“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10
You’ve probably heard the phrase that someone’s “gone to meet their maker.” Do we really go to meet our maker? If so, what will it be like?
On Monday and Tuesday, we looked at the dual nature of Jesus, both true God and true man. Today’s topic also shows a duality in Jesus that people tend to struggle with. Jesus is both savior and judge.
In our struggle, many Christians have gone too far to one side or the other, when the truth lies in the middle. It’s like the old phrase
“You can fall off a horse on either side.”
Primarily a Judge
For some, they see Jesus primarily as a judge. He’s going to bring justice to all the people who are doing bad things. Leaning too far and falling off this side of the horse tends to lead to judgmentalism, legalism, and pride or despair.
- Judgmentalism – If you believe Jesus is primarily a judge, then you believe His message is primarily judging people for their sins, and that’s what you do.
- Legalism – The solution to all those sins, then, tends to be greatly emphasizing that people need to stop sinning and follow the Law.
- Pride/Despair – Legalism always leads to pride or despair. Either you think you’ve mastered sin, which is pride (and not true), or you know you are still a sinner and despair facing the judge.
Just the Savior
For some, they focus on Jesus as savior. He just wants everyone to be saved. Falling off the horse on this side tends to lead to ignoring sin and turning Jesus into a therapist.
- Ignoring Sins – If Jesus is only about saving people and never judges sin, then we can feel free to sin as much as we want. There’s no need to tell anyone to stop sinning.
- Jesus Becomes a Therapist – Once sin isn’t that big a deal, then people no longer need to look to Him primarily for forgiveness and grace. So, they look to Him to make them feel better about themselves and address their felt needs.
Jesus the Savior AND the Judge
Neither of the above ideas about Jesus is wrong, per se. Jesus will bring justice for sin and Jesus does want everyone to be saved. It’s when we overemphasize one and diminish the other that we run into trouble.
When we feel convicted for our sin and fear judgment we realize the utter hopelessness of our situation. Then, when we hear the wonderful news of the Gospel we see there is hope, not in us, but in Jesus.
After having been forgiven such a great debt and by the power of the Spirit alive in us, we seek to avoid sin because we realize how bad it truly is.
Yes, we still struggle with sin because of our sinful nature, but the conviction of that sin continually drives us back to the cross in repentance, continuing throughout our lives to cling to the gracious gift of forgiveness we find only in Jesus.
Jesus will judge all people one day.
Without faith in Jesus, we are guilty of our sin and will justly be condemned. The promise of the cross, which we trust by faith, is that our sins have been removed from us.
So, those who trust in Christ will not be judged guilty. We are declared righteous.
This motivates us not only to cling to that promise but to share it with others who have not had their sins removed by faith so that they would not be condemned by their sin but be judged innocent, cleansed of their sin by the blood of the savior.
You know my sin. Without Your gracious gift of forgiveness, I would justly be found guilty on Judgment Day. However, You also paid for my sin on the cross. Thank You for saving me, forgiving me, and cleansing me of all my sin. May I never diminish how bad sin truly is and may that always drive me to cling to Your gracious promise of forgiveness.
In Christ’s Service,