The Separation Of Unbelievers

The Separation Of Unbelievers

They sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.
–Matthew 13:48

The parable about the good fish and the bad fish in Matthew 13 is one of Jesus’s most descriptive warnings about hell. But first, this parable talks about the separation of unbelievers. The fishermen in this passage put the dragnet into the water, and they picked up all kinds of fish. Then they separated the good fish from the bad fish. This is representative of God’s judgment. The word “judgment” in Greek is “krisis,” from which we get our word “crisis.” A crisis is that moment when you are forced to make a choice. You might face a crisis every Sunday morning when you are getting dressed for church and you have to choose one outfit over another. Or you might face a crisis every Saturday afternoon when you have to choose which sporting event you are going to watch.

One day, God is going to choose some people to enter everlasting life and others to enter everlasting damnation. And the judgment God performs is pure. When it comes, no longer will believers and unbelievers be allowed to exist side by side. We have a hard time accepting that because right now, believers and unbelievers live alongside one another. We work together. We even worship together. And we just assume it is always going to be that way.

When I was growing up, there was a huge anthill outside our front door. I remember standing over that anthill and watching those ants scurrying about, doing their work. I held my foot over the anthill and thought to myself, “Those ants don’t know that their world is about to end.” And in one splat, I destroyed the ants and everything they had established.

Now, I am not saying God is sadistic like I was as a nine-year-old. But I am saying we are just like those ants. As Jesus said, we are “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (24:38). We assume that everything will continue as it is now. Jesus said no, there is a time coming when God is going to separate the righteous from the unrighteous. When those fish were caught up together in that great net, I imagine the bad fish must have thought to themselves, “That stupid fisherman! He thought we were some of the good fish, and he took us right alongside them.” Those bad fish did not realize that there was going to be a separation. So it will be at the end of time. The Bible says God is going to separate the good from the bad, the righteous from the unrighteous.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Good Fish And The Bad Fish” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.