Thank you for the question. This is a truth not often taught and in many cases causing confusion. Let’s dive in. In the first place Christians do not have to worry about being judged for their sin. In the shedding of Jesus blood on the cross for our sin and it was dealt with forever by God, for all who call on Jesus name.
Romans 5:8-10(NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
The word justified in verse 9, means to “be regarded as just or innocent”. In simple terms it means to be declared not guilty. We understand that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). The book of Hebrews further declares for us the scope and sufficiency of Jesus sacrifice.
10By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Key here is that He was offered once, meaning past, present, and future sin is all covered. This is not to say we can continue in willful sin, but it does illustrate the wonderful continued removal of all barriers to our relationship to God. The question is one that confuses many for it is a doctrine of the Catholic Church to have to continue to pay for sin or be judged for it. Their doctrine is that Jesus sacrifice was not sufficient to remove all sin, but one must work it off here and now and after death in a realm called purgatory. Their doctrine or to suggest that Jesus sacrifice was not enough to declare the soul coming to Him “not guilty” is wildly unbiblical, diminishes the Blood of the new covenant from Jesus and diminishes His deity. If Jesus sacrifice was not sufficient to remove all sin, He is the Savior of no one. We know that He is. Christians do not have to worry about judgment for sin in the realm of punishment. In Psalm 103:1-14 we see God’s mercy clearly in the removal of sin. I would encourage you read all of it, but here are two highlights.
Psalms 103:1-3(NKJV) 1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
Psalms 103:10-14(NKJV) 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
One might honestly suggest that this could lead a person to willful sin, just because we are forgiven. I would say sadly that if a person does not understand what salvation is for this could be the case, but what of sin that occurs after we are saved? In the first place we must grasp that the forgiveness we have in Christ does not come unless we repent, meaning we must turn from sin, the world and our way of living (Darkness) and turn towards God (Light). Jesus called us to repentance and so did His disciples. Peter in Acts 2:38 tells those who want to be saved to “repent and be baptized, receive forgiveness and receive the Holy Spirit. Repentance is a sign of true belief, followed by tangible action (baptism). We must grasp that in our culture we have done a disservice to many by not preaching repentance, which is the turning away from your old sinful habit of life and walking toward God, this is a change of heart that can be seen. Without the fruit of repentance we cannot assume forgiveness. Repentance is also seen in the realm of sin after we are saved.
1 John 1:6-9(NKJV) 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
In these verses we see again that as we walk in the light (a walk of repentance, abiding in Jesus) we have the forgiveness of all sin. This is as stated above, “if we confess our sins”. Here we see that a person who has a repentant heart will recognize their sin, confess it and in faith receive forgiveness already granted in Jesus at the cross. This should not cause us to have and irrational fear, but a holy reverence for God and appreciation for our relationship to Him. We want to have no hindrance between us, we desire to be cleansed and transformed, we confess.
In light of all of the above, Christians will still face judgment, just not for punishment. In II Corinthians 5:10, we know that all will face the judgment seat of Christ, ours as believers is simply different from that of unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15(NKJV) 12Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Here we can see that it is our works for Christ that will be judged, and if good a reward given, if not they will be seen for what there were….chaff in which we wasted our time and in many cases His grace. I personally believe we will all see selfishness not sanctified, missed opportunities and in many cases good things Jesus did through us, the point is our life for Jesus is being recorded. Ephesians 2:8-10, lays it out. Verse 8 tells us we are saved by grace and that through Jesus on the cross. Verse ten tells us what we are saved for… good works that He ordered for us to do before we knew Him. We are judge for how well we walked in them. If not done in Him we will suffer loss knowing we blew an opportunity, yet not to lose what Jesus has given us freely. Truly sin in our life should not be willful and a continual paradigm. We should be improving by His grace in a walk of Holiness, by the Holy Spirit in us, but our sin in an attempt to follow Him should keep remaining us of the preciousness of His grace. Far too often Christians either are terrified of messing up or don’t care if they do at all.
To wrap up, we must not diminish Jesus all sufficient sacrifice to pay and remove all sin, on the other hand we must not continue in sin just because we have grace. A true born again heart is grieved at the sin they still commit and desire it to be not only forgiven, but cease in the sin as a sign of God’s powerful redemptive work in them. Truth be told, to many Christians think they have a get out of jail free card. Sadly their card is just a fake as the one in the board game. Jesus calls us to confess and be continually cleansed and transformed.