Fear of the Final Judgment Devotional Reading and Podcast
If you love Me, keep My commandments.” —John 14:15
In this Scripture, Jesus tells us that love and obedience to all of His commands and precepts are required to have a steadfast relationship with Him. Because we were created with free will, God gives us His commandments which require total obedience, yet He does not coerce us to obey. We are free moral agents who can choose eternal life or death.
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” —John 5:39-40
The Jewish rulers, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees searched the Scriptures [the Old Testament] and highly revered Moses who spoke of the Messiah, yet they did not believe that Jesus of Nazareth could be the Messiah. Their preconceived ideas of the coming Messiah included a powerful and wealthy King who would free them from Roman oppression, which led to their rejection of Jesus as the Son of God.
Sadly we possess the same characteristics. We have preconceived ideas of living righteously. Because we desire to live according to our thoughts and desires, many Christian believers avoid studying the entire Bible [especially the Scriptures on obedience]. Disobedience reveals the true condition of the person’s heart who has not surrendered to accept and obey God’s commandments.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” —James 1:22
Half-hearted commitments to God produce spiritual unrest. The Holy Spirit warns us that we are making the wrong choices. Our response is one of fear [punishment from God]. Because we are not ready to fully obey, we lose the battle of wavering between obedience and disobedience.
Eventually, deception takes over our hearts. By continuously ignoring the Spirit’s warnings, we lose our spiritual discernment and are unable to differentiate between God’s truth and our version of the Truth. We hear God’s Word but cannot apply His principles to our lives because our true desire is to live according to our dictates.
Life Requires Us to Choose
In simple terms, choice refers to the act of making a decision or selecting an option from various possibilities. As we start each day, we encounter several situations that require us to make choices. One of the foremost choices we face is whether we will surrender ourselves to God through prayer. This decision sets the tone for our thoughts and actions, indicating whether we are committed to following Christ or merely focused on our desires.
Positive Choices or Poor Choices either Lead us to God or Away from God
There is no middle ground or neutrality in serving God. Life demands that we choose right or wrong, truth versus error, and reveals our commitment to God. Our choices are based on things and situations, including all the uncertainties that life offers. Whether good or bad, our decisions determine our eternal destiny.
Self-Reflection: Are my choices and decision-making guided by a Spirit-directed conscience? Are my decisions guided by the Righteous principles of God’s Word?
Before Our Commitment to Christ: “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…” (Ephesians 2:1-2).
Acceptance of Christ: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:verses 4,5, and 10).
Love produces Obedience. When we love Jesus, we do His will without hesitation. Obedience is a choice that demonstrates our love and commitment to God. We have confidence and peace when we follow Christ and stay on the Path of Righteousness.
For many years, I possessed fear when I heard a sermon or read Scriptures concerning the Second Coming of Christ and the Judgment. Always feeling uncertain whether or not I would be saved, I did not have the peace that comes from serving God.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
Fearing Judgment is a result of vacillating between obedience and disobedience and demonstrates that we are half-hearted Christians. Through self-reliance, we place ourselves in a state of spiritual unrest when we do not choose to fully serve God. Disobedience places us in a worse situation than the unrighteous who do not fear God or Judgment. Our wavering status with God causes us to fear the Final Judgment.
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” —John 5:26-27
Jesus is our Judge and our Defense Attorney. He is our Advocate. The Judgment reveals God’s justice and mercy. Although we have lived a prior life of pursuing and satisfying the sinful desires of our hearts, our daily surrender proclaims the love and gratitude we have for Jesus’ great sacrifice to save our souls. We no longer fear Judgment because we have chosen to obey. From our faithful obedience, we are saved under the Righteous Merits of Christ.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” —John 5:24
We are saved by grace. Grace causes us to live obedient lives. In faith, we experience a spiritual transformation of our minds. Our overwhelming love for God produces faith and trust in His will and plans for our lives. Obedience is faith in action which proclaims that we only have one choice: to obey God. Because we love Christ, we desire to do His will.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” —Ephesians 2:8
Good works are a product of obedience that is strengthened by the Holy Spirit. While our works do not save us, they serve as evidence of our sincere faith. Throughout the Old Testament, numerous individuals demonstrated their unwavering faith and trust in God through their obedient actions. Joseph, Joshua, Moses, Rahab, Esther, and Ruth are among those who followed God’s guidance with steadfast obedience.
When we choose Jesus, our commitment includes total obedience to the will of God. Remember, even Jesus in His earthly life had to learn obedience. Our choice to be obedient to God results in a spiritual transformation into the likeness of Christ who is waiting to give us our reward of eternal life based on His merits.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” —1 John 4:18
Prayer: Lord God, we thank You for your never-changing love for us. We desire to wholeheartedly serve You. We pray for forgiveness for our wilful disobedience. Lead, guide, and direct us so that we can make the right choices. In Jesus’ Worthy Name, we pray. Amen.
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