Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6 ESV]
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” [John 6:53-58 ESV]
To hunger and thirst suggests a basic need is missing to the point of endangering life. God fixed the universe with certain physical laws which cannot be violated. There may be a force applied to those laws to overcome them but the laws themselves cannot be changed or negated. One of these laws states life is sustained by taking in specific nourishment designed to maintain life.
In the physical world people need food, water and air to continue living. Take away one of these elements for a period of time and the person dies. Once dead the person cannot be brought back to life. These physical laws of the universe are brutal and unforgiving. How long can a person live without food? Over a month, generally, dependent upon how much food stores they carry in their bodies. How long can a person life without water? Generally, four to seven days, again, dependent upon how much water stores they have in their bodies. At about day three or four the person’s brain is so deprived of water they go insane. How long can a person live without air? Again, it depends upon the circumstance. Generally, four minutes is the maximum. Submerged in frigid water, the body begins to shut down and go into a type of hibernation the person will continue to live and may be resuscitated after an hour or so.
How long can a person live without God?
Part of the image of God in man is spiritual. People are spiritual and physical beings. Just as God fixed the world to sustain physical life in specific way so He also set the spiritual realm to operated within a set of specific laws. This means at physical death people continue to exist spiritually. God created man to have a relationship with Him. Breaking that relationship does not mean people, when they die in this physical universe or world, cease to exist if they are not connected to Him. God created people to exist for eternity. Either they exist within His life sustaining presence or they exist outside of His life sustaining presence. Either way, people continue to exist after physical death.
Separation from that which sustains physical life concludes in physical death. Separation from that which sustains spiritual life concludes in spiritual death. Just as dying of thirst or hunger or lack of air causes physical agony so dying from a lack of spiritual nourishment causes spiritual agony. Can you imagine existing for eternity separated from any source of nourishment? This is called hell, spiritual separation from God, the absolute source of spiritual life.
Since man is a spiritual as well as physical being he needs both spiritual and physical nourishment. Yet, sin has separated man from God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. God continues to provide for man’s physical needs through common grace. Thus, man lives taking in only physical nourishment, never spiritual. Many have recognized this and begun seeking spiritual nourishment from sources other than God. They receive the equivalent of empty calories, stuff that fills but does not nourish. Filling oneself up on such empty spiritual calories may give a feeling of fullness and a level of satisfaction but leaves the person even hungrier, more desperate for that feeling of fullness. There is no benefit. In fact, doing this is detrimental and harmful. The spiritual person starves, becoming accustomed and desensitized to the need for spiritual nourishment. This may actually be beneficial for those destined for hell. If they do not realize the lack of spiritual nourishment now, they may not later.
God’s call includes the awakening of the spiritual desire for spiritual nourishment which is had only in God. Our relationship with Him is determined by Him, not by ourselves. The clay does not say to the potter, why did you make me such?
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? [Isaiah 29:16 ESV]
Does not the One who created all have absolute rights over what is created? Does not the Creator determine how the creation will work and exist? For any to say, I do not need God condemns that person to existence away from God.
I have heard a sermon where the point was made that no one in hell will want to be in heaven and no one in heaven will want to be in hell. We are not sent anywhere against our will. Ultimately, rebellion against God has absolute consequences. Obedience to God must be just as absolute. There is no merit in obedience. Obedience is expected.