Saturday, December 4, 2010

They Know Not What They Do

When Christ was being crucified at the hands of the leaders of Israel, He asks for their forgiveness in light of their ignorance. Ignorance is one thing, but there are many who spit in the face of God and sin against Him with full knowledge.
Upon hearing the phrase “for the hell of it” the other day, my mind started down a path. Etymology fascinates me. Entomology does too, but that’s another topic. Where do some of the crazy things we say come from? What is the Latin root of that word? How did awful become awful? I think I figured out where this hellish phrase came from and how it can be used to glorify Christ.
If I were to say I was going to commit adultery this weekend
for the hell of it, I would be implying that I am ignoring the consequences that might come from my actions. But that is superficial. Hell is not. Despite the opinions of J.I. Packer and others, hell is a place of physical and spiritual torment for those who have sinned against God and rejected the salvation and righteousness that comes through Christ. Hell is a punishment from an infinitely holy God. A flip attitude about what hell is underlies this irreverent phrase.
“I know it is a sin against God to commit adultery, but I am going to do it even though God claims He will send me to hell for it. I am going to do it with a full knowledge that it is wrong in the eyes of God and ignore the consequences that might come—not only the temporal, but the eternal.”
The next time you hear someone use this phrase, seize the opportunity to share the gospel with that individual. Ask them why they used the phrase and explain what they are really saying—whether they know it or not. Use the acknowledgment of sin and hell to explain that they will get exactly what they are asking for. Explain that God’s standard of goodness is the righteousness of Christ and that there is a real hell that should not be taken so lightly. Show them it is a slap in the face of the God who created them and the Savior who died to atone for sin. Beg them to repent as you explain to them the goodness of God and the glorious work of Christ, praying that the Spirit will grant them repentance and faith.
Let us not trifle with hell and let us boldly warn those who would. They need to know what they do will have real consequences apart from Christ.


  1. To be fair, Packer does in fact believe in a real Hell. I think you may be confusing him with John Stott, who does not. (That rhymes! I am a poet, and I did not know it!)

  2. Agreed, Paul, but Packer rejects any physical punishment in hell. That was the point I was making about his view.
    "Hell is the sense that you have missed the greatest thing in the world. I don't go farther than that: