Charles Stanley - Your Convictions About The Judgment Of The Believer
Well to whom in this life do you feel accountable? Naturally, husbands and wives are accountable to each other, children to their parents, and maybe grandparents or whatever it might be. But the truth is every single one of us is accountable to God. Many people act like they don't have to be accountable to anybody. A person with a feeling that they don't need to be accountable to someone is walking on very thin ice and a dangerous direction. Accountability is a safety feature for all of us. And it's important that we distinguish this whole idea of accountability with the Lord God and with His Word. And that's what the Judgment is all about.
So, what I want to talk about in this message is our convictions about our judgment before God. And if you look in Second Corinthians chapter five for a moment, look if you will. And Paul is speaking to believers, writing to believers and he says in verse six, "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we're at home in the body we're absent from the Lord," "For we walk by faith, and not by sight". We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. So we're talking about believers. Listen, "Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must, not maybe, not ought to, we must, all, not some of us, "All appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed or rewarded for his or her deeds in the body, according to what he's done, whether good or bad.
The judgment of the believer is unavoidable. There is going to be a moment of judgment for every single one of us. Now. He's talking to believers there. But if you turn to Revelations chapter twenty and look in verse eleven there is another time of accountability. Verse eleven, "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them--"can't escape it. "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them, and they were all judged, every one of them according to their deeds".
Now, there'll be two judgments. There's a judgment of the believer and that judgment which is the judgment of the unbeliever where their name is not found in the book of life. If you are a believer, your name is there. If you're an unbeliever, it is absent. But the issue I want us to think about is our accountability. That is, we stand before God accountable to Him for our life. So first of all only those who've trusted Christ as their Savior will be present at this judgment. In other words, the judgment of the Lord Jesus Christ for His believers.
Listen, it is a time when He desires and His plan to reward us for the life that we've lived. The issue is this, the life that we live will determine what those rewards may be. And how all that works out we can talk about that later, but the issue is do you sense an accountability to God each day? That you're responsible to Him for the time that He's given you to live? For the gifts, abilities, talents, skills, relationships, your vocation, your finances? Do you recognize that you'll have to give an account to God for how you live out your life? And then of course who's going to be the judge? Jesus will be the Judge. He's the Righteous Judge. There'll be no mistakes. And it's not a issue of God having to figure out what to do because He sees our life as we live it.
And I think if you and I could back out of our life and take a good look at it as it is being lived out we might want to change some things. And probably everybody would say, "Well, if I had my life to live over I would change the following things. If you love the Lord Jesus Christ you'd probably change a lot of things. But He is the Judge and this a judgment of rewards. This is not a judgment where He determines whether we go to heaven or not because the place of this judgment is in heaven. We stand before Him and give an account for our life. All the details of that I have no earthly idea. I just know that's what He says and that's what He will do. And if you've trusted Christ as your Savior and you disobey Him, and you've sinned against Him is it not true that something happens to you on the inside? That's the conviction of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins, of our failures in order to do what? To keep us on the right path, and to remind us that we'll have to give an account to God for the life that we live. And the Holy Spirit is there to enable us, to equip us, and to show us those areas in which we need to work at to make them right.
For example, in First Corinthians and the third chapter is interesting. The Scripture says, "If any man's work which he has built on it the foundation remains, he'll 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. And so, He reminds us there that some of what we present before God He says it's like wood, hay, and stubble. Burned up. So every day that you and I live something is going on in our relationship to God.
So you've been blessed and now you're accountable. And if you'll think about this there is no place or time in your life when you're no longer accountable. We're always accountable and will be accountable until the day we die. And how's He going to judge us? He's going to judge us according to our works. What have we done with our life? So I'd ask you the question: What're you doing with your life now? Are you just working, and going home, and then spending the rest of your time in pleasure? You come to church once in a while, or every Sunday, or do you even go to church at all? And so, we may live our lives sort of casually. It's not casual to God. Listen to this. He has invested the death of His Son in order to save you. And He has indwelt you with the Holy Spirit in order to enable you to do well everything He requires of you. Whether it's your job, your testimony, or your relationship to Him as far as serving Him is concerned.
So, He's going to judge our works according to good or bad. And the passage before, we read it a few moments ago, those things that do not measure up to the Lord as they ought to be, they'll be consumed. Will you be lost? No. But we will be rewarded for our works and when our works--wrong motive, laziness, or whatever it might be, we'll be responsible to give an account to God for that. And so, there are three things you need to remember because these are the three things that God is going to take into consideration how you lived your life. Number one, the truth of the Word of God that you know, how much light, spiritual light, have you had?
When I was saved at twelve, been responsible ever since. I was responsible at the age of twelve for whatever light I had. As the years gone by and studied the Word of God for sixty years, I have a lot of light. I'll be very, very, very responsible. And so, you'll be responsible for the light of truth that you know. And this is why we attempt to help everybody understand who Jesus is and the necessity of being saved. And so, He will judge us according to how much truth we have, the light of the truth we have. The second thing He'll judge us by is the opportunities that He's given us. Everybody doesn't have the same opportunity. And so when we stand before God and God looks at your life, your skills, your abilities, your talents, the mind He gave you, the heart He gave you, and you and I will be judged according to not only the light we've received but what opportunities we've had. And so He requires of us to live out our lives in a wise way, a godly way that brings Him honor and glory. And that He has invested what He's invested in your life for a reason, for a purpose.
Think about this. He not only gifted you with what He's gifted you with, He's sent the Holy Spirit within you to seal you forever as a child of God so you cannot be lost. You won't be lost. You may lose reward but you won't be lost as a person. You're going to heaven. If you're in this judgment you're on your way to heaven. And so when we think about it's the light of truth, the opportunity and how we've responded to that, and so our works are going to be proven. So think about this. How much of what we do really ends up being worthless? A waste? Have to give an account to God for that. How much of our time do we spend in doing things that are sinful? We know they're not right. Things we say, the way we treat other people, the things that we do in life. Sinful? That'll cost us. Wrong motives. When our motives are wrong, that's a sin against God and we'll be held accountable for wrong motives. Somebody says well what's left? Lots left. Wasted opportunities, for example.
When God gives you — think about this — holy God who created you and equipped you, and gave you skills, and opportunities, and yours may be less than somebody else's or more than somebody else's. But we're accountable to God for how we live out the opportunities, live out the relationships we have, live out the abilities, and skills, and talents which we've been given. We have to give an account to God for all these things that we've mentioned. Then when we've given an account, we're either going to be rewarded or lose reward. So ask yourself the question, living out a daily life like you live, are you living a life that is obedient? Are you living a life that is pleasing to God? Are you are you living out your time, the way God wants you to do? Investing your abilities, and talents, and skills whatever they may be? You say well you know what? I work on the same job. Been doing it for years, the same thing and how's God going to bless me for that?
Well let me ask you this. Were you on time to work? Did you do a good job? Did you do your best? Were you honest? When you checked out was it the proper time or not? Did you cheat? Did you steal? Did you lie? In other words, how did you live out your life? The way we're living it out is the way we're either going to be rewarded or lose. And so God, somebody says, "Well now wait a minute. Is God going to be fair"? And I want to say it again. Forget fairness. It's not a matter of fairness. Righteous, holy God only does the righteous, holy thing. Do you think God wants to judge us in a way that condemns us? No, He does not. That's why He sent Jesus. What else could God do to prove His love for us, that He's for us, that He has the best for us but to send His only begotten Son not into a lovely palace but to a cross to die a horrible, horrible death. Raise Him from the dead to give us that everlasting assurance that He's still there and He's still with us. What else could He do?
Now God is going to require of us to give an account for our life. Because look what He's invested in you. You may look at somebody else and say, "Well, but if I had what, m,m,m. No. If God wanted you to have something, He'll provide it. There're many people don't have God wants them to have because they're living in sin. You violate the will of God, the purpose of God, the plan of God, and hurt other people, lie, whatever it might be, then there's a consequence. Life is full of consequences. But it can be a life of rewards or a life of regret and loss. It depends on how you live it. And every single day we're living out our life either to His honor, and praise, and glory, and for our good, or we're not.
So I would ask you, are you living the kind of life that you will be pleased to stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give an account for your life? Doesn't mean you're going to be perfect. And the wonderful thing is, He knows we're not perfect. You say well is there any allowance for sin? His Son died to save you from the penalty of sin. Our Heavenly Father has the best for us, and we either choose that best, or we choose to do otherwise. When I think of the way some people live their lives, I think, what a waste, and one of these days you'll stand before God and give an account. There is a judgment, and there is a time we give an account for our life.
Now, how do we prepare for this? Somebody says, "Okay, I'm with you. I agree, I know the Bible says I'll have to give an account for my life, so the question is: How do we prepare for this inevitable, unavoidable, judgment of God? Well first of all, we prepare for it by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Personal Savior, step number one. Because if you don't do that you'll be in the second judgment, which is eternal "lost". So the first step is to be saved, and so let's say that you fall under that category of a person who is saved. Secondly, and this is something we should consider seriously, and that is every day we should review our lifestyle. That is, think about how you're living. And that is, what are you living for? How do you spend your time? How do you employ your spiritual gifts? How do you give of your resources? And in what way do you serve the Lord, and in what way do you honor Him?
So, when it comes to looking at your lifestyle, for example, when you get up tomorrow morning, what are you going to think about? It's Monday, or will you think about, "Thank You Father, thank You for giving me a job, thank You for helping me to make enough money to buy things that I need. Thank You, Father, for the little I get extra. In other words, when you get up, what do you think about? During the day, do you ever stop to thank God? Thank You, Lord, for getting me here on time this morning. Thank You that You kept me safe today. Or do you just sort of skip through life and live through life only come to Him when there's a need, a fear, or a pain? Is that when you come to Him? Or do you realize how good He is to you twenty-four hours a day and think about this. Your next heartbeat will not be determined by you. So will you be ready?
And how often I hear people say, "Well one of these days I'm... mm-mm-mm-mm. You don't have any guarantee of one of these days. The only guarantee you have is right now. That if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, you can ask Him to forgive you of your sins and He will do it. Not because you will ever deserve it, but because He loves you. So, how are you going to live out your life? How are you living it out? Would you say your life is pleasing to God? Doesn't mean you're perfect. That's why He has enough Scriptures here. "If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". But many people know that so well, they could, at night-time before they go to sleep, they could say, "God, remember what I said last night"?
Ditto. Just ditto, which means that's it's absolutely meaningless. If there's no heart in my confession, it's meaningless. And so, it's wise to review how we are living. So ask you this: if you think about your relationship to your husband or your wife, is it right? Is it right? Is it good? Is it holy? Is it righteous? Is it pure? Could you do better? Is God pleased with your relationship to your children? How much time do you ever take to talk to them about the Lord? We're living in a society where parents are oblivious to their responsibility to teach their children about the Lord. First of all by example, then by word. All of us have to review our lives, and look at what's going on, and think, "Lord, is anything about me You want to change"? Listen, some people are scared to death to ask God that. Lord, is there something about me You want to change? If there is, we should welcome Him to tell us what it is.
A third thing that's important is to re-evaluate your priorities. That is, if we're going to live a godly life, and be ready for standing before Him to re-evaluate our priorities. So think about this. In your decision-making process, what's the first thing you think about? Here's the first thing you should think about. What is pleasing to the Heavenly Father? What is the wise thing to do from God's perspective? Every day we make decisions. Those decisions, sometimes have eternal consequences. Sometime lasting consequences, sometimes they can have painful consequences. But as you make decisions in your life and re-evaluate your priorities, where is the Lord in your priorities? Because think about this. This is a get up and rush-rush-rush day, every day, if we allow it that way.
We're going to give an account for it. And when you think about how good God is that your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, that one of these days when you die, if you're if you're saved, your name is there, that you're going to heaven. And you don't watch this, you don't have to do anything else to get to heaven. Your name is in the Book of Life, no erasures. But are you ready? Would you say that each day you do your best. You don't squander your time or your resources, or anything like that.
And then the fourth thing I would say, renewing your daily commitment to live a godly life and serve Him with your whole heart. Now think about it. You're going to give an account one of these days, and so, think about it for a moment. How do you start your day? Does the alarm ring, or the radio come on and you hop up and start the day? Or do you say, "Oooooh, my goodness, I think I'll just lie here awhile, and just what are you going to do today? I'm not going to do anything, just nothing. You know what? There's no such thing, because you and I are responsible to God to make every day count. And when I think about, "I think about how simple this is, but somebody ask me, "Well, how do you start your day"?
I can tell you, and I don't have to look in here to tell you, but I want to pass this on to you. And that is, and this is what only to start my day, but during the day I'll stop and say the same thing. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways today acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. Don't be wise in your own eyes, Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It'll be health to your body and refreshment to your bones. But think about this: You wake up tomorrow morning, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, don't lean to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him. You know what that means? In all my ways, Lord what would You have me to do here? In all your ways acknowledge him. Watch this, most people in most of their ways, do not acknowledge God, as if He didn't exist. In all your ways acknowledge him. And here's the promise. He will direct your path.
Now that sounds pretty simple. But the truth is, I'm going to give an account to God. Now watch this, you may live fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, a hundred and ten years old, but on the other side of this judgment, forever, eternally. You and I will enjoy the blessings of Almighty God on the basis of how we've lived out our life while we were here. Amen?
Father, we thank you for your love for us. Thank you for making some of the most important things so simple. And I pray that you'll sink this message in the heart of every person here. Maybe somebody who's never even thought about reading this scripture in the morning before they leave for work. I pray the Spirit of God will etch this message upon their hearts recognize that there is coming an inevitable, inescapable day of giving an account for our life. And I pray for somebody here today who is unsaved that they'll recognize every day they live they're wasting. A life without Christ is wasted. And the time to make a change is right now. And I pray that they'd be willing to ask you to forgive them of their sins and surrender their life to you today. And believe in their heart that you not only will forgive them but you will equip them and enable them to live out what we're talking about in this message and look forward to that day when you give out the crowns, when you reward us for a life well lived. Not a life that's perfect but a life that's well lived in Jesus' name, Amen.