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Question 172

Q: I’ve listened to your sermons on “breaking the cycle.” I was raised by a father who was troubled, and his scarred emotions spilled over into our family life. I wasn’t one of his favorites, and he was both mentally and physically abusive.

My mother was a true Christian, and it’s probably because of her that my life was saved and somehow I managed to make it to adulthood. I’m glad she never stopped loving me.  

My brother claims that even though God forgives our every failure, He is keeping track of them all, and when we get to heaven our past sins will still have to be accounted for on judgment day. If that’s the case, I know I’ll stand someday before my God hanging my head in shame because my sins were so many. Pastor Lutzer, what do you think?

Asked by: Nancy

A: Nancy, thank you so much for writing and I hope that you’re able to benefit from what I have to say.

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, as you have done, our sins are legally forgiven—past, present, and future. In fact, the Bible says that God doesn’t regard them anymore; He doesn’t throw them in our face anymore.

Your brother, however, does have a point because the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we shall all appear before the judgment seat and give an account for the deeds done in the body whether good or bad. So how do we reconcile that?

There’s a way that God is going to evaluate our lives since our conversion in order to know how to reward us. And there’s no doubt that the rewards of some people, because of faithfulness, are going to be much greater than those who were unfaithful. If we do see our sins in any way, it will be represented to us as forgiven, because God is not going to throw them in our face.

Will we be embarrassed? The Bible does say that some will have shame at His coming, but keep in mind that throughout all of eternity, we, as God’s people, will sing His praises and His grace. Tell your brother that he himself has to be very careful, because the more honest we are, the more we realize how great our sin is, and if we do poorly at the judgment seat, all of us will still thank God for His mercy.

Paul also says in 2 Corinthians that in that day, all people shall have praise of God. You’ll have praise of God, Nancy. I’ll have praise of God, all because of God’s undeserved mercy. Don’t live in fear, but live for Jesus Christ with joy, knowing that your sins are forgiven—they are washed away. Your life is important and the judgment seat will not determine if you go to heaven or hell it is a judgment to determine how much God can reward you.

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