The Bema Judgment

Q. Thank you for your many articles! I have a misgiving that you may be able to give me some insight about: If our “good deeds” vis-a-vis the Bema judgment depend on our motives being pure, then I cannot imagine that anything good I’ve ever done during my walk with Jesus will be rewarded. I don’t think I’ve ever had motives that were 100% pure.

I am impelled to do good; I want to good; I strive to do good. Why? At least part of the reason is that *that* is (now) my purpose for being. When I do good I am more closely bearing my Lord’s image; it is the only way I have of tangibly show God that I love Him.

Yet at the same times, competing thoughts pollute my efforts: “you’re really doing this just to store-up treasures in Heaven!” and “Oh! someone’s seen your deed; surely you’re doing this just so they’ll notice!” and other awful things like that. I often try to do these things in secret (and at times am discovered, my heart sinks). When I can’t be secret, I simply write-off the effort and try to forget that I even did it.

At times, When I’m fully exasperated with my mixed “motives,” I steel myself inside and say to myself: “THIS is the RIGHT thing to do. Whether I am disqualified or not in God’s eyes, I will do this deed because it is right and I am His! Even if my only reward is that I know this has benefited someone (and God rejects my deed), nevertheless I will do it because it is my purpose to do good.” Then I do the good deed, and assume that it will be considered “wood,” “hay,” or “stubble.”

I have been gifted in many ways, but I have the horrible sense that at the Bema I will find that I’ve been a horrible waste to God, and that I will have badly failed in fulfilling my purpose and be held in shame because I, who had so much turned, it into so little for God.

Often when I’ve done good for others, I tell myself: “This is good??? Oh, this single act is, but you should be doing this ALL the time. Instead of feeling “good” or “satisfied” that I have done a good deed, I feel pain and condemnation that I’m not ALWAYS this “good.” Still, I do good; that is my purpose.

I have an idea of what 100% pure must be like, and no matter how “pure” I am, my purity won’t be 100% until I am finally with Him. (And I long for a pure heart.)

At this point in my note, I’m not sure what I’m asking. I guess it would be nice if I could continue to fulfill my purpose without being conscious of it, not feeling “good,” but at least not feeling “filthy” either.

Have you seen this struggle before, and do you know what it means, and how to resolve it?

A. Two things. First, yours is a classic example of the devil toying with your mind in an attempt to steal your victory. Liberal doses of James 4:7-8 should help. Repeat it whenever these thoughts come into your mind. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

You might also apply 2 Cor. 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. These negative thoughts you generate about yourself are not from God, who loves you, but from your enemy, who doesn’t.

Second, I’m convinced that almost nothing that we’re consciously aware of having done will qualify at the Bema Seat, because our sin nature will have polluted them. But there’ll be many things that we’ll have done intuitively, without a thought, that will. I think we’ll be totally surprised by what God values from our lives, and by what He doesn’t.

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