THE ANSWERS SERIES
“Playing with sin is playing with fire, dear Christian”
1 Peter 4:17-18 – The Judgement of Believers
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?
1 Peter 4:17-18
Many interpretations exist of this scripture portion. Some lean exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70. The “household of God” thus being the Jews alone. This interpretation is an effort to shore up the assurance of our salvation.
But any reading of the context must acknowledge that the Spirit is talking about Christians and could only in an extended application include the historical people of God – the Jews in the OT and in present times.
There are other portions of scripture similar to this that does confuse us. So what is the judgement of God on the household of God? What is the Spirit of God saying to us?
The teaching is very clear – God is holy and righteous, the judgment/discipline that proceeds from Him is objective and universal. We in the house of God are first to experience His standards and demands.
I. God’s discipline and the consequences of sin.
The Bible affirms that true repentance and trust in the Blood of Christ do result in forgiveness and eternal life, but it does not say we won’t face the disciplinary hand of the Lord or that there won’t be consequences in this present life.
God’s discipline takes many forms from private correction, public rebuke (includes you being featured in the NEWS), demotion in an administrative capacity, a foothold for Satan, etc.
The consequences of sin can be in your emotional, mental, and relationship capacities. Also, wanderings in the wilderness, lack of fruitfulness, and the destruction of your flesh. Scary isn’t it? Your spirit is saved but your flesh can be exposed to much trials. Playing with sin is playing with fire, dear Christian. These are clear from many scriptures in the NT, here are a few:
and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:5-11
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:5
I would encourage you to seek God to spare you or heal you of the consequences of sin. Be wary of developing a hard heart – unrepentant and full of sin, it can take you down a very dark and dangerous road. Don’t take these things lightly.
II. The Bema Seat of Christ.
Secondly, the believer will face God before His throne and give account for his or her deeds, thoughts, and words. When we are called to show cause for ignoring the Holy Spirit… I can only imagine how that will feel being face to face with Christ. The Lord will dispense rewards at this judgement. We will rue all the woulda, coulda, and shoulda been. The glorious rewards we spurned both here and in the next life won’t be a pleasant meditation, to say the least.
“it is a reward seat and portrays a time of rewards or loss of rewards following examination, but it is not a time of punishment … Such would be inconsistent with the finished work of Christ on the Cross because He totally paid the penalty for our sins.” (For further information – The Doctrine of Rewards: The Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ)
Here are scriptures that refer to this judgement of Believers:
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:10-16
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:12
For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 2:26 – 3:1
This teaching is supremely pertinent in all ages of the church till Jesus comes back:
*So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling
*Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
THE ANSWERS SERIES
Over the years of serving Christ and serving His people, the importance of asking and seeking the answers to questions can’t be stressed enough. A disciple asks questions, period. “The Answers series” will try and answer questions in brevity – answers I have found satisfactory in this journey of life and scripture. If you would like to fire in a question you’d like answered or featured, do leave it in the comments.