,
    I accepted christ as my saviour 4 years ago this month and placed my trust in him to renew my mind and help me walk in truth with him. Not to make this a long story, but in the space of 4 years I have managed to cut some sinful things out of my life like, drugs, swearing, sexual sins etc. I now go to church to worship and pray and read the bible, I still feel as though I have a long way to go though to reach the standards you have said we need to reach to be worthy of heaven. For example I always feel uneasy about the fact that I remarried and before I came to Christ and even knew that what I did simply by remarrying was committing adultery. I have asked and prayed many times that God would forgive me for doing this and I know I’d never remarry again but I’ve heard from other apologists that I need to leave my wife to make it straight with God which I am alarmed about as I have 2 lovely children and dread the thought of what this would do to them and my wife and could even serve to disencourage them in following the faith one day. My question is this, while I believe I have made some progress in my standards of living I still feel as if there’s a long way to go,and some things that i just cant change like my re marriage , does this mean that when I die I could still go to hell as a result of this, I hope not and love in fear everyday.
    Thanks. Mark.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment, and congratulations on making real progress in your journey of faith! Leaving behind old sins and starting a new life in Christ is what Christianity is all about, in my understanding of it.

      Without going into a long treatise on remarriage, I will simply say that I do not believe you are sinning by remaining with your wife and continuing to be a father to your children. There is no need to penalize your wife and children for mistakes you believe you have made in the past. Just because your own path to your present situation may have been a sinful one (though from what you’ve said here, I don’t see it that way), there’s no need to pass the effects of that down the generations by causing your wife to be divorced, and your children to grow up in a broken home.

      Human life is messy. None of us is perfect, and none of us got to where we are by a perfect path. But Christianity is about loving our neighbor as ourselves, as Christ himself taught us. And from what you have said about your situation, I believe that the path of Christian love is for you to remain married and faithful to your present wife, and be a good father to your children, raising them to be good and thoughtful people and, we hope, citizens of God’s kingdom when it comes their time to make that choice.

      God does not count past sins against us (see Ezekiel 18:21-23; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19), but looks at the life we are living now, and what we are doing to love and serve his brothers and sisters here on earth (see Matthew 25:31-46). Based on this, I certainly do not think that you will go to hell for staying married to your wife and raising your children with her. Quite the contrary, I believe it is the right and Christian thing to do.

  7. Tony says:

    hi lee
    I seen people mention divine judgement and that it’s final that sounds quite bad for the people who won’t be in heaven don’t you think?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Yes, it’s bad for those people. But it’s not arbitrary. And in the end, it is the life those people have chosen for themselves.

      God’s judgment involves shining the light of divine truth on us, showing the true nature of our life and character, and sorting us each out into the area of the spiritual world where we belong based on the life we have chosen to live—which is the life we love to live.

      For more on exactly how this happens as we experience it after we die (as compared to the metaphorical language used of the great judgment in the Bible), please see this article: What Happens To Us When We Die?

      For more on what hell is really all about, please see this article: Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

  8. Damodar says:

    Great article, I am wondering if the soul of a living person can already, if sinned, be in hell. I had amazing spritua insights, but sufer lot of pain and in moment of distress like negativity prevailed and Ifound my slef in hell…Not al time, but had moments of terrible fears, conditions which can not describe, like one is there forever with same painful situation repeating all the time.

    I got better but ever since my spiritual progres stoppped, I feel like I am condemned and can not get out of my hole. Last episode of distress due to the pain like left me with limited ability to think etc.

    This artiicle encouragement especialy saying one can find way to heaven as long as we have our body. But I fear my soul is traped in hell, I did nothing seriously bad, but my fear due to every littly thing and not sufficient faith are main problem and cursing was big problem but I stoped.

    Is it possible that my soul is already in hell or it is game of the evil. Or I am to hope salvation as long as I have my body and trying improve myself.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Damodar,

      Thanks. Glad you liked the article, and that it was helpful to you.

      I’m sorry to hear about your spiritual struggles. They are part of our life here on earth. And the fact that you’re having them, and still struggling and working to overcome them, shows that you’re on the spiritual path, and that God has a plan for you. So as hard as it is, don’t get too discouraged. Your progress may seem slow, and sometimes it may feel as if you’ve gone backwards, but you’re probably accomplishing more spiritually than you think you are just by engaging in the struggle.

      About your question, as long as we’re here on earth, we may be associated with some community of hell, but we are not actually in it. While we’re living on earth, our primary contact with the spiritual world is not directly with heaven or hell, but rather with the “world of spirits” that exists between heaven and hell. This is the spiritual place where all people go immediately after they die, and remain there until they are ready either for heaven or for hell. For more on that process, please see: What Happens To Us When We Die?

      Since the world of spirits is where we are spiritually before we’ve found our final place in heaven or in hell, it is also a mixture of good and evil–just as most of us are here on earth. Most of the spirits there are still in a similar state of mind to what we’re in here on earth. That’s why we are in direct contact with them, but usually not in direct contact with angels from heaven or evil spirits from hell.

      So although we may be in a hellish state here on earth, and under the influence of hell, we are not really in hell while we are here on earth. And that means that even if we are in a hellish state, we can still find our way out of it, with God’s help.

      I think your final thought is the best way to think about it: You are to hope for salvation as long as you have your body and are trying to improve yourself. God is not concerned with what you’ve done in the past, but with what you’re doing in the present. And if God sees that you are working to improve yourself and move away from hell and toward heaven, that is all God can ask of you.

      From what you say, I think you are a good and decent person who is very aware of your failings and shortcomings, and that you know you have work to do. As much of a struggle as that can be, it’s actually a much better state to be in than thinking that there’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s no need to put out any effort to fix what’s broken in your spirit and your life.

      So don’t give up. Keep doing the work. And look for ways you can help others and lighten their load as well. There’s nothing like showing love, kindness, and practical helpfulness to others to get us out of our own slough of despondency, and lifting up our spirit as we share love and kindness with others.

      Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you struggle along your spiritual path toward the light and love that is God and heaven.

  9. dave lambie says:

    I’m not worth being on the planet i should be in hell no one loves me i am u/s at every thing that i do i think it would be the best place for me in hell and that is being honest truth with you i do not thing that even god love’s me

    • Lee says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’m sorry to hear that you feel that way. Clearly your life at this point is a terrible struggle. I won’t try to whitewash that. At times life can be a living hell.

      However, I assure you that even if you can’t imagine it, God does love you, and God does have a place for you in heaven. And I also suspect that there are some people on this earth who do care about you, even if it doesn’t seem that way to you.

      Not knowing what your specific struggles and problems are, I can’t give you much in the way of specific help or guidance. But I hope you will reach out and find someone you can trust—perhaps a local minister or counselor—who can give you the help you need to make it through this dark time in your life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. vanessa says:

    i love u. thank u for writin this. it helped a lot

  11. Bill says:

    Thank you for this. I am not a church going person. But, I am very spiritual in my own way. I was a bad person at one time in my life. But, I feel I am on the right track now. I have a child’s heart. By that, I mean I am innocent inside and trust and forgive. I worry about life after death. This gave me a bit of hope. Thank You!

  12. Tee says:

    I have been crying for 1 month and two weeks. Lost 5 lb in in week. Am worried about not going to heaven because of the terrible things I have done. I wish u could give me some help…. Please please… I have to be councilling every day and about to be send away for psychotherapy

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tee,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m very sorry to hear about your struggles and worries.

      Just remember that, as I say in the article, it’s not what you’ve done in the past that matters, but what you keep doing in the present. God has already forgiven you for your past sins. If you don’t keep doing them, then as it says in Ezekiel 18:21-23, none of your past sins will be remembered against you.

      If your counselors and therapists can help you to leave those terrible things behind and begin a new life, then they are helping you to move from the hell that you’ve already experienced into a heaven of a better and spiritually healthier life. Your counselors and therapists want to help you. Whether or not their approach is spiritual, I would suggest getting the most you can from what they can offer, and learning what you can from them about what drove you to do those terrible things in the past, so that you can leave that old life behind you, and begin a new life.

      And of course, while they are helping you from a more secular perspective, you can keep praying to God for help and for a new heart, mind, and spirit to replace your old one. It is not just to ancient Israel, but to us today that God makes this promise:

      I will give them a new heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20)

  13. D says:

    Thank you for writing this. I’m a young teenager and I’ve had a terrible fear of going to hell and have been struggling with faith. At a very young age my grandmother took me to church and the preacher terrified me with his speak of the devil and hell and because of that I’ve lost faith. I’m trying to gain it back and this article really helped me out.

    • Lee says:

      Hi D,

      Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad this article was helpful to you! That’s what this website is all about.

      I invite you to look around at some of the other articles here, such as the ones linked at the end of the above article. Perhaps you’ll find some other helpful thoughts and perspectives.

      Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you as you rebuild your faith on a new foundation.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the article.
    I think I might need help though, I have a sick mind. I have little to no emotions, I don’t want to just be happy forever. For some reason I don’t even want to know God, I used to be afraid of hell but now I don’t care that much…if anything it was the punishment I was meant to take in the first place. For people like me, what do you suggest I do? How do I care?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anonymous,

      You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and questions.

      I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I’m not a psychologist, but I do know that some people simply lack the usual emotions. Why some people are that way is a matter of debate. But if you can find a counselor you trust, you might at least get some assurance that you’re not a bad person just because you don’t feel emotions the way other people do.

      Though heaven is commonly associated with happiness, joy, and bliss, according to Swedenborg that is not the “main event” of heaven, but rather a byproduct of what heaven is really about.

      And that, he says, is service to others.

      Though angels do have their R&R, which they enjoy, the core of their lives, and what gives them their greatest satisfaction in life, is the daily work that they do in service of their fellow angels, not to mention service for people who have recently arrived from earth, and for people still living on earth. Every angel has particular skills, and a love for using those skills to serve others. And that is what especially gives them their joy.

      For you, lacking the usual level of emotion that most other people feel, it may be a little more complicated. But in the end, the spiritual “prescription” is the same. Look for something that you can do for your fellow human beings, which you either have the skills and aptitude to do or can develop the skills, and set your mind to doing that.

      This can be as simple as throwing yourself into your job or your daily tasks, and doing them to the best of your ability, thinking of how you can benefit other people (customers, fellow employees, people in your neighborhood, etc.) by doing them. In many ways it really doesn’t matter exactly what you’re doing, grand or humble, as long as it’s something that benefits others, and that you can take some satisfaction in doing.

      I don’t know anything about your situation other than what you’ve said, so I can’t give you any specific advice about what to do. But no matter where you are and what your situation is, there’s probably something you can do to make life a little better and easier for the people that you see or interact with each day. Even people sick in the hospital can make things easier (or harder) for the doctors and nurses taking care of them.

      So my suggestion is that you not worry too much about your low levels of emotion. Yes, see a counselor about that if you can. But even with low emotions, you can still go about your daily tasks, whether paid or volunteer, and do your best at them. It may take some real effort to keep yourself going. But the effort will be worth it as you gain a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in a life that is worth living.

      You may or may not be able to feel real happiness yourself. But you can at least take some satisfaction in giving help and happiness to others. And I think that in time, that will come back and touch you as well.

      I hope this helps. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

      • Luna says:

        You say that in heaven, what gives all of us the most satisfaction is service to others, but what if that isn’t what gives me the most satisfaction?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Luna,

          We have a lifetime here on earth for a reason. For most of us, it takes lifetime to get our priorities right.

        • Luna says:

          But what if we don’t get our priorities right? What if what gives us the most satisfaction is spending time with our family?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Luna,

          If all you ever do is spend time with your family, that might be a problem. But presumably you will have a job in which you interact with other people, think about other people, and provide services to other people. You would then be thinking of other people besides your family members. Family can then be a sanctuary from the struggle of life on the job and in the world.

          Also, if you become a mother, and devote most of your time and energy to raising your children, this is not a bad thing if you are raising your children to be good people, good citizens, and contributors to the well-being of the culture and the society. Then, even though most of your time is spent within your family, you are still serving the wider community by raising new members of that community.

  15. Ellie says:

    Oh my gosh. I must thank you for this wonderful message, as I have not been the greatest person at times. And I struggle horribly with ongoing sin. It’s like a division inside me, I want to be pleasing to God yet am fighting against what the mind wants to continuously do. It’s like trying to walk a tightrope and you just can’t balance yourself on your own, you need Jesus to help you through. But it’s so very difficult and I mentally beat myself up over it. I have been praying through it asking him for a message, because I really felt he was angry with me and was going to send me to hell (What I would deserve for Sinning.) Then I find this page, and I feel so much better now. I can now be at peace, there is still hope for me yet!

    Thank you so very much and may God bless you!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Ellie,

      You are most welcome. I’m glad this article is helping you. Considering all of the heavy burdens we place on our own heart and soul, there’s no need to add further burdens about God sending us to hell. Jesus said:

      Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

      Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you move forward on your spiritual journey.

      Speaking of which, you might also find helpful the most recent article here (as I write this): Are We Saved in an Instant? How was the Thief on the Cross Saved? See especially the section titled, “Life is a spiritual journey. Which way are you headed?”

    • Jessica says:


      I am not sure if you are going to read this, but when I attended a Winter Retreat with my fellow Christiansmsomething the pastor said to us really spoke volumes. I am glad that this blog was able to help you out, but I would like to add something if I may: sometimes, Satan whispers in your mind and tries to pull you away from God by making it seem as if you stand condemned or that God is disappointed in you. “Ha, I was right, God! She was not good enough.” Perhaps Satan would say something along those lines. But the thing about God is that even though He knows you have messed up, I would imagine that when you repent of any sin and renew your relationship with God, then He forgives because of the sacrifice that Jesus had made for all of us. I imagine that Jesus knew what we would do before we even did it; he did for Peter with the crow. He loves you. He hates all wrongdoing yes, but once you repent and return from following the destructive paths and reorient yourself to God, you will be forgiven.

      So do whatever you need to to make sure that you are not tuning in to Satan; I struggle with this all the time. Pray. Do daily God times in the Bible and meet with God. Seek fellowship with seasoned Christ followers whom you trust. I hope you continue growing and becoming more and more like Christ everyday and that we all learn to be content no matter what situation we are in because Jesus is enough. May God bless you and have a good night!!!!

  16. Carolyn willis says:

    I just want to say may God Bless you for this website (you must of truly helped many people from it, I know you have me)

    I am struggling with life at the moment & often feel like giving up! I have two kids & got divorced & find it hard, everything is falling apart, & I cry a lot. I’m a good soul who makes absolutely stupid sins constantly, self pity, fear, drugs, cursing, lazy (well I could go on) I’m so scared I’m going to hell & that gods so angry with my life’s path, I’m so ashamed & I’m drenched in guilt I feel frozen in this rut!!! I’m going to start praying more & going to church.
    But thank you X

    • Lee says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. I’m glad this article is helping you to pick up and move forward with your life and your spiritual journey. Every one of us falls far short of the glory of God, yet God still loves us fully, and wants each one of us to join him in heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  17. Alicia says:

    Hello, thank you so much this article. It is full of kindness and grace and has helped me in a lot of ways.

    I’m raised Christian, but I don’t go to church because my family is not very serious about religion and am not baptised. I have always had an intense and horrible fear of hell. I am young but I feel like I have committed so many transgressions already. I read and feel very comforted by stuff that might not be appropriate for a Christian. I don’t do as much work as I can sometimes. I am depressed and don’t appreciate life as much as I should. I live in a rather privileged environment and that in itself feels sinful. I am female but I feel attraction to other female people and am extremely romantically attracted to another girl in particular, and the thing is that I support movements that advocate for queer rights and feminism because they feel accepting and full of love but Christians deem them ungodly and I don’t understand why if their main principle is also love.

    I feel distant from God sometimes, and I pray quite little in those times. It’s like my mind is trying to block out religion (I think it’s some kind of subconscious protection against my fear of hell) and it’s reminders and descriptions of hell that bring me back to religion and I hate that this is so, I hate that I cannot be religious because of accepting the grace of God and not just this fear.

    What can I do? Please help me.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Alicia,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comments. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God. None of us could stand if we were judged by our own selves. We are all in need of God’s presence in us to have any redeeming qualities at all.

      Still, I do hope you’ll take the message of this article to heart, and become more able to view yourself and your life in less critical terms. Perhaps you are a bit of a mess-up. But God is aware of that, loves you anyway, and wants you to experience eternal life and happiness.

      My suggestion is to think of your life as a renovation project. You can’t do it all at once. Pick a specific area of your life and character where your shortcomings do particular damage, and focus on fixing up that specific thing. If you try to fix your whole life at once, you’ll be overwhelmed, and will give up in despair. But if you focus on one “room” of your life at a time in this spiritual renovation project, it will become more manageable. You can fix yourself up room by room, and eventually reach your goals as a person of thoughtfulness and integrity.

      For some help on doing this, see my article: What does Jesus Mean when He Says we Must be Born Again?

      I would also add that freeing yourself from faulty “Christian” attitudes that you may have picked up along the way will help. I would encourage you to read some of the other articles on this website about true Christianity. In particular, you might enjoy: The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus.

      And about your attraction to other females, though it’s a long piece and may take some dedication to get through, please see: Homosexuality, the Bible, and Christianity. This article will help you to counter some of the “Christian” messages you may have received so far about same-sex love and attraction.

  18. Rob says:

    I’ve read this article about half a dozen times. Its interesting to see that others besides me are afraid of hell. I still think I am going there, if Swedenborg is right. I am just unable to find any charity in my heart. Maybe its my age; habits and personality are hard to break. At this point I can just hope for a milder hell, but even resigning myself to that has an effect of making me angrier at life.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rob,

      You are certainly not alone. There are probably hundreds of millions of people out there who are terrified of hell. Some of them may end out there. But most, I think, will not.

  19. Skyla says:

    Hi, I have read this article and it has made me think, I’ve been scared my whole life.

    I was raised a Christian but at one point in my life I questioned how I could be so ignorant to believe in Christianity when I knew literally nothing about any other religion? Over time I kind of just lost faith. I stopped praying, and I distanced myself from any type of religion.

    Then I met someone who practices Islam. When she talks about her religion she says she feels so pure when she prays, and that she is in love with her God and her religion. This re-ignited my interest in the organization of other religions because I was envious that not once in my life did I feel pure, and at peace, and feel a god there listening to me, so I started to do research. I researched every major religion I thought worth my time. Catholicism, Protestantism, Wiccan, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Baha’i, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. etc. I found a few that represented what I believe in (equal rights for all, and the unity and peace of the human race) so I tried praying to each religion’s God/Goddess/gods in the traditional means, over the course of many months but I still felt so empty.

    At this point, I am just so lost and don’t know what to believe in. I find comfort in science to be honest, because there is more proof there, religion relies on faith. I like to think that if you were smart and great enough to create a whole Universe you would know how to justly govern your children and decide who is punished, who deserves rehabilitation, and who gets to live in eternal happiness. But what if that’s not the case? What if God truly believes that the female sex is inherently inferior, homosexuality is extremely prohibited, that you’ll go to hell, for lying?

    Because I don’t know which religion to believe in, much less what to believe if I followed one (seeing as how no single scripture can be translated properly, and everyone has their own interpretation of them) I’m just really scared I’ll live a life of eternal pain in hell because I don’t know how to live my life other than by what I think is right.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Skyla,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful comment. It’s unfortunate that some versions of Christianity, and of other religions too, operate by instilling fear into their adherents. There is a type of healthy fear, which is a fear of violating God’s will by harming our fellow human beings. However, much of the fear instilled by fear-based churches and religions has nothing to do with that, but is a fear that God is angry and vengeful and will punish and destroy us.

      That’s not the sort of God I believe in.

      Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself what sort of God you will believe in. For my own views on the heart of God’s love and what Christ and Christianity are really all about, please see this article: The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus. If you find it helpful, there are more articles linked at the end that you might enjoy also.

      Another article that may help to put your mind and heart at ease is this one: If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions? And see also the further articles linked at the end of that article.

      I do not believe you will spend eternity in hell just because you picked the wrong religion. Even if you never do> find a religion that works for you, I still don’t think God will send you to hell. God looks at our heart, and at what we do for our fellow human beings, not just at what we believe.

      No matter what you believe, you can still love God by loving and serving your fellow human beings. That, to me, is the essence of all genuine religion. And if you do that, there is no way God is going to send you to hell.

      If you do read the linked articles and have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  20. Gord Sexton says:

    I didn’t read all that was written, but most. I agree with what I read. In 1 John 4:7, it says “God is love.” I loved the picture, “God wants you for Heaven.” In our church, it is taught that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”.

  21. Emile says:

    There are those who believe… And those who only believe : that they believe… But have in final never believed. Maybe I tried when I started, but rapidly gave up… Because there was no “structure” inside of me… And I have rather laid upon the faith of others than on my own… Because maybe there was none… And after years of living on my own feelings, wrong made decisions and goal-less, I am now on my way to Hell. My heart is cold and full of hate and resentment, and I have cursed people on my way too. Verbally and in thought. I know there’s a judgement of God on my life to come. Therefore have I accepted the issue, because I know that when I face Him, I will be in perfect accordance to his final verdict over my life…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Emile,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m sorry your life has been difficult, and that you feel there is no hope for you. The article I’m about to publish here today will deal with that very subject. I’ll edit this and add a link once it’s up.

      But here’s the short version: God does not judge you to hell. Only you can do that to yourself. And as long as you’re still walking this earth, you can still reverse the judgment to hell that you are pronouncing on yourself.

      Since you are clearly upset by this situation in your life, or you wouldn’t be writing about it here, I do hope you’ll read the new article when it’s posted, and follow some of the linked articles at the end. Perhaps they will help you to feel that there is still hope for you, and give you some guidance on the steps to take to move out of the personal hell that you’re currently in.

      Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Emile says:

      In final, Sir, I do not really understand what the “Love of God” means… It leaves me cold inside. And each time I was told “He sent His Son to die for me…”, it did not help more, even though I believe this is true…

      Because I never had a son, nor even ever wanted to have one… And with the one my wife has wanted to adopt, I have shown completely incapable to raise and protect… And he is now going worse…

      Another question I have is : from revelation 21:8

      But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

      It’s ok for being so judged, but…

      Why am I a coward ?

      Was I so born, or did I become one ?

      You can however once again check out why I am going to Hell

      It is God’s Justice…


      • Lee says:

        Hi Emile,

        About God loving us, and the meaning of God sending his Son, from a more spiritual perspective, please see:

        About how we can love God, please see: How do I Love God with my Whole Heart?

        About your character and personality, I can’t really say how you got the way you are, or even if you are “cowardly” as meant in that passage. I know you only from what you have said here. I can only say that if you don’t want to go to hell, you don’t have to. And it will depend on the choices you make within the room you have for making choices. If you were born with some character trait and can’t shake it, that’s not going to condemn you to hell. But if you have the opportunity and ability to help people instead of harming them, and you choose to harm them instead, that will be a problem.

  22. Louise says:

    Hello I hope you can help me. I recently messaged that I had found God and I wanted to repent my past sins and spread the word that I had found God and believed in being saved.

    I have tried explaining this to my partner But he says that because we have a child born out of wedlock (prior to me finding God) I will automatically burn in hell for eternity regardless of whether I repent. Is this true? I am on a very new path and am struggling with understanding some parts of the bible.

    I am not sorry for the birth of my beautiful daughter, I am not sorry for making love to my boyfriend whom I adore and am committed to. But I am trying to be a good person who is kind to all.

    Please offer any advice you can, I will be very grateful.
    Thank you

    • Lee says:

      Hi Louise,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question.

      Does your boyfriend really believe this, or really believe that Christianity teaches this? Or is he just giving you a hard time?

      I’m not aware of any Christian church that teaches that having had a child out of wedlock before you became a Christian will result in your inevitably going to hell. The usual teaching is that once you become a Christian, your previous sins are forgiven. So I’m not sure where your boyfriend is getting this idea.

      Of course, the version of Christianity that I believe in is quite different from traditional Christianity. For my general view of extramarital sex, see the article: Is Sex Before Marriage Forbidden in the Bible?

      And on the idea that a person can commit a sin that can never be forgiven, so that she or he will inevitably burn in hell for eternity, see my most recent article (as I write this): What is the Unpardonable Sin? Am I Doomed?

      There are other articles here that may also be helpful, but these will give you a good start.

  23. Joel says:

    Hi Lee.. I read through your message on hell etc and I find I mostly relate to “What if you keep doing things you shouldn’t?”….. although the things are not necessarily evil.. I have a self control problem. I grew up in a christian home but wasn’t calling myself a christian until I turned to the Lord because I felt convicted of the great sin in my life.

    But all went south when I was soon oppressed with demonic thoughts every day for many years. I was later delivered from these thoughts, but my life as a Christian has been up and down for me and its becoming tiresome.

    Throughout these years of my life suffering from deep depression and self identity, I have had so many experiences that show I have a strong calling on my life. But I fear my foolish behavior and lack of self control…and every moment that has led up until now.. has led me to believe God has cursed me or wants nothing to do with me.. I fear he will smite me down and will die soon and end up in hell.. I have suffered from manic depressive states for the last several years and have been in and out of hospitals…. I seem to be on fire for God for awhile but then get sucked into deep depression and feel like the devil himself and his demons are holding me down from living a true Christian life.

    There is so much in my life that I haven’t explained… and its a really long and spiritual journey..I feel like there is a tug-a-war on my soul and cant keep going like this.

    One of the hardest feelings to go through is when I pray to God sincerely.. telling him I want to change and live a strong Christ-like walk. … praying from my heart and every fiber in me… and then the next thing you know I’m back in my old habits… I Pick up the Word of God.. read.. pray but am so caught up in my problems.. (Tons of physical problems) and mental issues that I give up and isolate myself for weeks… rinse and repeat..

    I dont know what else to say .. I feel like I keep asking people for reassurance that I am not cursed or headed to hell.. I keep seeking guidance from people but never apply it to my life. I am weak. Thanks for reading.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Joel,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. It sounds like life has been, and continues to be, a real struggle for you. But at least it sounds like you’ve made some progress from your low point. And that’s good, even if you’re still struggling hard with many of the same problems that brought you so low.

      First, I would encourage you to take advantage of whatever medical help you can to deal with and stabilize your physical and psychological condition. Religious folks often make the mistake of thinking that God will take care of everything, and there’s no need for physical means. But I believe God gave us the physical means also, and wants us to take advantage of our knowledge and experience in that area to deal with many problems that really are not spiritual problems at all, but physical, mechanical, chemical, and environmental problems.

      And in connection with that, I would suggest not beating yourself up about the physical and mental issues you’re struggling with. They do not mean that you’re evil or sinful. Only that you’re struggling with many issues that primarily have to do with your body, your genetics, and your environment. Many of them were and are beyond your control, and certainly not your fault. That doesn’t excuse you from taking personal responsibility for your physical and mental health and doing what you can to improve it. But we humans are very complex creatures, and there is much about ourselves, both physically and mentally, that we still don’t understand. So give yourself a break and recognize that you’re dealing with very complex issues that thousands of the best minds have struggled with for hundreds of years now. There is no guilt or shame in recognizing that you’re dealing with some of these intractable issues of human life here on earth.

      Further, God certainly does not condemn you for physical and mental issues that are not entirely within your control. We don’t choose the genetics we’re born with or the environment in which we’re raised. Even in adulthood we don’t have control over all of the factors that affect our physical and mental health. And God does not hold us responsible for anything that is beyond our control.

      Besides, God is pure love, and does not condemn or damn anyone for anything. God looks on you with nothing but love and compassion. I know that may seem hard to believe, but it is true. Here are a few articles that may help along these lines:

      Finally (for now), I would suggest doing what you can to regularly get your mind off your own struggles and suffering by focusing on what you can do for the people around you. If you have a job, put yourself into doing your job as well as you can, while thinking of the people you are serving by doing the work you do. If you have to spend time in the hospital, think of the doctors, nurses, technicians, and so on, and how you can make their job in caring for you a little easier, and their day a little brighter. If you’re around the neighborhood, think of how you can provide a little sunshine for the people you see. There’s no better antidote for our own suffering than to get outside of ourselves and say and do things to lighten the load of the people around us, and make their lives a little better.

      That, in fact, is what heaven is all about. Heaven really isn’t about not sinning, as important as that is. Heaven is about loving our neighbor as ourselves. None of us is perfect. We all do things we shouldn’t more often than we would like. But if we do our best to focus what energy we can on loving our neighbor by helping and serving our fellow human beings in good and practical ways, then even if we ourselves may be pretty rough around the edges, God will have a place for us in heaven.

  24. pcharlton says:

    what about matt. 7:14

    • Lee says:

      Hi pcharlton,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your question. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus says:

      Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

      At the time of Christ’s coming, humanity was at a low ebb, and few were traveling the road to salvation and life. This made it “small and narrow.” Roads that are seldom traveled do become narrow byways, whereas those that are heavily traveled get more lanes added. So I read Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:13-14 as his assessment of the extremely low spiritual state of humanity at the time he came to save us. I believe his very coming began the broadening of that way, as more and more people traveled on it in the new light and love that he revealed to humanity.

      But Matthew 7:13-14 also has a symbolic meaning. The way of Christ feels small and narrow to those who first begin to travel on it, having been used to a life of self-indulgence and sin. It feels uncomfortable and confining to leave behind the old sins that used to give us pleasure. We feel hemmed in by rules that prevent us from doing the evil and destructive things that we love to do in our former damned state. But even though the way of Christ feels narrow and confining when we first start out on it, it is a way that leads to life, and it becomes broader and more expansive the longer we travel on it.

  25. Anon says:

    I’m scared of believing in the wrong religion, or in no specific religion at all. Lots of religions seem to strive toward something that’s very similar in terms of spirituality, and just seem to give different names for different spiritual aspects of life. I’m scared I cannot have as great a faith in Christianity and Christianity only :/

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      It breaks my heart to hear from people who have been scared by “Christian” teachings involving fear, and specifically fear of hell, if a person believes the “wrong” religion instead of the “right” one. Though there is such a thing as holy fear of God, I believe that has more to do with fearing to act against God’s will than fearing that God will condemn us—something I believe God never does. I am reminded of Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 1:7:

      for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

      I simply don’t believe that Christianity is meant to be a religion of fear. And I question the “Christianity” of any church that inspires a spirit of fear into its followers, rather than a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. For my view of different religions being part of God’s overall plan, please see the article, “If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?” And see also: “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

      I do not know if I can assuage your fears. They’ve clearly been drilled into you, and that can be hard to shake. But I would encourage you to read some of the other articles here, starting with the two linked above. I think you will find here a form of Christianity that doesn’t inspire a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

      In other words, I believe the form of Christianity that you feel you cannot have as great a faith in as you would like is probably not the genuine Christianity preached by Jesus Christ and by his original Apostles, and by Paul. And though it will likely take time, effort, and struggle for you to shake that “Christianity” of fear, and come to a belief in true Christianity, it will be worth the struggle as you set aside your fears and begin to gain the power, love, and self-discipline that comes with a real and growing Christian faith.

      If, as you ponder these things and as you read some of the other articles here, you have specific questions about Christianity, faith, God, and so on, please don’t hesitate to ask. Meanwhile, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  26. Rhys says:

    Do you think the world will physically end? Will Judgment and all it contains be a physical scene on this earth? Thank you.

  27. Mark says:


    I have a question. I have sinned in a horriblender way and that was by me telling God off. I said things I regret and what’s worse is I believe I dammed myself to hell by telling God to go to hell himself. With many more insults because of my rage that built up.

    Am I going to hell?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your question.

      Obviously, cussing out God is not a good thing. On the other hand, it’s probably better that cussing out your boss or someone you know and care about or even some random person in the street who looked at you the wrong way. God has broad shoulders, and will not abandon you or hate you or try to get back at you because you spewed out a string of invective at God in a moment of anger.

      The real question is where all of the rage is coming from. Sooner or later you’ll have to face and deal with that, or it will just keep building up and exploding. I know that’s easier said than done. But God is more concerned about your state of mind and heart than about things you yell when your anger and frustration hit the boiling point.

      It may help to know that in the Bible there are lots of places where people direct their complaints and accusations at God.

      Jeremiah is famous for this! See, for example, Jeremiah 12, Jeremiah 15:15-21, Jeremiah 20:7-18. In that last one Jeremiah ends out cursing the day he was born!

      There are also many places in the Psalms where the Psalmist cries out to God in pain and anguish, asking where God is and whether God even cares. Perhaps the most famous is Psalm 22, whose first line, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried out on the cross (see Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

      So you are certainly not alone in directing your anger and frustration at God. About whether you’re going to hell for it, here is another article that might help: What is the Unpardonable Sin? Am I Doomed?

      Here’s the short answer:

      No, you’re not going to hell just for cursing at God. But it would be a good idea for you to face and deal with the source of your anger and rage. That may involve seeing a local counselor or pastor who can help you to sort through your experiences and your struggles and come to some sort of resolution and peace within yourself.

  28. Emile says:

    If it is written I shall go to Hell, and I will end up there…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Emile,

      Where is it written that you will go to hell?

      • Emile says:

        If you want me to quote the verses which qualify me ? Here they are : –

        Jesus : But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins

        Paul : Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

         James : With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness

        Jesus : You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

        I hope this will be clear enough… It is possible I have been myself cursed in my childhood, or punished because of what my close ancestors did… 3rd and 4th generation ? Maybe… Don’t ask me the origin, I don’t know and I don’t care… I only care for myself… I was diagnosed of schizophrenic disorders very early in my youth and they finally never disappeared, even after I believed, or supposed to have so done… twice I was expelled of christian youth camps where I wanted to volunteer for such reason… I got married and I know I should not have… I am also touched of infertility, and this I know for psychiatric reasons… I never wanted any child : it is just not in me… My wife has wanted to adopt one boy, and I have shown myself totally incapable to raise him… He also knew psychiatric troubles, was expelled of the education system, now he left the house for I don’t know where, in toxics and alcoholics.

        Now, the game will soon be over and I only expect to hear His Voice telling me : « But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death »

        Only one thing I know will suit my heart when this day comes : it is that when God sends me there, He will tell me all the reasons why He so does, and I know I will give Him the Glory.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Emile,

          Thanks for your reply. This does make your situation a little clearer in my mind. About the third and fourth generation, this comes from the Ten Commandments. I’m quoting it in the traditional King James Version because some of the new translations do use the word “punishing,” which is not what the Hebrew says.

          Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6, italics added)

          In light of other statements in the Bible, one of which I’ll quote in a moment, I do not believe this means God punishes us for our parents’ and ancestors’ evils, but rather that we suffer the effects of their evils down the generations. And this is indeed a matter of common experience. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren do suffer the effects of their parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ wrong desires, attitudes, and actions, because they are brought up in the semi-toxic environment caused by their parents’ wrong attitudes and behavior, and must often battle the very same evil tendencies and habits in themselves.

          However, in the Bible God is also very clear that we will not suffer (spiritual) death due to the sins of our parents, but only due do the sins we ourselves commit:

          The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die. . . .

          Yet you say, “Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?” When the son has done what is lawful and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.(Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-20, italics added)

          I would recommend that you read the entire chapter, Ezekiel 18, which lays the whole situation out very clearly.

          It is quite true that the ancient Hebrews believed that children should be punished for the sins of their parents. That was a common practice in ancient times. But in Ezekiel 18 God states very clearly that this is wrong and no longer to be done. And certainly God will also abide by the rules and principles that God has stated for human beings.

          So in answer to your question of whether you are punished for what your ancestors did, the answer is that although you may suffer in various ways due to what your ancestors did, you will not be condemned to hell for anything your ancestors did.

          I’ll respond to the rest in a separate comment.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Emile,

          From what you say, it sounds like much of your sense that you will be condemned to hell is a result of your diagnosed schizophrenia. And I can certainly understand that. Schizophrenia is an intractable disorder, and drags many good-hearted people down to depression and despair, and to various types of destructive behavior.

          And yet, schizophrenia is not something that people choose for themselves or bring upon themselves. It is something that attacks the human brain and mind against the person’s will. It is therefore not the fault of the person who is schizophrenic. And we are not held spiritually accountable for things that are not our choice, our fault, or our responsibility.

          So the short version is that you will not be condemned to hell for any part of your life and actions that are a result of your schizophrenic disorders.

          After you die, those disorders will be removed, and you will be returned to your right mind. At that point you will be held responsible only for choices you made and actions you took that you actually had control over, not for things you thought, felt, said, or did over which you had no control. This is a basic principle of divine justice: we are held responsible only for things that we actually are responsible for, not for things that are beyond our control.

          For more on the general subject of disease (including mental disease) as it relates to our eternal life, please see this article: What is the Source of Human Fragility, Sickness, and Disease?

          I understand that you have said and done many things that you see as evil. And honestly, I can’t say whether you’re going to heaven or to hell. Only God knows that.

          But I can say that you will not go to hell for anything that is a result of your schizophrenic disorders. This is not something that you can “repent from.” It is something that has struck you against your will and through no fault of your own. I would only recommend that you take advantage of any medical and counseling help available to you to help you deal with it and overcome some of its effects. And I can assure you that you will not have to suffer with schizophrenia in the afterlife.

          The very fact that you are willing to accept God’s judgment and give God the glory suggests to me that you are not an evil person at heart, but truly want what is good and right, even if you feel you are not able to attain it in this life. And I believe that when your day of reckoning comes, God will be far more loving and merciful with you than you believe.

  29. AAAAA says:

    I’d like to ask you about the contradictions of Jesus or Mary speaking to people after the events from the bible.

    I am a very gullible person, I tend to believe whatever is presented to me. I started getting into a Christianity that was very strict, the one preaching about “you have to believe this” and “non-christians all go to hell – hell is eternal torture”.

    I think this stuff is scary, fear is probably a huge motivator for them.

    To put it simply, I looked into Swedenborg’s Christianity A LOT through your site, it creates good feelings in me. ‘Normal’ Christianity creates a dreadful feeling – I don’t care how the sects sugarcoat it, Christianity is the religion of suffering and those who sin get some terrible punishment, why else would Jesus suffer so badly if hell was easy?

    I know Swedenborg’s soul was “chosen”, he spoke to Jesus and did many supenatural things. However, I did some research on people like “Children of Fatima” and “Alexandrina Maria Da Costa” – people alive AFTERR Swedenborg died and his church was established. If you’re not familiar, the children of fatima witnessed hell and how bad it is, how many people go there, that was the first secret of fatima – Jacinta Marto was one of the children and after seeing this she lived the rest of her life feeling really bad about everyone going to hell. Alexandrina was a “victim soul” who suffered great physical pain for the rest of her life because Jesus told her that it helps the souls of sinners (as well as praying the rosary). She was even tormented by Satan who wanted her to stop and HATED THE ROSARY. And last example, the traditional Christianity sects like Eastern Orthodox support suffering and praying the rosary… Suffering and praying aren’t a big part of the New Church, it’s all about “unconditional love” yet the Jesus who spoke the Alexandrina said (PARAPHRASING) “poor unhappy people, they want to ‘enjoy their lives’, suffering is the key to heaven…” – is this the same Jesus of NDE’s and Swedenborg’s supposed visions?

    *******Do you see how all these other “chosen souls” who spoke to Jesus or Mary have completely different ideas revealed to them? They can’t all receive knowledge from God if that God is the same, wouldn’t the messages be similar?

    why is praying the rosary so powerful to all these people I described? But Swedenborg doesn’t talk about the Rosary, he is more like an Atheist than a Christian. Why would Jesus and these people (Alexandrina Maria Da Costa) suffer so severely if heaven is easy to get to and hell is not as bad as what the children of fatima saw? Technically, why when Alexandrina died she was taken straight to heaven by Mary, unlike a typical NDE or what Swedenborg describes…. I know they aren’t very coherent questions, the purpose is to demonstrate my confusion and prove that none of these “prophets” or whatever make any sense when you put them all together, they contradict and they offer BELIEFS that may or may not have terrible consequences if you chose not to believe one.

    Swedenborgian / New Church seems good but it is too easy. It tries to explain why Hell is bad and Jesus suffered but it falls apart when it teaches how easy it is to get to avid hell, how there’s a long period after you die where you can choose to avoid hell post-death. It just doesn’t fit in with Christianity that I know of. And a lot of these people have miracles to back up their claims, some greater than anything Swedenborg experienced: the “miracle of the sun” was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people, supporting that the secrets of Fatima were a real revelation; Most contradictory of all: I THINK Alexandrina (or some other “chosen soul” who spoke to Jesus) was told about Satan, yet Swedenborg doesn’t believe Satan exists.

    To conclude this, I ask you to tell me what to believe please. If you are not brainwashed then can you find a way to fit all these “Revelations” together without denying any? I’d be happy if beliefs didn’t matter, or if some commonality can be made with all beliefs (I think that unity is LOVE, all people can do it) – but this comment is about the conflicting yet UNDENIABLE miracles from Swedenborg and others. I believe every single one of them 100%, yet how can they be so contradictory?

    P.S. In case beliefs did not* matter, I would take away that it’s best to just not sin. This is challenging enough, it is good and anyone can do it. But if things like scraments and rosary prayers really are as powerful as many Christians claim, then could it be God favors dogmas like “pray the rosary” and likes it when people follow their cultures religion the best they can?

    • Lee says:

      Hi AAAAA,

      Whew! That’s a lot of questions! I’m not sure I can do full justice to them all in a comment. But I’ll take a stab at some of the major ones, and then refer you to some additional articles here that may help.

      To take your last questions first in good Biblical fashion:

      Yes, not sinning—and doing good instead—is the “main event.”

      John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ disciples all preached “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” In other words, the first message they proclaimed to the people was to stop sinning! That’s what religion, on the practical level is all about. And when we stop sinning, at the same time we are to start a new life of love for God and love for our fellow human beings. And “love” doesn’t just mean a nice feeling, but serving our fellow human beings in practical ways. See Matthew 25:31-46.

      I’m not Catholic, so praying the rosary is not part of my religious practice. However, if praying the rosary helps Catholics to focus their minds on loving God and loving the neighbor, then it has its use. The purpose of prayer is not to change God’s mind, but to bring about changes in our own heart, mind, and actions, and to open up channels for spiritual power from God and heaven to flow into us and into those we pray for.

      As for miracles, though they may be impressive to many people who require sensory evidence to support their religious life, the greatest miracles occur when people whose lives have been selfish, evil, and sinful turn away from that life and, through Christ’s power and guidance, become good, thoughtful, and caring people instead. Miracles may make a flashy, impressive show; but if they don’t bring about changes in people’s eternal souls, of what use are they? If they have any use at all, it is to lead people toward the inner miracle of souls transformed from sinners into saints. (Not saints in the Catholic sense, but saints meaning people who are good and loving and follow God’s teachings and commandments.)

      About suffering, hell, and heaven:

      For many, if not most people the path to heaven does involve a certain amount of suffering. For some people it involves a lot of very intense suffering.

      But suffering isn’t a virtue by itself. There’s no sense suffering just for the sake of suffering. Rather, suffering is often, unfortunately, necessary to break us of our heavily ingrained selfish and sinful habits. We cling desperately to our favorite vices and flaws of character. We think of them as being “who I am.” And because of that, we won’t let go until those sins and flaws of character have caused us much pain and suffering so that we see how wrong and destructive they are, and are finally ready to let go of them.

      If suffering isn’t a means of breaking us of our bad habits and our faults and flaws of character, then it’s just senseless grief that has no purpose.

      This is far too large a subject to deal with here in a comment. Fortunately, I’ve already posted a number of articles that deal with pain, suffering, heaven, and hell in more detail. Here are some to get you started. Check the links at the bottom of each one for further articles that may help you to straighten these things out in your mind and heart.

      Yes, that’s a lot of articles. But your questions are big ones! If you read these, and you still have questions to ask or confusions to clear up, please feel free to make further comments here.

      I hope this helps! And may God be with you as you struggle for answers to your searching questions.

      • AAAAA says:

        Hello again. I did have a lot of questions regarding Hell but figured them out. I am not scared now like before so I won’t beg you for answers, but I just have a little fear of being wrong… I believe your actions and desires, not your beliefs, determine your eternity. And I’m convinced that Swedenborg is a lot closer to the nature of “Hell” than Catholics are (it’s basically “true Christianity” v.s. “primitive Christianity”). As you said in one article, God was talking to people 2000+ years ago when the bible was written, these days it can be interpreted without the ‘fear factor’ since we behave differently than earlier generations.

        About praying, do you imply that it can only* help yourself and your relationship with God? You don’t believe praying can benefit others?

        If you’ve heard of ” the children/secrets of Fatima” you may think that it is something equally as believable as the miracles of Swedenborg. If I’m going to put faith in NDE’s and Swedenborg then I can’t logically deny the “miracle of the sun”, the experiences of Padre Pio, Alexandrina (though they are all Catholic) these ‘chosen’ people prayed A LOT. I think their miracles were Catholic because their beliefs are Catholic. I find this very hard to explain…

        Do your beliefs greatly influence your experiences in your existence? It seems so. Personally and from others, I most often see ‘spiritual events’ that correlate to your own belief/worldview.

        Mary appeared and showed 3 children a vision of Hell that awaits sinners (which after seeing some NDE’s and Swedenborgs, I realized in a sense they don’t contradict each other). But the 2nd thing Mary wanted was for Russians to “convert” from sins and stop offending God, she revealed this kind of information to Catholic children no older than 10… they just prayed for “the conversion of sinners”.

        Apparitions from God (visions, NDE’s, dreams…) ALWAYS lead people the right way regardless of cultural/religious differences. Can you deny that, though all the experiences were Catholic in nature, their miracles were legitimate? Alexandrina suffered immensely, this REALLY happened and she really died on the same day as “the miracle of the sun” (similar to how Swedenborg predicted his own death) and it was all done for the conversion of sinners… Specifically, Jesus wanted to use her as a “victim soul” and her suffering (though still unknown to most people) helped “convert” sinners.

        Praying was emphasized to save sinners almost as much as “not sinning” which is the most important message. I don’t think it’s just a ‘Catholic thing’ to be ignored by non-Catholics, praying may have a big impact on the world.

        • Luna says:

          (Question to Lee adding on to comment above) When Mary showed these visions of hell how violent were they?

          And also, how do we know the Bible is meant to be taken metaphorically and not literally?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Luna,

          Hmm. Looks like I never replied to this message from AAAAA. I’m not familiar with these visions, so I can’t really say anything about them.

          About taking the Bible metaphorically rather than literally, consider that Jesus spoke mostly in parables, which are metaphorical stories. If that’s how Jesus spoke, and Jesus was God With Us, then it would make sense that God speaks in parables, or metaphorical language, elsewhere in the Bible as well. See also this article, which talks about a time when Jesus was dividing between people who could think spiritually and people who could think only materially and literally:

          Eat My Flesh, Drink My Blood

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lee, what do you think about ghosts and the paranormal?
    Thank you for your time!

  31. Kim Vargas says:

    I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Everything you have written here has lifted my spirit. It’s the way you wrote this, which was in the most nurturing way. You’re very kind, thank you so much, keep writing and sharing these kinds encouragements, trust me it helps enormously.
    P.S. God is awesome.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words, which I appreciate very much. I’m glad this article is helpful to you. Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  32. Lonely says:

    Thanks for your words. My situation is so complex. Inside of me is numb right now. I am a Christian but I’ve been stuggling with major pride most of my life. Everytime God wants to do something great for me I mess up and miss out on it. I am severely persecuted by serpent/snake demons. Recently, I found out the friendship I had with my pastor was of the Devil. He wanted me for his nephew but the Lord was not in it. I disobeyed God and got married. Not even a year later the Lord has seperated us. I feel cursed. Like I doomed myself. No matter how much I ask God for forgiveness I’m told it isn’t enough if my heart doesn’t fall before the Lord. The hand of God is against me because of what I did and the facts that I never entered into prayer and fasting to be delivered from those generational demons. They have power over me and here I am helpless and wondering where to go from here.

    I feel so lost, unloved and alone because of my sins. Everyone in my congregation are afraid to approach me or do anything for me because God is angry with me. I can’t even pray…I don’t even know what to say to God. It’s like my life is over. Is there even anymore hope for me, I think. I don’t want to continue working for Satan inside the church. I’ve hurt so many people by my decisions. I don’t even have the strength to take care of my responsibilities. I had a terrible feeling I was a horrible person but this confirmed it. I am paying dearly for my sins and from what the Lord says more is to come. I don’t want to be the slave girl controlled by a Python spirit!

    What should I do? How do I get true repentance and not something shallow? How can I be delivered from these spirits if I’ve hurt my spiritual leaders who can cast out the demons? I don’t want to go to hell or continue living like this.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Lonely,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for telling your story.

      I’m sorry to hear that your life is such a struggle right now. But regardless of what you might think, or what anyone is telling you, your life is not over. You have hard things to face, but there is a future for you.

      Also, regardless of what you think or what anyone may tell you, God’s hand is not against you, and God is not angry with you. God loves you just as much as God loves anyone else in your congregation or in the world. It may appear that God has rejected you, but God never rejects anyone, even when they turn their backs on God:

      But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44–45)

      There is nothing you could do that would make God stop loving you and caring about you. No matter how low and sinful you might feel, God still loves you. And a relationship with God is not as hard as you may have been led to believe. God is there for you always, all the time, wanting to carry you through and out of your struggles and misery toward a better life. For more on this, please see: God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.

      Now about your particular situation, it sounds to me like you were pressured by your pastor into a marriage you didn’t want and didn’t think was right. When you bowed to the pressure and married his nephew, and it turned out not to be right as you had already known it wasn’t, then the pastor and the church turned against you. And yet, it was the pastor who pressured you into the marriage. Your pastor treated you badly, and is making you the scapegoat in the whole congregation for his own wrong and his own mistake. That’s not right.

      As hard as it may be, I think you will probably have to get away from that pastor and that church before you can really heal from the bad experience that they pushed you into and are now condemning you for. I don’t know your situation, so I can’t really tell you what to do. But I can say that that pastor misused you and violated his pastoral relationship with you for his own family’s purposes. And that means he can never be a real pastor to you now or in the future. You will need to look elsewhere for help and healing.

      That includes help for your sense of being persecuted by snake spirits. You will need to look for other counselors or pastors who can help you with this. And I suspect that as you heal over time from the traumas you’ve been through, that evil influence will start to lose its hold on you.

      And as for being a sinner, consider within yourself whether you are breaking the Ten Commandments and the two Great Commandments given by Jesus. There are many things that conservative pastors condemn as sinful that aren’t actually sinful, nor are they prohibited by the Bible. I suspect that you’re not as evil as you think you are. I think you’re probably a good person who has been thrown into deep waters and is struggling to keep your head above water.

      My suggestion is that you leave that pastor and congregation, and find people who will love and care for you as a human being who is loved by God. But of course, you are the only one in your shoes, so you will have to make your own decision about how to move forward and which way to go.

  33. Elthar says:

    Hello Lee your site i very helping on my search for God and wisdom
    as a kid i was told by a preacher i could not go to heaven anymore cause i had mocked the birth of jesus it gave me a major deppresion later in life well i still have a fear i will go to hell after this Life because i cant be as good as a normal christian since i backslide a lot in sins anyway your site is a light in the dark and make me see God in a diffrent Light may you and annette be blessed i hope to see more of your articel

    • Lee says:

      Hi Elthar,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughtful commend and kind words.

      I’m sorry to hear about that preacher saying such a harsh thing to you when you were young and impressionable. I hope you realize now that there is no truth to what he said to you. If we went to hell because of the thoughtless and foolish things we said and did when we were young, we’d all be in big trouble! Same thing if we went to hell for not being perfect, and for still sometimes doing things we know we shouldn’t. God knows we are only human, and is not harsh and judgmental as that preacher was. None of us is perfect, but we can all do the work each day of moving gradually closer to God.

      I’m very glad that our website and articles are helping you move forward from darkness into light.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  34. Jack cline says:

    I was missing my business’s today and then in my mind I said that I wanted to go to hell, I want t go to heaven can i be forgiven

  35. Jack cline says:

    I am scared I was at school and I was thinking and then randomly I prayed to go to hell I don’t wanna go to hell I want to heaven

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments and question.

      Don’t worry. You won’t go to hell because of some silly thing you thought, said, or did in a moment of random emotion or stupidity. You’ll go to heaven or to hell based on the character you build up through your choices and actions throughout your whole lifetime here on earth. For more on this, please see: Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.

  36. Daniel says:

    Hello, I would like to ask you a question about myself.
    I pretty much damaged my physical, mental and spiritual health by not considering the consequences that may come afterwards. It was once believed that masturbation was a cause of insanity and destruction of one’s health, I feel miserable because I can no longer feel emotions, my personality is gone.. and I feel like being dead inside, both mentally and spiritually. I continued in this sin willfully because I could not control my urges and did not repent.. I am not going to repeat this sin or any else in the future again, because I feel like Im not even able to.. Will God take me back if I stop sinning and change my attitude towards everything, I can see how foolish I was now.. Will God take me back even when I imperfected my overall health and probably too, going to die sooner because of my organs not working properly. I can sense what is right or wrong and do not want to make the same mistake again. Will God forgive me if I repent and avoid sin?

    Thanks for the answer.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I’m sorry to hear that you’re at such a low ebb.

      About masturbation, of course if you overdo just about anything, it can become a problem, and cause damage. But contrary to what many conservative churches say, the Bible does not forbid masturbation, and if done in moderation, it is not evil and sinful. For more on this, please see the series articles on the subject here, starting with: “What does the Bible Say about Masturbation? Is Masturbation a Sin?” Clearly masturbation is a big issue for many people. But churches that condemn it as terribly evil, when in fact the Bible doesn’t actually condemn masturbation, have only made the situation worse.

      If you’ve gone overboard and it’s become a compulsion, I would suggest that your real issues lie deeper. It may be that you’ll need to seek out a local counselor or sympathetic pastor who can help you to figure out what’s missing from your life, and how to climb out of the pit of despair you’ve fallen into.

      And yes, of course God will take you back. In fact, God never left you. God doesn’t turn God’s back on us. We turn our back on God. And whenever we’re ready to turn back to God, God is ready to receive us with open arms. As covered in the article, “Ezekiel 18: God’s Message of Hope . . . If You Think there’s No Hope for You,” God takes no pleasure in our pain or our destruction. Rather, God calls us and urges us to turn around and move toward good and joyful life.

      One more link for now: “Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth.” God created you for a reason. Even though your life looks very bleak right now, there is a way forward to a better life.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed reading your article 🙂 I was wondering about masturbation. I am 14 and have been watching or thinking of terrible things. I also used objects to masturbate with, I have stop masturbating for about two months now and I am never going to again, bit I have a fear that GOD has not forgiven me and I am going to hell for my sins. I am not a bad person in general, I tend to love others and be fair but my guilt of what I did is tearing me apart.

  38. Justin says:

    Thank You so much for this article Sir.
    I am on the beginning of my path and have for some time felt that it was too late for me.
    It is so easy to let these feelings of guilt and shame take me off the path to the Lord and just give up. You’re wise words have given me solace and new found hope towards my journey. God Bless You

  39. Justin says:

    Thank You

    • Lee says:

      Hi Justin,

      You are most welcome. I’m glad this article helped you toward a fresh start in your heart and mind. Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  40. Jim says:

    I’m dying. Can I still be saved. I’ve turned my back on God for a long time. I want to come back but I’m afraid it’s to late

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jim,

      As long as you are still living and breathing on this earth, it is never too late. The important thing is that you turn yourself around and use whatever time you may have left on this earth to move toward God and heaven instead of away from them.

      This means taking stock of your life, recognizing where you’ve gone wrong, and committing yourself to better things while you still have breath and life left here.

      • If you have harmed people, and there is something you can do to make amends for the harm you’ve done, now is the time to do so.
      • If you’ve treated people badly whom you should have loved, now is the time to make your apologies and do what you can to heal the wounds.
      • If you’ve been self-centered and greedy, now is the time to show thoughtfulness and generosity to the people around you.

      Of course, you won’t be able to undo everything you’ve done. There will be many loose ends left untied. If you’ve harmed people, they may not forgive you, and they may not want to have anything to do with you and your apologies. If so, you’ll need to leave them in peace.

      But whoever you are with now, even if it’s in a hospital or nursing home, you can commit yourself each day to making life easier for those people rather than making it harder for them. Even if you’re bed-ridden, you can smile and thank your caregivers rather than being grouchy and unpleasant. You can make their day better even if yours is not so good.

      Do what you can while you’re still living here on earth to make peace with yourself, with your friends and relatives, and with God. If your time here is short, you have no time to waste.

  41. Jacob says:

    I want to do good, but i just keep doing bad things. Please help I dont want to go to hell, but i just cant resist doing bad things.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jacob,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Did you read the article? That’s what it’s all about. And there are more linked at the end that may also be helpful to you.

  42. moe says:

    hello lee,

    am wondering how you know so much of heaven or hell, you havent die to experience so how you know if your information is valid.

    • Lee says:

      Hi moe,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. I have two main sources of information about the afterlife:

      1. The writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), especially his most popular book, Heaven and Hell
      2. The many published reports of near-death experiencers

      In Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg provides a detailed description and tour guide of the afterlife. And in recent decades, much of what he reported has been corroborated by the many accounts of people’s near-death experiences. This gives me a high level of confidence that what Swedenborg experienced and published about the afterlife is true and accurate.

      Of course, you’ll have to make up your own mind about this. The linked material may help. And if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  43. Ashley says:

    “There are many possible standards. In case you don’t have one that works for you, may I suggest something really simple? The Ten Commandments. Especially the second part of the Ten Commandments, which is about how we humans are supposed to behave toward one another. I’m talking especially about these commandments (in their short versions):”

    What do you mean by (in there short version) because I do have some lustful thoughts that I sometime act on when tempted. I don’t however sleep with anyone. Just masterbation. That I do hate and regret. But sometimes the temptation is so great and I give in to sin. I feel like I deserve to rot in hell. I wish I was more like Christ please pray for me.

    Do you think I’m heading to hell?

  44. Emile says:

    Sir. If I decide to put an end to my days, am I going to Hell ?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Emile,

      I hope you will not take that extreme step.

      No, suicide won’t by itself cause you to go to hell. But it also won’t have the effect you are hoping for. You’ll still have to deal with whatever issues are causing you to contemplate suicide (if you are contemplating suicide). It also ends your ability to make further major spiritual progress in becoming the person you would want and hope to be.

      For more on this, please see: “Does Suicide Work?

      If you really are contemplating suicide, please seek help first. There are people who care, and who can help you. In the United States, the National Suicide Hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Or if you do not live in the U.S., search the Internet for the number to call in your own country.

      • Emile says:

        Sir. Thank you. yes, “contemplating” IS the word, fo so many years now… And no, I do not deserve being another person any more… I only want to quit this world… The sooner, the better… But I still don’t want to go to Hell… Being so grateful for your concern, Sir…

        • Lee says:

          Hi Emile,

          I am sorry to hear that life is such a struggle. I would only say that “deserving” is a side issue when it comes to becoming another or a better person. God does not hold our wrongs, faults, sins, and so on against us. It doesn’t matter what we said or did in the past. It only matters what we say and do now. God is also well aware of the difficult and discouraging circumstances many of us face in this life, and doesn’t hold that against us. A person who engages in a lifelong struggle against hardship and pain without seeming to make much progress will go to heaven before someone who was handed an easy life and did nothing useful or constructive with it.

        • Bernard says:

          You jeopardize your soul if you commit suicide, it is a very serious gamble and very dangerous to play with the idea of. Get help Emile, it will be okay but I cannot tell you things that may hurt you in the long run.

  45. Lincoln says:

    Hi Sir I Struggled with masturhation from 2014- recently and have now finally overcome but I feel I have overcome to late and because I have repented over 100 times and gone back although I won’t go back again I feel I am condemned is this the devil playing tricks I feel terrible! Thanks

    • Lee says:

      Hi Lincoln,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      About masturbation, you’re in luck! By popular demand, I have written three articles on the subject here. The first one is: “What does the Bible Say about Masturbation? Is Masturbation a Sin?” The other two articles are linked from the end of the first one.

      Short version: The Bible does not forbid masturbation. In fact, it says nothing at all about masturbation. The idea that it is a terrible sin that must be repented from is purely a human invention. Of course, as with anything, it’s best not to go wild. But you will not go to hell because you have masturbated, or even if you masturbate again.

      Yes, the devil is playing tricks . . . by getting the church to make people feel terribly guilty about doing something that God has not forbidden.

      But please read the articles. Then you should have enough information to make up your own mind. Or if you have further questions, feel free to comment on any of those articles.

  46. Sal says:

    If God exists, he must be pretty ignorant. Every day, thousands of people die from disease, poverty, and starvation (all of which are problems that can be fixed by an all-powerful deity). Millions more lead pitiful lives. Religion is great for the privileged and wealthy, because it serves as a way to effectively administer power with little backlash, but why should the poor and suffering succumb to such idiocracy? How can you praise the so-called God to be righteous and just if there is so much injustice in the world? Just saying…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Sal,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I do understand why you feel the way you do about God. And you are certainly not alone in feeling that way. However, this view of God presumes that our physical comfort and wellbeing here on earth is the most important thing in God’s mind.

      I would suggest to you that if there is indeed a God, and if there is an eternal afterlife—as people who believe in God generally also believe—then our physical comfort and wellbeing during our lifetime here on earth, though it certainly is important, is vastly less important than our eternal wellbeing after we die.

      This is not to say that God wants us to suffer here so that God can reward us in the afterlife. Rather, God knows that we humans, being a rather materialistic and stubborn bunch, would likely pay no attention at all to our eternal life and the character we bring to it if we didn’t suffer pain and struggles here on earth. The privileged and wealthy may live easy lives (though not as much as the poor think they do), but that doesn’t give them any spiritual advantages. More likely it causes them to be rather self-satisfied and self-absorbed. And that will cause them pain rather than pleasure in eternity.

      I could say more, but here are some articles where I’ve taken up these issues in more detail:

      Of course, if there’s no God, then there’s probably no afterlife either, which means that life here on earth is just plain unfair, and generally sucks for those born in the wrong time and place.

      Personally, I prefer to believe that there is a God, and that even if there is a lot of unfairness here on earth, in the eternal scheme of things there is ultimate fairness and justice for all people, whether rich or poor. I hope the above articles will provide you with some new insights into your excellent questions.

  47. henry says:

    I want to thank you for this site. I am a child of God and I have a terrible sexual sin that I struggle with. The lust of the eyes, the lust of my mind and touching myself inappropriately, it’s a sin that I have been FIGHTING FOR YEARS. I go to Grace Place celebrate recovery for sexual addiction. I hate this sickness. I have been feeling that I have sinned so bad and insulted the spirit of grace that there is no hope for me. You know the scripture I am talking about. Hebrews 10:26-32 It scares me badly. You would think that this fear of this sin would straighten me out. I REALLY AM AFRAID OF THIS SIN, BUT I CANNOT STOP. To be afraid of doing something but can’t stop is the true definition of insanity. When I fount this site and read what you wrote gave me my Faith and Hope back. I thank you. And God bless you.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Henry,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m glad this article and site have been helpful to you.

      Since you don’t specify the particular sin you’re talking about (which is perfectly fine), I can’t respond on that issue specifically. However, I would suggest that you may need to evaluate whether what you’re doing is actually as sinful as you think it is. Of course, if it involves taking advantage of other people sexually, that is indeed a serious wrong and a sin, and something you do need to fight against and overcome, getting whatever help you need to do so along the way. Or if it is consuming your life so that you are unable to function normally in society, get your work done, and so on, then that is also a serious problem.

      But if it is more of a private thing that you do in your spare time and that doesn’t directly harm other people, it may not be as serious as you think. Attempting to cut yourself off from all sexual expression will only cause you to become more and more desperate, leading you to ultimately do things that really are a serious problem.

      Along those lines, I invite you to read three articles I posted here on the subject of masturbation, plus a more general follow-up article on fantasy and imagination, as well as an article about pornography, all written in response to numerous questions from readers:

      In general, the various religions, including Christianity, have adopted much stricter rules about human sexuality than their sacred books, including the Bible, teach and require. Yes, there is real sexual sin, and yes, it is to be avoided. But many of the things that various Christian churches say are terrible sins are not actually forbidden in the Bible, and are not the terribly damaging things that the church says they are. Of course, if we get obsessed with just about anything, including sex, it becomes a problem. But there is a serious need for more balance in what the church says about human sexuality. I hope the above articles will help you to achieve some of that balance in your own mind and heart.

      Mind you, I’m not saying that whatever you’re doing is just fine. I don’t even know what your particular issue is. Rather, I’m saying that it is good to be able to look at human sexuality in general, and at the specific sexual issues that particular people often have, in a more objective and reasonable light. This helps to reduce some of the irrational fear that people commonly have about their sexuality, and makes it easier to achieve some kind of balance and normalcy in our sex life.

      Remember, human sexuality was created by God. Our sexual drives and desires are not sinful. They are a part of what it is to be human. And when we don’t have a healthy sex life within a committed marital relationship, our sexual drives can be wild and difficult to control. The trick is to get them corralled and directed away from the more problematic ways we could satisfy them and toward healthier ways of satisfying them. That is something that people commonly achieve only over time.

      And it doesn’t help when the church tries to block and declare terribly sinful all expressions of sexuality except for missionary position sex within a legal, church-sanctioned marriage. That stance just isn’t realistic. It actually causes many serious sexual problems that would never arise if the church paid more attention to what its own sacred book says and doesn’t say about human sexuality. Human sexuality is not something that can just be blocked off and denied all outlet without causing real physical, psychological, and spiritual damage.

      Whatever issues you’re struggling with, I hope the articles here will help you to move toward a better and healthier way of expressing and satisfying your sexual drives and desires.

      • henry says:

        I would stare at porn and would fantasize of sexual acts with them for hours at a time until I take care of it. I don’t touch real people at all. I will not have sex outside of marriage.

  48. Jörgen Mattsson says:

    What if I realize the need for spiritual regeneration late in life? Will I have enough time?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jörgen,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. In response, it’s not really a quantity thing. It’s a matter of getting yourself turned around and moving in the right direction. Whichever direction you’re going in life by the time you die, that’s the direction you’ll keep going in the afterlife.

      Of course, whatever you can accomplish in your spiritual life during the time you have left on earth is all to the good. Another metaphor is that here on earth we are laying the foundation on which our eternal spiritual life is built. So in the time you do have, it’s important to keep laying the stones for that foundation.

      More specifically, the more you can focus your days on learning and practicing love for God and the neighbor, as Jesus taught, the more material you will bring with you into the spiritual world as a basis for your eternal life. But even for that, it’s more a matter of quality than quantity. It’s a matter of transforming the way you think and feel about your place and role in the human community around you, and in God’s kingdom.

      Along those lines, here is another article you might find helpful:

      Heaven, Regeneration, and the Meaning of Life on Earth

      And if you have any further questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Godspeed on your spiritual journey!

  49. Mark says:

    What people experience during an nde seems to vary based on geography. In Japan the life review is practically nonexistent. Red flag.

    Praise Odin.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Where did you get that particular piece of information?

      As for geographical differences, human beings are different in different parts of the world. And the spiritual world seamlessly adapts itself to the mental, emotional, and social states of different human beings. So if people from different cultures have differing experiences in the spiritual world, that’s just part of how the spiritual world works.

      Praise God.

      • Mark says:

        Click to access NDE76-Japanese-and-western-JNDS.pdf

        I never received an email. So I’m almost one year late.

        This is quite a fascinating read. We need more scientifically inclined folks such as the two who compiled this study. Religious texts don’t advance. I don’t see the point of remaining static. You even hit bedrock and can only recite text ad infinitum.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Mark,

          Thanks for the link. Fascinating article!

          However, the idea that it somehow calls into question the validity of NDEs as spiritual experiences isn’t borne out by what the article reports. In fact, on page 190 (which is the fourth page of the article) the authors say:

          To summarize, we found almost all the elements observed in Western NDEs to have been present also in Japanese NDEs. Thus, Japanese NDEs appear to be phenomenologically very similar to Western NDEs.

          The cultural differences in how the experiences are interpreted don’t negate the overall striking similarity of the experiences themselves.

          As for the rest of your comment, you’re free to express your views and opinions here related to the articles, but please be respectful to others in doing so, per our comments policy. Also, the WordPress system doesn’t automatically send email notices of replies to your comments unless you click the provided links to receive email updates.

  50. Tori says:

    So, just making sure I got this right:

    Heaven is for those who at the very least WANT to be forgiven and want to live a life of good, even if they do bad things, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

    Hell, on the other hand, is for those who want to be bad and choose to hold onto hatred and sin?

    • Tori says:

      And by “intentionally or unintentionally”, I mean they either did bad things intentionally, or bad things unintentionally, in case you got confused

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tori,

      In general, yes.

      However, if someone “wants to live a life of good,” but keeps on living a life of bad instead, it’s questionable whether they really do want to live a life of good. If they’re just confused or misled, that’s one thing. But most reasonably mature people have a reasonable sense of what’s good and bad. If they keep on doing bad things instead of good ones, then their actions show their true intentions.

      In other words, it’s not good enough just to say, or think, “I want to be good” but not actually be good when you have the choice and the opportunity to do good instead of bad.

      Another way of putting it is that if our good intentions don’t result in good actions, then it’s questionable whether they’re really good intentions at all.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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