Many people envision God as The Great Judge who will determine our eternal destiny by weighing our souls in the Balance of Life after we die. If our good works outweigh our bad works, we’ll be ushered into glory; but if our bad works outweigh our good works, we’ll be cast into hell. Is that what you think?
This is what the Pharisees thought, and this is what many religions teach, but this is not the way of Christ. He said, “If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47-48). Jesus told the Pharisees that if they would only come to him, instead of judging them, he would give them eternal life, but they refused. When they refused to listen to him, Jesus told them: “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust” (John 5:45).
What did Jesus mean by that? In the Old Testament, God—through Moses—gave us humans a list of basic “Do’s and Don’ts,” commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments. Most people from Christian countries would say they believe we should keep the Ten Commandments, and many people agree that lying, stealing, and cheating are wrong. But in fact, none of us keep the commandments perfectly at all times. For example, how about the first one: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Who among us has never let some little god—some idol—come between God and ourselves?
Do you know what an idol is? It comes from the Greek word eidolon, which means “a reflection” as in water or a mirror. It’s not necessarily a literal image we bow down to and worship, but it is the representation of something we see and want. In Francine River’s sweet devotional, Earth Psalms, she points out that idols are just “little nothings.” I like that. Idols are as ephemeral as a reflection in water . . . fleeting and without substance. We want them intensely, but they never really satisfy. They can’t.
On the other hand, God—our Father God, God Almighty—is unchanging and eternal. He is the only One who can satisfy us completely. Only God is worth worshiping, yet how often we chase some illusory vision or allow our own reflection to become our idol! Are we worshiping God, or ourselves? Who is the center of our personal universe? Whom do we love and live for?
So, if we can’t even keep the first of the Ten Commandments, I don’t think we should really want to be measured by the Mosaic Law. But, God does give us that choice: We can be saved through faith in the work of Christ, or we can be judged by the Law of Moses. Which would you prefer?
“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Romans 2:12).
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).
“Be ye holy; for I am holy.17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:16-19). This is my testimony: I am not hoping that my good works will outweigh my bad works. I know that won’t happen. Instead, I have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, the perfect lamb of God, who died for my sins and for the sins of all who will put their faith in him. I hope this is true of you too! May we give up all our “little nothings” and place our faith and hope in Christ.
Texts for this week’s study:
“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.41 I receive not honour from men.42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:40-47).
“And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” John 12:47-50
The “Ten Commandments” from Exodus 20:1-17
“And God spake all these words, saying,
2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
13 Thou shalt not kill.
14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 Thou shalt not steal.
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”