Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall down under the slain.”
When God’s wrath is provoked against His own people, their punishment is worse than that which He pours out on sinners who never knew Him. In this verse from Isaiah, we see that God warns His wayward children of His perfect justice. He is telling them that unless they repent from their stubborn ways, they will not just bow down as prisoners but that they will bow down under those who are merely made prisoners. Then He adds that they will not merely be slain for their sin but that they will fall down under those whom He will slay because of their sin.
“Judgment must begin at the house of God”, wrote Peter, and “God is no respecter of persons.” Sinners within God’s family are worthy of greater punishment than sinners outside the covenant of grace. Our own common sense tells us that unfaithful children of God are worthy of greater punishment than sinners who have never known God, who never agreed to keep His commandments in the first place, and who do not have His Spirit within them.
The balances of God are always just. James warned those who would be teachers among the saints that if they transgress God’s commandments, they will receive greater condemnation than God’s children who do not teach (Jas. 3:1). Because this new testament is “a better covenant”, more holy than the old, transgressors among God’s children in this covenant are worthy of greater punishment than transgressors of the Law. The author of Hebrews wrote, “He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment do you think shall he be thought worthy who has trodden underfoot the Son of God and has considered the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified to be an unholy thing, and who has done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will recompense, saith the LORD’, and again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:28-29; 12:25).
It will be bad enough for anyone to be cast into the Lake of Fire at the Final Judgment. But Jesus told us plainly that there will be degrees of torment in that awful place and that God’s disobedient people will receive a greater damnation than those who never were anything but unbelievers. Speaking of saints who wander out of the right path, Peter wrote, “if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2Pet. 2:20-21).
Jesus warned us to “count the cost” before entering into his kingdom. Part of the reason for that warning is that the punishment for saints who fail to fulfill their obligations once they enter into the New Covenant will be worse than the death that unbelievers will face.