Every church I’ve been a part of has them—even if it’s just a side comment now and then about being afraid to stand before God at the judgment—Christians who fear that when Jesus returns we will have to hear our long list of sins recounted by an angry Father before Jesus as our gracious lawyer interjects, “I’ve taken care of them.”
It’s that fear of revisiting the past and having the secret things of our heart exposed for all creation to hear.
Yet the biblical idea of the judgment seat for the Christian is anything but frightful. Colossians 2:13-15 reads: And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Judgment for the Christian is not about our sin and shame, and our Father is not some angry deity-judge eying us with suspicion until Jesus quells his anger by reminding him of the cross. Our Father is the one who planned the cross for the very reason that his anger and wrath be poured upon Jesus, and at that moment we would gain forgiveness of all our sins.
Certainly there was a long list, a record of debt held against us that should have kept us in fear, but in Jesus every word of that record has been smeared over with blood so not a single letter remains left to be read.
We will stand before God to give an account of our lives, but not a re-accounting of our sins, rather an accounting of what we have done with our gifts and talents to receive reward (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
The Bible says that God’s love for us is as high as the heavens are above the earth, and he has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west—an infinite distance (Psalms 103:10-14).
Jesus says we have the words to look forward to, “Well done my good and faithful slave, enter into the joy of your master” and “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you” (Matthew 25).
Hebrews says we have confidence to enter the holy places and draw near to God because of Jesus (10:19-22).
John says that through the love God has for us we “may have confidence for the day of judgment” because “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:16-19).
And Paul succinctly states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
This is the great truth that makes “Good Friday” so good—Jesus is the display of the Father’s love for us. He took our sins, indeed, became our sins so that we become his righteousness. Therefore no record of sin, no account of debt, and no list of accusations stand any further. They have been wiped out, shredded, torn up, blotted over, and infinitely removed.
Certainly we should seek to avoid sin because we have love for God, and not continue in sin because of our new nature (Romans 6:1-11). But we should have no fear of God keeping remembrance of our sins only to be brought up once more.
They were all taken care of those 2000 years ago when our Savior-King died on our cross.