Hell is locked from the inside?


Doesn’t the idea that hell is locked from the inside go against scripture? In the parable of the ten virgins they ask for the door to be opened but the Lord basically says, go away I don’t know you. Jesus also replies to people who call Him Lord, depart from me I never knew you. That doesn’t sound like these people are locking up the door themselves. The parable of the rich man and lazarus…the rich man wants to get away from where he is in torment but the gulf cannot be crossed. Again, that doesn’t sound like he has locked himself up there. He wants to get away but he can’t.
If this idea is compatible with scripture then could someone cite me some that fit with this idea?


Who said that Hell is locked from the inside? Of course people in Hell don’t want to be in Hell. If they did, it would cease to be Hell.


It’s an idea that I’ve heard from many, many different people. I think it comes from CS Lewis.


I’m spitballing here, but they may be using it as an expression to say that a person chooses their ultimate fate. Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but because of their wickedness, they would not let him into their heart. Their hearts are locked from the inside.

Depending on how they use the expression, I think a person can run into trouble when they attempt to expand that point and says that people in Hell literally want to be in Hell, and that they are voluntarily shutting themselves inside. That is something that you might hear as a result of postmodernism. The current generation has a very squeamish and bashful view of Judgement, so people are prone to come up with convoluted explanations to make eternal punishment somehow seem less horrifying than what it is (if they believe in it at all). A prisoner does not want to be shackled in prison, nor does a condemned soul want to be shackled in Hell, but that is where they are. They want to be outside, sucking and savoring the sweet flavors of God’s blessings. They want to eat, drink, sleep, and be merry. They want God to fit into and bow to their definitions, and for Him to create for them their own separate paradise, minus the passion and the adoration of our Lord. But He will never do such a thing.


Well that is my problem with it. People tell me this idea constantly and it just seems like an attempt to make hell look like it isn’t so bad or horrible or terrifying. But, it just doesn’t seem biblical to me. I’m not saying people don’t choose to some degree or another to not follow God, but they certainly don’t choose to go to hell either. How could anyone choose to be punished for all eternity? If they thought they would be suffering for eternity, they wouldn’t choose it…that seems obvious to me. It also seems obvious that they would want to escape hell once they were there. The bible seems to follow that idea.


Make no sense to me. If I do wrong and get jailed the door is locked from the outside. If I do wrong and end up in Hell the door must be locked from the outside as well because I do not choose Hell, I only choose to do wrong and Hell is my “jail” due to my action. Who would be stupid enough to throw him/her self in prison and lock the door from the inside. Besides, if I lock the door from inside I can also open it.


The saying that hell is lock from the inside is just a figure of speech to get the point across the damned want nothing to do to with God


People can freely choose from their free will to separate themselves from God, or choose to love God and be in communion with God.

To self-exclude yourself from communion with God is hell. "This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” (CCC 1033)


it’s an analogy

those who go to hell send themselves there by the fact that the door into hell is unlocked on the outside, but once they get inside hell nothing can save them from eternal damnation.


Ok, but I put this in the scripture section because I’m wondering if anyone knows any scripture that supports this kind of thinking. From what I’ve read of scripture, I don’t see it.


I wouldn’t get hung up on analyzing the metaphor too closely. The main point being made is that God extends the free gift of salvation to all and we have to choose to accept it. In that sense, if we do not choose to accept it, we are – in effect – choosing hell. God does not will that we go to hell.

But, yeah, it’s not as though there is a literal door in hell that those there could unlock at anytime and cross over into heaven. Most any metaphor stretched too far is going to fall apart when we are speaking of divine realities.


God saying depart from me you evil doers doesn’t destroy this analogy. What it is trying to show is that we send ourselves to hell it’s not that God sends us there rather we deny the invitation of God to come to know him.

the idea is that once you get in hell your stuck there there is no crossing back into the heaven so to speak.


Yes, hell is locked from the inside.

Of course, people don’t want to be miserable. But none the less they choose to be because they choose to reject God again and again. Hell is the state of definite rejection of God, which is true misery.


While that may be true, it is still non scriptural.

Scripture’s references to Hell (casting out, bound hands and feet, etc) are all things that are NOT chosen. One may walk out, one does not choose to be cast out. One does not choose to bind his limbs. Etc.



Choosing to reject God is choosing to go to Hell if dying unrepentant. Anyone who dies in a state of mortal sin has freely chosen to be separated from God for ever and that means Hell.

CCC 1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”.




Agreed - It’s a figure of speech designed to express a certain aspect of concept for the edification of the listener.
Figures of speech, analogies, parables etc are all limited in some way or other. They need to be seen for their basic lesson and not dissected too much.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it makes heaven and hell too legalistic.
Even though we use many legal terms in trying to describe what happens after we die these can only go so far.
In Truth, it is not God who will convict us, but we ourselves.

You rightly say that no one would choose to be in hell…If it worked that way…but in fact each person chooses hell in the same way that each criminal chooses jail. They do the things that warrant it.

Something that has helped me in this regard is a wonderful description of the Judgement from the “Dialogue of St Catherine of Sienna” - HERE. The pertinent part is about 6 paragraphs down…but it is all a good read.

From this I came to understand that it is who we choose to be and become that determines our final fate. During our time here we can either embrace God’s grace and Love or reject it. At the moment of death what we are will determine how we see God and what we reach out for…It will be much more of a reaction than an action.

Hope this helps a little



Still no scripture from anyone. I get that people try to understand it more through these ideas but my point is I don’t think these ideas come from the bible. If you just read what Jesus says, He is casting them out even if they think that they are following Him, like the people who call Him Lord. So, those people must have thought, hey, I’m going to heaven, Jesus is my Lord and I did some good stuff (like prophesying, casting out demons etc) but then they don’t. I don’t hear a lot of people mentioning that kind of idea even though it is from scripture. They tend to emphasize that it is the person’s choice. I suppose it is their choice in some way, though it’s hard to see how if they really think they are following Jesus and did all these great things in His name and then they get a shock at the judgment. Maybe the argument would be, well, they didn’t give to charity and that’s what Jesus is pointing out. But it still doesn’t seem like these people are aware of what they did, since they are asking Jesus, hey when did we see you hungry etc? They just seem confused to me.

“Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

That seems to be the main idea in scripture.


Well - I’m afraid that I cannot really offer the Scripture that you are looking for…except maybe in a “reverse” sort of way.

Several times in the Gospels we see Jesus say to a person words to the effect, “Your faith has saved you”. Likewise Jesus did not perform many miracles near His home "because of their lack of faith.
Contained in this idea is that, while Jesus certainly has the power, it is necessary that we tap into and accept that power…that we have faith. It’s about what WE have and what WE do that is equally important to the outcome.

So - If as Jesus says - it is OUR faith (what we believe, embrace and do) that saves us, is it not logical that it is OUR lack of faith that condemns us?

Another Scriptural point is where Jesus teaches that how we treat others is how we will be treated. This shows up in several places and is neatly summarized in the Lord’s Prayer - forgive us as we forgive. Again, it is not the thing of God pronouncing judgement, rather it is we who pronounce judgement on ourselves.

Perhaps these are the scriptural germ that has developed into this idea of those in hell sending themselves there.



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