What will God’s judgment be like in the lake of fire?
I need to explain some foundational principals in order to properly answer this question, so just bear with me.
First of all, God’s elect are going through God’s judgment right now and have fallen into the hands of God.
(1Pe 4:17 NKJV) For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
The lake of fire that those in the second resurrection will be cast into is the same fire which is purifying God’s elect right now. Notice that these verses come from the very same chapter as the verses I quoted above.
(1Pe 4:12 NKJV) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
(1Pe 4:13 NKJV) but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
The fire that judges us is the word of God.
(Jer 5:14 NKJV) Therefore thus says the LORD God of hosts: “Because you speak this word, Behold, I will make My words in your mouth fire, And this people wood, And it shall devour them.
(Jer 23:29 NKJV) “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
Whether is is now in this age or in the age to come, the fire of God’s word will come into our lives and reveal sin and then burn it out of us.
(1Co 3:12 NKJV) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw
(1Co 3:13 NKJV) each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
(1Co 3:14 NKJV) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
(1Co 3:15 NKJV) If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
For the elect this judgment takes place while we yet have a physical body, but those in the second resurrection will go through their judgment in a spiritual body.
(1Co 15:44 NKJV) It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
Christ explains that when we are raised from the dead and given our new bodies we will be like the angels, in the sense that we are no longer dwelling in a vessel of clay. Thus, there is no longer physical marriage, physical food, water, or anything else. We will be spirit as God is spirit.
(Mar 12:23 NKJV) Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”
(Mar 12:24 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?
(Mar 12:25 NKJV) For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
(Joh 4:24 NKJV) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Satan has a spiritual body and so do all of his angels. They too will be judged and they know that.
(Mat 8:28 NKJV) When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.
(Mat 8:29 NKJV) And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
This word for “tormented” above is the same word used to refer to the lake of fire in Rev 20.
(Rev 20:10 NKJV) The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
So the question is, how do you suffer judgment when you don’t have a physical body? The carnal mind always associates judgment with physical suffering. Look at how our worldly government punishes people; by putting them in prison limiting their physical freedom, also they could either kill them, or in some countries beat them.
Listen to what Christ says:
(Mat 10:28 NKJV) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
This verse makes it clear that the destruction of the body is very different from the destruction of the soul. Only God is able to destroy the soul, which is our life. The word for soul here is psuche and is often translated as “life”. Our life is so much more than our body, it is made up of everything we think, believe, and value. Only God can destroy the evil that is within a person’s heart and mind.
The word for hell in the verse above is geenna, which is the same word that Christ uses to describe hell fire. He’s talking about the same fire that judges the elect, and all the rest in the lake of fire, which is the word of God. So how does the word of God judge us? This verse will explain.
(Heb 4:12 NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
When we are given to understand the Word of God, it convicts us of our very thoughts and the desires of our heart. No external physical punishment can do that to us. God can certainly cause things in our physical life that make us stop and think, such as taking away something we love, but we are only convicted when our eyes are opened to the truth of the Word.
So in the lake of fire everyone will be convicted by the word of God that what they did during their life, due to the desires of their heart and the their thoughts, was evil. The mental agony of realizing that you’ve lived your entire life in opposition to God and are having everything you built destroyed results in tremendous suffering.
Here are some examples:
When Saul, before he was the apostle Paul, found out that he was actually persecuting the Lord Jesus Christ, he suffered tremendously and realized that he was the chief of sinners and not worthy to be called an Apostle. Yet God forgave him.
(1Co 15:9 NKJV) For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
(1Ti 1:15 NKJV) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Paul also says that he suffers the loss of all things, referring to his old life and worldly accomplishments.
(Php 3:8 NKJV) Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
All of mankind must come to see that each of us individually are chief of sinners. This works godly sorrow that produces repentance.
(2Co 7:10 NKJV) For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
(2Co 7:11 NKJV) For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
The fire of God’s word, regardless of when it comes to us, makes it manifest that we have built our house upon the sand, and then that old life we have built is destroyed by the storm of God’s word.
(Mat 7:26 NKJV) “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:
(Mat 7:27 NKJV) and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Another good example of God’s fiery judgment is King David when he is confronted by Nathan about his sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12. Nathan tells David a story and David pronounces harsh judgement on the rich man in the story, only then is it revealed to David that HE is the man in the story. This is exactly what the word of God does to us.
This is David’s punishment.
(2Sa 12:14 NKJV) However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”
(2Sa 12:15 NKJV) Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill.
(2Sa 12:16 NKJV) David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground.
(2Sa 12:17 NKJV) So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them.
(2Sa 12:22 NKJV) And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept;
And this is how David responded to the whole situation.
(Psa 51:1 NKJV) To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David When Nathan the Prophet Went to Him, After He Had Gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
(Psa 51:2 NKJV) Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
(Psa 51:3 NKJV) For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
(Psa 51:4 NKJV) Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You mabe found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
You can see how God did not cause any physical harm to David, yet the act of sending Nathan to tell him of his sin and taking away his child was tremendously painful. David’s disobedience did not produce good fruit, it produced a dead child. This is a symbol of what our disobedience brings, and the fire of God’s word reveals this to us at our appointed time.
I hope this helps you to see that everyone at their appointed time will realize the evil they have been caused to do and will suffer the loss of everything they have spent their lives building.