16. The Judge’s Judgment on the Evil Ones (Matthew 25:41-46)
41 Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ 44 “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (John 5:29, James 2:13, Revelation 20:10, 15)
When pondering the last judgment, one may ask if the good were perfectly good and the evil were only partially evil. Don't the good frequently sin, and don't the evil occasionally help? Dear friend, all the good were wicked in their nature, but the blood of Christ justified them, and in response to their faith, the Spirit of God filled them with good deeds of righteousness. They were saved by their faith not by their works.
However, they became good and were accepted through their faith in Christ. He atoned for their sin, so they could be purified, changed by the Holy Spirit and become saints. No trace of their sins remained after their justification. The Holy Spirit then created good works in them, and Christ continued to cleanse them daily throughout their lives.
Yet, the evil remained evil, for every man is evil if measured by God's holiness. Fortunately, God planned for the salvation of evil men by Christ's death to atone for their sin. But those who rejected Him couldn't know the power of sanctification, and neglected their cure. Therefore, their works remained selfish and their own righteousness was merely hypocrisy.
In His mercy, Christ identified with the poor and desperate. When judging sinners, He said that they neither loved Him nor served Him when He was hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, a stranger, or imprisoned. They protested that they had never seen Him in trouble or in need of help. The Lord explained to them that by neglecting the needy, they had also neglected Him. Therefore, all their works were useless for they had cared for themselves and their kindred more than they had done for Christ and His followers. The center of their lives was not Christ, but themselves, their money, and their social position.
He who rejects the Savior hardens his heart against the Spirit of God's love. The devil then fills him with conceit, and he becomes one of his perverse followers. Christ did not simply call these men evil, but "angels of the devil." What a harsh name! He also called them, "you cursed," because as sons and servants of Satan, they opened their lives to lying, adultery, deception, hatred, and vengeance.
Heaven is life, it is holy happiness. The life of our souls depends upon union with God through the mediation of Jesus Christ; just as our bodies depend upon union with the soul. Heavenly life will be existence in the presence of God, in perfect conformity and communion with Him. It is called "eternal" life because death can't end it, nor old age spoil the comfort of it, nor any sorrow embitter it. Thus, life and death, good and evil, blessing and curse, are set before us that we may choose our way. What we choose matters!
Dear friend, Christ is the only Savior of the world. He forgave you your sins. Believe in His power that His love may overcome your selfishness and make you a light of God and a child of the Most High. Then you will not crave honor or luxury, but rather humble yourself to become the least of the saints, someone who prays to God for your enemies. It is the Spirit of God who makes you a peacemaker and establishes you in eternal life. Turn away from despair and destruction with no hope of paradise! Know that the righteous in Christ will shine like the sun, for Christ dwells in them and covers them with His love, truth, and holiness. He will embrace them joyfully when they enter His presence, for God's eternal image appears in them.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, You have risen from the dead. We glorify You and praise You, because You redeemed us and saved us from our sins. The devil has no power over us. You overcame the seed of death in our corrupt bodies, and redeemed us not with silver or gold but with Your sufferings and death that we might be Yours and live in Your kingdom with all the saints in the fullness of Your power. You rose from the dead, and You live and rule with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Grant that we may touch the lives of all our neighbors, friends, and enemies that they may repent, believe in You, and be renewed and sanctified by Your grace.
QUESTION 233: Why will the good appear without sins and the wicked appear evil on judgment day?