Centered on Christ
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Centered on Christ

God Will Judge Each Person By What They Have Done

A wood-paneled courtroom.
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5–11)

Those who continued to reject God were storing up His wrath for themselves. They despised His goodness and thought they would be judged differently because they pointed out the wickedness in others.

God, however, would judge in truth according to each person’s deeds.

There will only be two groups and two “rewards.”

Eternal life to those who do good.

Those who do good seek (or thoroughly search) for glory, honor, and immortality.

They are focused on the glory of God and not the glory of themselves (Matthew 5:16). They do good to honor God and not to bring honor upon themselves. They do good because they seek the immortality found only in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:51–57).

It is implied that those who do good are not self-seeking and obey the truth (Romans 2:8).

Eternal life will be rendered (rewarded) to those who do good and seek the things of God. While doing good does not earn one’s salvation, it cannot be denied that the things we do (or don’t do) will factor into our judgment.

In becoming Christians, we might be tempted to flaunt our works before God, as somehow making us worthy of salvation, but they are no more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6; NIV). The evidence is, however, overwhelming in the New Testament that God’s judgment of us after having become Christians will be on the basis of works (Matthew 7:21; 16:27; 25:31–46; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7–9; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 2:23). — Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 80–81

Wrath to those who do evil.

The second group will receive a drastically different reward for their deeds because their deeds are very different.

These individuals are self-seeking and obey unrighteousness rather than truth. Because of what they do, they bring God’s indignation and judicial wrath upon themselves.

These have decided to live life their way, on their terms. And they will stand before God without Jesus Christ representing them.

The man or woman outside of Christ will have to face the demand for flawless living. You see, those outside of Christ choose to stand on their own performance. Without Christ as their representative they have only their own record to appeal to. To those without Christ transgressions are imputed but to those who are justified by faith in Christ sins are not imputed (Romans 4:8). — McGuiggan, Romans, 93

There is no partiality with God.

Sometimes judges today will give a lighter sentence — or no sentence — because the person being tried is rich, famous, or influential. Sometimes justice is corrupted because the person has a different skin color, is from a different cultural background, or is poor.

Not so with God (Acts 10:34–35).

God’s judgment is not based on what you look like, how wealthy you are, how many social media followers you have, or how many people you manage at your job.

God simply looks at what you have done (2 Corinthians 5:10).

It’s essential to remember what Paul has done so far in Romans.

  • He has shown the value and importance of the gospel of Christ.
  • He has shown the sinfulness of the Gentile world and that God will judge them for their sin.
  • Now Paul is showing that even those who claimed to be more “moral” — like the Jews and some Gentiles — were still going to stand before the Judge and be judged without partiality for their sins.

Even someone who strives to do good has sinned (Romans 3:23). Paul is in the middle of making a significant point: no matter who you are, you cannot stand before God and be justified without Jesus Christ and His blood.

We mustn’t suppose that Paul is suggesting that men will stand justified before God on the ground that they tried to be good. That would be explicitly contrary to what Paul says in [Romans] 3:20. No, Paul is insisting that those who are outside of Christ will be judged on their performance — it must be flawless — rather than on their “judgment” of others. It is also true that those who will, in the end, be saved before God are those who pursue a life of holiness. This is what John had in mind in 1 John 3:7 when he said: “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” — McGuiggan, Romans, 93–94

Good deeds on their own are useless as far as standing before the judge is concerned. If you have sinned, then thousands of good deeds will never wipe away the fact that you have sinned and deserve death (Romans 6:23).

It is only in Jesus Christ that good deeds will be rewarded by God with eternal life.



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