Infinite punishment for finite sins

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Infinite punishment for finite sins

#1

Post by smiley » Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:44 pm

Here are the few arguments I have encountered in defense of this Biblical doctrine:

- Hell is the result of Free Will. God would be happy to release its inhabitants, but they simply choose not to.
- Since God is "infinite" in some way, any transgression against Him must merit infinite punishment.
- The inhabitants of Hell continue to sin forever in Hell by denying God, and therefore condemn themselves.
- Rejecting Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is the sin of infinite gravity that deserves infinite punishment.

I have to say, however, that none of them are currently the slightest bit convincing to me.

If anyone is a defendant of any of the arguments posted, I'll be happy to elaborate, but in the meantime, are there any better rationalizations you are aware of?
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#2

Post by B. W. » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:13 pm

smiley wrote:Here are the few arguments I have encountered in defense of this Biblical doctrine:

- Hell is the result of Free Will. God would be happy to release its inhabitants, but they simply choose not to.
- Since God is "infinite" in some way, any transgression against Him must merit infinite punishment.
- The inhabitants of Hell continue to sin forever in Hell by denying God, and therefore condemn themselves.
- Rejecting Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is the sin of infinite gravity that deserves infinite punishment.

I have to say, however, that none of them are currently the slightest bit convincing to me.

If anyone is a defendant of any of the arguments posted, I'll be happy to elaborate, but in the meantime, are there any better rationalizations you are aware of?
Isaiah 26:10
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#3

Post by Gabrielman » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:16 pm

smiley wrote:Here are the few arguments I have encountered in defense of this Biblical doctrine:

- Hell is the result of Free Will. God would be happy to release its inhabitants, but they simply choose not to.
- Since God is "infinite" in some way, any transgression against Him must merit infinite punishment.
- The inhabitants of Hell continue to sin forever in Hell by denying God, and therefore condemn themselves.
- Rejecting Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is the sin of infinite gravity that deserves infinite punishment.

I have to say, however, that none of them are currently the slightest bit convincing to me.

If anyone is a defendant of any of the arguments posted, I'll be happy to elaborate, but in the meantime, are there any better rationalizations you are aware of?
Well for starters, unless your sins are forgiven, they eternally stain you. By free will you choose to sin, and you choose to not be forgiven by not accepting God's gift to forgive your sins. You send yourself to hell by choosing to not be forgiven. John 8:34 says "Jesus responded 'I assure you: everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.'" You are bound to sin, but in verse 35 and 36 it says (John 8:35,36) "A slave does no remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore if the Son sets you free, you really will be free" So from this we can conclude that one who is a slave to sin cannot remain in the House of the Lord and will perish. They will die the spiritual death, (and be forever enslaved to sin and the death it brings) from which there is no resurrection. In John 9:41 it states "'If you were blind' Jesus told them, 'you wouldn't have sin. But now that you say 'We see', your sin remains." Your sins are forever, unless forgiven. In Romans 3:20 we read "For no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin." If we think about this, we know of sin and we know we commit them, so if we do not repent of our sins they must be held accountable for them. Romans 6:2 "Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" and before that Romans 5:12 says "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all have sinned." We are dead in sin, and can only be alive in Christ (spiritually dead through our sins). The dead cannot be with the living. We sin by our own free will, and therefore condemn ourselves. Death is eternal, we cannot change that, however God can, He can raise us from the dead, and give us new life through Christ Jesus, and our sins will be no more.
B. W. wrote: Isaiah 26:10
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#4

Post by truthman » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:19 pm

It is not infinite punishment for finite sins.

The penalty for sin is death, Romans 6:23
1. Man was not alive (had no life) until God gave him life.
2. The infinite God is perfect and not only has the right but to be consistent with Himself is required to demand absolute perfection from any creature that He gives eternal life.
3. Any sin makes man imperfect and deserving of death.
4. God as the giver of life has the right to take away that life.
5. The ultimate and final hell, gehenna, is the penalty for sin and is the ultimate and final death. Revelation 20:14
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. " 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#5

Post by narnia4 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:34 pm

I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "finite" sins. Sins do take place at a specific moment of time, but each and every one is worth of eternal damnation. It's not like a judge saying, "sin x is worth punishment y and sin a is worth penalty b". All sins are worthy of the exact same punishment, which is eternal seperation from God. Another way some people look at evil is merely as the absence of good. Therefore, when a person commits a sin, what he's really doing is seperating himself from God. The choice to sin is the choice to be dead (or continue to be dead). If you never accept Christ's offer of salvation, you will always be in that dead state. The "punishment" isn't God burning you with real flames, the punishment is seperation from God.


I think Gabrielman and truthman are explaining it better here.
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#6

Post by Gabrielman » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:43 pm

narnia4 wrote:I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "finite" sins. Sins do take place at a specific moment of time, but each and every one is worth of eternal damnation. It's not like a judge saying, "sin x is worth punishment y and sin a is worth penalty b". All sins are worthy of the exact same punishment, which is eternal seperation from God. Another way some people look at evil is merely as the absence of good. Therefore, when a person commits a sin, what he's really doing is seperating himself from God. The choice to sin is the choice to be dead (or continue to be dead). If you never accept Christ's offer of salvation, you will always be in that dead state. The "punishment" isn't God burning you with real flames, the punishment is seperation from God.


I think Gabrielman and truthman are explaining it better here.
No, you did a wonderful job! :clap: Simply put, which is best for many people! As always, you have made a great post!
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#7

Post by B. W. » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:13 pm

Sin is a condition that always produces ruin. How small or large a sin — the result is the same: ruin.

This ruin results in various forms of death: death in relationships, death in personality, death in friendships, physical death, etc & etc. The effect is the same; brings ruin, separation, misery. In other words, it makes life, well, ugly.

That is why The Lord says what he says in Isaiah 26:10

Think about how one little small cancer cell multiplies. Same with little finite sins — it spreads ruin. There is no such thing as finite sins due to the nature of spreading ruin - death...seperation from healthy life.
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#8

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:52 am

smiley wrote:Here are the few arguments I have encountered in defense of this Biblical doctrine:

- Hell is the result of Free Will. God would be happy to release its inhabitants, but they simply choose not to.
- Since God is "infinite" in some way, any transgression against Him must merit infinite punishment.
- The inhabitants of Hell continue to sin forever in Hell by denying God, and therefore condemn themselves.
- Rejecting Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit is the sin of infinite gravity that deserves infinite punishment.

I have to say, however, that none of them are currently the slightest bit convincing to me.

If anyone is a defendant of any of the arguments posted, I'll be happy to elaborate, but in the meantime, are there any better rationalizations you are aware of?
narnia4 wrote:I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "finite" sins. Sins do take place at a specific moment of time, but each and every one is worth of eternal damnation. It's not like a judge saying, "sin x is worth punishment y and sin a is worth penalty b". All sins are worthy of the exact same punishment, which is eternal seperation from God. Another way some people look at evil is merely as the absence of good. Therefore, when a person commits a sin, what he's really doing is seperating himself from God. The choice to sin is the choice to be dead (or continue to be dead). If you never accept Christ's offer of salvation, you will always be in that dead state. The "punishment" isn't God burning you with real flames, the punishment is seperation from God.
This is a pretty good explanation.

There is no such thing as a finite sin. "Sin" is a theological word for "offense against God." There can be no finite offense against an infinite God. That's a logical absurdity.

More technically, the issue isn't one of punishment, as narnia implied and BW discussed more directly. It's a matter of state. People in Hell aren't being "punished" for their sins, per se, anymore than a person with a broken leg suffering horrible pain is being punished for stepping out in front of a car. It's the natural result of being separated from God.

There's nothing logically incoherent about the notion of eternal damnation. You may not like it, but reality isn't determined by our likes and dislikes. I don't like it that my great-grandmother has Alzheimer's. That doesn't change the fact that she has it. Your emotional objection against Hell, and your emotional reasons (to use the word loosely) for ignoring its explanation, have nothing to do with the logical and rational requirements of the way nature is and must be. If, then, you are looking for an explanation that makes you "feel good" about Hell, you're wasting your time. One doesn't exist. If it did, then Hell wouldn't really be Hell, now would it?
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#9

Post by Human » Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:47 pm

More technically, the issue isn't one of punishment, as narnia implied and BW discussed more directly. It's a matter of state. People in Hell aren't being "punished" for their sins, per se, anymore than a person with a broken leg suffering horrible pain is being punished for stepping out in front of a car. It's the natural result of being separated from God.
But isn't it said that sinners(unsaved) will suffer the wrath of God? Seems death is the wage of sin(Romans 6:26?) which is more like a punishment than a simple result.

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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#10

Post by smiley » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:34 am

The one problem I have with Jac and narnia's position is one that I argued in that thread about Divine Hiddenness.

How can someone, who never had sufficient information to believe in God, much less an "infinite God", and the least a God who actually cares about what humans do and is "offended" by their actions, be held morally accountable for what they do? They never knew there was a being who is "infinitely offended" by their actions.

And face it, there have been many such people.

By the way, what exactly does an "infinite" God mean? Infinite in power? Is there any biblical basis for that belief?
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#11

Post by truthman » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:09 am

The word of God tells that all men have the required basic knowledge so that they are without excuse (Psalm 19:1-6; Rom. 1:20;) and that God is not far from anyone, anywhere that is interested in knowing him (Acts 17:27).
Infinite means boundless: without limit. God is infinite in every respect: infinite in existence (without beginning), infinite in prescence (omnipresent), infinite in holiness, infinite in knowledge and wisdom, and infinite in power (Eph. 4:6; Rev. 4:8; Rom. 16:27; Psalm 147:5; Job 9:4; Psalm 104:24; Rev. 19:1; John 4:24; Psalm 147:5; Psalm 83:18; Psalm 90:2; Jer. 10:10 Ex. 15:11; Rev. 4:11; 1 Tim 1:17; Rom. 11:33; Mark 12:30)
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#12

Post by smiley » Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:36 am

Sorry, the Bible may have been inspired by God, but it was written by fallible people. The existence of an infinite God who holds people accountable for their actions may have been obvious to the apostle Paul who saw the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes, but it was not obvious to the majority of mankind.

I want you to explain me how someone living in 3000 BC is supposed to figure these things out by himself. And, I want you to explain how contemporary people belonging to other religions who do not have access to the Internet, television or books are supposed to learn about Jesus. They may hear the name "Jesus" at some point in their lives, but that's not enough to believe.

None of the verses you cite say anything about God being infinite in nature. The closest thing is the one about Him being an "everlasting King" but that just means that the duration of His existence is infinite. I don't see how offending such a being is a sin of "infinite gravity".
"Imagine if we picked the wrong god. Every time we go to church, we're just make him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson

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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#13

Post by narnia4 » Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:32 pm

smiley wrote:The one problem I have with Jac and narnia's position is one that I argued in that thread about Divine Hiddenness.

How can someone, who never had sufficient information to believe in God, much less an "infinite God", and the least a God who actually cares about what humans do and is "offended" by their actions, be held morally accountable for what they do? They never knew there was a being who is "infinitely offended" by their actions.

And face it, there have been many such people.

By the way, what exactly does an "infinite" God mean? Infinite in power? Is there any biblical basis for that belief?
From what Jac said on another thread, I'm pretty sure he believes that any excuse for not believing in God is irrational and there's sufficient evidence for everyone.

1. Most people, including non-Christians, believe in objective morality. In my experience, even those who deny that objective morality exists know that, in some point in their lives, they have done something "wrong". I've never met any person who believes they are perfect, and any person who does believe that probably isn't rational. So I would say that on a basic level, people do understand that they're sinners.

2. For those who are living today, people know what God's Word says. I don't know why unbelievers would be let off the hook because they don't believe in God. If a person robs a bank because they think all of those rich people don't deserve the money, that doesn't let them off the hook because what they did was still against the law. "Sin" is still a separating of oneself from God, no matter what your reason for sinning. A person who doesn't realize he is separate from God (for whatever reason) is still separate from God through his own actions.

3. What happened to those before Christ came is another matter entirely that isn't too simple, and I'd have to dig up some links and verses to talk about that. Some of this conversation could easily overlap with other things that aren't too related.

4. I do think your point is something that could be brought up about those who are mentally incapable of distinguishing right and wrong, whether it's age or a disability.
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#14

Post by truthman » Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:35 pm

smiley wrote:Sorry, the Bible may have been inspired by God, but it was written by fallible people. The existence of an infinite God who holds people accountable for their actions may have been obvious to the apostle Paul who saw the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes, but it was not obvious to the majority of mankind.

I want you to explain me how someone living in 3000 BC is supposed to figure these things out by himself. And, I want you to explain how contemporary people belonging to other religions who do not have access to the Internet, television or books are supposed to learn about Jesus. They may hear the name "Jesus" at some point in their lives, but that's not enough to believe.

None of the verses you cite say anything about God being infinite in nature. The closest thing is the one about Him being an "everlasting King" but that just means that the duration of His existence is infinite. I don't see how offending such a being is a sin of "infinite gravity".
Smiley,
When we say that the Bible was inspired of God, we are saying that God supernaturally told fallible people what to write so that what they wrote is without error. 2 Peter 1:21
Paul lived 2000 years ago and was no less intelligent that anyone today. There is no reason to think that someone 3000 years before Paul was less intelligent or less capable than he was.

I see you struggling terribly to understand many biblical concepts. When a person sees himself as a condemned sinner before God and chooses to turn from trusting in himself and his sinful ways and puts all of his faith (belief and trust) in Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God who died and paid for their sins and rose again in eternal life and righteousness, that person then receives the Holy Spirit of God in his soul and spirit. The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of Truth who is promised to teach and guide us into all truth. He gives us an understanding that we didn't have before.

Have you ever truly turned from trusting in yourself and your sinful ways and put all of your faith in Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God who died and paid for your sins and was resurrected in eternal life and righteousness so that you may have eternal life and righteousness? If not, I highly recommend it. It was the most wonderful thing that I have done in all my life. In fact, I plead with you to do so.
In the spirit of love,
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Re: Infinite punishment for finite sins

#15

Post by smiley » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:41 pm

@Narnia:

I disagree that there's sufficient evidence for everyone, but let's say there is for the sake of argument.

They still 1) don't know that this being is "infinite" in nature 2) that this being actually cares about what they do and holds them accountable for their evil actions 3) that their eternal destiny depends upon the decisions they make in this life.

And, they have absolutely no way of knowing any of this. Therefore, I do not see how they can be held morally accountable for their actions--at the very least, I do not see how their transgressions can be counted as infinite.

Now, as for the rest.

1) I agree that virtually all people know when they did something "wrong" (even though their view of "right" and "wrong" will highly depend on their sociocultural establishment). However, the issue here is if they can tell that their wrong actions are of infinite gravity and have infinite consequences.

2) Actually, not everyone today knows what the Bible says. There are still people who have not heard, and the vast majority of those who have "heard" do not possess sufficient information to believe that Jesus is the true God, and a great deal of them have no way to access this information even if they wanted to.

And, I'm generously assuming here that if they did possess the information, the only rational conclusion they could draw from it is that Jesus is God, which is still a very controversial topic, but I'll leave that for another time.

3) Paul has indicated that they will be judged on the basis of how they respond to their conscience. However, the problem I laid out above still has to be overcome.

4) I believe the mentally disable will be treated on the same basis as children.

In any case, I'm still waiting to hear an argument for God being infinite.

@truthman

I see you're struggling terribly to comprehend my very, very simple argument.

Instead of repeating myself, I'll just recommend you to read it a few times more, because you've clearly not understood anything at all.

To give one example, you say that there's no reason someone 3000 years ago was less intelligent than Apostle Paul. That's perhaps true, but I've never said anything of that sort.

I very much appreciate that you are concerned about me putting faith in Jesus Christ, but I can assure I've already done that, and this thread isn't about me, so I'm not sure why you're bringing that up. The idea that all people know that God exists, and that Jesus is His Son but "suppress the truth in their unrighteousness" just runs contrary to every-day observations. Sorry.
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