My Photo
Location: Indiana, United States

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Judged by works

I was reading in Isaiah 59 and came to verse 18 that says, "according to their deeds, accordingly He will repay." Now this is not a good thing. The previous verses talk about how God looked and saw that there was no justice and no intercessor, therefore he put on garments of vengeance. This of course was referring to the nation of Israel but it made me ponder about God's judgment of sin today and in the future.

I turned to Revelation 20, the scene of the Great White Throne judgment. Here Jesus is sitting on the throne judging those who did NOT place their trust in Him as their personal savior. These are the people who rejected the death, burial, resurrection and future coming of Jesus. Verse 12 says, "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." Every single one of these people appearing at this judgment will be condemned to hell for all of eternity. However they will also be judged according to their works. Eternal torture and horror alone is not enough for those who Jesus judges most severely. Somehow the worst offenders will get a worse punishment.

My next thought was, if unbelievers are judged according to their works, what works will be judged the most severely? I thought through passages in the old testament talking about what God hates. Proverbs 6 says that "16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil,19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." Then Malachi 2:16 says "For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," Says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously." I also thought of the Old Testament Laws and what did God consider capital crimes in His nation Israel. Leviticus 20 gave some stern words: "13 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.14 'If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.15 'If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal." There were certainly many other sins named among those I have already listed. But I didn't yet have my answer.

Next I looked to the person of Jesus, come to earth as fully God yet fully man. He showed us physically the nature and mind of God. So when we look at the life of Christ, which sins did He judge the most harshly? That is actually a pretty easy question if you have spent much time reading the gospels. Jesus' most harsh words were directed at the religious establishment of the time, the Pharasees. He condemned how they perverted God's laws with the addition of their own man-made rules and regulations. He also condemned any who would lead a child away from God saying, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

The next question was, why? Why did Jesus judge the false teachers and the legalistic and hypocrital religious leaders so much more harshly than those committing murder, adultery, homosexuality, or any of the other sins mentioned above? As I pondered and prayed through the scripture that I had been reading I had one of those light bulb moments -- you know the ones where the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God for a follower of Christ.

The answer was so simple. All I had to do was change my perspective. I was looking at sin from an earthly perspective. The murder and other "worst" sins as I had thought were all ones that killed or seriously hurt the physical body and emotions. That is indeed bad and deserves punishment. However there is another perspective, an eternal one. From the standpoint of time without end, harm done to this physical body is far less serious than harm done to the soul. A murderer may kill this time-bound body and cause someone else to lose even as much as 80 years of life. However a false teacher who keeps someone else from learning the truth about Jesus causes that person to spend all of eternity separated from God in horror and torture worse than we can imagine.

God is holy and can have no sin in his presence. Yet God desires for all men to be with Him for eternity. We read in 2 Peter 3:9 that "The Lord is not slack [slow in fulfilling] concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." However God has given man a choice. Our sin and works must be judged. We can choose to have our works judged at the Great White Throne judgment and face eternal punishment for the sins we have committed. Or we can choose to have our works judged at the cross where Jesus, the only sinless man to ever live, paid the only price possible in order to take away the sins of the world, and then offered to all who accept that payment His own perfect righteousness. It is that perfect righteousness of Jesus that gives anyone at all the wonderful prospect of spending eternity with God.

Looking at what it took on God's part to provide a way for man to avoid hell and enjoy heaven, it is no wonder that He is so very harsh with those who stand in the way of someone receiving such a great gift. God, may I always present You in truth and according to what You have revealed in Your inerrant Word.


Blogger Charity said...

Very interesting...ten hours away and I'm still learning from you!

7:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home