How does knowing Jesus will judge both the good and the bad in our lives impact the way we live?
First, know that God’s judgment of us is certain.
According to the Bible, God our creator will someday call all of us before him in judgment. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about the future of the wicked and the righteous. He urged us to “lay up treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). He taught about choices and their consequences: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (7:13). He taught that a person is known by his fruits and that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). He taught that some who did religious acts but did not obey the Father in heaven will be cast out (7:21-23).
Jesus used the word “hell” (Greek, gehenna) ten times to describe the fate of the wicked. He spoke of hypocrites who would be “sentenced to hell” (23:33). In his parables of the weeds and the net Jesus taught that at “the end of the age” he will send his angels who will gather all the evil who have broken his laws and “throw them into the fiery furnace.” At that time, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (13:40-43, 49-50).
Jesus explained more about the judgment:
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:21-29)
The Apostle Paul said that the coming judgment in the future is as certain as the resurrection of Jesus in the past:
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 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. (Acts 17:30-31)
Paul wrote in the book of Romans that “we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” and that “each of us will give an account of himself to God” (14:10-12). He also wrote that “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).
Second, realize that God will judge all our desires, thoughts, words and deeds.
Jesus said that this judgment applies to our words and the desires and thoughts of our hearts.
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:33-37)
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. (15:18-20)
We will be judged according to our works (Romans 2:4-11).
Third, how are we to live in view of God’s coming judgment?
As obedient believers, we are to live according to the teachings of God’s Holy Spirit. In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul urged that we must turn away from our sinful desires and deeds and follow the Holy Spirit who will then produce his fruit in our lives (5:16-25).
In view of the destruction of this world and coming judgment, the Apostle Peter urged us to live “lives of holiness and godliness” and to “be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:11-14).
Fourth, Jesus teaches us how to prepare for his return and for judgment.
In two parables and a description of judgment in Matthew 25, Jesus makes three points:
1. “Get ready and stay ready for the Lord’s return because it could occur at any moment” (25:1-13).
2. “Use whatever God gives you to be productive and faithful in his service” (25:14-30).
3. “Take care of God’s people who are hurting and suffering because in that way you serve Jesus and your service or lack of it affects your eternal destiny” (25:31-46).
Fifth, what will you do differently today in view of the judgment?
That is a personal question that each person must decide for himself or herself. God makes a relationship with him possible but he does not force or coerce us to accept it. The wisest thing to do is accept God’s forgiveness of sins made possible by the sacrificial offering of God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth, on your behalf. God raised Jesus from the dead and he now reigns as Lord “with all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18; I Corinthians 8:5-6).
Today you can call on the name of the Lord and be forgiven of all your sins (disobediences) by accepting and trusting Jesus as Savior, turning away from your sins (repenting) and by being baptized in the name of Jesus. When you do that, God forgives your sins and give you his Holy Spirit to assist and help you in your new life in Christ (Acts 2:21-38). You will enjoy a new relationship with God where “anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made you free. It made you free from the law that brings sin and death (Romans 8:1-2, ERV).
Jesus gives you this assurance: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). You will have confidence with God because God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (I John 5:11-13)
No believer lives a sinless life but when we do wrong God gives us assurance he will forgive our sins when we confess them and rely on Jesus for forgiveness (I John 1:5-2:2). By living with Jesus, we are fully assured that we will not be condemned in the judgment. Instead, we will go to be with the Lord forever (John 14:1-4).