What happens when we die? People have many opinions on the subject, but God’s Word, the Bible, teaches that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Since the next thing for us after death is God’s judgment, how do you wish to be judged by God?
If you wish to be judged on the basis of God’s law, you should know that God demands perfect obedience. The Bible says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20); and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). And, lest you think that you have not broken God’s law, the Bible also tells us that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
My point is that God does not use averages or grade on a curve! His law condemns all who break His commandments in any point (cf. Galatians 3:10); and who among us can claim perfect love for God and neighbor and no sin in thoughts, desires, words or deeds?
The Bible explains further in Romans 3:19-20: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
If you wish to be judged under God’s law — on the basis of your life and good deeds — you stand condemned to the eternal torments of hell! You just don’t measure up; none of us do.
But there is another way to be judged and to be counted righteous, holy and acceptable in God’s sight: through faith in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior!
In order that we not be condemned for our sins, God provided a substitute — His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary and made true man — to fulfill all the righteous demands of God’s law for us and then to take our sin and guilt upon Himself and suffer upon the cross our just punishment (cf. Galatians 4:4-5).
The Bible tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6); “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4); and that “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2).
Therefore, when we acknowledge our own sin and guilt under God’s law and look instead to Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), God deals with us in grace and mercy. He pardons and forgives our sins because Jesus already suffered our just punishment under the law. He counts us righteous and holy because Christ Jesus fulfilled all the demands of the law in our stead. Instead of condemning us under the law, God declares us just and righteous for Jesus’ sake!
The Bible speaks of this when it says (Romans 3:21-26): “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
And so, what happens when we die and are judged of God? If we are judged under the law on the basis of our own works and merits, we are condemned to the eternal death and condemnation demanded by God’s perfect law. If we die, trusting in Christ Jesus and what He accomplished for all upon the cross, we stand acquitted, innocent and righteous in God’s sight solely for Jesus’ sake (cf. Colossians 1:19-23).
It is as Jesus said in John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Jesus also said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
[Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible]