Q. I’ve been a believer all my 60 years but have never understood the issue of the judgment of believers. Reading 2 Cor. 5:10 tells us there will be a judgment for deeds done, good or bad. If, when we are saved, our sins are forgiven and forgotten, how can we then be accountable for any sin/evil we commit in our Christian walk? My desire for heaven is lessened by fear that I will be punished for sin I thought would be forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. Does that end with salvation? Am I forgiven, but then “punished” by loss of reward?
A. 2 Cor. 5:10, like its companion 1 Cor. 3:10-15, refers to the judgment seat of Christ which will take place after the rapture and is the only judgment we will ever face. And it’s not about sin. All our sins were forgiven at the cross and the slate was wiped clean for good (Colossians 2:13-14).
At our judgment the Lord will look at all the things we did as Christians to determine if which if any are worthy of a special reward. The terms good and bad in 2 Cor. 5:10 refer to whether our deeds were done at the Lord’s direction and in His strength (good) or by us acting alone in our own strength (bad). In 1 Cor. 3:10-15 good things are called gold, silver, and precious gems and bad things are called wood, hay, and straw.
We will receive rewards for things that are done at His prompting but not for things we do on our own. Jesus said apart from Him we can do nothing of value to the Kingdom (John 15:5).
I’m convinced that many of the things we’re most proud of or have received the most praise for will not qualify for rewards in heaven. Jesus said the things we are praised for on Earth will not be rewarded in Heaven. It’s what we do in secret that matters to the Lord and these are the things He will reward in Heaven (Matt. 6:1-4).
But you’re right about our sins being forgiven and forgotten. The Lord hasn’t given them any thought since the cross. To Him it’s as if they never happened. Paul was confirming this when he said, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him” (Romans 4:7).