Devotional: ‘Judgment Must Begin With the Church’

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1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows that there is a day of judgment coming for the world. We read from the book of Revelation – “And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (see Revelation 20:11-15) Scripture teaches us that God keeps a careful record of how people live and one day, mankind will stand before their Maker and give an account for their deeds. Regardless of how culture tries to define right and wrong, God will one day judge the world according to His eternal, perfect, and unchanging standard.

Everyone knows that the sinful will be judged, but what about Christians? Are Christians accountable for how they live? Yes and no.

The Christian will not have to stand before God to be judged for their sins. The Bible tells us – “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (see 2 Corinthians 5:21) Two thousand years ago Jesus received our punishment when He died on the cross. We read from the book of 1 Corinthians – “Christ died for our sins…” (see 1 Corinthians 15:3) The Bible says that ‘He was wounded for out transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.’ (see Isaiah 53:5)

Yet this does not mean that Christians can live anyway they please without facing the consequences. Whereas God does not condemn His children, He does chasten His children. The Bible says – “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6)

Peter tells us, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God…” The word ‘judgement’ is a reference to our chastening. Why is it necessary for Christians to be chastened?

1. We must be chastened in order to remove from our lives the things that will hinder our fruitfulness. (see John 15:2; Hebrews 12:10-11)

God’s chastening of the church is not for condemnation, but for cultivation. God chastens His children to prune away those things that will sap our spiritual strength, and He cultivates those things that will make us strong and vibrant.

2. We must be chastened in order to reveal to the world the severity of sin.

Peter writes – “…if it (judgment) begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:18-19) We read from the book of Proverbs – “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” (Pr 11:31) We must never forget that God is holy and that His holiness demands perfect justice. Salvation is not God sweeping our sin under the rug and pretending it never happened. Salvation is available to us because Christ bore our punishment when He was crucified on the cross.

 

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