God is very clear that He is a righteous, fair and merciful God. His mercy is available to all human beings. The devil and his demons are excluded from God's mercy, because they saw Him personally in heaven, witnessed His glory and might, and yet decided to oppose Him and begin their own kingdom of darkness (keeping people in darkness about the truth of God). For them, there is no mercy and their eternal sentence in the lake of fire has been proclaimed.1
Human beings fall in a different category. They have not seen God, and know about Him only through the testimony of the Bible. They are the recipients of the curse the devil brought on man when he seduced Adam and Eve. People have free will, but are still hampered by their sin nature. God knew all that beforehand, and that is why the whole 'system' of salvation was devised before the beginning of time.2 Through Jesus' vicarious death on the Cross, and the glory of the Resurrection, anyone can be reconciled to God by having his sins cancelled out.
To prepare people, who have accepted Jesus, for eternal life, God gave the indwelling Holy Spirit and the powerful Scriptures. High or low, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, nobody has an excuse for not making use of God's mercy and grace. The devil has no power against God's Word if we use it to resist him, but he does try to stop us from knowing it, experiencing it, and being prepared for eternity with God.
The devil knows he has been rightly sentenced. That doesn't prevent him from trying to get out of his punishment in hell, as he knows what the eternal fire means. So he has devised different lines of attack. One is to 'prove' that the Bible is an ancient myth and no longer relevant. Here he failed and it is proved by the continuing attacks against the authority of the Bible. Obviously he mounts a vicious campaign against believers, since he wants to convince them that God has a nasty character. Here God's 'system' is our help.3
His final assault on the righteousness of God has to do with the last judgment. If he can prove that God favors certain individuals, or even lets them bypass hell because of His kind heart, God is not righteous, as He said He is. To 'safeguard' Himself against that accusation God designed His perfect plan: while people live God's grace and mercy is available to everyone; we have direct access to God through Jesus; we can have our sins forgiven upon confession; we have the Holy Spirit to lead us. After death, it is a different story. God's mercy is no longer applicable. Judgment is about two things only: what the Book (the Bible) says, and what the books (of people's lives on earth) say. The danger is that a 'believer' might think that he received his ticket to heaven when he accepted Jesus. That is why the objective records will show whether he loved God and was obedient to Him.4
God will never interfere here on earth with people's free will, however much He loves them. That is why Jesus said He will not judge on that last day, but the Word will judge.5 This is what we call the 'gruesome' aspect of the Gospel: all the mercy, grace and help of God is available in life. After death, man will stand stripped of mercy, before the throne of judgement: only facts in both books will determine the eternal fate of people. We can understand it when Scripture talks about 'the gnashing of teeth.' Who will do that? Not the sinner, because he knows he chose to hate God, and should be content to live in hell, far away from God. The people, in our opinion, who will cry bitterly are the 'lazy' believers. They were too lazy to lift a finger for the Savior who gave His life; too lazy to ask the Holy Spirit to be part of their lives and teach them through the Scriptures; too lazy to pray, because they thought they were too busy. Those are the people who need to be warned that mercy is not cheap (Jesus suffered tremendously and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin). Yet, mercy is freely available on this side of the grave to anybody who desires it. It has a cost: love. To love God means devotion and consecration to Him. Eternity with Jesus is worth so much that we can put effort into preparing for it, because there will be rewards for the diligent, but loss for the lazy. There will be no second chance.
This is our warning against a gospel of cheap grace. There is no such a thing, because too much is at stake. Hell is gruesome, eternal and irreversible. Please consider to ask God for help to live a life worthy of Him.
1. Matthew 25:41, '...the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'
2. 2 Timothy 1:9b, 'This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.'
3. Revelation 12:11, 'They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.'
4. 1 John 5:3, 'This is love for God: to obey His commands.'
5. John 12:47-48, As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.'