If you have ever sat in a courtroom or watched an episode of Judge Judy, you are well aware of one fact: what the judge says in their verdict completes the situation or dilemma. Your goose is cooked!! The judge possesses the authority to make rulings on our freedoms and guilt. Most folks our overwhelmed with anxiety as they anticipate standing before the judge. However, we usually will have the opportunity to appeal if we believe we have been treated unjustly.
Now if you can afford a slick-tongue lawyer that knows the demeanor of that particular judge or knows loop-holes in the law or within the circumstances of your case, the sentence may be lighter; or at least so it is by the rules of this nation. Many folks will say that a good lawyer can keep the guilty on the sunny side of the jail bars!
And now days, we have so much creditable videos and pictures being captured that can add some much needed input into the trial. Years ago at work as we began installing more and more video surveillance systems, I came up with the slogan for my business: “We’ll keep an eye on the creeps, so you can get your sleep!” And we get called from time to time to pull video or pictures of a suspect allegedly committing a crime. A picture can be worth a thousand words, but even a creep can somewhat hide their identity!
But you must know, our lives are about much more than what can be proven because there is a much greater set of rules and laws that separate the living from the dead! Listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:10) And we hear in 1st Peter: “They shall render an account to Him Who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For to this end was the Gospel preached also to the dead, in order that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but be living according to God in the spirit.” [1 Pe. 4:5-6] Or in other words, HE KNOWS!
Blessed Theophylact explains that passage as “‘For to this end was the Gospel preached also to the dead’ (nekroi`~ eujhggelivsqh). There are divided opinions: Either it speaks of those who die in sins who never saw life; or those who die to the world in conformance with the death of Christ, that is, dead to worldly desires, living only for Christ. Even as Paul said, ‘The life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, in that of the Son of God [Gal. 2:20].’ Those who have died to Christ themselves condemn their flesh for the negligence and remissness of their former life, but they now live in the Spirit, that is the life according to Christ....He makes mention above of those in Hades that these were preached to in prison [1 Pe. 3:19], and it is necessary also to make mention of it presently....And this preaching came to be for judgment, that is, condemnation: On the one hand, those who have the conscience of a good life He made manifest and joined together straightway; but on the other hand, the wicked of their own accord...condemned themselves. This then is the judgment of the dead. But the living enter into that imperishable life of the Lord....Some lived spiritually—after the Lord came to life again (for many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep arose)—or in good hope....At the second coming shall be the final judgment of each.” [P.G.125:375D-376D (cols. 1237, 1238).]
The Gospel of Christ tells us that we are all in need of forgiveness from God. We have all committed sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20 proclaims, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Saint John writes: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Hear me when I say that all sin is ultimately an act of rebellion against God. The great Psalmist wrote: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity (or wickedness) and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 50:4). As a result, we desperately need God’s forgiveness. If our sins are not forgiven, we will spend eternity suffering the consequences of our sins (Matthew 25:46; John 3:36).
The judge is coming, are you ready? Saint Bede writes: “God has such great concern, such great love, such great desire that we be put to death in the body, but quickened in the spirit, that He has commanded us to preach the Gospel, the word of faith, to those also who are implicated in greater crimes and justifiably must be accounted among the dead, namely, because of their self-indulgence, licentiousness, desires, drunkenness, revelings, carousals, and lawless idolatries, since even they, when they have passed judgment on, that is, rejected and put aside, their bodily desires, may be alive spiritually and may look for eternal life together with those whom the grace of the Gospel finds living innocently.” [Commentary on 1 Peter, 109.]
Here comes the Judge! Saint James writes: “Be ye also long-suffering. Make steadfast your hearts; for the coming of the Lord hath drawn near. Cease groaning against one another, brethren, in order that ye be not condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing before the door.” [Jas. 5:8-9]
The Great Judge is all knowing or omnipresent! It is time to quit being so reckless about our salvation. It is time to tremble at the realization of our sinfulness and make some changes. Listen to the words from the Book of Revelations:“And I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged out of those things having been written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead, those in her; and Death and Hades gave up the dead, those in them; and they were judged, each according to their works. And Death and Hades were cast into the lake of the fire. This death is the second one. And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of the fire.” [Rev. 20:11-15]
We offer a beautiful service of forgiveness next Sunday after trapeza but most of you won’t make time to come! Quit making excuses! There is no place to hide!! May the Great God of Mercy give us time and a hunger to repent and change! Please forgive me a sinner!