For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
As Royal Family of God, every believer is a royal ambassador for God on earth. Therefore, whether you are a good ambassador or a bad ambassador you still represent God. No believer lives strictly for self, because all believers are part of the royal family. All believers have freedom to advance to maturity but all believers do not use that freedom to follow the plan of God for such an advance. Some believers are positive toward doctrine; some are negative. By living for God we discover the true meaning of life, we have capacity, we have blessing and reward in life from the justice of God. In having these things we glorify God. And, if we have executed God’s plan, purpose and will we will also glorify God in our death. Living grace prepares the advancing believer for dying grace.
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Jesus Christ is the believer’s Lord because of union with Him. The Resurrection guarantees Christ’s lordship over the Church. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. But that title is shortened down to one word: Lord. Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of the Father is the victor of the Angelic Conflict and He carries the title “Lord.” The Ascension to Heaven after the Resurrection marked the culmination of Christ’s Exaltation. (Ephesians 1:19-23) Exaltation means that God the Father has exalted His Son above every creature and given Him a name that is above every name and the title of Lord of lords and King of kings. (Philippians 2:9-11)
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.
This verse sets up a contrast between the strong believer and the weak believer, which is still the subject of these passages. The Royal Family of God Honor Code demands loving all believers, which means respect for their privacy and toleration of their non-essential opinions. This is the relaxed mental attitude love which is commanded to all believers and fulfilled by the filling of the Spirit and through Bible doctrine resident in the soul. Treating people on the basis of your own standards and not theirs is the basis for executing impersonal love for fellow believers.
There is coming a time when every believer will stand before Jesus Christ to be evaluated. This evaluation is not based on our sins or our human works. It is based, instead, on our response to God’s plan for us to learn and apply His Word and to grow up spiritually.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for believers only and takes place some time shortly after the Rapture of the Church. At the Rapture, all living and dead believers from the Church Age will meet Jesus Christ in the air and will be led in a processional to Heaven. All believers will have received a glorified body like Christ’s, fully conscious, fully recognizable and with increased knowledge. God’s Word seems to indicate that there will then be a time of celebration, when we worship and praise our Savior. (I Corinthians 4:5; 15:51-54; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 3:21)
Scripture tells us that our Savior has already departed to prepare a dwelling place for us, the Bride of Christ (as we will be called in Heaven). But before the Lord can reveal all that will be ours for the eternal state, we must all be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is during our evaluation that we will suffer shame for those failed opportunities to fulfill our spiritual lives. (John 14:1-3; II Corinthians 5:8-10)
Most of us, as believers in Christ, will never receive recognition in this life for our accomplishments, but I assure you that this will not be the case in eternity. There is going to be great inequality in the eternal state for believers. It is only our fulfillment of God’s plan under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that will be rewardable in eternity, not our human good works. Only divine production is rewardable. All divine production is a matter of God’s grace and is never based on human works. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly. As a believer you cannot lose your salvation and you will be happy for all eternity regardless if you live your spiritual life or not. But what a tragic waste of a life and what a tremendous loss of rewards. But most tragic of all is when you stand face to face with Jesus Christ and have to explain to Him why you failed to glorify Him while you were here on earth. Now is the time for believers to get serious about Bible doctrine. (II Timothy 2:11-13; Isaiah 45:23)
The conflict and strife over non-essential opinions is ridiculous. There are so many things in life that are not essential, and doctrine is essential. We should be inflexible not only about doctrine but about our intake of doctrine. Paul in his dissertation neither condemns nor approves the food taboos and the observation of holy days (non-essentials). The real issue is the fact that no two believers have achieved the same stage of spiritual growth and that the only way they can advance is through doctrine (essential).
Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
The weak believer is guilty of judging because of ignorance of doctrine. Ignorance of doctrine always causes the individual to be inflexible with regard to the non-essentials, and once you are inflexible with regard to the non-essentials you are totally divorced from reality. Non-essentials become very important and you take a very strong stand on the non-essentials when you have no doctrine to change your scale of values.
The weak believer is ignorant of doctrine, therefore his/her norms and standards are formed from his/her background, his/her environment, training, and human influence resulting in human viewpoint thinking. With false or erroneous norms and standards it is impossible for the weak believer to be accurate or correct in his/her evaluation of anything. But evaluation of others is not the issue. The real issue is the Royal Family Honor Code which demands that all believers be given the privacy of their priesthood and be loved (impersonal love) by you.
There is a second command to the strong believer in this verse: to be sensitive and thoughtful where others are concerned, to be aware that other people have feelings; to be sensitive to the situation and to the circumstances of the weak believer whose ignorance of doctrine results in numerous non-essential opinions and judgments. As you begin to grow spiritually you become aware of the feelings of other people and you make their feelings much more important than your own. If you are growing, you can swallow your pride almost on any occasion.
A weak believer must recognize the privacy of a strong believer, while the strong believer must demonstrate impersonal love and tolerance to the weak believer. In this way both the weak and the strong believer conform to the Royal Family of God Honor Code. The honor code application for the weak believer is respect for the privacy of the strong believer. The honor code application for the strong believer is impersonal love directed toward the weak believer, flexibility. To avoid placing an obstacle or distraction before the weak believer the strong believer must apply an honor code principle: impersonal love.
The more you advance spiritually the greater becomes your responsibility under the honor code. Advance means increased responsibility. There will be times when the Law of Love supersedes the Law of Liberty. Thoughtfulness of others and sensitivity to the feelings of others is not only a Christian virtue but a necessity. It is taking responsibility as you mature. Being responsible for those who have not reached maturity and not distracting them.