Christ the Judge

Christ the Judge

Matthew 25:31-46

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sin on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherds separate the sheep from the goats.”

 

            There are two grave injustices that we find offensive.  The first is when a person has committed a horrendous crime and can go free without consequences, or a rich person, because of their wealth and position, goes unpunished when they have broken the law. The second injustice is when a person uses their position of power to mistreat others and abuse their position of injustice by wrongfully punishing people.  In both cases, we feel a deep sense of injustice and demand that the law be applied equally. 

            Yet, even as we demand justice on a human level, we want to embrace the idea that Christ will not judge anyone and that everyone will get to heaven regardless of what they have done.  However, to allow sin to go unpunished is to condone sin, and to condemn the innocent is to distort what is proper.  The first minimizes and distorts the holiness of God and thus distorts grace; the second denies Christ's righteousness that he treats all people the same and acts righteously. Scripture continually emphasizes that God is holy and just.  His holiness means He cannot be associated with nor approve of anything that violates His character.  To understand the necessity of judgment, we must understand sin's severity.  Our natural tendency is to minimize sin and make some sins more acceptable than others.  We redefine sin.  When we do, we will make ourselves above God and Him accountable.  When we reject God’s law and replace it with our view of right and wrong, we place ourselves in the position of God and deny him his rightful place.  We reject God’s rule and replace it with our own.  Yet, God states that all sin, no matter how minor in our eyes, is an insult to Him and His character and worthy of eternal punishment.  “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  The reason is that all sin is ultimately grounded in a secret atheism, for we would reject God and set ourselves over him.  As Stephen Charnock points out in his classic work, The Existence and Attributes of God, “Sin implies that God is unworthy of a being.  Every sin is a kind of cursing God in the heart.”

            When we speak of Christ, we often point to His love and grace, but we fail to recognize that He is also holy and just and will bring judgment upon sin.  In His first advent, Christ came as the savior to make salvation possible, but in His second coming, He will return to judge sin.  Jesus reminds us in John 9:29, “For judgment I came into the world.”  In this passage in Matthew, Jesus reminds us that although He is gracious, He is also holy and just, and when He returns, He will execute judgment upon those who have rejected Him and refused to obey Him.  Just as He gives eternal life to those who embrace His offer of salvation, He brings eternal punishment to those who reject Him (Matthew 15:46).  If He did not judge sin, He would be unjust and condone sin.  This is why we must accept His offer of grace, but to accept His grace, we must accept His position as the lawgiver.  We must submit to Him and walk in obedience to His word.  To genuinely love Jesus is to embrace His teaching, as revealed in all Scripture.  As Jesus points out, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Any different attitude is to reject His holiness and deny His character, which is at the heart of unbelief.  This leaves us with the necessity of embracing Him and His word and surrendering our life to Him. The choice is ours, but the consequences are refusing is face a just and holy God who will bring eternal judgment upon us.  

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