A Healthy Fear of God’s Judgement

It was dubbed the “Fight of the Century”. After years of anticipation, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was finally stepping into the ring to face perhaps the only other fighter in the world who could ever match up to him.The energy leading up to the fight was palpable. While Mayweather is widely considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, many still thought that Manny Pacquiao would give him a run for his money.

As you have undoubtedly heard in the weeks since, the fight was not necessarily everything it had been chalked up to be. While the whole world was focused on the fight, or perhaps disappointment of a fight that seemingly fell flat, the most impactful moment for this young student minister happened shortly after Mayweather was declared the winner.

In response to a question about his troubled past, Mayweather gave what has become a standard answer in today’s society: “only God can judge me when it is all said and done.”

This statement stuck with me that night, and I have not been able to shake it. Will God judge me, and every other person to ever take a breath on this earth? I believe that Scripture indicates He will. However, does that give us the right, or even the nerve, to appeal to God’s judgement as a means for defending ourselves?

A reading through the prophets of the Old Testament will reveal the nature of judgement. The prophets refer to this time of judgement, in which God will be an active participant, as the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord will be marvelous: the groom, Christ, will return for His people. However the day of the Lord will be equally terrifying. As the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states,

The final day of the Lord is characterized in the Bible as a day of gloom, darkness, and judgement. Associated with God’s judgement is language depicting changes in nature, especially a darkening of the sun, moon, and stars (Is 13:10; Jl 2:31; 3:15; Mt.24:29; Rv 6:12). Nations will be judged for their rebellion against God’s anointed people and king (Jl 3:19; cf Ps 2). Israel is counseled not to be eager for that day, because it will also include judgement on the chosen nation (Amos 5:18-20). But the prophets promise a believing “remnant” will be saved by looking to the Messiah they once rejected (Jl 2:32; Zec 12:10). Following the day of the Lord will be a time of prosperity, restoration, and blessing for Israel (Jl 3:18-21).

The tension is impossible to ignore. The day of the Lord will undoubtedly be a time of judgement and restoration, and the only hope anyone can have in judgement is through the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Without Jesus, the end result of judgement is the eternal consequence of eternal separation from God in Hell.Yet while my hope is firmly found in the grace of Jesus Christ my Lord, and I know for certain that He will not allow me perish but has paid the price so that I may have eternal life, I still do not look forward to the purging judgement of my sin.

Thus, while it is indeed true to say, “only God can judge me”, I will never appeal to God’s holy and righteous anger as a defense for my own sin. There is no defense for my flesh. Instead I must fight daily to kill my flesh in order to glorify Christ who has made me into a new creature.

I think John the Baptist summed it up best in his exhortation of Jesus as the bridegroom saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) May that be our response when confronted with our past, present, and future sins.

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