“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:14–16).
THE VERY ESSENCE OF SIN IS SELF-WILL. Whereas love is outwardly focused, sin is inwardly focused. It wants whatever it wants, regardless of the damage anyone else may suffer. It is not concerned with how it treats others — how it is being treated is its only concern. Sin is selfish. It is irritable. It is competitive.
In hell, there will be nothing but sin and the selfishness that drives it. On earth, even the most evil person lives in an environment where he gets the benefit of goodness in the lives of other people. But in hell, there will be no such moderating influence. There will be no goodness and no light at all. Everyone there will have become as selfish and sinful as it is possible to be. The corruption that started in this life will have reached its ultimate end.
It is horrifying to think of the souls in hell being utterly consumed with themselves, but we get a foretaste of what hell will be like every time we engage in acts of selfishness right now. Read again what James said and think about what you are reading: “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” Do you ever do any of these things? Well, you are never nearer to hell than when you do.
Standing still is not possible. We are always moving toward God or away from Him. With every decision we make, we take a step toward the likeness of our Creator or a step away from Him. Eternity will simply be the final end of whichever path we are on, involving either complete glorification or total corruption.
How honest are you willing to be about your direction? No amount of religious activity will help you if you are self-willed and self-seeking. So be honest: which way are you really headed?
“We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment” (C. S. Lewis).