“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
for judgment to begin at the house of God
“Judgment” here is the persecution Asian Minor Christians were about to undergo. Part of God’s design for allowing persecution was to bring Christians who stepped out of a walk with God back into fellowship (Hebrews 12:6,7).
The phrase “the house of God” refers to the church or the family of God. God judges the church. This is judgment in time, not eternity. God’s assessment of the church is a purifying judgment.
God judges the church in time, not in eternity.
When the church confesses its sins, it is free to enter fellowship again. We have the judicial right to enter that fellowship because of the death of Christ. God is free to forgive because Jesus took all the penalty necessary to deal with sin judicially. God not only forgives us in confession, but he cleanses us as well (1 Jn 1:7,9). God, the Father, passed judgment on our sins when Christ was on the cross (1 Pe 2:24).
Every sin that we have ever committed has a penalty attached to it. Jesus took that penalty. He took the full wrath of God for sin. That is why we do not have to pay for sin. For us to get back into fellowship, we do not pay penance but confess (acknowledge) that that sin took Jesus to the cross.
Confession means that I acknowledge that the judgment has already been passed on Christ, and admission is my recognition of the existence of Christ’s judgment for my sin. We recognize the reality of judgment by simply confessing a sin.
If we feel sorry for sins, we punish ourselves. This detracts from the suffering of Christ (Ga 2:21). We put ourselves in the place of suffering for sin. That is what we call “human works for restoration to fellowship.” When Christ hung on the cross, the Father accepted the judgment for our sins. Penitence is a system of paying for sin. It is a subtle system for intruding on the finished work of Christ.
If we do not confess sin as Christians, God will bring us back into fellowship in his way. Discipline is not a matter of punishment. Jesus already took the punishment. Discipline is a family matter. It is not a question of whether we are in the family; it is a matter of our status in the family.
Some people think that they have a particular “in” with God. They try to figure out what God likes and then give it to him. They ante in their 10% to get a girlfriend. This is not Christianity. This is legalism and religion.
We deal with our sins the same way we did when we became Christians. By faith, we accept the finished work of Christ to forgive our sins. We need to realize that God is satisfied with the death of Christ for our sins (propitiation).
Most of us are spiritually flabby. We cater to our flesh. We do not like to buffet our bodies or to keep it under (1 Co 9:27). We want to give it free rein. It is human nature to be easy on ourselves. We do not keep short accounts with God. Why not begin today to walk with God by daily confessing your sin?