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I lead a Bible Study of Senior women. My question came up in the group and I am looking for a way to dispute the understanding of 2 Cor 5:10 if it is misunderstood.

2 Corinthians 5:10:

KJV: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

NLT: For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

It seems to me to contradict Gods intent for the believer who has been forgiven and is seen by the Father through the Blood of His Son, It appears that the believer will not be reminded of forgotten sin but rather rewarded for the good He has done for the Kingdom of God.

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  • Yahweh has no unrighteousness in Him therefore can not be irresponsible. Nigel J, I am asking a question not advocating anything. As a teacher and a believer I'm looking for God's truth by asking the question of whether or not believers will have to give an account of sins covered by the Blood of the Lamb, who was sacrificed for our sins once and for all. Some translations leave off the "good and bad".Having done some research before asking and finding there is a difference between "remembering no more" and "forgetting".
    – Judy Chase
    Apr 1 at 14:57
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    The text you are quoting does not say anything specific about those being judged (profession, no profession). What will be judged is the deeds they have done. People who say they have 'been forgiven' and continue doing evil, will be judged accordingly.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 1 at 15:59
  • Jesus often spoke of the final day when sheep will be separated from goats, wheat and tares, etc. This just means that those forgiven believers who although saved apart from works, indicate the existence of their faith, by their love for God, will all be vindicated in a general public judgment before God and men. Both their words and deeds, proving to all that they had genuine faith will therefore be publicly received into eternal bliss. It is something good to look forward to, the final judgment will be a vindication. But those unbelieving and wicked … not so much.
    – Mike
    Apr 5 at 11:04
  • @JudyChase, I believe I answered your question, but not sure how well enough. Could you include in your question the specific verses you believe are contradicted by 2 Cor 5:10? Normally these type of verses are included when a contradiction is claimed.
    – Austin
    Apr 5 at 15:21

8 Answers 8

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A crown of salvation will be given to all who Jesus acknowledges on that Day as belonging to him. But that salvation is not a reward for doing anything. It is freely given though it is totally undeserved. The believer is assured right from being born from above of the Spirit that such a crown is reserved for them, in heaven (2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 2:10). There is no question about that for those who keep the faith.

Yet nobody should think that's all there is to it! Jesus warned the disciples that they were not to fear those who falsely accused them:

"for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known... Whoever therefore that shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Matthew 10:26 & 32-33 A.V.

This ties in with what he said in chapter 7 about those who falsely assume they please God by doing wonderful works, when he disowns them as not doing God's will at all.

On that Day, those who have nothing to fear are those who remain faithful to Christ and do God's will. When all is revealed, those who falsely accused them will be shamed, while they will be blessed. But the gift of salvation is not the blessing bestowed then. It is not a reward. However, for many things revealed on that Day, they will be rewarded, while liars and haters will be exposed and condemned.

That is what Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 4:5:

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God."

Obviously, he did not mean that those who did hidden things of darkness will have praise of God! Those ones will have shame and disgrace. But Christians who walked in the light of Christ shall have nothing to fear on that Day when everything hidden is revealed. Those with a pure heart shall receive praise of God. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, believers seek to live to honour and please him, for everything hidden will be revealed on that Day. Motives must be pure; no lies can be told; lives transformed by grace must be openly seen. Then there will be no fear when standing on that Day because their lives were hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) and they will receive praise of God.

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When someone recognizes their sin, asks for forgiveness, and repents (changes their behaviour and attitude), then Jesus's sacrifice is used to pay the debt of sin, which is death.

These forgiven sins no longer count toward "whatever we deserve".


Also, notice that there are two ways of interpreting that verse.

  1. Each individual will be judged by balancing their good and bad deeds against each other. A cumulative record of their life is used.
  2. Judgement will find some people to be good (and given salvation) and some people to be incorrigibly bad (and destroyed). What a person's character is, right now, is what is used.

The Bible seems to support the second view, not the first.

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  • Is that a yes we give account of all sin or a no we don't give an account of forgiven sin?
    – Judy Chase
    Apr 1 at 15:00
  • @JudyChase. Hebrews 8:12 says "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.". Repenting (changing oneself) and being forgiven means that from God's point of view the sin never happened. Judgement should be on what one is now, not on what one used to be. Our purpose is to develop God-like characters, with minds that will never want to sin. Apr 1 at 15:13
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One way to deal with this seeming contradiction is by understanding that even though a person is already forgiven, they still must stand before Christ at the time of judgment. We may speculate that in that case, the God's judgment will be that their earlier repentance and justification will result in their being judged worthy. In terms of a judicial analogy, we may think of a previously agreed plea agreement which is now submitted to the court, which will certainly abide by its terms. It is hard argue against the idea that this scenario results in the person being reminded of past sins. One way to make this argument is buy understanding the former sinner will be reminded of God's grace, but not of sins that were forgiven.

We should also be aware that the idea of a final judgment for Christians as well as for non-believers finds support not only here but also in the gospels themselves. For example:

Mt. 7

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Thus, the Bible clearly provides a basis for the idea that even Christians who believe themselves to be saved will be judged and rejected by Christ. Even baptized believers need to be vigilant to avoid the fate of those who worked hard for the church and yet did not practice what Jesus taught.

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The best conceptual discussion about what a believer experiences during the event described in 2 Corinthians 5:10, I believe, is found in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians:

11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
-1 Corinthians 3:11-15

What one may gather from this is:

  1. Confirmation that there will come a day when our deeds will be judged.
  2. Knowledge that work that survives examination will be rewarded.
  3. Insight that only work worthy of reward will be work done on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ
  4. Understanding that work that does not survive will result in the sensation of loss for the believer, but if the person has built upon the foundation of Christ the person will nevertheless be saved.

It does not appear that the day of judgment will be an exclusively pleasant experience. Despite the sacrifice of Jesus, there remains a final accounting of all things. We've all done things that we regret even as Christians and it seems all that will be laid bare along with the good.

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak...
-Matthew 12:36

The end of all this will be absolute transparency and ultimate reconciliation with God as we come to full terms with all that we've done in this final accounting - burning away any deception that may remain in our hearts about what things we did that were approved by God and what things were not. Despite all the unpleasantries, it will be a relief when it is all over as we continue forward in the truth and righteousness of our salvation with an even greater appreciation for what Christ has done for us all individually and corporately. I am further encouraged that in our salvation through the work of Christ our sufferings and labors we endure in this life are not in vain but are assigned an eternal value to be revealed:

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this:
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit,
“that they may rest from their labors,
for their deeds follow them!”
-Revelation 14:13

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Forgiveness of sin is a concept that God would not literally kill the person immediately for egregious and significant disobedience of the law of Moses here on Earth. That was the responsibility of the Priesthood, courts of justice and later the Sanhedrin. Jesus did not teach a concept of equality in heaven. The more good works one does here on Earth the greater the reward will be in Heaven and some will receive a crown. Jesus taught a literal contest of righteousness between them and the Pharisees. The Apostle Paul tries to comfort everyone from this anxiety with a new concept that everybody who has spiritually died with Jesus during the crucifixion within their imagination is now free from the law so there’s point in returning back to the law and animal sacrifices because he was a Pharisee once before and knows everything about it.

Summary: From the moment of a Christian’s “born again” moment the forgiveness of sins is only applied to existence here on Earth is the past tense. This present and future existence is the period of grace. After death we are then judged by our future actions (fruits) and future sins that occurred during the Grace period. What specifically qualifies as “born again” varies within interpretation when applied to baptism.

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  • "Jesus did not teach a concept of equality in heaven". I agree. But could you edit in a verse to anchor that in Scripture? Likewise "Spiritually died with Christ" etc: Also who are the "them" in "between them and the Pharisees"? I enjoyed reading what you put but I think it could be improved. Also double click for paragraphs.
    – C. Stroud
    Apr 4 at 13:24
  • Matthew 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
    – Roamer
    Apr 6 at 22:45
  • Mathew 5:19-20 9So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
    – Roamer
    Apr 6 at 22:45
  • Romans 6:3-6 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin
    – Roamer
    Apr 6 at 22:53
  • Mr Stroud, hello sir. I provided these verses with respect to my response and your request.
    – Roamer
    Apr 7 at 14:23
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The sins we commit are forgiven when we believe in Jesus' sacrifice for the redemption of our sins. A genuine believer in Jesus, as described by Paul in Ephesians 4:22, is called to discard their old way of life, which is tainted by deceitful desires. However, even a sincere believer may occasionally stumble into unintentional sin. The good news is that confession remains the key, as 1 John 1:9 assures us, when we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive us.

It is crucial to recognize that unconfessed future sins will not be forgiven. This is because those who sin after experiencing the heavenly gift, cannot be redeemed once again through another crucifixion of the Son of God.

Hebrews 6:4-6 NIV

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

The redemption brought by Jesus extends to all of humanity, including future generations. However, it does not cover the future sins of those currently living. Every one is accountable for their actions, even after professing belief in Jesus.

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The answer is found in understanding the definition of "good" in 2 Cor. 5:10. The word translated as "good" is Strong's Gr. 18 "agathos" and it means inherently, intrinsically good, as it pertains to the believer. It originates from God and is empowered by Him. See Biblehub. It is an adjective describing what is upright, honorable, distinguished, righteous and acceptable to God.

Mankind thinks in terms of morality. If I don't steal, or commit murder, or lie, or engage in fornication, etc. then I have been good. But our morality falls far short, and is not God's definition of good.

How are we to become acceptable to God? What originates from God, and is empowered by Him? What do we do that makes us “good” in God’s eyes?

There is only one thing that God sees as “good” and that is Jesus Christ, our savior and passover Lamb. If we have obeyed the command as believers (John 5:24) to be baptized / immersed in water for the forgiveness of our sins, calling upon the name of Jesus as the Son of God, then we have done the “good” things in the flesh.

Who in this life has done everything we ought to do? Paul discussed this lack in Rom. 7:15:

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (KJV)

The good works that we do for Him are our duty and obligation, not credit points. We owe Him. Because all of our “good works” or righteousness are as filthy rags to Him (Isa. 64:6).

So, the “good” things in the flesh of 2 Cor. 5:10 cannot be talking about our obligations and duties, but are instead talking about putting on Christ through baptism. For if we have put on Christ and are clothed in His righteousness (Rev. 3:5, 18) and are covered by the blood of the Lamb, then we have forgiveness of sins when we are faithful to confess to God and repent of them. God is then faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9).

Therefor, when we pass over from this mortal body and the angel(s) see the blood of the Lamb over us, then judgment passes over us just as it did in those faithful houses back in Egypt. This is Christ’s passover, that if we stay faithful unto death judgment has already passed over us. We have nothing to fear.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24, KJV)

We are not going to stand before God as some suppose and list out all the bad things we repented of, asked forgiveness of and that He has already forgiven and forgotten.

“21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.” (Ezek. 18:21-22, KJV)

The righteousness that we do now, that we will give an account for is whether or not we have accepted the offer God has made through His grace of His Son as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world for the forgiveness of our sins. And, we will not have to say one word. The King will look at us and know whether we are clothed in the wedding garments of the bride and the bridegroom (Ex. 12:23; Matt. 22: 11-13).

If we have rejected that precious gift then we have scorned His offer, have spit in His face, have done evil things in the flesh, and there is nothing else He can do for us. Those who have spurned Christ and turned their backs on Him will be cast out (2 Pet. 2:17).

Therefore, being obedient to the word, believing Christ is our only Savior, being clothed in His righteousness then we are "good" in God's eyes, and the judgment passes over us.

(Same answer provided at similar question here: BiblicalHermeneutics)

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No contradiction whatsoever!

Lord Jesus Christ healed the sinful condition that beset humanity since Adam's fall, and He healed this sinful condition for Adam himself, Eve herself and for all Adam's and Eve's descendants till the end of the history annunciated by His second advent. Thus, now, through embracing the salvific work of Christ through faith everybody can heal the fallenness of human nature through free co-working with God's working in us.

However, even if we embrace Christ and His work through faith, it does not mean that this working will proceed in us automatically and we automatically will be saved. No! We should co-act with God constantly, grow in Him constantly, otherwise we shall have a greater condemnation that unbelievers, because, yes, you guessed it right: "The servant who knows the master's will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows" and "To whom more is given, from him more will be asked" (Luke 12:47-48).

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