Why are people punished in hell?


God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.  2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
            People are punished in hell because they refused to believe in God on earth.  They did not believe because of a lack of evidence (creation is the best evidence of God’s existence), but a selfish arrogance to believe more in oneself and one’s sinful life, then to surrender oneself, confess one’s sins and accept forgiveness.
            Punishment in hell is justice.  Those who persecuted the weak and defenseless may not ever get arrested on earth, but one day will live out their punishment forever.
            Punishment in hell is a payment for a lack of obedience.  Someone who knows the rules and breaks them should be punished.  That’s justice.
            One may wonder if everlasting punishment is worthy for such sins.  Should someone be doomed to eternal hell for their mistakes on earth?  If one accepts Jesus as their Savior, they receive eternal life.  It seems only just and balanced that a person receives the exact opposite if they don’t accept Jesus. 
            Say Yes to God and receive eternal life in heaven.
            Say No to God and receive eternal life in hell.
            Aren’t those equal responses to God?  It wouldn’t be fair if someone receive eternal life in heaven for saying YES to God, but only a slap on the wrist for saying NO to God.
            Again, people know the consequences and yet it’s still not enough to convince them to accept Jesus. 
            What happens on earth has eternal consequences.  We can’t only accept the eternal advantages that come with the acceptance of Jesus and refuse the eternal disadvantages that come with the rejection of Him.