What becomes of our spirits when we die? Upon death, does one's soul pass directly to heaven or hell, or is there an intermediate state?
Immediately at death, the spirit of the believer departs to be with Christ in a state that is far better than the one in which it existed here on earth (Philippians 1:23). It is "absent from the body and ... at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). But this is not the final state of blessedness of the redeemed. In our final state of blessedness, the spirit is not merely unclothed with its resurrection body. (see verses 1-4). We will obtain this resurrection body at the second coming of Christ, when the bodies of those who sleep in Christ are raised from the dead and the bodies of believers then living are transformed in the twinkling of an eye - when our perishable bodies become imperishable (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
On the other hand, immediately at death, the spirits of the wicked depart into that portion of hades reserved for the wicked dead, where they consciously exist in great torment (Luke 16:19-31). But this is not their final condition of torment. At the close of the Millennium - the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth after His second coming - those who have died in sin will be raised again to stand before the Great White Throne of God, to be judged and assigned to their final condition of torment (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8). It is then that they will enter into their final and fullest suffering. Just as the redeemed spirits will be clothed at the coming of Christ with their glorious resurrection bodies, which will be perfect counterparts of the redeemed spirits that inhabit them and partakers with them in all their joy, the wicked are to be clothed with bodies that will be perfect counterparts of the lost spirits that inhabit them and will be partakers with them in all their misery.
~R. A. Torry~