"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32

Thought for the Week - click here for last week's message 

EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT 

This lesson with the daunting title makes the point that error  (or a false sense of things) will always punish itself until found out and corrected with truth.   Does God punish?  No.  No more than the right answer in arithmetic punishes the incorrect answer.   Anyone who commits or accepts a mistake will, in a sense be self-punished until the needed lesson is learned and the mistake corrected.  

The Psalmist puts it this way:  “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” (Ps.37:23, 24)  The Psalmist also saw that God “healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Ps.137:3)  

Mary Baker Eddy asks these questions:  “Does evil proceed from good?  Does divine Love commit a fraud on humanity by making man inclined to sin, and then punishing him for it?  Would anyone call it wise and good to create the primitive, and then punish its derivative? (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures 356:25)  Of course not. 

How, then, do we account for the grief and harm that proceed rom wrong doing or from a mistaken sense of God?  Simply that wrong thinking always punishes itself until it is corrected with truth.  Mrs. Eddy comments:  “If we concede the same reality to discord as to harmony, discord has as lasting a claim upon us as has harmony.”  (S&H 186:22-24)   She insists that God, Truth, Reality “never punishes aught but sin” just as a false belief or wrong doing will always punish itself until corrected.  She also points out that “The human mind has been an idolater from the beginning, having other gods and believing in more than the one Mind.”  (S&H 186:32) 

Certainly, learning from one’s mistakes isn’t easy, yet it is essential to awaken a desire for Truth.  The first commandment--“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) should be our “favorite text” as it was hers.   She writes that this commandment “bases the Science of Being, by which man demonstrates health, holiness, and life eternal.” And that it ”annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,--whatever is wrong is social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes;  equalizes the sexes, annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished, or destroyed.” (S&H 340:15)   

An example of this adjustment is when Jonathan, King Saul’s son, tasted honey unaware that his father had decreed total abstinence for a day and had promised death to any violator.  But the people rescued Jonathan, and his angry father soon died, leaving the throne to his son.  Mrs. Eddy comments:  “God never punishes man for doing right, for honest labor, or for deeds of kindness, though they expose him to fatigue, cold, heat, contagion.”  (S&H 384:6-9) 

The lesson includes the account in Mark, Chapter 6, of Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue and the church-goers rejecting him as simply “a carpenter’s son.”  Their “unbelief” persists today in the teachings of Judaism and other sects, but it has had no impact on the healing power of genuine Christianity.   To obtain harmony, we have to reject discord.  To obtain Truth and its healing power, we have to reject falsity until “…nothing is left which deserves to perish or to be punished.” (S&H 251:15-27)  

How comforting to know that God “never made man capable of sin“…or wrong doing.  And that evil of any sort is unreal.  This must, of course, be demonstrated, but it is encouraging to know that “…the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain.” (S&H 568:24-30)

Jamae van Eck