Forgiven but Judged?|
Why Judgment if Forgiven?
Q. I wonder why we have to be judged if we are forgiven? Why does the bible say our sins will be forgotten forever if we still have to be judged for everything we do, think, or say?
Those are good questions! I'll bet many people are asking the same thing as you.
Initial Salvation but Occasional Church
Just saying we accept Christ's death for our sins and going to church once in awhile doesn't really fulfill all that God has for us in heaven.
The sinner's prayer may get us into heaven. Yes, we are there. But, it doesn't guarantee that we receive our full "inheritance" in the Kingdom of Heaven, our place at the wedding celebrations, or a significant rulership with Christ over the number of cities he has planned for us.
2 John verse 8 says "Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for but may win a full reward."
This is one reason why the Judgment seat of Christ is often called "the Fear of the Lord" or "the Terror of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:11). Mind you, this terror or fear is for Christians! Not unbelievers. Christians should have a healthy awe, respect, and fear of the Lord, too.
Kingdom and Co Reigning
All Christians enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That is understood. Yet, "inheriting" all that we are meant to in the Millennial Kingdom and "co-reigning" with Christ is conditional upon our behavior and obedience here on earth (Romans 8:17).
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:16-17, ESV).
…"if we endure, we will also reign with him"… (2 Timothy 2:12).
Notice the words "provided" we suffer with him, and "if" we endure. "Provided" and "if" pertain to our future inheritance and reigning with Christ. Those are conditional words. This is why the Bible tells us to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12, NASB).
Discipline a Blessing?
Remember that "judgment must begin with the house of the Lord" (1 Peter 4:17). God disciplines us in various ways because He loves us as sons (Hebrews 12:7). While we dislike discipline it leads us to righteous behavior (Heb. 12:11). I am very sure we will be grateful for the discipline we endured on earth once we are in heaven.
Sanctification vs. Justification
Discipline is part of the process of "sanctification." Salvation saves us from eternal death and sin. This is better called "justification."
But, sanctification happens after we are justified. It is where God makes us "Christ like." We are "conformed into the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). In other words, He molds us into the people He wants us to become.
Confessed Sins Excepted
Bible teachers Chuck and Nancy Missler and Moody Church scholar Erwin Lutzer point out that all unconfessed sins, even for Christians, will be judged. "The only exception will be for those who have already confessed and repented of their sin and self and given it to God. Their slate is clean" (Missler 2007, 111; Lutzer 1998, 71).
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (ESV).
Therefore, it would behoove all Christians to confess or acknowledge their sins, and to be genuinely repentant. 1 Corinthians 11:31 says…"if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged."
The prophet Isaiah says,
"Come now, and let us
Says the LORD,
"Though your sins are as
They will be as white as
Though they are red like
They will be like wool."
(Isaiah 1:18, ESV)
I think you can take that to the bank - in the end when we live in the new heavens and earth described in Revelation chapter twenty-one.
But, prior to that we will rule alongside Christ during the Millennium on earth. It appears there may be "some Christians who will not get to rule with Christ or they will rule over a lesser territory." Re read the parable of the talents. …"one unfaithful servant had his talent taken from him and given to another. While others reigned over cities, he did not. All that he could hope for was to be admitted into the kingdom; he could not inherit its most prized positions" (Lutzer 1998, 55).
Let's "Get it Together" Now
The clear message is that we need to finish the race well (1 Cor. 9:24; Heb. 12:1). So let's attempt to get our lives together here so that we won't have to lose out on rewards and blessings there.
For the sake of your brothers and sisters in Christ, if you smoke, quit. If you abuse drugs, cut it out. If you gamble, knock it off. If you drink or overeat, stop it.
Discontinue any immoral behaviors now - today! These are sins against your own body.
"Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (1 Cor. 6:18).
That's what the Lord means when He says "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit"…(1 Cor. 6:19). (It doesn't mean to take your vitamins, eat right and exercise, although those are good things to do).
Get control over a bad temper or poor character and be kind to others. Don't cause others to stumble in their walk because of your failures. Instead, set a good example for your children and friends (read Romans chapter 14).
Walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 4)
The Holy Spirit will assist us in our sanctification process. We can overcome most of these listed problems quickly. Some will take longer. But, the point is to try to "get it together" while we are still alive. (Read Ephesians chapter 4, verses 14-32).
Here are some suggestions to start:
- Begin to study your Bible every day.
- Trust God and pray about everything.
- Go to church weekly.
- Attend a small, home Bible Study midweek where you will be accountable to others.
- Try to do good and help those less fortunate than you.
- And remember to confess and repent of your sins according to 1 John 1:9. Daily!
One life to live
Twill soon be past
Only what's done
Benware, Paul N. 2002. The believer's payday. Chattanooga, TN: AMG.
Dillow, Joseph, C. 2006 ed. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle Publishing.
Lutzer, Erwin W. 1998. Your eternal reward. Chicago: Moody.
Missler, Chuck&Nancy. 2007. The kingdom, power&glory: The overcomer's handbook. Coeur d'Alene, ID: The King's Highway Ministries.
Author Valorie Mays Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA focusing upon early church history, and a V.O.M. Certificate in Persecuted Church Ministries from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. She believes we are just a "vapor" that appears for a little while and must make the most of days remaining (Jas 4:14; Eph 5:15).