Although God’s law is a law of mercy, God will eventually use it as the standard of judgment. God has continued to provide opportunities for sinners to repent and pledge loyalty to Him, but the hour is coming when the cry will go out, Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy (Rev. 22:11, NRSV). This announcement serves as a prelude to the final judgment.
In Revelation 14:7 the first angel proclaims God’s judgment, though a number of other texts speak of Christ’s judgment (for example, Acts 17:31, 2 Tim. 4:1, 2 Cor. 5:10). How does John 5:30 help us understand the role of Jesus in judgment?
Although Christ had laid aside His Divine nature when He became human (Phil. 2:5-11), He still had a special relationship with the Father. When the religious leaders accused Him of blasphemy, He informed His accusers that God had given Him authority to fulfill specific divine tasks (John 5:19-30), one of which was judgment. The fact that Christ has been assigned the responsibility of judgment demonstrates the mercy of God. Because Christ has become one with the human race, He is in a position to judge impartially. Given His familiarity with the human experience, Christ would not condemn a person unjustly. In fact, Christ suggests that condemnation does not come from Him, but that the unrepentant sinner condemns himself when he refuses to heed the command of God (John 12:48).
Many are familiar with the content of God’s law but don’t know how to keep it. The law is not a check-list we use to see how close we are to the kingdom; instead, it is an instrument that expresses various principles of love. Fulfilling the law does not mean we obey it to gain personal favor with God, but it beckons each Christian to share the love of God with those who need it. As the standard of judgment, the law serves to measure the level of love that the individual has shared with God and humanity. When Christ presides over the final judgment, He will use God’s unchanging law of love as the standard by which to judge (James 2:12).