I was reading Matthew 24, and it stirred up a question that I have very often. The Bible (and Jesus’ specific words within the Gospel) tells us that Jesus cake to bring love and mercy, but portions of the Bible such as Matthew 24 remind us that Jesus will ultimately also bring judgment. I know different denominations believe different things on this matter, but I grew up believing that anyone who believes in Christ and intentionally and genuinely tries to follow Him will go to heaven. There are sections of the Bible, however, where Jesus Himself says that certain things are unforgivable (can’t find the verse but I remember He said blasphemy is an unforgivable sin) or very vague language is used to explain how we will be judged on our actions. Additionally, I know that humans are flawed, so we cannot avoid sinning even if we try our hardest, but I have also heard from preachers that sin is sin and we can’t try to balance out if one type is worse than the other. Basically, I am looking for any guidance on God’s judgment because I want to love Him as fully as I can and please Him, but on a more human (and more self-centered level), I have an anxiety disorder, so I am working very hard to manage my anxieties regarding judgment. Thank you in advance for any thoughts or advice you have to offer. God bless you all.
@elh733 Great question There are two metaphors for salvation that I believe can help alleviate your anxiety.
Salvation is adoption. You are a child in God’s family once you repent. A father does not kick their child out of the family every time they stumble - especially when they are young and still learning to walk. In the same way, our Heavenly Father does not kick us out every time we stumble, but He does discipline us, just as a father a child he loves (Hebrews 12:4-12). We need to take sin seriously - we need to repent - but we do not need to fear that we will be kicked out every time we fall. The Father is there to pick us up and help us continue on the journey.
Salvation is covenant. Like marriage and like God’s covenant with Israel in the Old Testament, salvation is a covenant with God that is not lightly broken. Even when we mess up and fail, we still remain within that covenant. When our spouse messes up, we don’t abandon the relationship. We seek reconciliation. In the same way, God seeks reconciliation through repentance with us when we fall short of His expectations.
If you remember that salvation is adoption and covenant, you can remember that you have already been saved by God’s grace and mercy.
That said, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- love is closely connected to obedience in the NT - if we love God we obey Him
- there is no reason to fear God’s judgment if we are walking in obedience
- God always forgives us when we confess our sins (I John 1:9)
- there are differing levels of both reward and judgment in the afterlife
- if we are God’s children, then we can rest in His forgiveness and love - but it does not mean there are no consequences for sin - similar to a good earthly father
- there are warnings in the New Testament that urge us to examine our hearts and make sure we are truly walking with God (Hebrews 3-4, James 1:22-25)
The fear of God
For the wicked, there is a genuine fear of God’s judgment upon those who do evil - we see this when Felix recoils at Paul’s preaching about self-control and judgment - Felix sends him away - his conscience has been pricked
Acts 24:23-25 - As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
1 Peter 3:12 - For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
For those are seeking to honor God, the fear of the Lord is best explained in the way a child relates to their Father - a Father protects, guides - as well as disciplining
Hebrews 12:4-6 - In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Luther distinguished between that and what he called filial fear, drawing from the Latin concept from which we get the idea of family. It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard, Luther is thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.
@elh733 Hello great questions. When it comes to Jesus bringing Grace (Romans 3:20-24), Mercy (Matthew 9:13), and Judgement (2 Corinthians 5:10) I believe in all 3. Jesus has given us grace and mercy through his death and resurrection and he will come hold us to account for the things we’ve done as well. Now judgment for the believer and non-believer are very different and I will direct you to a few articles if you want to look further into this.
When it comes to the unforgivable sin I believe you are talking about Matthew 12:22-32. This sin is very unique in its nature its not really something one can commit today according to some biblical scholars since we aren’t physically around Jesus right now. For others, this sin is simply the rejection of the calling of the Holy Spirit. You can’t be forgiven if you don’t want to be, thus the reason you aren’t. If you are worried about committing this sin I doubt you will lol which is a good thing.
I do agree that sin is sin and because of it we all fall short of the glory of God, but there are some sins that have worse earthly consequences than others. This is something that we must pay attention to. For example, while stealing a piece of gum and killing someone are both sinful one will have higher consequences on this side of life than the other. We learn this from the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
Flee Sexual Immorality
12 “All things are lawful for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me” – but I will not be controlled by anything. 13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, “ The two will become one flesh .” 17 But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. 18 Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body” – but the immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.
Here you can see that Paul made a difference between sinning outside of the body and sinning against your own body. There is a difference and the consequences are different for them depending on the situation. This is why we are to be Holy like how our Father is Holy but it’s impossible without Christ. Your heart is in the right place just remember that the work that has to be done is not through yourself but through the Holy Spirit who lives in you. You have to trust him and seek him in all you do. Sometimes we can become afraid that we are doing the wrong things and that’s okay just ask God for wisdom and to show you where you are missing the mark. But don’t allow yourself to become paralyzed in fear. Trust God’s word. Jesus Christ will perfect you.
6 For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
I hoped this helped some
I am so sorry that you are having anxiety about God’s judgment @elh733.
But Paul assures us in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
And this is not an isolated statement. Jesus also says in John 3:18 that the one who believes on Him is not condemned. He says in John 5:24 that believers have everlasting life and will not come into condemnation.
The judgments Jesus mentions in Matthew 24-25 are end time judgments that will come upon the world of unbelievers. But what you grew up believing was absolutely right – those who trust Christ’s death to pay for their sins, and trust His resurrection to raise them to new life as well, are transformed into people who do intentionally and genuinely try to follow Him – and all of His followers end up where He is.
It is true that in Matthew 12:32, Jesus said those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. But He told that to stubborn Pharisees who claimed that the miracles He did were in the power of Satan. Jesus read their hearts, and He realized that they knew better. He rattled off several things that exposed their hypocrisy. What they were doing was hardening themselves against the light the Holy Spirit was revealing to them about Who Jesus really was – they were closing their eyes to the light – they were shutting their ears to the truth, closing their hearts against belief.
God’s ability to forgive a repentant sinner is infinite. There is no sin He cannot forgive to anyone who repents.
But a person who blasphemes what the Holy Spirit reveals is hardening himself into a state of stubborn irrepentance. A person to whom the Holy Spirit reveals the fullest possible light about Christ, and who willfully declares, “I don’t care, I won’t believe no matter what!” Well, if they reject the fullest possible light, where can you go from there? The problem becomes, not God’s ability to forgive, but their ability to repent - Hebrews 6:4-6.
It is true that someday believers will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ to receive reward or suffer loss. But remember what we saw before about no condemnation to those in Christ? This Judgment is not like a criminal before a civil judge – it’s like an athlete before a judge at the Olympics. There’s no punishment involved. Somebody else already took all your punishment! This is where the laurels, the crowns, are given (or not) for rewards (or lost rewards). It is service, not sin, that’s being rewarded.
The only judgment that a Christian ever receives is described in I Corinthians 11:31 and following – If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord that we should not be condemned with the world.
That’s nothing more than the loving discipline of a heavenly Father Who is helping us to overcome – it’s not the condemnation of the lost people of this world. And if we judge, or discipline, ourselves first – through confession and repentance – then He doesn’t even have to do that!
I do hope that these thoughts will help to assure your heart. Please don’t let yourself be tormented by what some people call “emotional” doubt – doubts that your rational voice knows you shouldn’t be having, but that your heart feels anyway. Just remember – Romans 8 begins with no condemnation! And it ends with no separation! May God’s word give you the peace you are seeking.
I’ve read your post several times over the past few days. And I think there’s an amazingly good question buried among the things you’re asking. But I want to get some clarity on it:
It’s possible that the centerpiece of your concern may be that you can’t reconcile certain things, which seem to be rather contradictory. And it seems like you’ve got a very valid and reasonable confusion and concern on your hands:
On the one hand God is full of mercy and grace and love tolerance, but on the other hand he’s full of judgement and pay-back. He absolutely requires people to not be sinning; and He doesn’t have “respect of persons”… And that little sins are just the same as big sins in God’s mind… How does one reconcile these things???
So, if you’re still confused about all of that, I certainly understand! (Sunday school confused the daylights out of me) If you feel your still not ”getting it”, I’d be glad to dialog more to help you experience clarity about those things if you’d like.
So if you’re still floating out there in the abyss of confusion give a shout back at this post to continue this discussion…