Q. Recently my church, as well as several radio Bible study programs that I listen to, have been teaching about how God’s judgment begins in the house of the Lord. They all say that we need to live according to God’s commands or we face being judged. I thought we Christians have had all our sins judged already.
A. Here’s the passage the people you’re listening to use to support their opinion.
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:16-17).
As you can see, Peter is talking about being persecuted for our faith. He started on this subject in verse 12. And notice He didn’t say it’s God’s judgment. This is something that comes at the hands of unbelievers.
Any persecution we experience from unbelievers is a sign that we belong to God, and is something for which we should praise the Lord. Peter told us to compare the persecution we receive from unbelievers with what God will do to them for refusing to believe. That will help us put things into their proper perspective.
God cannot judge us because He already judged His Son in our place. Jesus took our sins upon Himself and paid the penalties for all of them at the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Therefore, God has made His own righteousness available to us because of our faith (Romans 3:21-24). This righteousness is beyond any thing we could ever earn and makes us perfect forever in His sight (Hebrews 10:12-14). We can’t make ourselves perfect by our works, because God’s requirements are too high. We can only be made perfect by our faith.
Believing in what Jesus has done for us is how we fulfill His command to be perfect just as your Father in Heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48).