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An Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living
The Greek philosopher Socrates had a strong sense of the value of a virtuous life. In his old age, he was tried and judged worthy of death for his deeply held convictions, and for expressing them publicly. Socrates accepted the judgment of the court and willingly drank the cup of deadly hemlock. He believed himself to be a good man, and that a good man would have a good eternal destiny. As the story goes, he received the judgment of those who condemned him, and entrusted himself into the hands of the Almighty.
Man Will Live Forever…
So, why did Socrates think and teach that for a man’s life to be worth living it should be examined? Examined by whom? And what does a man do with the examination? Socrates knew that Man is more than the short life he has on this earth. Each of us has an eternal soul, and we determine our own eternal destiny by the choices we make in this life. For our thoughts become our deeds, our deeds form our habits, and our habits result in our fixed character, and it is the character we formed in this life that we bring into eternity.
Without the judgment of one’s life, without the knowledge you gain by this examination of the deeds you did in this life, what are you living for anyway? Without knowing that there are consequences of every choice one makes or deed one does, then what is life? Even the most worthless person actually knows there are consequences, but he goes against that knowledge!
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…” (Genesis 3:22a)
The knowledge of good and evil is inborn in all men. It is the way in which men and women are “made in the image of God” and are different from the animals, who have no such awareness in themselves of good and evil. Only the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” He is deceiving himself when he says that he has no accountability for any action he does.
The one who continues to harden his heart and justify his wrong-doing will eventually become depraved, and no longer be able to hear from his conscience. He has effectively silenced God’s emissary in his heart. This one is “over the waterfall.” He cannot recover from the loss of his humanity — the image of God all men are born with. Having lost all human worth, he will spend eternity with all of the other worthless ones in the Sea of Fire, also called “the Second Death.” There could be nothing more tragic than the waste of a human soul.
God expects His highest creation (man who knows right from wrong) to do the good he knows, according to the natural law, which is innate in every man. We humans only have a short lifetime here on earth to choose to either defy God or to obey Him. He is not speaking to us directly with a voice from the sky, but through our conscience, which we all have. The conscience speaks with authority as God’s vice-regent. A vice-regent is a person who acts in the place of a ruler, governor, or sovereign.
Our Creator has said that one hundred and twenty years is enough to determine where man will spend eternity, according to the path each man chooses in this life.
So why did Socrates say, “The unexamined life is not worth living”? Examine means to inspect closely, to carry out a thorough examination or investigation. Do you have anything to hide? Are you living in guilt and denial? If so, then your life is not worth living because it will end in futility.
What is Death?
Every man is born with an appointment with death. As the Scriptures say, it is appointed for all men to die once, and then face the judgment of our Creator. Physical dying is when your soul and spirit depart from your body, going to a place of waiting called Death. In Death there are no distractions to keep you from considering your life — your motives and choices, your deeds and the consequences of those deeds. You may not have taken the time to consider your deeds while you were alive, but in Death, there is nothing else to do but wait for the judgment, when your life will be examined by the One who created you and gave you the knowledge of good and evil.
Though you may hope for oblivion or annihilation when you die, there is no escape from this place of agonizing awareness called Death. In this agony, if a person can receive the truth of his conscience condemning him, perhaps he will “pay the just wages of his sin.” But, in this agony, a worthless person will only rail against the voice of truth about himself. Both will stand before God on the day when God will judge the secrets of men’s hearts and the deeds in their lives, and determine who is worthy of a second life or a second death, both of which will never end.
How Can God Condemn People For Eternity?
Many struggle to understand why God, who is love, could judge someone as worthy of eternal torment in the Sea of Fire. The fact that the consequences are so dramatic indicates the seriousness of honoring or dishonoring our Creator.
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
The Sea of Fire was created for Satan and the angels who followed him in his rebellion. He is the author of rebellion and becomes the father of all the rebellious people on the earth. Rebellion is act of resisting or opposing authority. Iniquity was found in Satan when he reasoned that he could be like God, desiring to actually be greater than God, thus dishonoring the One who created him.
Being an eternal spirit, Satan will have to spend eternity somewhere. Presently he is loose on the earth, seeking to deceive mankind away from God’s righteous standard, just as he did in the beginning with Adam and Eve. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle John wrote that the whole world lies under the sway of the evil one. How much more today? All who are led astray from following their conscience by Satan, and continue to deny God and follow Satan’s rebellion, will be with him in that place that was created for his eternal destiny.
In His great kindness, God put a conscience into all people to save them from eternal death and torment. That is the reason eternal consequences are in store for all who refuse the Creator. Those who go against the natural law of conscience are aligning themselves with the Evil One.
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Some will make themselves worthy of the second death by choosing to continually embrace the evil rather than the good. For those judged worthy of a second death, that place of torment will be their eternal dwelling place. This will apply especially to those who are confronted with the gospel. They are offered the water of life (which is the Holy Spirit), yet they choose not to overcome what keeps them from drinking. They will not receive the grace and faith of the Holy Spirit who is coming to them to set them free. They are the “cowardly and unbelieving” of Revelation 21:8 — the first on the list of those who will go the Sea of Fire.
To be cowardly and unbelieving is to refuse to receive the truth which would save one’s soul from eternal torment, just as the rich young ruler rejected Yahshua’s offer of eternal life. Those who reject the gospel will have no need to go to the judgment for all men, since they have already judged themselves as unwilling to live in fellowship with their Creator. They are “judged already.”
So many are heedless and do not consider the consequences of their sins. The consequences one will suffer in the second death penalty are far greater than the loss one may temporarily experience for being honest and upright — doing what he knows is right, and not doing what he knows is wrong. Every man knows in his heart what is right and what is wrong, and is responsible and accountable for the choices he makes.
God Gave Them Over to a Depraved Mind
No one is responsible or held accountable for anything he did not know in his heart to be wrong. The frightening thing is that it is very easy to trust in your own subjective reasoning and increasingly lose touch with the instinctive knowledge of God that is in your heart, especially when you reason away your conscience in order to feel justified in your wrong-doing. Though you may suppress the truth you know, deep inside you still know what you know, and God holds us all accountable for what we know.
Tragically, those who continue to suppress the truth in unrighteousness will eventually cease to hear anything at all from their conscience. They will be turned over to their depraved minds, which do not make a distinction between right and wrong any more. They have thrown off all internal restraint.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things, which are not proper. (Romans 1:24,28)
Sin is lawlessness, which is to say that sin is to not pay attention to the restraint of conscience. Some people are unrestrainable. They do not submit to natural law, the instinctive knowledge of good and evil.
A depraved mind is not quickly formed. One must “kick against the goad” of his conscience night and day in order to finally arrive at a depraved mind. But then his name is removed from the Book of Life (where every man’s name is written when he comes into existence) and he is worthy of the second death, since he is no longer worthy of a second life.
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)
The judgment will bring back every secret thing, the good and the evil. Some will be able to pay the just wages of their sin in the first death. The judgment will also reveal the sins too terrible for one to pay for in the first death, so they will go on to the second death, which is eternal.
As Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but not all have sinned to the degree that they have been turned over to a depraved mind and eternal torment in the Sea of Fire.
All men have sinned and have an appointment with the first death. The sins that take a person to the second death have to do with one’s own consistent irresponsibility to live up to the expected standard. Our loving Creator instilled the natural law in us all from birth. We are all responsible, which means able to respond. Those who are responsible are also then accountable. Accountable means that one is answerable to give an explanation of why he did what he did, to see if the reason holds any weight before the judgment bar of God, before which all must stand. Every person is obligated to answer for every action. For God will bring every work or deed, every action into judgment, whether it is good or evil.
What Does it Mean to Fear God?
Hardly anyone realizes the reality that the whole duty of man in this age is to fear God and keep His commandments. God’s righteous standard is present within every man from birth. This is the natural law written in his conscience.
When Gentiles, who do not possess the Law, do instinctively what the Law requires, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the Law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them. (Romans 2:14,15)
So anyone who goes against this law or inner restraint is a lawless or restraint-less person. He demonstrates his lack of respect and fear of God by being inconsiderate of others and the consequences of his actions. This is sin: knowing the right thing to do, but not doing it. Sin is restraintlessness, as one who transgresses the natural law written in his conscience, saying in his heart, “There is no God.” The result of this inner statement is expressed outwardly in evil deeds, even abominable deeds.
When one continues to go beyond the boundaries of conscience he is eventually turned over to a depraved mind, which can no longer hear from the conscience. There is then no fear of God before his eyes, which Ecclesiastes 12:13 says one must have as his prime responsibility. We are all accountable to God for how we carry out our responsibility.
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
We will all stand before our Maker to give an account for how we lived our life. He will ask: “Did you not have a conscience? Then why did you not obey Me through your conscience? It was your God-given conscience. I gave it to you.”
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil…” (Genesis 3:22a)
Genesis 3:22 is both man and God working together to assure a second life for the man. The conscience speaks from the common knowledge that God and man share concerning good and evil.
Although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)
Death is separation from life. But it doesn’t have to be eternal separation. It is according to how we respond to the instinctive law within us. When Adam sinned, he was immediately separated from God. He could no longer walk with God in the Garden, in the life of hearing and speaking directly with God. But God did not abandon him to a second death, to be eternally with Satan. He gave Adam a way to indirectly hear His voice through the conscience. This was God’s mercy to help him (and us) to walk within the restraints of doing good, not feeling free to do evil, and thus not losing the hope of a second life.
Being Saved From Death
When one continues to go against the voice of his conscience, he knows deep inside that he is deserving of death, and will die, and after the judgment will go into death a second time. He even knows that the second time is for eternity. At least the first death has an end in sight, and then a judgment follows. Some, who suffered greatly to do good in this present lifetime, will be determined as worthy of the second life in the nations of the eternal age. But for most, death will be the terrifying expectation of judgment for the second death which awaits them, and which is eternal.
God knew before the foundation of the world that man would need a Savior. He knew ahead of time how Satan would be determined to corrupt us, and how our selfish nature would incline us away from the good we knew to do, how our sin would lead us to death, and for many, the second death. Yahshua, the Son of God, paid for our sins by dying and going into death in our place, so we could receive God’s mercy to escape death. So why die and go to death for your sins when He had already gone there on your behalf?
The penalty of death for sin can be removed in this present life, but only if one actually puts his trust in the One who can save him from death. To be saved from death means to be free from having to pay for our own sins in death, and to be purified from all those things within us that led us to go against our conscience. For the one who actually puts his trust in Him, entering into an eternal covenant with Him, the penalty of sin is broken. The one who keeps his new “garment” (conscience) spotlessly white, obeying His word, will never see death at all — not even the first death, which even believers will experience who do not keep their garments clean and white.
Eternal life in Messiah cannot be earned or paid for. Nothing one can do earns the free gift of eternal life, but who does God give this free gift to? One cannot pay for his obstinate rebellion, which is sin with eternal consequences. But sin which is not rebellion can be paid for by one’s own death — the agonies of death.
The wages of sin is death. This refers to both the first death and the second death. Since the fall of man there is a tendency towards selfishness, which leads to sin. But rebellion is Satan’s sin. The Sea of Fire was created for Satan and his angels. Satan was a rebel from the beginning. Those who follow Satan’s path will end up where he is going.
Rebellion is the Sin of Satan
All who rebel against the truth they know in their heart will, by their own doings, bring upon themselves the wrath of God eternally — the never-ending torment of the Sea of Fire. When the great search is made through all the names recorded in the Book of Life, all those whose names are not found in it will suffer the same destiny as Satan, because they also were rebels. They rebelled against the restraint that was given to men to keep them from going over the line, to keep them within the boundaries of God’s love.
All men were born with their name in the Book of Life. Though all have fallen short of the glory of God, not all have fallen to the point of being given over to a depraved mind, and having their name erased from the Book of Life. So, at the judgment of the nations, there will be some who still have their name in the Book of Life and will be found worthy to live a second life in the nations of the eternal age.
Today, during his lifetime, a man who was not acquainted with the Law of Moses still has his second chance at life. Man fell into death when Adam transgressed, yet he is still able to make choices, and according to those choices he is given eternal life in the nations or eternal death in the Sea of Fire. Which are you choosing as you go through your journey in this life? Those who hear the good news and obey the terms of peace are saved from the possibility of eternal death, and by their obedience have the possibility to never see death at all. But those who hear the good news and reject it are judged already and will go straight to the second death, since they have already rejected eternal life.
God’s Testing Ground
Everything must be tested to prove its worthiness. Man is no exception. Earth is God’s testing ground for man. A man’s character is formed in this life through his response to the instinctive knowledge of the Creator that is in him, as he struggles along his path through life. One lifetime is enough to determine the eternal destiny of a man, for it is in this life that a man’s character crystallizes into what he will be for eternity. That is why Revelation 22:11 says, “Unjust still… filthy still… righteous still… holy still…” Still means eternally.
He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
What benefit is 60 or 70 or 100 years of living selfishly when compared with eternal torment for the unjust and filthy? Or what can be compared to the never-ending reward for the righteous? They paid the price in this life in a great struggle to overcome temptation, and they chose to do the good they knew to do. Sin is knowing the right thing to do and not doing it. It was not that the righteous did not sin, but they did not sin the kinds of sins which the unjust or filthy commit, to the hurt of others, leading them to the same destiny of the one they follow. If they were to live forever, the unjust and filthy would continue to lead others astray eternally, still, just as Satan and his angels for whom the Sea of Fire was created.
What Will Become of the Fool?
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They [the fools] have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:1-3)
Psalm 14 speaks of the fool who says in his heart that there is no God — no responsibility or accountability, nor consequences for his abominable deeds. They have corrupted themselves who defy the truth of God they know in their conscience. They have rejected their Creator and will ultimately be away from His presence eternally, with Satan and his angels in the Sea of Fire, which is the second unending death. All mankind could be blessed eternally, as the righteous will be. As a man sows, he shall reap. Every man will “lie in the bed he made” in this life — eternally, still…