Where Judgment Begins
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:17-18 NKJV
There is a dreadful day of judgment coming for those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ (Mal. 4:5); but, for those who do believe the Gospel and trust in the Lord for salvation, “there is therefore now no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1); yet, the Apostle Peter said that judgment begins first at the house of God, i.e., believers.
On the surface, there appears to be a contradiction between Peter’s declaration that there will be a judgment first of believers and Apostle Paul’s exclamation in Romans 8:1 that there is now no condemnation (judgment). These two varied statements are not a contradiction but a distinction: believers will be judged first for the purpose of preparing us to serve the Lord in eternity—not for sin (see the parable of the Talents in Matt. 5:21-28 and 2 Cor. 5:10).
Believers have already been judged for sin at Calvary when Jesus died on the cross and shed His precious blood as the ultimate sacrifice for mankind’s sin. Jesus took away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Matthew 26:28). This is the heart of the Gospel message: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . .” (1 Cor. 15:3) and He finished the transgression, made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, and ushered in an everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24).
Inasmuch as believers have already been judged for sin, it is now the believer’s responsibility to take ownership for any committed sin. To take ownership of committed sin is to judge oneself, confess the sin, repent, and turn away from it (see (1 John 1:9-2:2 and 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1). Just know that sin doesn’t change one’s relationship with God, but sin can certainly break fellowship. For example, in the natural when a child commits a transgression and is disciplined by his father, he is still His father’s child. But because of the child’s guilt and remorse of the wrong-doing, he may withdraw emotionally or otherwise from his father which will cause a break in fellowship between them. God doesn’t disown his sinful children, He woos them by the Holy Spirit to convict them of sin and lead them to repentance (John 16:8).
Judgment must begin first with believers—not for sin—for rewards and to declare the deeds and works that they have done here are earth (Rom. 2:6; 1 Cor. 3:8, 14).