Even True Believers Are Accountable For Their Actions

The Bible teaches clearly that God will punish those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. If you do not believe you will go to hell for eternity:

This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might (II Thessalonians 1:7b-9 NIV).

But all true believers will spend eternity with God and will be glorified for the good works that God did through them:

on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2-3)

Nevertheless, this does not mean that all believers are unaccountable for their sins. True believers will have to be “debriefed” as it were by Jesus after we die. It will no doubt be a very painful experience, because we will have to give an account to Him for everything we have done on Earth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God. (Romans 14:12)

The verses above talk about the debriefings that believers will receive from Jesus. I think this will be private; the condemnation of unbelievers will probably be public (Revelation 20:11-15). Believers experiencing the judgment seat of Christ will no longer be under eternal condemnation, because Jesus has borne the penalty for our sins, but we will suffer severe disappointment when we discover how much we have let down Jesus and our brothers and sisters by not doing what was right all the time. It will be a private audience before God, but it will be very painful still, because we will realize how much opportunity we have wasted on Earth. We will be greatly embarrassed when we are confronted about all our selfish decisions.

All true believers who come before God after they die will be saved. Our salvation will not be based on anything we have done, but on what Jesus did for us. The “foundation” of our faith in Jesus Christ: it is the only foundation that is capable of saving a human soul:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:11)

So every true believer has this “foundation” already laid in their lives. There is nothing that can be added to this to make us more saved: we are completely saved. Still, God does expect us to add genuine spiritual works of goodness by the power of the Holy Spirit to our lives. That is to say, we must live our lives for the purpose of glorifying God. Every genuine deed that we do while on Earth will result in additional eternal reward; every deed of the flesh will result in loss of opportunities for reward:

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (I Corinthians 3:12-15).

Our debriefing session with Jesus will apparently be very intense. The verses above compare it to a test of fire that is commonly used to burn the dross out of molten gold or silver. In that day God will reveal for us with absolute clarity the true motives of our hearts. Every sinful and wasted act will be exposed: but every pure, spiritual act will be exposed as well. It will be very embarrassing and painful for us if our lives are revealed as a waste; all of our deeds being revealed as combustible rather than eternal. There can be no sin or selfishness in heaven: therefore every worthless act we have done must be consumed out of us. Only the truely good things that we have accomplished by God’s grace and power will be allowed to last with us into eternity. We will lose a part of ourselves that day: the bad part. If this makes up the majority of who we are, then we will lose the majority of our identity, there will only be, as it were, a tiny sliver of us left to be saved. Yes, it will be saved, but much will have been lost. Therefore let us strive to make sure that our lives on Earth are not wasted. Let us humble ourselves and do our best to please God daily rather than live for our own lusts. This seems like an impossible task, but it is one that we can succeed in by God’s own Grace and Power. We must yield to Him every moment of our lives.

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