“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
There was a time when God original creation – man, knew no sin. Not only was he sinless, he was perfect in every way. Actually, the word says that man was created a little lower than God himself (Hebrews 2:7). Man was not only sinless, he was perfect, intellectually wise, radiant, and ruler of the entire planet. Man (Adam) was the ultimate in all of God’s creation, for although God spoke everything else into being, only man did God literally form from the dust of the earth.
When Adam, the first man, walked the earth he did so under the divine authority to which God gave to him, which was all the earth. All because he (Adam) knew no sin. Man was created with such a perfected state that Adam had no knowledge of evil, his very thoughts were perfect, his walk was perfect, his words which came from his mouth was equally perfect, he was in essence the most wondrous being known to have ever been created – sin was non-existent.
Yet man did fall, sin did enter into the life of man, and because of one man’s disobedience, not only did man lose his rightful standing with God, not only did he fall into spiritual death, man would lose his physical perfection that would allow man to taste death. His failure to obey would cause his ability to live forever. (Romans 5:12)
Sin would now become part of every man, woman and child who would be born from the procreation between men and women. In other words, every person who is now born in the earth, because of Adam’s original sin, would be contaminated because of sin. (Romans 3:23)
It is because of man’s original sin, God cannot look upon man without seeing him in his original state, in other words, because man was born in sin, by sin and because of sin, God cannot accept him (man) without a covering. When God covered Adam and his wife Eve, he took the skin of an animal that was slain, sacrificed so that the first Adam could be covered from his nakedness, which means his corruption as well. (Genesis 3:21)
The very nature of God, initiating the first animal sacrifice so that man would be covered before God, is in fact a preview of the coming Christ and his ultimate act for the blood sacrifice which would be needed for the redemption of sin. This is why God would implement the old testament law of blood sacrifice of bulls and goats, for it was the shedding of the blood of these animals which would cover the nation of Israel’s sins, but it would not forgive their sins. (Hebrews 9:22)
Which leads us to our main question; Can a righteous and Holy God be justified in sending an innocent man to hell? First we need to establish something which is very important, is man born in sin? As I have already demonstrated by the scriptures, man was born into sin. Since man is born into sin, can God overlook sin? Not at all. The word says in Isaiah 64:6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” The word “filthy” implies unclean, impurity. The idea means that man who is born into sin is impure, unclean all because of sin. The word in Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Man is born a sinner. Man is born unclean. Man is born with a proclivity to sin and rebel. Because of his error, because of his moral failure, man’s heart, which is wicked and evil, needs to be changed. Due to this natural as well as spiritual failure, man must be once again be brought back to right standing, which can only be done through the cross. For it is the cross which has satisfied the sin debt. (Romans 5:15)
With all of this being stated, can God be justified in sending men to hell who might have never known the love of God? Yes, because in all of God’s creation, he has given man an inner desire to find him. God never places man into position where he is left alone to destruction without ever having come to some knowledge of his existence. When we look at the very act of creation, the universe and all of its splendor, it’s unique design, then we have evidence that something greater than man is at work here – and that something is God himself.
God is righteously and morally perfect (Psalm 18:30). Because God is not only righteous and perfect, he demands that those who are his very creation come to salvation, 1 Timothy 2:4. If God did not send people to hell for breaking His laws, it could be said that God is not just (Psalm 7:11). A good analogy is a court of law with a judge and a lawbreaker. A just judge will always convict the person who has been found guilty. If that judge did not pursue justice for the crime, he would not be a just judge (Deuteronomy 32:4). The fact is, man is not innocent. He is a fallen being in need of redemption.
On the outside it might seem that someone living in the deepest, darkest jungles of Africa, or the high plains of the Sahara, or the quietest part of China who never heard of the gospel, should be held accountable for someone else’s sin. In our world of quick defense, justification through ignorance, many would quickly claim that it is impossible to hold someone accountable simply because someone somewhere across the world was born, lived and ultimately died never hearing the gospel. It’s (in their mind) not fair. But is it?
Every man, woman and child (once that child reaches the age of accountability) is held accountable for their role of original sin, irregardless whether or not they ever accept Christ as savior. The Bible tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1:20) and in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem is that the human race is sinful; we all reject this knowledge of God and rebel against Him (Romans 1:21-23). If it were not for God’s grace, we would be given over to the sinful desires of our hearts, allowing us to discover how useless and miserable life is apart from Him. He does this for those who continually reject Him (Romans 1:24-32).
In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about God. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard and what is readily seen in nature. Deuteronomy 4:29 proclaims, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This verse teaches an important principle—everyone who truly seeks after God will find Him. If a person truly desires to know God, God will make Himself known.