The Three Eternal Destinies of Man can be clearly seen from the beginning of mankind. There in the center of the Garden of Eden, the Creator placed the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. These two trees foretold The Three Eternal Destinies of Man:1
The Unjust and Filthy
In the beginning, God made a Covenant (which we refer to as the First Covenant) with Adam and Eve, and placed them within the Garden of Eden from which they were to rule for Him over all creation.2 From any of the trees of the garden God said they were to freely eat, but for their own good, God instructed Adam and Eve to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil — “for in that day you will surely die.”
Adam and Eve were given the freedom to choose to obey His instruction or to disregard it. This was a test to them to see what they would do with their freedom. For it was our Creator’s desire from the very start to know what was in the heart of His highest creation — MAN.
Would they trust Him and obey? He wanted to know what was in the will of Adam and Eve once they were tested. Ultimately, what a person does comes from the inner judgments of his mind and heart.3 The will of the man is the man himself.
Alone, with no one to know what she would do, the serpent came to Eve to test what was in her heart towards her husband and Creator. Would she trust them and obey? The serpent appealed to Eve through her reasoning and led her astray. “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” Ignoring the voice of authority within her own heart, she made the choice to do what she already knew was not right4 and followed the serpent to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be ‘opened’, and you will be like God, knowing ‘good and evil.’”
Drawn away by the seduction of his cunning and craft, she then ate from the “forbidden fruit.” Weakened by doubt and accusation against her Creator, Eve was enticed with the desire to be like God, knowing good and evil. There was nothing inherently wrong with this desire (for Adam and Eve were created in God’s very own likeness and image), but Eve was made to think that God was withholding hidden knowledge and wisdom from her. God wanted Adam and Eve to have this knowledge, yet without having to experience evil themselves.
To have this knowledge of “good and evil” with unfallen nature was always God’s intent for mankind. However, Eve was deceived into thinking that she did not yet have this knowledge, and could not have it through trust and obedience alone. As a result, she transgressed the boundaries where love could protect her — the love of her husband and Creator.
Stretching forth to taste of that knowledge firsthand, she quickly ate and then felt fearful and even worse — guilty and alone. She quickly ran to find Adam. Motivated out of his love for Eve, knowing the consequence of the death that would then await them both.5 Too late to fully realize the consequential effect it would bring upon them, yes, and even more, upon all of mankind, their consciences were awakened and they “knew” the shame of their nakedness before each other.
Staring first at each other, then at the ground, they began to perceive deep within themselves something that they were never meant to experience, for their knowledge had been achieved through rebellion, rather than by obedience to their loving Creator. How He too wanted to give them this knowledge so they could be “like Him,”6 but through a trusting relationship with Himself. The “poison” of the serpent was even then taking effect as guilt began to rise quickly within them. Running to hide for fear they would be seen for what they had done, both Adam and Eve feebly grabbed some fig leaves and sewed them together to cover themselves. What a pitiful sight they were, fallen from such glory — once the supreme rulers over all creation, now fearful and craven victims of the serpent’s foul schemes.
“Will we die?” Eve asked Adam, as he looked back searchingly into her eyes. The answer was obvious, Adam and Eve “would surely die”, for it was in the very moment they ate the fruit that they died spiritually.
Spiritual death always precedes physical death. Their spirit was severed from their Creator, the very Source of their life and being.
But all was not lost. True, Adam and Eve had fallen, but they were not given a hopeless start to life. Instead, God made a Second Covenant with fallen man,7 giving them the responsibility to obey their conscience with the promise that if it was faithfully attended to, they would reap a great reward.8
It wasn’t long after that Adam and Eve heard the voice of their Creator calling out to them in the cool of the evening…
Here lies the eternal question, “What have you done?”9
Every man and woman will have to give account before their Creator for what they have done — whether good or evil.10 They will be judged on the basis of the deeds which they have committed during their lifetime.11 A person’s deeds will be examined in relation to the highest standard of knowledge within his conscience. Conscience is the built-in power of our minds12 to pass moral judgment on ourselves, approving or disapproving our actions, thoughts and plans.13 It tells us whether what we are going to do or have done already, is right or wrong, good or evil.14 Obedience to the conscience is a remedial act on fallen man’s behalf. It is done in hope of ultimate restoration to the original covenant the Creator made with men and women. If in this life they would rule over themselves then in eternity they would be restored to their rightful rule over creation.15 Within the boundaries of conscience, a man can choose his own eternal destiny (blessing or calamity — a Second Eternal Life or a Second Eternal Death16).
Adam and Eve chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, forfeiting their right to the Tree of Life. Since that time it has been appointed for all men to die once17 as the wages for their sins.18 It is the just sentencing for all who, like Adam, go against their better judgment. Death (which we refer to as the First Death) is the temporary abode of the dead, where disembodied spirits wait in hope or in torment for their final judgment. All men must keep this appointment with Death as payment for the sins they committed while bound to live under the Covenant of Conscience. After the First Death is completed, comes final judgment where every person’s eternal destiny will be determined.19 If a person’s deeds in judgment align themselves consistently with the “good” he knew to pursue in his conscience, then a second eternal life will be awarded to him. His part will be in the “eternal kingdom of the Nations.”20 He has earned it and he deserves it. However, if a person’s deeds in judgment align them consistently with the “evil” he knew in his conscience to turn away from, then a second eternal death will be awarded to them. His part will be in the “lake that burns with fire.”21 This is the Second Death. He, likewise, deserves it. You can be certain that everyone will be awarded in eternity that which he truly deserves.
Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree — the one that did not freely bestow eternal life to them. Genesis 3:16-19 outlines the Second Covenant God gave to Adam and Eve after they fell.22 They would now have to work hard to live by the instinctive knowledge of right and wrong within them in order to gain eternal life. This was in hope of their complete restoration to the First Covenant for mankind, which they had broken.23 The ability for fallen man to obey the Second Covenant of Conscience is obvious, since our Creator would have never told Adam and Eve to obey such directives if it was not within their fallen ability to do so.24 Only those who are “unjust” would actually think God was so “unjust” as to demand of His creatures what they could never do.
Most importantly, man (after the fall) was commissioned to overcome and master those kinds of sins that would cause him to break even this second covenant.25 If the Second Covenant was broken, the Second Death would be inevitable — unless the mercy of our Creator could reach man’s heart through the sacrifice of His Son Yahshua. It was Yahshua the Messiah who would make the third eternal destiny possible for all of mankind. Both the Righteous sinner (who remained loyal to the Covenant of Conscience) and the Wicked (who forsook this Covenant) were in need of forgiveness and a means of escape from Death altogether.
It was this Yahshua who made the way possible for both the Righteous and the Filthy and Unjust to be a part of the third eternal destiny — the Holy City.26
The following sections briefly outline from Scripture the characteristics of four kinds of people who await one of the Three Eternal Destinies of Man.
There are many ways a person can fit into the category of the Unjust. The word itself means: “to injure or hurt morally, socially, physically, to be unfaithful (treacherous), acting contrary to the standard of what is right, not motivated or controlled by justice; false; dishonest, wrongful, driven by unlawful or false gain.” Those who practice lying, deceit, greed, laziness, dishonesty and slander are among those who would be considered “unjust.” These people didn’t just do these things once or twice, but their lives are characterized by one or more of these aspects. Most who fit these descriptions may even have a nice veneer and appear to be quite respectable in society.
One of the characteristics of the Unjust is the practice of lying.28 For example, certain professionals like lawyers and journalists, can actually make a career out of lying and being deceitful. Lawyers in their greed for money can make a living out of defending the guilty and defaming the innocent. Judges have been known to take bribes to render unrighteous judgments in favor of those who are guilty.29
Likewise, reporters and journalists will also be held accountable for slandering authority and defaming men of good character. They can often exaggerate and sensationalize the facts just to sell a paper. They have power through the media to greatly influence the tide of public opinion. It is not only those who write articles that expose and even murder a person’s reputation, but those who eagerly read them reveal the corruption in their own heart. An ancient proverb says, “A wicked man listens to evil lips, a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue.30
The respectable-looking businessmen in their suits and ties can also fit into this category as they exploit the lives and labor of others for their own selfish gain. They seek to live in comfort and luxury, serving their own interests and effectually promoting a society of careless ease.31 Their motives are carefully concealed in their unjust business practices, but they come out with the lion’s portion, unscathed by their dishonest gain.32 They have lost any fear of repercussions for their unjust deeds. They think no one knows.
Then, on the other end of the scale, there are those who seek an easy life, not willing to exert themselves for an honest day’s work. They go on “welfare”, becoming leeches of society, often even condemning the system that feeds them.
Cowards too are worthy of a Second Death.33 Being silent about something you know is wrong makes you just as guilty as the person who does the wrong. Cowards, in their silence become an accomplice to the crime. In any situation, cowards will think only of how it will affect their own reputation or security. They are the ones who would forfeit their conscience to be accepted; they are not willing to face ridicule and mockery to do what is right.
The unjust become callused and will not do what is right and just. They act unrighteously and are underhanded in their social and business practices, showing partiality. They do what is not morally appropriate or beneficial, but look for an advantage to manipulate circumstances for their own self-interest. They practice what is “wrong.” By quenching the voice of their conscience they compromise their own hearts and strengthen the tolerance of evil in society as a whole.
The Filthy and Unjust share in the same eternal destiny, since they both gave up the “good” conscience they originally possessed and chose rather to be given over to doing what is evil. They “became” dysfunctional as human beings, no longer living within the perimeters of their conscience. They are masters of disguise, preying upon others without fear.
The word filthy truly describes the worthless character of those who give themselves over to degrading and abominable acts of immorality. They suppress the good they know, in order to follow after the base appetites they have for pleasure and indulgence. They may appear at first not so obviously filthy but by their deeds they betray themselves. The filthy have lost their sense of morality and good judgment. They use and abuse others to fulfill their own fleshly appetites, acting upon their own selfish impulses without any restraint or regard for the people they destroy and discard.
They were not born filthy, but they became filthy by the continual rejection of their conscience.35 To become something implies transition. So it is with those who are judged worthy of this category. Their filth is an acquired condition. In rejecting conscience, they reject God’s purpose for themselves, since they did not acknowledge Him or give thanks. 36 They despise the voice of God within their conscience and do not deem it worthwhile to acknowledge Him any longer.37
Those who are filthy forfeit their original worth and become utterly worthless.38 They persist again and again in craving what is vile and detestable. Their conscience is eventually seared,39 as with a branding iron, making them callused and hard. In that state, they applaud what is evil and condemn what is good. Thus, they become depraved, totally given over to evil, and having no fear of the eternal consequences of their actions. Likewise, they have no fear of leading others astray and damaging them irreparably. They entice others to participate in their deeds, leading them to further degradation.
Even those who passively consent to what is evil are just as guilty as those who actively flaunt their lack of restraint. They too, by cowardice, suppress the voice of their conscience, and become a destructive element in society, having no resistance to evil and no true care for others. Although they may not be so obvious in the ways they manifest their filth, nevertheless, they contaminate others by association.
There are many subtle ways a person can express his filth. There are also many ways a person can pick up on the filth of others as well. Even if someone secretly conceals his filthy ways, it will eventually come out. You can’t be around someone who is filthy without getting just as dirty yourself. Bad company corrupts good morals.40
Those who practice and cultivate what is evil are accountable, even though they have no fear of their accountability. According to their deeds they are fully deserving of eternal torment for the ways in which they have ensnared others and destroyed human lives. They will follow Satan to his destiny — the Lake of Fire, which was originally only prepared for Satan and his angels.41
Every human being is born into the category of the Righteous, because each one is created in the image of the Creator with an inborn, instinctive knowledge of Him. Although all men come forth from the fallen seed of Adam,43 inheriting the iniquities of their fathers, they are born with a conscience and the ability to obey it. Since Adam fell, every man has been born with an inclination to sin – a selfish bent – but not an inclination to silence his conscience. The conscience is a precious gift from a loving Creator who desires to steer man away from those kinds of sins that would take him to a place of eternal torment.
To be righteous means to be innocent, free from guilt, and just in character and trait. They are not guilty for corrupting and taking away the innocence of another person. The righteous care for their neighbor as they would themselves. They do not tear down the reputation of others, but always seek to strengthen and support “good” wherever it is shown. They do not show partiality, but have a sense of equity and fairness in all their dealings with others. The people who characterize the righteous do not give up the struggle to live by their conscience; they consistently choose good over evil.44 Even though they are not sinless, they pay attention to the voice of their conscience and seek to make amends for any hurt or wrongdoing. The lives of these people are consistent. The man will work hard and honestly to provide for his family, and he will care for them in every way. His wife bears the pain of bringing forth life so that her heart would be bonded to her offspring; she will not choose the easier option of a pain-free labor. They genuinely care about people and treat them fairly and respectfully. The good deeds they do are not for the sake of being noticed. Rather, they are prompted in their conscience to act in sincerity and loyalty to the standards they know are right. Though they err, they are conscience-stricken and try to restore any damage done (wherever it is possible or within their power to do so). They keep within the boundaries of their conscience and do what is right with good intent, unlike the unjust who do the wrong thing with evil intent.
The pull of evil is like the current of a river that man must exert himself to swim against. If fallen men were to give in to that easier way of not resisting evil, plunging themselves headlong into it, then they would set their course towards a second eternal death. Going against the current of evil in society is truly a struggle, but the righteous will use their will to overcome the pull of their fallen nature.
These people will not be condemned to the Lake of Fire simply because they did not believe in “Jesus,” but they will inherit a second life in eternity called the Eternal Kingdom of the Nations.45 Although the righteous sinner must pay for the penalty of his sin by experiencing the First Death, people who heed the voice of their conscience will find mercy on the Day of Judgment.
The term “Holy” literally means: set apart for sacred purpose – to the service or worship of God; reserved from profane or common use. Therefore, those who obey the gospel are “set apart” for His sake and for the gospel’s sake (meaningthe cause or purpose of the gospel).47 The Holy are entirely separated from the world and their own personal sins to now live in service to the One who secured their forgiveness. They live a life that is “distinct, holy, and separate” from the rest of the world. That does not mean in disassociation with the physical world, but “set apart” from the spiritual realm and influences that would attempt to make them common or profaned.48 These holy ones withdraw from “fellowship” with the world – from what is filthy or common – since they have joined “fellowship” with God.49 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in the New Testament clearly expresses what the holy ones have no part in any longer. They live a life which keeps them “unstained” by fellowship with the spirits that rule the world.50
No one who is included in the Holy lives as the Righteous, Unjust or Filthy. Rather, the Holy fix their complete attention on carrying out the good will of the One who saved them – establishing tribes and clans all over the earth as a final witness of His Kingdom.51 They voluntarily relinquish all that they possess (both materially and spiritually) to the Body of Messiah where they now live a common life with all those who believe.52 This is the only way one can actually come under the authority of Messiah Yahshua.53 This places a person in a permanent relationship of servitude to Him through serving his brothers and sisters – who are His House.54 This voluntary surrender of personal rights, in an attitude of total submission, is the result of completely trusting and believing in the gospel. It is the only way one can rightly obey what our Master expressed concerning discipleship.55 Upon this heartfelt response, one then becomes a disciple, living a life of sacred purpose to Messiah. The response of the Holy is in response to Messiah’s sacrifice on their behalf.56 All those who believe are together and contribute all they have to each other as to Messiah. Obedience to the good news establishes a new society, a new social order – demonstrating the Kingdom of Messiah here on earth. Within this society, all aspects of human need are completely met. There is no rich or poor within this new life in Messiah, for all that are owners of land or houses have sold them and distributed their wealth among their needy brothers. This new society in Messiah is a common life of devotion to Him and to the brotherhood, expressed through daily contribution, distribution and participation of their material and spiritual wealth in the communities of God. Through this life of devotion a spiritual “commonwealth of Israel” is formed.57 The disciples who live in communities worldwide, in obedience to the gospel, are seen as Israel — a united twelve-tribed Holy nation.58 These tribes are made up of many households, within larger clans, that ultimately spread out geographically into specific tribal territories throughout the world.
The tribes collectively are a Holy nation.59 They are a “body politic” acting as one man. This united, twelve-tribed nation is the witness (ultimate sign) of Messiah’s Kingdom60 here on earth at the end of the age. Through their united efforts, they will be a “light to the world” bringing indisputable evidence that God did indeed send His Son.61 These twelve tribes proclaim His salvation to the ends of the earth.62 Those who make up “The Holy” will live exemplary lives before all the nations.63 They will be blameless in all their ways.64 By Messiah’s sacrifice they now demonstrate to the world the power and salvation of God to restore and purify them from all their hurtful and wrong ways. They are representatives of “redeemed mankind” and offer hope and mercy to all the nations of the earth.
The third eternal destiny is comprised of those who used to be filthy, unjust, or even righteous in the world. The Holy are those who were “saved and purified” from their sins through the sacrifice of Yahshua the Messiah. Because of their willingness to listen and respond from the heart to the convicting truths of the gospel, they made themselves worthy to become God’s eternal “Dwelling Place,” His home forever.65 Thus, their eternal destiny was sealed as being part of “The Holy.”
The true God is not indiscriminate in His judgment, but instead He makes distinction between the Filthy and Unjust, the Righteous and the Holy.66 We can clearly see that there are three eternal destinies for mankind, not two as Christianity has mistakenly taught us. The simple truth is that God recognizes another category of people: those who are righteous according to the instinctive knowledge of the truth which is inherent within their conscience.67 It is normal to value a good conscience as something to be esteemed and carefully guarded.
Perhaps you are not used to thinking in terms of three eternal destinies, yet the truth of these words must register in your conscience. How could a righteous and just God cast righteous and just people into the Lake of Fire? Will He condemn those men and women to eternal torment who suffer to keep a good conscience, along with the cowardly, self-seeking, greedy, deceitful, and sexually filthy people who defile this good earth?68
The ability to make “good judgments” (overcoming what is evil and doing what is right) has been given to every person on the face of this earth. Fortunately, the conscience has the power to restrain us from plummeting into the utter degradation of being given over to evil, if we listen to it. But what if we don’t? That is the freedom of choice the Creator of all mankind has given to every person. It is ultimately up to you to decide what your eternal destiny will be. The Creator will not interfere with our decisions. Since we have the knowledge of right and wrong at work within ourselves, we are totally accountable and are without excuse.69 He has also adequately equipped every fallen human being with the power of his will to choose good over evil. So who can we blame when we arrive at our eternal destination? Even now, through the day-to-day decisions we make, our destiny is being “set.” In all covenants there is a blessing for keeping its terms, and a curse for breaking them. So it is with the Covenant of Conscience — there awaits for every man the blessing of a Second Life or the calamity of a Second Death.
While bound by that covenant of living by the knowledge of good and evil, fallen man cannot stretch out his hand to eat from the Tree of Life. It would only be possible for him to escape death altogether if One would substitute for him in his place. Yahshua, the Son of God, took our judgment upon Himself and provided the way back to the Tree of Life. He is the Tree of Life. This tree was set apart from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, just as “The Holy” who eat from its fruit will also be “set apart.” They will no longer be bound by the Covenant of Conscience to resist evil and choose good, but rather they live in a totally New Covenant70 with God Himself. They will know Him intimately in a relationship throughout eternity. They will be obedient to Him and love as He loved — in much the same way as a true husband loves his wife and she willingly submits to and respects her husband.71
In the beginning there were two trees in the Garden. In the end, when time is no more, there will be only one — The Tree of Life.72 God’s eternal purpose will finally be realized as the Redeemed (the Holy), who have become the dwelling place of God, rule over and bring healing to the Eternal Nations.
Just as God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden in their innocence, so He will live and dwell among the Nations (through the Holy) throughout eternity.73 Only those who choose to become utterly worthless will have no part in the Creator’s eternal purpose for mankind.
So, every person must choose what his eternal destiny will be. Revelation 22:11 declares The Three Eternal Destinies of Man: There will be the Unjust and Filthy still, the Righteous of the Nations still, and the Holy still. These are the final destinations for all mankind. The Creator of Heaven and Earth leaves this choice up to each individual. He has made every provision possible for mankind to partake in His ultimate plan. His desire is to live in and dwell among mankind. He wants you to see His true heart and character, so you could be a part of His ultimate purpose — throughout eternity.