Judgment and Government.
IT is very important for newly born souls to distinguish clearly between Judgment and Government. The moment I accept the truth of my condition as a poor sinner before God, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, I am entitled to know that there is no condemnation for me; for the very simple reason, that the Word of God tells me that the condemnation due to me has been already borne by my blessed substitute Jesus, and God has cleared me from all my guilt because of the work of Christ. "He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me," says the Lord, "hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life." (John v. 24.) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," says the Holy Ghost. (Romans viii. 1.) "Herein is love with us (margin) made perfect," says the same infallible witness (1 John iv. 17,) "that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world."
The same Christ that died for us, and "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Pet. ii. 24) has risen from the dead and has imparted to us His own life (1 John, v. 11). He is the One to whom all judgment has been committed. (John v. 22.) He cannot therefore condemn us, for in doing so, He must judge His Own work—His Own life—Himself. We can boldly say, "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth,—who is he that condemneth?" (Romans viii. 33, 34.) And moreover, when the dead stand before God in that awfully solemn day of the great white throne, to receive for the things done in the body, we shall have been for more than a thousand years in glory, in the image of our Lord; and seated with Him on His throne, reigning with Him (Rev. xx. 4, 6,) ourselves judges. (1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.) The weakest babe in Christ has no need of uneasiness on that score, but may rejoice in the fullest sense of liberty from condemnation.
Quite distinct from this, is the Father's government of His child. This is confined to this present scene, as it says, in 1 Peter i. 17, "And if ye call on the Father, who, without respect of persons, judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear," &c. The moment I become a child of God, I become subject to my Father's government, and a more tender, loving, and yet faithful Parent could not be. He knows the difficulties of His child; He knows that he has the flesh in him to contend with, the evil nature that never can be better. Flesh and Spirit are there, and the tendencies of the two are precisely opposite. (Gal. v. 17) "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," (Rom. viii. 2) delighting to do the will of God, and the natural man still seeking its own will. He has given me the Spirit, that I may walk in the Spirit and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh; but if failure comes, and alas, it does, "for in many things we offend all," He deals with me as His child, using, if it be needed, and in love to me, His rod. Thus, though there is no condemnation for me in the world to come, it is well for me to remember that my Father expects from me a walk here consistent with His own holiness, and does not permit to go unnoticed any indulgence or outbreak of the flesh that still is in me. A word applied by the Spirit to the conscience may be sufficient at times to produce self-judgment and restore communion. At times, it may be needful to apply the rod, and this the more severely, the deeper the giving way to flesh. In such case, humiliation and confession will alone avail to restore intercourse between the erring child and its Father.
May we then, who are Christ's, and who have ceased to fear the judgment after death, seeing Christ was once offered to bear our sins (Heb. ix. 27, 28), endeavour so to walk in the fear of our holy Father, keeping our old man in the place of death, and never taking the eye off our glorified Saviour, that we may ever have His voice speaking to us in communiοn and joy and encouragement, and not need the rod in love to bring us to repentance. "Happy is the man," says the Proverb (xxviii. 14), "that feareth alway."
“Words of Truth” 1870