Author’s note: Last week I wrote the first article in this two-part series. It covered the definition of and need for repentance. I recommend, if you haven’t already, please read it before going any further. It’s not that you can’t read this now. I just believe there are some foundational blocks in that piece you should keep in mind as you read this article. Ultimately, of course, the choice is yours. But I digress.
I’m not going to lie. When I felt deep in my heart that I needed to discuss difficult subjects such as: our sinful nature, the need for repentance, and the reality of judgment, I was nervous. These certainly aren’t popular topics, and their serious tone doesn’t leave much room for humor. But my motto is: humor, heart, hope. I can’t always stay on light-hearted topics, especially in these times.
Even the most apolitical individual has to be feeling something is off. Things aren’t right. The amount of: anger, division, lawlessness, depravity, degradation and disrespect is spreading faster than a stage 4 cancer.
The world appears on the brink of perpetual chaos.
We’re being funneled through an endless tunnel of crisis after crisis. One can argue who or what are the authors of these calamities. Are they natural or manufactured? I will make a bold declaration here by stating regardless of what force is generating the problem, God is sovereign. This means He’s aware of and permitting certain situations to take place. This next statement is where I’ll earn my Kat Controversy nickname for today:
God loves you, but He hates sin.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: God absolutely loves you. He IS love. Yet He despises sin. Sin has real consequences, some immediate or in the near future, others eternal. Jesus came and took that final punishment, the eternal wrath, for our sins. This was the only way to restore us back to God the Father. That’s why we call Jesus our Savior. Without His death on the cross, and resurrection, we would be eternally separated from God because of sin. Sin kept us from God. Jesus’s sacrifice reunites us with Him. We are rescued from an eternal sentence, but we may still have to serve a short term or pay some form of penalty for our sin on this side of heaven. Sometimes we’re spared any consequence and merely warned of what could have happened. Other times, we have to experience a taste of it. God has this in place by design to help us learn, grow, repent. Any good parent knows sometimes you must let the unfortunate choice your child makes play out for them to learn the lesson and become wiser and more mature for it.
People filter themselves through the lens of being a good person. But how do you define what that is? We may have our own interpretations based on our experiences, cultures, etc. My definition might not completely match yours. Here’s what I do know (and where Kat Controversy kicks it into high gear):
You’ll never be good enough to get into heaven.
Let’s take a deep breath before anyone turns into a keyboard warrior and attacks. As a Christian, I do believe faith without works is dead. We are to try and conduct our lives according to the example set by Jesus. They didn’t come up with the slogan WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) all those years ago for nothing. It’s a simple reminder to consider how the Lord would handle situations. Be slow to speak and quick to hear. Do everything in love.
The fact remains, however, that no amount of good works could ever repair the divide between us and God because of sin. Only the finished work of Jesus on the cross could bring us back into God’s presence. Why? Because God hates sin. He can have no part of it.
Here’s another hard truth: we can still sin even after being saved and repenting. How can that be? Because we’re still human, and as such we’re imperfect and sometimes weak. But God! Because of Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf, God can look upon us and not see our sin. (Of course, this is in no way a suggestion or endorsement to continue to sin.) It is just an assurance of His great love for us. His perfect plan was Jesus died once for all our sins.
Now let’s transition to the subject of judgment. (Insert dramatic music here.) We just covered how all of us have the capacity to sin (and probably have sinned more than we realize). Yet many of us feel emboldened to judge others for their sins. I’m not too prideful to admit I’ve been guilty of this too. It’s simple to do sometimes, isn’t it?
It’s so easy to find the flaws in others while ignoring our own.
I could say a lot on this, because as I just mentioned, I’ve definitely had many judgey (my new word) moments. But I never want you to take my word for it alone. You know I brought receipts. (Any and all bible verses, unless otherwise indicated, are from biblegateway.com, NIV, emphasis added.)
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. (Romans 2:1)
Yup. Started out with a gut punch, I know. But take it up with the Lord, not me. If you thought that one was rough, check this out:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
That last scripture is a quote from Jesus himself. Yes, the same Jesus who loves you no matter what. Do you feel the conviction as He so eloquently compares the speck in someone else’s eye to the plank in your own? Other translations call it a log! And you know He meant business whenever He used the word hypocrite.
There are more verses I could cite, but I think we’re starting to get the point. We can’t afford to be judgmental. Let’s just say to be judgmental could be detrimental. (I like that. Feel free to use it too.)
But please don’t get it twisted. If God hates sin, we should too. You may have heard the expression to “hate the sin but love the sinner”. Isn’t that the example Jesus gave? He didn’t agree with anyone’s sinful behavior. But He loved them enough to come and offer them the opportunity to be delivered from it. He met people where they were and called them to repentance, to the turning away from sin back to the Father. I believe that’s the posture we are to take. We don’t deny sin or excuse it, but we don’t sit in judgment over others because we’re not exempt from the possibility of sinning too.
Something troubling I’ve noticed in the faith-based community is a propensity to judge others while forgetting we too will stand before the Lord when this world ends. It’s as if they feel since they accepted Jesus, they somehow get a free pass. They’re on the express VIP line. Except that’s not true at all.
All of us will stand before God on the day of judgment.
Please feel free to doubt me. Check this out:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Did you notice it doesn’t say some or even many? Nope. It says all on purpose. Each of us will stand before the Lord and have our life reviewed. As Christians, this doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily be denied entry to heaven. What it does mean is our reward in heaven is determined by what we did here on earth. Think about it. If it was only about accepting Jesus, then every person would go back to heaven after they did. Mission accomplished. Buh bye. Except that’s not what happens, is it? We have work to do while we’re here. We have an assignment. Check this out:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
We get a crown! How fun. You know I love me a tiara or two. But all jokes aside, there is a gift coming our way based on how we lived here. Did we love? Did we tell people about Jesus? Did we forgive? Did we talk nonsense? Check this out:
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)
Gulp. This verse gets me every single time I read it. Idle, foolish words – I’ve certainly said more than my share. How about you?
We can pretend it’s not going to happen, but if we believe the Bible is the Word of God, then we know it will. Check out this powerful imagery in the book of Revelation:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12-13)
The assignment is simple.
We make it complicated. We are to: Repent, Confess, Declare. Repent for our sins and recognize we need a Savior. Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives and without Him we are lost, doomed. Declare to the world who He is, what’s He’s done for us, that He’s coming back soon, and invite them to come to know Him for themselves.
So, as I close this article and this series, I need to leave you with this somber verse as a powerful reminder. Check this out:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Sin is real. We must repent of it and turn back to the Lord. Jesus made the way. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
If you’ve never received Him, I invite you to do so today. If you are saved but in a judgey place, please join me in repentance for that sin and any others. Let all of us stay mindful of His impending return and be about our assignment.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know. Get back to work.
Look forward to hearing from you,