For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. Romans 14:10
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:12
This ONLY sounds ominous because we have been taught to hear it that way. Paul's letter to the Romans was the most comprehensive account of God's freely given grace in the whole Bible, but somehow we seem to forget that fact when we read a verse like this. Once again, the context gives the obvious understanding. Romans, chapter 14 has to do with the reality of Christ being the basis of our not judging one another any more. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with standing before God to be judged for our sins. If the opening chapters of Romans didn't make that clear enough for us then nothing ever will. And if you can't get past viewing yourself in connection with YOUR sins (you know, the ones that were dealt with once and for all on the cross) then how do you think you can EVER keep from judging or viewing your brother with contempt as you help him to hold himself accountable for HIS sins (you know, the ones that were dealt with once and for all on the cross)? Where in the world did we ever get the idea that being judged for our sins at a future time was Christian? I guess "in the world" is a good enough answer, huh? Have you ever noticed how much turmoil has been stirred up among believers over iffy situations? You know what I mean - current issues that seem just a little too much on the edge to be kosher. During the 60's and 70's Christians battled it out over rock music. I was there and I remember it well. As a naive youth I didn't know what the big deal was. But when I got serious (as it is called) about serving the Lord I, too, began to denounce this evil in the church. We went to some great extremes to prove the inherent evil in a musical form that in retrospect only causes me to shake my head over the ridiculous assertions we made! Years later I turned from my wicked way and formed my own rock band (I'm just making a point, so please don't get upset by that, okay?). Though there are still die-hards to be found, the fact is that Christian rock music is a staple in many churches today. It is exactly this sort of thing that Paul was dealing with in his letter to the Romans (chapter 14 as we call it). The issues? Food and holy days. Consider the food issue: believers who understood that they were free to eat whatever they wanted and those who didn't think it was okay had to come to terms with one another. Usually those who have no problem with such an issue think that those who do just need to get the information and get over it. While those who view it as possibly wrong think the other needs to avoid the item in question. How do you handle it? Simple. By considering the issue in view of how we stand before God.
Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, FOR GOD HAS ACCEPTED HIM. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; AND STAND HE WILL, FOR THE LORD IS ABLE TO MAKE HIM STAND ... for we shall all STAND before the judgment seat of God Romans 14:3,4,10
It's as simple as stated by Paul
Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind Romans 14:5
Don't pressure another to do it because you do, nor demand another not do it because you don't. This whole thing is an impossible concept outside the reality that God does not judge us according to our sin anymore. How else could those from these two extremes live together in harmony without the realization that the sin issue has been taken out of the way? There would have been no rationale for Paul to have written this if the judgment seat was for the purpose of exposing sins instead of it being the proof to ME that YOU stand because of it. If it was for judgment of sins then we had better ignore Paul's "Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind" and get down to the business of holding one another accountable, don't you think? What Paul teaches about sin in the believers' life is plain and simple: when sin is present then LAW has been doing its work and ministering death! It is ONLY by ministering the message of freedom and life in Christ that we will be any good to one another. More law will bring more sin and death! Grace brings life! In the realm where questionable opinions cause me to judge and/or despise you it is, once again, ONLY the message of freedom in Christ that convinces me to let GOD'S ACCEPTANCE of you become the basis upon which I realize that God is able to be for YOU what he is to ME. Paul's use of the term "weak" is not derogatory, nor does his referral to "we who are strong" (Romans 15:1) suggest better. Wouldn't you imagine that the terms were ALREADY in use among the Roman believers just as they are among us? WE are the ones who have made the distinctions of weak and strong to indicate who understands grace versus who doesn't. Paul was simply playing off of an already established distinction ... and he redefines it for them in such a way to provoke them to consider the conscience of the individual instead of trying to establish a level of spirituality. He put it in such a way that it suggested that it takes just as much grace for the weak not to judge the strong as it does for the strong not to look down on the weak. In other words, it's all part of our miraculous life in Christ. Paul didn't teach that the weak must become one of the strong, for it is CHRIST who is the beginning and the end ... and everything in between!! There is, however, much said by him about the strong becoming weak! No one has to come to the place where they must do what another does in order to be considered strong. Got that? WHEREVER you are ... God is your strength and HE is the one who causes you to stand before Him. As the message of the freedom of Christ impacts you it causes you to grow in confidence of the reality that Christ is, in fact, your life. And if that means that you continue to hold to things that others consider weak and yet you do not insist that others conform to you then that means that you are viewing yourself, as well as your brother, in light of the finished work of Christ. And I would call that strong, wouldn't you? Paul demanded that the strong - whose strength is obviously found in Christ - find their purpose in "bearing the weaknesses of those without strength". It's not found in the challenge of the strong for the weak to attain to his/her particular level of freedom, as such an idea only serves to force those involved back into the realm of law which only leads to destruction. The reason Paul wrapped this whole discussion around the reality of our standing before God is because it forces ALL THINGS to be considered in view of it. Remember ... Paul had determined to know nothing among them except Christ, and Him crucified! You are who and what you are because of how you stand before God. And just as important ... your brother or sister in Christ is who and what they are because of how they stand before God and NOT based on what they are IN COMPARISON to how well you are doing as you are walking in Him! "So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God." Not to YOU, not to ME, but to GOD. So, are you going to deal with those around you in view of their sins today?