God Will Justly Punish the Wicked in the Judgment Hour
The question of why a merciful and loving God would punish and cause suffering to those lost sinners who will then be destroyed in death is a very important one which deserves a Biblical answer.
In the punishment and destruction of the lost, the issue is not that God is teaching them a lesson as wayward children. The final punishment of the wicked is not to rehabilitate those who are beyond the reach of mercy and forgiveness. Their punishment and doom is sure and from this verdict there is no appeal or reprieve. The issue of sin and the punishment of unrepentant sinners is one of moral responsibility.
The human family, unlike the animal kingdom, was created in the image of God and as such was placed under the rule of Law. All the sons and daughters of Adam are held morally responsible for their behavior and God will by no means clear the hardened sinner who openly and willfully despises His Law. The animal kingdom was not to be held responsible for its behavior since the behavior of animals is the result of instinct. When sin entered the earth, the instincts of the animal kingdom were perverted and the natural "law of the jungle" took control of these instincts. The "law" of tooth and claw rules among the animals. They kill and are killed without moral responsibility.
However, this is not so among the human family. Adam had dominion over the world before the fall into sin and even after the fall, mankind was still to be held to moral accountability. God did not alter His standard of righteousness after the fall and it remained the same as it had been before the fall of man— perfect obedience to His Law. The Ten Precepts in letter and in spirit were to still be binding upon mankind.
Those who transgress this Law shall be punished in proportion to the suffering and harm which they inflict upon others. There is no sin which does not harm and cause suffering to others and each individual of the human family shall be held accountable for every wrong word, deed, thought, and action. God will by no means clear the guilty of Adams race. Every sin will be accounted for in the final judgment.
Some will receive "few stripes" and some will receive "many stripes". God is the righteous judge who will visit the iniquities of the wicked unto the "third and fourth generation" to those who hate Him and His Law. He measures the nations and individuals in the balances of His justice. Those who cause suffering shall themselves suffer. Each shall render an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Even the most secrete sin shall be revealed on that Day and even the evil words spoken in private shall then be shouted from the housetops.
How then shall we escape? How can we find forgiveness and receive the "not guilty" verdict as we stand face to face with the record of our sins? This is the most important question anyone shall ever answer in life!! How shall a man or a woman be just with God? This is the burning question which the apostle Paul answers in his epistle to the Romans. In view of the terrible justice of God and in view of the terrible lost and wretched condition of Man, how shall a man be saved from God's just punishment?!!
Romans 2:9 ".....they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the Law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of (in) Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and (continually) come short of the glory of God; Being justified (accounted innocent) freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what Law? of works? Nay: but by the Law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law.... Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law."
The great evil of the modernist "moral influence view" which denies the "crime/punishment paradigm", as the Pauline gospel is disparagingly labeled, is that it does not take into account God's terrible hatred of sin and His terrible wrath against those who would "hurt and destroy in His holy mountain". Those lost sinners who unrepentantly fully identify with sin and refuse God's offer of forgiveness through faith in the sinless life and atoning death of our Lord upon the cross shall bear the full wrath and hatred of sin which the justice of God shall require.
God, in His infinite love for Mankind, in Christ has Himself borne all the punishment of sin for even the most sinful of the human family. Every curse which God has pronounced upon sin has fallen upon God Himself in Christ. The curse of the thorns which sprang up from the ground when Adam sinned became a piercing crown upon the holy brow of our Savior. The flaming sword that barred the way of our fallen Parents to the Eden of God became the sword that pierced the side of the Son of God. He received the stripes that we deserved, that by His grace we are preserved. He hung upon the cross to die, the Law of God to satisfy.
It is the doctrine of sin and its just punishment that is so weakened and diluted by this modernist "cause and effect" paradigm. The wages of sin are not merely the "natural" suffering that results from disobedience and separation from God. The "wages" that the apostle Paul is referring to is Divine justice and its meted punishment that shall be imposed upon all the rejecters of the Law of love who choose to hate and destroy and ally themselves with the kingdom of the Mystery of Iniquity. They shall each receive their just reward for the things that they have done while living in the flesh.
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works."
Even so come Lord Jesus.