With all this talk about judgment, Christians may ask, “What about the grace of God?” Some Christians misunderstand grace. Yes, God will be merciful now, but at the judgment seat of Christ He will show mercy only to the merciful (“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”). God will be patient with the proud Christian today, but He will give the kingdom to the meek and the proud will be totally excluded from any inheritance in it (“Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”).
God is gracious as a Father now because He is longsuffering toward His sinful children as they are slowly conformed to the image of Christ. Now He deals with us according to our faith. However, at the judgment seat, He will reward us according to our works. If we persist in unbelief and live according to the flesh, we will not receive the rewards reserved for the obedient and holy.
“Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). If we persist in sin, then we do not understand the unique position a child of God occupies in Christ. If we persist in loving our sins, we are hypocrites and will die the death of hypocrites (Matt. 24:45-51). God gives grace to help us become sons of God who overcome sin. If we don’t see grace in this way, we will abuse it.
God will not compromise His principles that prepare us to approach Him in joy at the judgment seat. If we sow to the flesh, we will indeed reap corruption. In that sad state we will be filled with shame and remorse, not to mention horror, at the judgment. If we sow to the spirit, we will reap eternal life. (This should give you a clue that there is more than one “eternal life.” We already know that God grants eternal life to those who believe in Jesus. Another aspect of eternal life is reserved for a faithful believer in the coming kingdom of God.)
Scripture says that God knows the proud afar off, and the humble He will lift up. If we say that by His grace He will treat both the same, we make God a liar. If we confess Jesus, Jesus will confess us. If we deny Him, He will deny us (Matt. 10:32-33). If we say that He will not follow through on His warning because of grace, we make God a liar.
God indeed is gracious toward His children. But His grace helps us overcome sin, and it is not be used as an excuse to continue in sin.