God demands that we live in alignment with Him. Living in alignment with God means viewing other creatures the way that He views them. Now we can only do this to a limited degree, because God never fills us in on the whole picture of how He views someone else. Instead He just gives us a few general guidelines, yet these guidelines are enough to keep us out of trouble.
It is staying in alignment with God’s view of His enemies which steers us clear of two activities which God finds extremely offensive: pursuing relationships with demons and praying for the salvation of the dead. Praying for God to have mercy on the souls of those who refused to submit to Him on earth is promoted as a God-honoring activity in certain branches of the Christian Church. The Catholics are well-known for promoting this kind of outrageous behavior, but they’re not the only ones. It is bad teaching that gets well-meaning souls caught up in activities which God hates. Until God teaches us better, He doesn’t get mad at us for making innocent mistakes. We only get in trouble with God by refusing to care about His feelings and closing our minds to further education from the Holy Spirit. If you’ve been taught that it’s a good thing to pray for the dead, or if you’re feeling confused about how you’re supposed to view demons, then it’s time for some clarification.
DEFINING GOD’S ENEMIES
We need to start with a clear definition of who God considers to be His enemies. No human is born as an enemy of God. No human is forced to become one, either. God loves all humans and He would prefer that we all spend eternity in Heaven. So when we are born on this earth, we are not yet considered saved, but we aren’t condemned, either. Until the Holy Spirit begins to educate us about who God is and what He wants from us, we are considered to be spiritually unaccountable. If we die before we reach the age of accountability, God takes our souls to Heaven, not Hell. Heaven is the place that God defaults to—that is a very important point to understand, for it says volumes about God’s good character.
Since God is the One who educates our souls, He never thinks we know more than we do. God’s assessment of our spiritual understanding is always accurate, and His judgment of us is always gracious. It would be quite fair of God to throw us into Hell the very first time we dare to defy Him. But instead, He chooses to graciously give us many opportunities to come to Him. Here’s another critical point to understand: as long as God is still inviting us to come to Him, He does not consider us His enemies.
When we talk about the enemies of God, we are only talking about creatures who God has eternally condemned. To act like an enemy of God is quite different than being His enemy. God alone decides who His enemies are. But demons work very hard to get us to choose God’s enemies for Him—enticing us to either write off other souls as hopeless or to decide for God that He has given up on us. Yet your opinion of how God ought to view you doesn’t have bumpkus to do with how He actually views you. You might think you’re unforgivable or unlovable or not worth spending any effort on. But God does not take orders from you, and He completely rejects your attempts to define yourself to Him. God makes up His own mind, and if you don’t think that you were worth dying for on a cross, you’re the one who will have to change. God says that He did consider you worth dying for, and God’s opinion always trumps yours.
To believe that God views you as His enemy when He does not leads to all kinds of terrifying fears. Both the saved and the unsaved get caught in this trap. In some cases, humans convince other humans that God has given up on them. These humans may come in the form of parents or pastors or other trusted advisers. In other cases, it is demons who plant the thought of God rejecting us directly into our minds and we fully accept it. The key to breaking free of these deceptions is to realize that no one gets to choose God’s enemies for Him. Your pastor is not God. Your parent is not God. Your pastor or your parent might tell you that you are beyond salvation, but you must not accept such a statement from any human being. It doesn’t matter how “in the know” some human might seem to be. Maybe they call themselves a prophet and they claim to have received a vision from God about you. Maybe they’ve been a Christian for many years. Whoever they are, they are not God. Only God decides who His enemies are. If the thought of being God’s enemy terrifies you, you can be certain that you are not yet a member of that camp.
When God eternally condemns someone, that soul loses all desire to get into a right relationship with God on earth. It’s impossible to want to be forgiven by God when God is no longer willing to forgive you. In both the Old and New Testaments, God makes a point of assuring us that He will never reject any soul who is sincerely seeking Him. This means that if there is any part of you that wants to be in a good place with God, it is still quite possible for you to get there. If there are certain things that you still need to do in order to get saved, God will make those things extremely clear to you. Vague angst always comes from demons.
God defines His enemies as creatures who He has eternally condemned. Forgiveness is no longer an option for the true enemies of God. God intensely hates His enemies, and He thoroughly delights in inflicting them with eternal torment.
God’s enemies come in different forms. As humans, we are only aware of two kinds of creatures who are eligible to become God’s enemies: humans and angels. Many angels have already been put in the enemy camp by God, and we call these angels demons as a way of distinguishing them from the other angels who have not yet been condemned by God.
There are many creatures in existence who are not eligible to become God’s friends or His enemies. Your pet, for example, has no eternal soul. It is an expendable creature who God has created to exist for only a brief period of time before He will utterly destroy it. When animals and plants die, that is the permanent end of them. There is no afterlife for the non-human creatures of earth. While God describes Himself as having an interactive relationship with every element of this world, and He describes all created things as capable of responding to Him, He does not pass eternal judgments on the non-human elements of this Creation. Trees, for example, have a distinct intelligence which we humans do not fully understand. Trees are able to communicate amongst each other, ward off diseases, and strategically respond to their environments. Jesus once cursed a fig tree for not doing something which He felt it ought to do. There’s more going on in that moment than we realize, yet even as God speaks of commanding various elements of this Creation about and occasionally passes out some specific instruction to a non-human element of this world, His relationship with those elements is extremely brief. In Eden we find Him cursing a serpent (who was not Satan) for willfully defying Him. He later complains to Noah that all flesh—meaning both humans and animals—were willfully defying Him, thus He was going to punish them all by flooding the world. In Revelation, we find Jesus showing John visions of non-human elements in this Creation worshiping God, further demonstrating that God’s relationship with this Creation is far more complex than we realize. But though non-human elements in this world are described as capable of consciously interacting with their Creator, none of these elements qualify for eternal judgment or salvation. The concept of eternal condemnation is reserved for human and angelic beings. God introduces the concept of eternal salvation as something which is only necessary for humans. He doesn’t talk to us about angels needing to acquire salvation from Him, but He does speak of angels being eternally condemned.
When it comes to identifying who God’s enemies are among angels, God has already made the distinction clear to us. There are good angels and there are condemned demons. God introduces us to these two basic groups and He then says that’s all we need to understand.
When it comes to identifying who God’s enemies are among humans, things are much more complicated. God can decide a soul is eternally condemned at any time. In the Bible, He provides us with examples of souls who were still alive on the planet when He eternally condemned them. He also teaches that it is possible for souls to obtain salvation during the very last moments of life. He then intentionally blinds us to the exchanges He has with other souls by keeping all human souls hidden from view within physical bodies (or earthsuits). This makes it impossible for us to accurately assess where someone is at with God simply by observing their behavior or listening to the things that they say. Though foolish teachers like the apostle John encourage us to assess everyone’s standing with God merely by assessing their external behavior, such teaching is utterly idiotic.
So we can see who God’s children are and who the devil’s children are: Those who do not do what is right are not God’s children, and those who do not love their brothers and sisters are not God’s children. (1 John 3:10)
Jesus proves the idiocy of John’s theory by assuring us that many who look righteous on earth will end up eternally condemned by Him.
“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name and in Your Name drive out demons and in Your Name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’” (Matt. 7:22-23)
Are we going to listen to John or Jesus? Be aware that many of the discernment tests put out by the New Testament writers are absolute rubbish. They urge us to judge others by their behavior, while God says He judges us based on how our souls respond to Him. The bottom line is this: looking around in this world, you have no way of knowing who is saved and who isn’t. Clearly you can tell that something is amiss with a soul who seems to be worshiping Satan, but can you say with absolute certainty that such a soul has been eternally damned by God? No, you cannot. In the same way, the Church is filled with false teachers and prophets who look like the perfect picture of righteousness, yet in reality they’re not even saved.
So if judging humans is such a mess, where does this leave you? Well, for starters, you shouldn’t be going around trying to figure out who is and isn’t damned. What God is doing with some other soul is none of your business. You need to stay focused on your own relationship with God, and that means looking to Him for discernment in life.
Now while you shouldn’t be obsessing over what other humans are doing with God in this world, you need to be very clear about what’s going on with humans and God in eternity. God says that death is the moment when He transfers our souls on to either Heaven or Hell. If we have failed to meet His requirements for salvation—which means willfully refusing to submit to Him—then we will be thrown into Hell when we die. There is no hope for humans in Hell. God says that our brief lives on earth are the only opportunity we have to decide whether we will end up in Heaven or Hell based on how we respond to Him in our souls. He says that once we die, He passes judgment on us, and that judgment is irrevocable.
God teaches us to view His eternal condemnation of any creature as irrevocable. This means that to hope for the redemption of demons or humans in Hell is a major offense to God. When we pray for God to have mercy on demons or on souls in Hell, we are refusing to submit to His Authority as King and we are setting ourselves up as being more merciful and kind than He is. No one outperforms God in the areas of mercy, grace, and compassion.
We don’t have to be informed about God’s personal history with demons in order to feel confident about His fairness towards them. God’s history with the human race teaches us volumes about His goodness and leaves no room for doubt that whatever demons did to tick God off, their punishment is well deserved.
God is intentionally keeping you in the dark about the details of how many chances He gave demons and various souls who ended up in Hell. Let’s say your good friend is there right now. Because you loved your friend on earth, you hate the idea of her soul in torment, and it’s very tempting for you to pray for God to have mercy on her and give her another chance. Yet it is utterly obnoxious for you to pray something like this, for you have no idea how many chances God has already given your friend. How many chances do you think your friend should have? A hundred? A thousand? A million? The truth is that when it comes to those who we loved on earth, we want God to give them infinite chances. In other words, we want God to withhold all justice from Himself and we’re perfectly alright with Him getting spat on and defied as long as our earthly friends are comfortable. Is this an honoring way to treat our King? No, it’s utterly obnoxious.
When you think about souls in Hell, God wants you to assume that He was more than generous in how many opportunities He gave them to come to Him. He demands that you put your sympathy and loyalty on His side, not theirs, because after all, He’s the One who died for you. As far as God is concerned, He has proven His goodness to you beyond all doubt. If you are refusing to accept the evidence He has already given you, that’s something you need to ask Him to help you with. It is utterly inexcusable for us Christians to look at Jesus hanging on the cross and then accuse God of being some miser of mercy. When we whine about God being unfair, we fail to realize that it is His unfairness that is saving all of our necks.
Fairness and grace are two concepts which utterly oppose each other. To be fair is to be just, and true justice focuses only on the rules being followed. God says that anyone who defies His Authority deserves to end up in Hell. By now you’ve defied God’s Authority more times than you can count. If God were truly just, He would throw you into Hell. But because God is merciful, He allows you to break His rules and still end up in Heaven. The definition of grace is undeserved favor. No one deserves to go to Heaven. God is being grossly unfair to Himself when He grants us eternal life in Heaven after we dishonored Him on earth. There is a limit to how unfair God is willing to be to Himself. Hell is for those who push past that limit. Certainly it would not be fair for God to condemn a soul for sinning out of ignorance. But God never does this. The only souls who end up in Hell are those who chose to be there by willfully defying God on a soul level after they knew better. So there can be no sympathy whatsoever for those who end up in Hell. To sympathize with God’s enemies is to grossly insult Him. We do not sympathize with demons, and we do not sympathize with humans in Hell.
We can’t come up with a roster of the specific names of those in Hell, because God doesn’t give us that kind of information. When we are in doubt about where a loved one ended up, there’s nothing for us to do but ask God to help us let go of them in our hearts and move on. Deciding that our loved ones must be in Heaven just because we loved them is blasphemous rot which elevates our desires as more important than God’s. We are not the creators of humans, and we have no say in what happens to them in eternity. Human souls are the property of God, and He gets to do whatever He wants with them. It’s not our place to tell God where some particular soul deserves to be in eternity. It’s our place to practice submission to God’s Authority and remember that He is the One in charge, not us.
God hates His enemies, and so should we. We should not be mourning over the fate of demons or the misery of souls in Hell. Instead, we should be supporting God’s judgments and wanting Him to be satisfied above all things. If tormenting His enemies forever is what satisfies Him, then so be it. This is an issue of loyalty: are we going to side with God or His enemies? There is only one acceptable answer.