Genesis 3:22 - 23
AMP - 22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man has become like one of Us [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit], to know [how to distinguish between] good and evil and blessing and calamity; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever-- 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
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Good question. They can't. And they won't. People cannot live eternally without the tree of life (which is a metaphor for God's presence). They are actually eternally destroyed in the Lake of Fire/Second Death/Gehinnom. NOT, God eternally destroys them, as in, continues to destroy (verb) them for eternity. If I say, "I am destroyed," that someone is currently in the process of destroying me is not necessitated. What is necessitated is that I am in a STATE of destruction (noun). So for the wicked, they will be in the state of destruction for eternity, with no hope of ever regaining life. This is their punishment. They are not punished for a few days or years, or any finite amount of time. They are punished forever (the punishment is being in a state of destruction). If you throw, say, a notebook into a fire, do you imagine that it will stay a notebook, even if only partially? Or do you imagine that the fire will demolish the book into ashes? (And, if that fire stays lit forever, so too will the book remain in ashes forever.) The fire consumes the wicked wholly; it lasts for eternity to make sure they stay destroyed, with no chance of ever becoming undestroyed. This is the permanence of the punishment of the wicked. There are hundreds of scriptures that teach destruction, as opposed to only two (in the entire Bible) that teach torture (well, they don't really, but that's for another time). Matthew 25:46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” This scripture is making a stark contrast between two mutually exclusive fates. Which do you think is more sensible? That the punishment mentioned, which is antithetical of eternal life, be eternal death? Or that it be eternal life + a side bonus (torture)? Matthew 10:28 says that God can destroy (not torment) our totality/whole being and our spirit in Gehinnom(I know it says "body" and "soul." I strongly believe body [soma] is not solely referring to our purely fleshly bodies, but to our entirety as a living being, which includes our spirit; this corresponds to "nephesh" in Hebrew. As for "soul," for the purpose of staying consistent with the rest of the Bible, in which "nephesh" is translated soul, the right word for soul [psuche] would technically be spirit, which corresponds to the life-giving energy/breath i.e. "ruach" in Hebrew). I do realize that the word "destroy" in Greek (apolesai) does not necessarily have to be taken to mean "fully destroyed" (although such an interpretation is 100% valid). It can also be taken to mean "partially destroyed." Of course, does that seem rational? Immediately preceding this, Jesus was talking about how humans are able to "kill" the body. Do they partially kill the body? (You cannot be partially dead, you are either alive or dead.) So, wouldn't it make more sense for Jesus, who was trying to redirect our fear away from men and towards God, to go from humans only killing the body (from which there IS a return in a resurrection) to God (entirely) destroying the body AND soul (from which there is NO return, not even in a resurrection), instead of God only "partially" doing so? The death that men inflict upon the body is absolute. The destruction God inflicts upon both body and soul is absolute. All this is notwithstanding the many other scriptures that talk about destruction. I leave you with a scripture from the OT (destruction, not torment, is taught throughout the Bible): Psalm 37:38: "But all sinners will be destroyed; the future of the wicked will be cut off." Not only is being eternally consciously tormented NOT being destroyed (You cannot be fully destroyed and conscious simultaneously, because then a part of you is still functioning/undestroyed; that part being your consciousness), but it is also a future (the future is being tortured for eternity). But, by the looks of this scripture, all sinners will be destroyed, and all will subsequently have absolutely NO future.
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