If all our sins are forgiven, what exactly will our judgment be when we stand before God?
It’s clear in Scripture that, if we believe that the Lord Jesus died as our substitutionary sacrifice and that He was raised from the dead, all of our sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven (1 Cor. 15:1–8). Romans 8:1 says: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Trust in the Lord Jesus establishes for us a forever-forgiven relationship with God. Nevertheless, in this life, we will continue to sin (1 John 1:8, 10) but hopefully less and less as we grow. When we sin, we break fellowship with God, but never our relationship. Therefore, we need to confess our sins directly to God (1 John 1:9) to restore our fellowship with Him. Confession of sin renews our walk with God and restores our lines of communication. Our relationship with God is established when we trust in Jesus, and our fellowship is repeatedly renewed and restored when we confess our sins.
As for our judgment before God, even followers of Jesus who are eternally forgiven will stand before Him at the Bema (Judgment) Seat. Paul writes, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). This refers to the judgment of a genuine believer’s works. When we stand before the Lord at this tribunal, the judgment will be like fire, testing “the quality of each person’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13). If our works endure the fire of judgment, we will receive a reward. But if our works are burned up, we will experience a sense of loss. Paul assures us that this person, whose work is burned up, still “will be saved” (1 Cor. 3:15). Clearly, the Bema Seat of Christ is a judgment of the believer’s works, leading to a reward or loss of reward, not an eternal judgment, leading to salvation or condemnation.
In my opinion, the greatest reward to be received is to one day hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:21). And should we receive crowns as rewards, we will only cast them at the feet of the Lord Jesus who deserves all the credit, since all we have done or accomplished is of His grace alone.