If I asked you how you measure up to God’s standard, what would you say?
Better yet, hold that thought. Let’s see how God defines His standard in His Word, the Bible:
“… God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”
Wait… our inner thought life is judged, in comparison to… Jesus Christ?
So, I ask again: How do you measure up to God’s standard?
(Just a tidbit of additional information you may not have known about Jesus, at least I didn’t know it until I was 33: Jesus is God. So when God judges you, He is comparing you to Himself. He is the standard.)
Many people wrongly assume and hide behind the fact that since “God is love” (which God is according to 1 John 4:8), He is then lenient regarding His judgement. But, that’s not what the Bible says.
2 Corinthians 5:10
“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.”
There is no hint of leniency in this statement. God is love, yes, but He is also just:
“The Rock, His work is perfect,
for all His ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
just and upright is He.”
What about this statement below, from Jesus Himself? Does this seem lenient?
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Paul also warns:
“He will render to each one according to his works”
There is no leniency with God. You won’t find such in scripture.
So, how should one react to this “bad news”, that God will judge everyone according to who Jesus Christ is? Should one even then attempt to improve oneself? Should one even then attempt to pile up good deeds, in order to out weigh one’s bad deeds?
The disciples even recognized the futility in entertaining such notions. After Jesus explained to them how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of heaven, they questioned:
“And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to Him, ‘Then who can be saved?'”
So, if our own effort is futile and we can do nothing to help ourselves regarding God’s judgement, what then is the proper response to the “bad news”?
Paul explains how we (everyone) is without excuse regarding the God we all know is there and the sin we all know that we have committed against Him, and he then asks rhetorically what our response should be:
Romans 1:19 – 2:4
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Do you “presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience”, thinking that you won’t be judged? In other words, do you assume that God, who “is love”, will be lenient? Do you not realize that “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance”?
God’s kindness is even shown to you, personally, in allowing you to be exposed to this message. And this kindness is meant to lead you to mournfully recognize who you are: a sinner. That’s what repentance is. It’s a change of mind regarding God. It’s also a change of mind in recognizing who you are in comparison to Christ.
If this pricks your heart, if you recognize who you are, a sinner, and if you fear God (in light of your violation of His purpose, and also in light of comparing yourself to Jesus Christ), then put your trust in Him. Jesus Christ, who is God, went to the cross, 2,000 years ago, to pay for the sins of those who recognize who they really are, sinners, and who then also trust in Him for bearing the sentence of their crimes against Him. Those who repent and trust are “in Christ”, and such will not face the “bad news”. Those who are “in Christ” rejoice in this “Good News” (The Gospel).
Did you know that God commands everyone to repent?
“…we ought not to think that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.””
(That “man” is Jesus Christ, who is not just a man, but He is also God. That is why Jesus is qualified for this task.)
But, no one can repent unless God grants one repentance, because no one is interested in God:
“As it is written:
‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’
‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’
‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.’
‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.'”
So, why would God command repentance if we cannot repent on our own?
God commands the impossible in order to demonstrate to man that man cannot attain what only God can attain. In other words, the proper response from man to God’s command is, “I admit that I cannot attain what You command, and I am remorseful that I cannot (that’s repentance). Therefore, I will trust in (put my faith in) You God (Jesus Christ) to attain it for me.”
However, no man will ever answer God’s command in such a way, unless God touches such a man’s heart first, because no command by God is attainable by any man. Only God can fulfill His commands. For a man to think that he can fulfill any of God’s commands, is a belief of the highest order of arrogance.
Now, you see the logic in the disciples’ question to Jesus which I referenced above, “Who then can be saved?”
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'”
Here is the “Good News” for those who repent and trust in Jesus Christ:
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If you repent and trust, it is because God is working in you:
“Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Godspeed, to those who repent and trust!
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