The incorrigibly wicked are those that have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the only sin that Jesus said would not be forgiven in the age to come, and those that committed it, He said, would have eternal condemnation (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:28).
The Living Church of God sends out the following information about their fate:
Thank you for your questions about Revelation 14:11; Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10. Many teach that these Scriptures represent an ever-burning hell where the wicked are tormented by burning forever.
Beginning in Revelation 14, it is important to understand the time setting of this Scripture. It concerns the impending fall of “Babylon” (v. 8) and those who worship this false system. “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [that is, at Christ’s Second Coming]” (vv. 9–10).
When dealing with seemingly puzzling or challenging Scriptures, we need to step back and look at the whole context. There are many visions and parenthetical statements found in the book of Revelation. A vision is a foresight before the event, like a prophecy. Often a vision is used to give us foresight as to how things “will be,” before they are. These visions of the future in God’s kingdom are sometimes given as parenthetical statements within the context of a different time frame.
When these visions are given as parenthetical statements, it is usually obvious, when compared to other scriptures that detail in very plain language, the same events and their proper time frames. It is always a good rule of thumb, to let the very clear Scriptures interpret the Scriptures that are not as clear! For example, God inspired Paul to say plainly “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Death is the cessation of life, not life in eternal hellfire. The Bible says, “the dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Christ likened death to “sleep,” when speaking of a young girl he resurrected, as well as when He resurrected Lazarus (Mark 5:35–43; John 11:11–14).
There is no life in the grave. Death is the cessation of life—not eternal torment. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV).
Those who do go into the Lake of Fire will be burned up and become “ashes” under the soles of the feet of the righteous (Malachi 4:3). Ashes are the only things left once something is burned up. When one considers the overwhelming evidence given on the state of the dead, and compares it to Revelation 14:9–11, one must interpret that passage in Revelation in light of the other very clear passages on the same subject. Remember Christ said the Scripture could not be broken.
Now look at Revelation 14:11—one part at a time. “and they have no rest day or night.” Many assume “not resting day or night” is referring to eternal judgment. Yet, when you read about the Day of the Lord and what those suffering from the wrath of God will be going through, you can see that they would have no rest. It will be trial upon trial with no let-up. There will be no time to rest day or night. Many Jews experienced this same suffering in the Holocaust! But having no rest in the Day of the Lord is not eternal life in hell fire! This is simply an explanation of how severe and constant the plagues of God’s wrath (one of which is pouring out “fire and brimstone,” as happened to Sodom) will be until they are completed. The plagues do have a completion time—they will not last forever! Many passages use the word “complete” to refer to the end of the plagues.
Look at the other part of verse 11 “and the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.” Notice, again, it does not say that they are tormented forever and ever, only that the smoke of their torment ascends forever. Smoke is used as a symbol of crying out during the Day of the Lord. “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. (Revelation 8:3–4, KJV) (See also Revelation 5:8).
This smoke will rise up and be an eternal reminder of the pain and suffering that inevitably results from rebellion against God. The punishment, if the sins are not repented of, is eternal death. The incorrigible, who will not turn to Christ, will die and be burnt up and become ashes. But in all likelihood, this trial will bring most to repentance. But the smoke of the burning and destruction of both the beast system and those who worship the satanic beast system in the flesh—will serve as a lasting reminder of the way of Satan and the damage that he had done. This reminder will show the justness of God’s judgment on both man and Satan.
It has always been Satan’s lie from the beginning, when he told Eve, contrary to God’s statement to her and Adam, that she would not surely die. Do we believe God or the devil? Again God says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Yes, the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Only the repentant through Jesus Christ have eternal life, and that life will be glorious!
God is going to inflict this terrible punishment on those who have a part in this system of “Babylon” and they will have “no rest day or night” (Revelation 14:11), as long as they remain in that land falling under God’s wrath. They will have to flee that land and seek God’s mercy or be tormented by sulphurous fumes (v. 10) till they perish.
Man is not immortal and the Bible plainly teaches that flesh and blood is subject to combustion and death: “‘You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 4:3). The wicked shall be burned to ashes when they die the second death, from which there is never to be a resurrection (Revelation 20:6, 14).
With this information in mind look at Revelation 19:20 and Revelation 20:10. Please note in Revelation 20:10 that the word are is in italics, which means it was inserted by translators. Based on what we have written above, God shows us when flesh is in fire it burns up. This means the Beast and False Prophet, who were cast into the Lake of Fire 1,000 years earlier, were, in fact, burned up at that time (Psalm 37:20). This verse is better translated “where the beast and the False Prophet were cast.”
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PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE DEPARTMENT
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Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up? www.cogwriter.com/wicked-tormented-forever.htm 2010
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality? What does John 3:16, and other writings, tell us? Did a doctrine kept adopted from paganism?
What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection? Is there more than one future resurrection? Did early Christians teach a physical resurrection? Did early Christians teach three resurrections?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? What happens to those that were not saved in this life but who are not incorrigbly wicked? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God's plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account?