God’s Judgements Do Continue Up To That Final Judgement (Part One)
April 20, 2015
It is wrong doctrine to teach that we are to view the Old Testament as inferior to the New. Jesus lived by and quoted the Old Testament and taught us to do the same. (Mt. 4:4 & 22:29) In Mal. 3:6 God tells us plainly, “I the LORD do not change.” In Heb. 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” while James 1:17 informs us that with God there is no inconsistency / variation / change.
It is, therefore, a mistake to think that the world is under a canopy of safety from God’s judgements, whether they be His punishments to sinning people in this life, or His eternal condemnation of those who refuse His corrections. God judges sin and sinners now, as He always has and will in the future. The whole Word of God teaches this, both in the Old Testament and in the New. Never does the New Testament negate the unchanging attributes of God, including His love and His justice, but it instead confirms them, and where not stated explicitly, treats them as “givens”.
Consequently, those of us in the New Covenant are definitely not “more safe to sin” than those under the Old Covenant. God’s Word warns us that we are actually to be judged more strictly because much more Light and Power have been made available to us in the New. (Mt. 13:12 // Acts 17:30 // Rom. 7:6 // Heb. 1:1,2 & 12:25 // 2 Peter 1:3,4,19-21) Therefore we should understand that “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (Col. 3:25) Assuredly, our Master in Heaven does not show favoritism (Rom. 2:11 // Eph. 6:9) but punishes everyone (Ps. 118:18 // Pr. 17:11,13 // Heb. 12:6) accordingly, doing so through consequences, circumstances, other people, and/or Satan. (Rom. 1: 24-32 & 13:1-6 // 1 Cor. 5:3-5 // Gal. 6:7,8 // 1 Peter 4:17) For the Lord, who detests that the guilty are sometimes acquitted by men (Pr. 17:15), “will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3) Instead, “The LORD takes vengeance on His foes and maintains His wrath against His enemies.” (v. 2)
Such warnings are replete throughout the Bible. Mal. 2:1,2 and 4:5,6 warn us that dishonoring the Lord’s name will cause the Lord to send a curse upon us. 1 Cor. 11:27-34 warns us that if we dishonor Christ’s body and blood, we will reap judgement from the Lord in the form of weakness, sickness, or even death. Heb. 10:26-31 warns us that dishonor toward Christ, toward His covenant blood that sanctified us, and toward His Spirit –which, it says, is done through continued sin– will put us in danger of Hell. 1 Cor. 3:16,17 inform us that even those who house the Spirit of God will be destroyed if they defile themselves.
Sin is what brings a person, family, church, organization, or nation under God’s judgement. If it is continued (not repented of), the sinning ones (no matter what they claim) will reap death. (Rom. 6:23) This death means to walk spiritually dead –now and into eternity. (Eph. 2:1,2 // Rev. 20:14,15) The Lord is merciful and punishes people so that they (and/or others who are watching) will repent (Isa. 26:9,10 // Heb. 12:6), but if the sinners continue to refuse repentance (from evil actions or teachings), the Lord can, at His own discretion, bring them a strong delusion (Mt. 13:10-15 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12), turn them over to their depravity (Rom. 1:18-32), remove their lamp stand (Rev. 2:5), fight against them Himself (v. 16), cast them on a bed of suffering (v. 22), or strike them dead. (v. 23) Even righteous people, if they are somehow aligned with the wicked, are not necessarily immune from God’s (non-eternal) sword of judgement. (Ezek. 21:4 // Luke 19:41-44)
Just because God’s Word warns so often and so strongly about the Final Day of (Eternal) Judgement when Jesus will separate the sheep and the goats (Mt. 25:31-46), and which should certainly concern us most (Luke 12:4,5), this in no way negates the fact that God deals out punishments (and rewards) now, in this life, on this earth. When Rom. 1:18 says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness…”, the Greek (and the chapter’s context) show God’s wrath being present tense. 1 Thes. 2:16, too, shows that the fury of God against evil-doers is not reserved only for the distant future, for it says, “…they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last [finally].”
Other verses speak of God’s punishments (to believers and unbelievers) in the present tense as well. As 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For it is time for judgement to begin with the family of God.” 1 Cor. 11:27-34, which I mentioned already, is clearly about God’s judgement in this present life since it teaches that many, by treating Christ’s body and blood irreverently, bring upon themselves weakness, sickness, and death from the Lord. (v. 30) Verse 32 shows this unmistakably, for it says, “When we [note the word “we”, as in believers,] are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.”
1 Cor. ch. 10 is another warning about God’s potential judgements to us in this life, verses 6 and 11 using the word “examples” concerning the Israelites’ punishments, while the passage states that the judgements which God inflicted on Israel in their desert rebellion can happen to anyone who turns to evil. Chapter 5 alludes to this as well when it teaches us that by the Spirit we are to hand “over to Satan” (v. 5) those in our fellowship who commit certain sins (v. 11) “so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (v. 5) James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud” while verse 3 tells us that if we petition God with wrong motives, we will reap nothing. Over and over again the Scriptures let us know that God judges sin and sinners –in this present life and in the one to come. Ruin, misery, lack of peace, shameful lusts, foolishness, physical ailments, clouded minds, darkened hearts, the inability to comprehend Truth, sudden death, and final condemnation –any of these punishments God can bring to those who continue in their sinfulness. (Mt. 13:10-15 // Luke 12:20,21 // Acts 5:1-11 & 12:21-23 & 13:10,11 // Rom. ch. 1 & 2 & 3:16-18 // Eph. 4:17-19)
In Jer. 9:24 we are told to allow ourselves to boast in understanding and knowing the Lord and His ways, particularly that He is the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth. This verse does not refer to understanding that God exercises these at The Final Day of Judgement, but that He does so now, and does so on the earth. To know God is to know this, and therefore to (truly) know this is to know God –the God who is never inconsistent, shifting, or changing. –The God who has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, no part of which is inferior to the rest.