Monday, February 3, 2014

Only God can judge you

Depending on your view of God, the title of this post is either comforting or frightening. Depending on your relationship with Jesus, it should either make you praise Him in reverence or cause you to search for answers.

"Only God can judge me," is a popular American response often used whenever a person feels unfairly criticized or if he/she is in denial about something that is making them feel convicted.

Since there are two legitimate ways to feel about the judgment of God (terror or peacefulness), it makes sense that both of these perspectives should be examined. First, let's look at why the fact that God is the ultimate judge should bring terror to some.

Hebrews 9:27 says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment," (ESV). [That is the complete verse, but it is not the complete thought. The other half of the thought will be looked at next time.]

You will die.

That's not exactly the most encouraging statement a man can make -- but it's true. The truest statistic that will never be undone is that 10 out of every 10 people die. Scripture confirms this truth in the verse quoted above saying that each man has been appointed to die once. And after that...

You will be judged.

Despite the teachings you may have heard up to this point, God is a God of judgment. The phrase "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8) could not be true if the Lord did not execute righteous judgment. If God is completely sovereign and if He truly loves humanity, He will not let evil prevail. All sin must be judged; it has to be put in its place. 

Not everyone agrees with this. The bad news is that the Bible says everyone is a sinner, thus, they are evil:

 "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," 
Romans 3:23

 "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind,"
Ephesians 2:1-3

"None is righteous, no, not one;"
Romans 3:10

So now think about the phrase, "Only God can judge me." Yes, only He can righteously, authoritatively, finally judge you. And that should make you tremble.

Habakkuk 1:13 says of God, "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong." 

So here is the formula: evil men + pure Judge = perfect judgment.

What does perfect judgment look like when an evil person dies and stands before his Maker? Jesus speaks about God's judgment of the unrighteous in Matthew 10, saying, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell," (v. 28).

Sin (evil) is so offensive to God that He created an eternal place that serves as a just punishment for it. Originally created for Lucifer, the fallen angel, and his demons, it is now also a place where those who pass away while rejecting Christ as Savior go to spend eternity.

In a true story found in Luke 16, Jesus tells of a rich man who died in his sins, saying that he went to "Hades," a place of torment (v. 23) and anguish and flame (v. 24). That is what hell is. It's not a place that is merely separated from God -- though that is definitely one of its qualities -- it's a place where judgment is served because of the offense each person there had made against God.

And the Bible says that every man deserves do die this second death.

But Jesus paid the price we owed so that we could be saved for eternity to live a life full of His glory. 

That's the gospel -- and that's the reason why some people do not have to fear God's judgment. If you are in Christ you are spared from condemnation.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Romans 8:1

But what does it mean to be "in Christ Jesus"?

To be in Christ means to be saved, it means to be adopted, it means to be forgiven by God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that once a man puts his faith in Jesus' death on the Cross for the forgiveness of his sins -- that Christ took on Himself the punishment due for mankind -- he is saved. 

Jesus Christ came to earth from heaven, lived a life no one else could live, never sinned, performed miracles, died an unjust death, and rose again defeating the grave. That work was God-ordained and it is the only way a man can be saved.

Do you believe this message?

The Bible says that once you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Only God can judge you. But if you're found in Christ, all He sees is the righteousness of Jesus.

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