Question: If all my sins are forgiven and washed away then when I reach Heaven why will I still have to give an account for everything I said and did? I don’t even know how I’ll do this because I’ve forgotten so much I won’t even know what to say. The whole thought gives me anxiety, because I think all I’m going to be able to say is “I don’t know, I was awful, I don’t even remember that”
So this is a common Christian concern, and I’m glad I get to answer it. It’s easy when you minister to be thinking about something, say it, and the devil will try to twist in the ears of the believer. Then it becomes bondage. Now, mind you, I’m not blaming the hearer. It could be the speaker, but with these types of questions, they often arise even as people read the scripture. This is why a little bit to address it goes a long way.
Romans 14:10-12 (NASB) says, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.’ So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” The first thing to take note of here is who this is addressing. This is written to believers in the context of judging other believers. Not to be so quick to judge their actions based on our own ideas. This is not talking about things the Bible calls sinful. When we say every person will give an account, the implication is not specifically sinful deeds, but what did you do with what God has asked of or given you?
Yes it’s true sins are forgiven. This does not mean we are free to live haphazard and careless lives but as 1 John 1:9 (NASB) says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So of course we are forgiven of our sins, and there is an importance in confessing them, however what about all this giving an account of ourselves business? Well this, is haired of a different color!
As Christians we are called to live righteously and the easiest way that I can put that is like this: we are called to live right before God. This is not a call to perfection, God knew we wouldn’t do that. It’s a call not to squander our salvation. Hebrews 2:3 (NASB) says, “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?“ How would one neglect their salvation? By thinking lightly of it. By not allowing it to shape them. By ignoring the fact that God didn’t just call us to repentance but to work and live for Him. By not taking up their cross daily. By not obeying His commands.
As a pastor, I get the not always fun job of encouraging people toward the work of the Lord. I say not always fun because as I have learned, people generally are not fond of others giving them something to do. Though that is never my goal, or frankly my job, I do have the job of teaching, exhorting, encouraging, and even correcting. 2 Timothy 4:2 (NASB) instructs preachers, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” One of the ways we often do that is by means of an important reminder. Don’t get slack in your service to God. And when you do something in the name of the Lord, make sure it’s what He wants you to do. Why? Because you will stand before Him and this He will judge. In fact, I believe that this is the only judgement true Christians will face. That because we already have the promise of eternal life.
This judge meant is better understood as job performance. God expects we will do our best to follow Him. If we are, then there is no fear, we will stand before Him confidently. But the only way to be confident, is to do your best to evaluate your life continually. I am not promoting always looking for failure. I’m suggesting watching for course adjustments as needed. This is not a bad or sad thing, if someone cares. But people have to also know that it’s a thing. Do your best, be open for correction, live humbly, and you will be able to stand before the Lord with confidence. Not smugness, arrogance, or pride, but sure that you did your best with what He gave you to do, as you sought Him for direction.