Cases, Contradictions, and Testimonies Presented Before God

03 Sep

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in his word:

For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Romans 14:7-11)

There seems to be a contradiction in Paul’s thinking here. First he says that Christ died and rose again, “to the end of” making us his, and we know from what Paul has written in the past that this means dying to self and living in Christ… So then, why does Paul bring out that everyone will have to stand before God and give a testimony of his/her life, as if it was some sort of threat that would make them work harder at being perfect. Which is it? Is Paul saying we are Christs’, or do we have to be perfect, because after all, we all will have to stand before God and tell him all our sins if we’re not perfect. It’s one or the other.

First, is the Paul contradicting himself? … If he is, how can we trust anything he says? After all, if he contradicts himself here, how can we be sure any of what he says in place, lines up with something he says in another place in the bible?

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:12-13)

First let’s look at what Paul says about the question of works or being saved in Colossians:

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (Colossians 1:28)

Do things make a little more sense now? Everyone will have to give a testimony of their life before God and they’ll say how they’re perfect in Christ, horrible without him. – But even so, Paul is saying ‘everyone will have to stand before God’ as if what we do will matter! In other words, the question now becomes, “Does Christs’ giving his life for us mean we no longer have to do anything, and basically have the right now to do whatever we want?”

Second, can we do whatever we want, or will we still have to answer for what we did even if Christ does cover us? …

Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. (Romans 14:18-21)

We’re covered in Jesus’ blood, meaning that now nothing will, as Paul puts it in Corinthians, “master” us. But because we still live in a body of flesh, we will fall. Paul’s point of view on the subject is clear:

2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 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. (Romans 6:2-4)

My point being that Christs’ blood covers us yes, but that’s not an excuse to sin. We will all have to stand before God and give a testimony, yes also true, but Paul only uses this as a sort of reminder, not that if we don’t ‘shape up right this instant’ our salvation could be lost, but more towards in this way, “you’ve died to sin, don’t you remember that you’ll have to stand before God at some point?”. He’s reminding them that yes, they are in Christ and our saved, but that they should now quote, “live like it” now as well. Which in their case, meant not eating certain types of food, etc. In our case, this could mean almost anything. Depending on what your “case” actually is.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland


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