One of the weapons used by legalists to keep people in line is the threat of standing before "the judgment seat of Christ." It is said by them that God will reveal the hidden agendas of the heart, every secret sin, and each action that transgressed the line of God's eternal law. For this reason, the legalist says, you should keep your walk holy, obey God completely, and ensure all your actions are righteous.
The only problem with this premise is that it contradicts the written word of God regarding the judgment of believers in Christ. The legalist is right, however, about the judgment for those apart from Christ. Every sinner apart from God's grace through Jesus Christ will give an account of his deeds and will be rewarded according to God's pure justice. The punishment of God's righteous wrath in hell will not be as severe for some sinners as it is for others (see Jesus' words in Matthew 10:15). The experience of righteous punishment will vary in intensity according to the depth and number of unrighteous actions of those who die without Christ. God will not be mocked. Whatever a sinner sows in life on earth, that will he reap at judgment (Galatians 6:7). In other words, Hitler will experience the wrath of God in a measure greater than a girl who dies in her teens without Christ. The sinner reaps what he sows. The Righteous Judge never errs in the meting out of His sentences for sin. Part of the wiping away of every tear in heaven very well may be the people of God saying, "Yes, Father, you are righteous in your judgments towards those of my family who have rejected Christ." There will be no complaints when all is revealed before the throne of God. For this reason, the person without faith in Christ would do well to live the most moral life possible--for he will one day reap what he has sown.
But those of us who have faith in Christ will never appear at this judgment seat. The book of life which contains our names forever decrees the sealing of the books that contains the sins of our lives (Revelation 20:11-13). The Scapegoat has removed our sins into the desert of forgetfulness (Lev. 16:22). We never answer for sin because as the brilliant Baptist theologian John Gill stated, "God sees no sin in His people." That does not mean God is not aware of our sin; it means that God has dealt judicially with our sin at the cross of Christ, and all the righteous wrath due our sins (hell) has been born by Christ. And it is our faith in God's grace in the person and work of Christ that is credited to us for righteousness (Romans 4:24-25).
But then the question comes, on what basis are we rewarded in heaven? Answer: We reap what we have not sown!
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17).
To be a co-heir with Christ means that we receive from God the inheritance Christ has earned by His obedience during His life, death and resurrection. The perfect righteousness of our Lord and Savior Jeus Christ in the complete and perfect obedience to God's law has obtained for us the unsearchable riches of God's great grace (Ephesians 3:8). Heaven is the eternal unfolding and enjoyment of these riches fpr all the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7). In short: We reap what we have not sown.
One of the tell-tale signs of the legalist is the inability to totally rest in the knowledge that the riches of God's favor are earned by Christ's obedience, not ours. It is impossible to be a co-heir with Christ if the rewards of God's people are dependent on our performance. We are rewarded for eternity by God's grace through the person and work of Christ. The knowledge of this will keep those of us with faith in Christ always ready to admit our faults, confess our mistakes, and be transparent to people around us. Why? Because our eternal reputations, our eternal rewards, our eternal reign is not dependent on our performance on earth--it is dependent on Christ's vicarious performance on our behalf.
But hell is just the opposite of heaven. In hell, you reap what you sow. In heaven, you reap what you have not sown. Why is it that we Christians preach, teach and relate to one another as if we are citizens of hell? Our citizenship is in heaven; and for this reason we ought to be very honest and transparent about our sins here. Our eternal inheritance and reward is dependent on His grace through Christ, not our peformance through works. We live powerful lives, led by the Spirit, when we no longer question His favor on our lives in terms of our merit or works by obedience to any law, but by faith in Christ who brings us a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees.
In His Grace,