Summary: I did this Bible study for the men's Bible study group I'm in
Highlight - Highlight the verse that speaks to you
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil .” 2 Corinthians 5:10 (CSB)
Explain - Explain what this passage means
In this verse the apostle Paul makes a reference to the Jewish Old Testament image of the day of judgment when we will all come before the ultimate judgment seat of Christ. The fact that “we must all appear” before this seat should inspire everyone to do work that will be pleasing in the sight of God. The day will come for all of us when we will stand before God. Those who appear before the seat will be rewarded for how faithfully they served God, or fail to receive rewards due to disobedience & sin.
First we should determine to whom this verse applies. Paul wrote that “we must all appear” so that means everyone who lived, right? The only other place in the Bible where we find the phrase “judgment seat of Christ” is the 14th chapter of Romans. Romans 14:10 tells us “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Given this context the judgment seat of Christ will be for believers only. The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us “Now he [apostle Paul] affirmed that all Christians will be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ. Believers will be recompensed for the things they have done in their earthly lives.”
While salvation is guaranteed we will all be held accountable for our actions. Hebrews 4:27 says, “...it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” It's the actions of the believers' works that are being judged here, not their sins. If the sinner has asked for forgiveness God no longer holds those acts against them. Sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ & God will remember them no more. (1 John 1:7, Hebrews 9:14, Matthew 26:28, Isaiah 43:25) We are righteous new creations in Christ. (Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 5:21)
Isaiah 43:25: “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!”
We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for faithfulness. The actions for which believers will be judged include the thoughts the man has had, words spoken, as well as the physical things he did while in the body. Paul knew that he would be evaluated one day by his Master & wanted to please Him by doing good things that were according to the will of God. He desired to hear God say, “Well done, good & faithful servant.” The fact that he knew God would judge him based on faithfulness enabled Paul to persevere in times of hardship. Which were many for him.
How will believers be repaid for good works? Those who profess faith in Christ will receive "crowns" for different things based on how faithfully they have served. Among the crowns are an "imperishable crown" for faithful endurance through trials (1 Corinthians 9:24-25); a "crown of rejoicing" which Paul speaks of as the presence in heaven of others whom we loved as he did (1 Thessalonians 2:19); a "crown of righteousness" for our faith in the Lord as our only pure source of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8); a "crown of glory" with which we will participate in the glory of God (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17); and the "crown of life" which is the promise of eternal life through Christ (1 John 2:25; James 1:12).
While we may be able to conceal wickedness from other people we will not have that option with Jesus who knows & sees everything. Hebrews 4:13 tells us, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Anything you want to hide will be revealed when you are before Jesus.
Apply - Apply what God is saying in these verses to your life
This verse tells us that we will all be held accountable for things we do in life. We should only do things that are pleasing to God. (2 Corinthians 5:9) Being recognized for good works & receiving rewards is something people naturally want. These things make us feel good about ourselves. We read here that Christ will reward us for faithful service to God. However it also states that rewards will be withheld for bad (sinful) activities. Knowing we will be held accountable should direct us to do what will be considered right in the eyes of God. It should also persuade us listen more closely to the Spirit when He directs us in life. The Holy Spirit will put a sense of conviction in our hearts when we stray from the path of God. The New Life Application commentary says “God’s gift of salvation does not free Christians from the requirement of faithful obedience to Christ. Christians must give an account for how they have lived in this body.”