the final judgments
Conviction comes through the Holy Spirit because there are many people do not see what is right on their own. They don’t see their sin, unrighteousness, or need for judgment. That is why Christians filled with the Holy Spirit should speak on these matters.
It can feel unloving to tell people about the coming judgment. But since one way or another everyone will face the reality that there is a literal Heaven and Hell, it is an act of love when Christians warn people about Hell. God doesn’t want any man to perish but desires for all to repent. The only way that repentance can happen is if the Gospel is preached and the Holy Spirit convicts. For those who reject the Gospel or never hear it, they will face the coming judgment of God.
The Judgment of Saints
Before getting to Revelation 20 and the judgment of sinners, it can be helpful to start by reading Romans 14:10, 12. There, the judgment of saints can be seen.
“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…So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
This is a different type of judgment than the ones Satan and sinners will face. Jesus lived a perfect life, died on a cross, and rose from the dead, and this leads to the complete forgiveness of sins that Christians enjoy. All Christians have been cleansed by His blood and are clothed in His righteousness.
Yet even so, in some sense, the redeemed will have to give an account to God of their actions. This is not to gain entrance into Heaven. Instead, it is a matter of heavenly rewards being granted to those who were faithful and obedient during their time on Earth.
The Judgment of Satan
Then, as was discussed last week, Revelation 20:10 reveals a glimpse of what the judgment of Satan will look like.
“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Satan will be justly punished for his lies and deception. After the Fall in Genesis 3, God promised that someday Satan would be bruised on the head and defeated forevermore. No matter the power the devil has today, his future inevitably consists of being judged by Jesus and cast into Hell for eternity.
The Judgment of Sinners
In Revelation 20:11–15, a depiction is given of the judgment that awaits the unrepentant sinners. Like Satan, they will have no case before God because they will be completely dependent on their own righteousness which can never be enough.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
God’s judgment of sinners here is done sovereignly. He sits on a great white throne that represents His magnificent power and perfect holiness. As the result of these qualities and His omniscience—which has been referenced throughout Revelation—God is the only one in a position to judge as He is sinless and knows all things. In short, He judges sovereignly.
He also judges sinners systematically. He has perfect knowledge of every action and inaction. Every right and every wrong. He also knows who has repented and placed their faith in Jesus and who has not. God cannot be deceived. Through His perfect knowledge, God has created a Book of Life that details who has been welcomed into His family and who remains His enemy. God isn’t an arbitrary judge; He’s a systematic one.
Lastly, God will judge sinners severely. Each and every sin is a transgression against the holy God. Therefore, each and every sin is more severe than any human can imagine. Due to the severity of every sin, it follows that sin will be punished with severity. When the time comes, every sinner who did not come to know Jesus as their personal Savior will be thrown into the lake of fire. The judgment is severe because sinning warrants severe consequences.
Knowledge of this judgment should encourage every Christian to share the Gospel far and wide, seeking to reach as many lost people with the Good News of Jesus before they face this judgment. And, Christians should pray that when sinners hear of this coming judgment that they turn to Christ as the only one who can save them and the only one who can bring peace and joy on this earth.