The Bible has much to say about the consequences of your desires, thoughts, choices, words, and actions. Both in this life and the life to come, what you do matters.
- “Those who make them [idols] become like them; so do all who trust in them.” Psalm 115:8
- “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7
- “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Hebrews 9:27
- “[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.” Acts 17:31
- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
We cannot escape this subject in the Word of God. The Bible clearly and repeatedly warns us so that each of us is without excuse.
First, every day each of us harvests what we previously planted, and we sow what we will someday reap. God knows that what we are now experiencing is directly connected to the actions we have taken.
Second, all who have ever lived will stand before the throne of God and give an account for the way they have lived. We all will hear God’s final proclamation of the place of our eternal destiny.
Yes, the Bible has much to say about love, forgiveness, joy, life, and light, but we must never ignore the dark side of the consequences and penalties for unrepentant spiritual adultery.
You might be reading this and think, “Well, that’s not a very comforting devotional, Paul!” But it is! By providing us with clear teaching about consequences and judgment, God both warns and comforts us.
In many ways, the Bible functions as a moral alarm system, screeching and flashing louder than all the seductive voices that woo us into spiritual infidelity and rebellion. You and I need constant, powerful reminders that we do not live in an open universe where anything we desire is possible and potentially beneficial.
This alarm system in the Word of God should be our most immense comfort. How? Because by warning us, God is repeatedly extending his unconditional love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace to us, even though we are disloyal to him!
If all God wanted to do was judge us, he wouldn’t warn us first—he would immediately convict us. Whenever the Lord announces his judgment, he offers us one more chance to listen, see, confess, repent, and accept his righteousness.
Take great comfort in knowing that God keeps an accurate, eternal record. Ultimately, the universe will be just because God is just. The final judgment assures us that Christ will settle all accounts, and will right every wrong. And take comfort that once more, Scripture has warned and reminded us.
Forgiving grace is a necessity, and an eternal home with the Lord is a precious gift. Both have been offered to us freely. The One who provides these gifts is simultaneously a righteous Judge and a tender Savior. He will not forsake his moral requirement to deliver his mercy, and he will not forsake his mercy to be a Judge.
Paul David Tripp
1. Consider a past idol that, by grace, God has liberated you from serving. Looking back, how had you become like the idol that you worshipped?
2. What are you currently reaping in a relationship that you previously sowed? Consider both a healthy and unhealthy harvest. What desires, words, and actions led to where the relationship is today?
3. Has someone sinned against you and gotten away with it? Have you made decisions with integrity that get overlooked while others making immoral decisions appear to prosper? How does the final judgment speak to your injustice?
4. How frequently do you think about the consequences before you act? How often do you meditate on the final judgment that is to come? What would change in your life if you considered those five (and other) Bible verses more?
5. Do you tend to avoid or minimize the topics of condemnation, judgment, and hell when speaking with unbelievers? How can you boldly present this dark reality with comfort and hope, without neglecting its weight and truth?