Making a Mockery of God’s Judgment

Posted on August 31, 2018
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“I already know that I’m going to Hell…At this point it’s really go big or go home!”

A friend of mine on Facebook saw this bumper sticker while driving around in her part of the world last week, and made a post about it, condemning the idea. This post got me thinking about how many people have come to view most of what we see in scripture. The ideas of Satan, judgment and Hell have become nothing more than a joke. I searched Google for the phrase above, and found that it is not only on bumper stickers, but on every type of merchandise you can imagine. It provides evidence that many people have become proud of just how wicked they can be.

I believe we have gotten to this point in society because we have had our consciences hardened by turning wickedness into humor. Think about how Satan (the ultimate example of evil) is often portrayed. He is a cute little, mischievous devil with a long tail, a beard and a pitchfork. Wickedness has been portrayed as a mere joke. In fact, there have been many abominable practices that have been normalized into our society by making them into a joke on various television shows. Divorce, homosexuality, transgenderism and abortion have all been written into scripts to make them seem more acceptable and normal. At the same time, moral practices such as virginity before marriage and monogamy are ridiculed to make them seem like they are extreme and ridiculous practices.  This illustrates the very warning that Isaiah gave:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

By mocking good, and making evil just seem like a humorous situation, we have (in our society) done just what Isaiah warned of.  We call evil good and good evil! Society has certainly bought into this premise. In just one or two generations, immorality has been normalized to the point that it is accepted by most of society. Even those who would disagree with the immoral action would have been conditioned to say, “Well, I wouldn’t do that, but I’m not going to say that it is wrong for someone else!” Even we as Christians have been influenced, laughing at the sinful practices that are the punch lines of the jokes. 

Christians, unfortunately, have also contributed greatly to making the ideas of Hell and judgment nothing more than a joke. How many of us have seen a church sign post something pithy like, “You think it’s hot here?  Just wait!” Some have become so flippant with their advertising, they convey an image of a church focused more on frivolity than spirituality.

I do not want to leave the impression that all humor, or even some humor in the religious realm is wrong. Even Jesus, in the midst of His teaching would incorporate a humorous image to make a spiritual point:

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3–4)

Humor is a part of our nature, and can be used effectively to make a point. But, we must be careful that we do not destroy the message of the gospel by our misuse of humor. If the use of our humor leads to others believing that Hell or the judgment is not real, then we have done them a great disservice. We need to be cognizant of the fact that our misuse of humor may (in a cumulative manner) deflect the seriousness of eternal judgment. Here are a few reasons for us to be very careful with humor in these areas:

Satan is real.  Satan is not a cute cartoon character. He is not a harmless little mischievous fellow. Just recently, one company has incorporated Satan into their advertising campaign for mattresses, and have portrayed him as nothing more than a grumpy fellow that provides slight discomfort to his wife (a character that portrays being married to Satan as a humorous endeavor). The constant bombardment of this type of imagery of Satan desensitizes us to the severity of his work and his nature.

Satan is described as militantly evil, ever seeking to destroy those who are seeking to serve the Lord. Paul, in Ephesians chapter 6 describes the Christian as being in constant battle with the “wiles of the devil.” He is not described as being a minor inconvenience, but rather a worthy adversary. Paul said,

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

The whole point of Paul’s instruction concerning the “whole armor of God” is to ensure that the Christian is prepared for the severity of the battle that comes when fighting Satan. Peter also describes the Devil in alarming tones:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

Peter’s warning gives us a good idea about how we should approach Satan. We must be sober, and vigilant. The idea here is that one must be watchful when dealing with Satan. One of his greatest tools is his ability to sneak up on us, and attack in unexpected ways. When we portray him (and subsequently think of him) as being a minor inconvenience, the stage is set for his violent attack. He will, under such circumstances, most likely with that battle, if not the war, for our souls!

Hell is Real.  Like Satan, Hell is also real. It is the place that God has prepared to eternally punish those who are disobedient to Him. Hell is described as the place where those who refuse to submit to God will be cast (see Matthew 5:22-30). In some places it is identified by characteristics, such as “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15) rather than by the name we are commonly familiar with. Mark uses the idea of being cast into the fire as identifying eternal destruction (Mark 9:42-48),This should give us an idea of the seriousness of Hell, and its eternally painful existence.

Should we be surprised that many have no fear of eternal destruction in Hell? They mock the idea that they are going there (as the bumper sticker we started this study with). Hell does not seem real to us, because we have made it into a joke. I recently heard a country music song in which the artist spoke of how hell couldn’t be too bad, as he was already suffering so greatly in the present age. We have heard the term “Hell on earth” used to depict the idea of suffering. But, even this has diminished the concept of Hell. If we truly believe that the suffering we might endure on this earth is anything like the eternal suffering of Hell, then we clearly have lost the Biblical description of Hell! The New Testament describes the suffering of Hell as an eternal “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51). We cannot possibly fathom the punishment that is Hell, or the pain that is associated with it.

Judgment is Real.  If Satan is real, and if Hell is real, then the coming of God’s judgment is also real. It is amazing how many people believe that God is real, and that Heaven is real (based on what they read in the word of God), but also believe that there is no real Satan, and there is no real Hell. They certainly do not believe there is a literal judgment of God. It is impossible to accept the reality of a judgment when you believe that there is no eternal punishment for the disobedient!

Jesus declared that there will be a judgment to separate the righteous from the unrighteous (see Matthew 25:31-46). Paul, as he wrote to the Thessalonian brethren gave them comfort, telling them that God would bring judgment on those who had rejected Him, and were persecuting His people:

…and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:7–8).

Understanding the severity and the eternal nature of this judgment should make us take it very seriously. If we minimize the impact of this judgment through jokes that make it appear to be insignificant, we diminish the impact of the inspired teaching. If God’s judgment does not frighten us on some level, we will not be inclined to make changes to our lives, and obey Him!

As we bring this study to a close, I want to reiterate that it is not bad to enjoy good, and clean humor. Nor is it evil to use humor to make a spiritual point or application. I do believe we need to be cautious in how we use humor, so that its impact does not minimize the teachings of scripture. If our approach to things like Hell, judgment and Satan leave an impression with hearers that those things are either not real, or not significant, then we have let humor detract from the message of the gospel. If people walk away from our “jokes” with a diminished view of the seriousness of the battle we fight against evil as Christians, then our humor is destructive, not helpful or instructive. We must view these issues with the seriousness that God intends, so that we approach them daily in a productive manner.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12–13).

Rejection of God’s will is a reason for fear and trembling, not humor and mockery!