1.1 The Purpose of Judgment
The judgment seat of Christ is not a means by which the Father and Son gather information about us, consider it and then give a verdict. It will be for our benefit. Our behaviour is constantly analyzed by them and 'judged'. The idea of sitting upon a judgment seat or giving judgment doesn't necessarily involve the idea of weighing up evidence. To 'judge' can mean simply to pronounce the final verdict, which the judge has long since known; not to weigh up evidence (consider Mt. 7:2; Jn. 3:18; 5:22; 7:24,51; 8:15,16,26; 16:11; 18:31; Acts 7:7; 23:3; 24:6 Gk.; Rom. 2:12; 3:7; 1 Cor. 11:31; 2 Thess. 2:12; Heb. 10:30; 13:4; 1 Pet. 4:6; James 5:10,22).
‘Judge’ = to pronounce the final verdict,
not weigh up evidence
“He that believeth on him is not condemned [judged]” (Jn. 3:18)
“Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” (Jn. 7:51)
“Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to out any man to death” (Jn. 18:31)
“If we should judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31)
“That they all might be damned [judged] who believed not the truth” (2 Thess. 2:12).
Pilate sitting on judgment seat = to pronounce verdict (Jn. 19:13)
“The Lord standeth to judge the people” (Is. 3:13) = to pronounce verdict
“I will call...the kingdoms of the north [Babylon]...and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem...and I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness” (Jer. 1:15,16).
All these passages are impressive evidence that 'the judgment seat' isn't the weighing up of evidence which we may tend to think of it as. Pilate sat on the judgment seat not to weigh up evidence but to pronounce the verdict (Jn. 19:13). Herod sat on the judgment seat in order to make "an oration" to the people, supposedly on God's behalf (Acts 12:21 RVmg.). It wasn't to weigh up any evidence- it was to make a statement. And thus it will be in the final judgment. Also, "judge" is often used in the sense of 'to condemn'- not to just consider evidence (e.g. Mt. 7:2; Rom. 3:7; 2 Thess. 2:17). The trial of our faith is going on now; the judgment will simply formally reveal the verdict which is now being arrived at. The Father judges now "according to every man's work" (1 Pet. 1:17), as He did in OT times: "Thou renderest to every man according to his work" (Ps. 62:12). Yet when His Son returns, He will give every man "according as his work shall be" (Rev. 22:12). It couldn't be clearer: the judgment is going on now, and the Lord Jesus returns to give us the reward which has been 'judged' appropriate for us. With this background, Peter drives home the almost inevitable practical lesson: "...[therefore] pass the time of your sojourning here in fear". Now Yahweh's eyes judge and examine the righteous, as He sits enthroned; and He will, at the future day of judgment, rain sulphur upon the head of the wicked and chase them away with His brining wind (Ps. 11:4-6 RV- reference to the Angel of the Lord chasing the rejected away?). The "end" of the rejected is to be later "burnt" (Heb. 6:8), as if rejection occurs in the mind of God now, but will articulate the punishment later, at the judgment. "He that loveth his life loseth it" (Jn. 12:25 RV)- we are right now losing our lives if we love ourselves. The final judgment is likened to a winnowing process. But right now, according to Ps. 139:3 RVmg., God winnows our path [our daily living], all day ("my path") and every evening (at my "lying down"). "The Lord sat as king [in judgment] at the Flood. Yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever" (Ps. 29:10 RV); He is just as much sitting in judgment now as He was at the flood, which is a well known type of the judgment to come.
Jeremiah's ministry began with God describing how Babylon would set her thrones of judgment near Jerusalem, and then God would utter His Judgments against His people (Jer. 1:15,16). These thrones and this judgment seat scenario wasn't for the obtaining or weighing of evidence; it was for the pronouncement of verdict. "The Lord standeth to judge the people" (Is. 3:13) alludes to the judge standing up at the end and pronouncing the conclusion. God's 'judgment' of His people here didn't involve a gathering and weighing up of evidence. And so with us. That 'judgment' in the sense of the weighing up of evidence is going on right now. The Lord returns and will sit on the judgment seat to give the final, unalterable summing up of His judgment of us, and to pronounce the final verdict in the light of this. One of the themes of the book of Job is that God is not passive to the human condition and human behaviour, as Job thought. "The cause is before him, and thou waitest for him" to express His judgment of the case (Job 35:14 RV). He is judging our cases right now; they are before Him. And we wait the Lord's return to pronounce the verdict.
The king (Jesus) makes a reckoning with His servants right now, and it is for us to be influenced by the gracious accounting He shows towards us, and then in this life reflect an appropriate grace to our brother (Mt. 18:23 RV). The reckoning is going on right now, indeed in a sense it occurred on the cross. Right now, God is ashamed or not ashamed of us, according to our separation from the spirit of this world (Heb. 11:16); and yet His not being ashamed of us will also be apparent at the final judgment. We have our judgment now, from His point of view.
The judgment seat which there will be is in fact only a bringing to earth of the judgment seat which even now is going on in Heaven. Consider Mt. 10:32: "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven". What does this speak about? Surely of the Lord's speaking to the Father in Heaven right now, in this life. But compare the parallel Lk. 12:8: "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God". Of what does this speak? Surely of the last judgment [note the reference to the "Son of man", a term usually used about judgment to come; and denial before the angels surely equates with the "I never knew you" of the final judgment]. The events of the last day, with the Lord confessing or denying us before the Father and the Angels, are actually going on this very day.
The judgment seat will be for our benefit and for the glorification and vindication of God's Name / character. The vision of Kingdom glory was “according to the…vision which I saw, even according to the vision that I saw [Ezekiel twice stresses this feature!] when I came to destroy the city” (Ez. 43:3). The same essential glory of God is revealed in both condemnation and salvation. It’s been pointed out that “In Hebrew, ‘to judge’ and ‘to help’ are parallel ideas” (1). We see it in Is. 1:17, where to ‘judge the fatherless’ means to help and save him. There He will reveal the hidden things of darkness (the human heart), and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts (1 Cor. 4:5). Of course He knows these anyway; but He will make them manifest to us. The judgment seat is for our benefit, not God's- He knows our lives and spiritual position already. The day of judgment is to purify us (Mal. 3:2)- not ultimately, for that has been done by the Lord's blood and our lives of faithful acceptance of this. But the fire of judgment reveals the dross of our lives to us and in this sense purges us of those sins. Without the judgment, we would drift into the Kingdom with no real appreciation of our own sinfulness or the height of God's grace. The judgment will declare God's glory, His triumph over every secret sin of His people. The heathen will be judged "that the nations may know themselves to be but men" (Ps. 9:20)- self knowledge is the aim, not extraction of information so that God can make a decision. And it was the same with Israel: "Judge the bloody city... (i.e.) shew her all her abominations" (Ez. 22:2). The Hebrew word translated 'carry away captive' means also to denude, to reveal, uncover. Israel were revealed for what they were by being carried away into captivity (Ez. 16:37; Hos. 2:10; 2 Kings 17:6,11,23,33). And yet morally they uncovered themselves, they revealed their own shame (Is. 57:8; Ez. 16:36; 23:10); God didn't inflict anything on them which they had not in principle inflicted on themselves during their lives. To a certain degree, the acceptance or rejection which will be shown to us in the day of judgment can be visited on us in this life, in accordance with our actions. Thus the Lord Jesus appears as the judge of the seven ecclesias in Rev. 1:14, the description of him there being very similar to that in Dan. 7 and 10, where he is portrayed as the judge at the second coming. Asaph knew that God now judges, and therefore asks God to arise and judge openly in the earth according to those judgments (Ps. 82:1,8).
Having spoken of the coming of judgment, Ecc. 3:18 RV comments: "It is because of the sons of men, that God might manifest them [i.e. to themselves], and that they might see that they themselves are beasts". The purpose of the judgment is for us, to teach us the gripping truth of the mortality of man. This theory we know, as doctrine. But only in the chilling reality of the judgment will we know it in reality. Again and again I repeat: the judgment seat is for our benefit. "For he [God] needeth not further to consider a man; that he should go before God in judgment" (Job 34:23 RV). Yet man will go before God in judgment- but for our benefit. Another doctrine which the judgment seat will teach us in practice is the humanity of Jesus. God "gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man" (Jn. 5:27 RVmg.). His humanity is His ability to judge us. We will then realize the extent to which He succeeded in every point where we realize we failed, despite being strapped with our same nature. And thus we will respect Him yet the more for His perfection of character, and for the wonder of the salvation that is thereby in Him.
All this may be the explanation of the otherwise enigmatic Ps. 94:15: “Judgment shall return to righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it”. The end result of God’s judgments is righteousness, both exhibited by Him in the nature of the judgments, and also in the reformed lives of those who respond to meditation upon those judgments.
The Faithful Learn By The Condemnation Of The Wicked
The very existence of “the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” is in order to “make known the riches of his glory upon the vessels of mercy” (Rom. 9:22,23 RV). After the experience of Divine judgment, "ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem"; and yet these are exactly the words used to describe how God will be 'comforted' after the judgments (Ez. 5:13; 14:22). We will come to share God's perspective through our experience of the judgment process. It will teach us to be like Him, to see things from His viewpoint. As a result of it, the struggles we have over "why…?" so many things happened will be resolved. The purpose of the judgment is not only to convict us of our sinfulness, but also to make us appreciate our own righteousness for what it was and is. The faithful almost argue back with the Lord when He points out to them their righteous acts; they were done within a spirit of service that simply didn't see them as He does. 1 Tim. 5:24,25 likewise implies a 'going through' of the good and bad works of men, with the added implication that it is done in the presence of others. Thus they will "see his shame" (Rev. 16:15). “All that behold” the unfinished spiritual building of the wicked “will mock him” (Lk. 14:29); and the accepted will praise each other for their humility in taking the lowest seat in ecclesial life (Lk. 14:10). The rejected will awake to "the reproach and abhorrence of the age" (Dan. 12:2 Dr. Thomas' translation)- as if they will be reproached by some. "When the wicked are cut off, [the righteous] shall see it" (Ps. 37:34). The 12 disciples will judge the tribes of Israel (Mt. 19:28). At judgment day, the children of the Jews who criticized Jesus would judge them- "they shall be your judges" rather than Jesus Himself (Lk. 11:19). "The wise shall inherit glory; but shame shall be the promotion of fools" (Prov. 3:35) is looking ahead to the judgment. But "shame" must be in the eyes of someone; therefore the rejection of the wicked will be in the eyes of those who once knew them in the ecclesia. The men of Nineveh will condemn first century Israel (Mt. 12:41); the folly of the rejected will be made manifest unto all men (2 Tim. 3:9). This is not so as to simply humiliate the rejected. It is so that the faithful learn something too. This was all foreshadowed in the way that Israel experienced their judgments in the sight of the nations, so that God's principles would be taught even to the Gentile world (Ez. 5:8,15). Indeed, the idea of God executing judgment on His people in the sight of others is quite common (e.g. Ez. 5:8; 16:41). But we can learn the principles of God's judgments right now, from His word.
This is all the same theme as we find expressed in Prov. 26:26: “Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation” or ecclesia- at the day of judgment, when our innermost motives and feelings behind our smarmy words will be revealed to every one of our watching brethren. There is in this ‘media is the message’ world a great emphasis upon nice-speak. Say it nicely, that’s the main thing, and don’t let your bad feelings against someone show. Keep them in your heart, but don’t speak them or write them. But it’s the basic feelings we need to control- and then the expression of them won’t be an issue. And it is those basic feelings behind all our spoken and written words which will be revealed to the whole ecclesia in the last day.
The Purpose Of Judgment (1)
- To reveal to us the hidden things of darkness [the human heart] and make manifest to us the counsels of the hearts (1 Cor. 4:5)
- To purify us, to reveal the dross of our hearts to us (Mal. 3:2)
- The nations judged “that the nations may know themselves to be but men” (Ps. 9:20)
- “Judge the bloody city...(i.e.) shew her all her abominations” (Ez. 22:2).
- ‘Carry away captive’ = ‘to denude, reveal, uncover’ (Ez. 16:37; 2 Kings 17:6,11), as men reveal themselves now (Is. 57:8): “Thou hast discovered thyself to another than me...thou hast enlarged thy bed”.
- Folly of the rejected made manifest to all men (2 Tim. 3:9); faithful see the shame of the rejected (Rev. 16:15).
- Israel’s judgments executed “in the sight of the nations...so it shall be an instruction unto the nations round about” (Ez. 5:8,15).
- Through His judgments men knew Him as Yahweh (Ez. 25:11; 28:22; 30:19).
- “All nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest” (Rev. 15:4)
God's judgments are in all the earth right now (Ps. 105:7). God judged nations in order that men might know Him as Yahweh (e.g. Ez. 25:11; 28:22; 30:19). Yahweh is exalted in His judging of men (Is. 5:16). His judgments make His Name / character manifest. "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy Name?...all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" (Rev. 15:4). A number of OT passages (e.g. Is. 25:3) hint that a remnant of Israel's Arab enemies will actually repent and accept Yahweh's Truth- after their experience of His judgments (this is expanded upon in The Last Days). The manifestation of His judgments is for the benefit of humans, that they may come to know God and appreciate their own sinfulness. When God finally arises in judgment, "all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing" (Ps. 64:9). God is to be feared and worshipped because of the hour of His judgment (Rev. 14:7); "when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Is. 26:9); for "the Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth" (Ps. 9:16). Israel's condemnation was to be "an instruction" unto the surrounding nations (Ez. 5:14,15). And Israel herself will know that "I am the LORD" in their final condemnation, as Ezekiel so often prophesied. This clearly associates God's judgment with a learning process. "When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise" (Prov. 21:11). Thus the nations are intended to learn from the experience of Israel’s condemnation (Hos. 2:10). The repentance of Egypt will be because "the Lord shall smite Egypt...and they shall return to the Lord" (Is. 19:18-22). "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people" (Dt. 32:43) is quoted in the NT (Rom. 15:10) concerning Gentile response to the Gospel. But they will rejoice and respond because of God's terrifying judgment of His enemies outlined in the context (Dt. 32:41-44). In some way, the harder side of God attracts, in that men see in truth that He is God and they but men. His rod and staff of correction are our comforts (Ps. 23:4). Israel will finally realize that God’s judgments upon them have brought them to know Him: “They shall know that I am the Lord, in that I caused them to go into captivity” (Ez. 39:28 RV). It's rather like how the idea of conditional salvation, and that not for everybody but a tiny minority, I find both hard to accept and yet the very thing that clinches the actual reality of 'the truth' we hold. Josiah's zealous reforms started with reading "the book of the covenant" (2 Kings 23:2), probably the list of curses which were to come for disobedience (2 Kings 22:19 = Lev. 26:31,32). And this book was in some way a joy and rejoicing to Jeremiah (Jer. 15:16). In this sense Paul used the terror of possible condemnation to persuade men (2 Cor. 5:11). And when those that had already believed (Acts 19:18 Gk.) saw how the condemned sons of Sceva fled away from the spirit of Jesus naked and wounded, in anticipation of the final judgment, they ceased being secret believers and came out openly with their confessions of unworthiness and need for salvation. In the light of that foretaste of judgment to come, they realized that nothing else mattered. The image of them fleeing naked definitely alludes to Am. 2:16: "The most courageous men of might shall flee naked in that day, Says the Lord" (NKJV).
The message that the Lord will "burn with unquenchable fire" those who reject Him is described as Jesus preaching "good tidings unto the people" (Lk. 3:18 RV). Likewise the stark teaching about the mortality of man in Is. 40 is quoted in 1 Pet. as being the Gospel. The harder side of God is in fact the good news for those who reflect deeply upon the essential message and nature of the Almighty. In Jer. 26:2, Jeremiah is warned to “diminish not a word, if so be…” Israel may repent. His temptation of course was to water down the message which he had to deliver. But only the harder, more demanding side of God might elicit response in them. By making the message less demanding, it wouldn’t have any chance of eliciting a response.
The Purpose Of Judgment (2)
- When God arises in judgment “all men shall fear and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing” (Ps. 64:9) cp. Ananias & Saphira.
- “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” Is. 26:9). Harder side of God attracts.
- After judgment “Then shall the Kingdom...be likened unto ten virgins” (Mt. 25:1)
- Rejected see themselves thrust out of the Kingdom, see themselves from outside themselves, as they really are (Lk. 13:28).
- Evil servant “cut asunder”, hypocrisy revealed to all (Mt. 24:51).
Judgment: The Articulation Of God's Name
God's Name is essentially His character. He is His character. In all He creates and destroys, in all He shows of Himself to man, this character is revealed, magnified and glorified. Lk. 17:30 says that at the last day, the Son of man will be “revealed”; and yet the other references to the Son of man being revealed refer to the way He is even now revealed to His true followers by the Father (Mt. 11:27; 16:17 etc.). At the second coming, the real nature of God’s Son, the essence of His character, will be revealed to all. At the very time that the Wicked One will be revealed, so will the Son of God (2 Thess. 2:8). In the way God judges man, His character is again glorified and revealed; for in the way He judges, His essential characteristics are revealed. It is therefore possible to see anticipations of the day of future judgment in how God has judged in the past- thus incidents like Adam and Cain's rejection, the Babylonian and Roman invasions and the subsequent condemnation of God's people, the flood... all these are prototypes of the future judgment. Take, for example, the prophecy of Obadiah against Edom. It is full of language elsewhere used about the judgment seat. Edom's judgments for hating their brother were a living out of God's judgment principles as they will again be articulated at the last day. Or take Nahum 1 concerning Nineveh. The day of God's vengeance on "those mine enemies" (cp. Lk. 19:27), the begging for acquittal refused, the presence of God, fire, being judged along with apostate Israel (1:5), inability to stand before God's presence, the fury of God, darkness, fleeing and being pursued by God... the elements of the last day judgment were all to be seen in Nineveh's condemnation. The Lord's miracles likewise showed forth God's judgment principles; in them He shewed judgment to the Gentiles, and sent forth God's judgments (Mt. 12:18-20 quotes Is. 42:1-3 concerning how the Lord will do this at the events of the second coming).
There are also examples, both Biblically and in our own experience, of where some men reap what they sow in this life (e.g. Jud. 1:7: "as I have done, so God hath requited me"). And yet there are examples galore, much lamented by men like Job and David, of where the wicked prosper, and the righteous have to be comforted that their day of judgment is yet future, and yet will surely come. David asks God to openly show His judgments now , so that men will glorify Him as they will in the end (Ps. 58:11). David understood that God will arise in judgment, but He can arise and judge our cause now (Ps. 7:6; 35:23,24). In some cases, He does judge now. He has judged and condemned in the past (e.g. 2 Pet. 2:6). And David, in his humanity, asked for God to work like this. As to why God sometimes shows His judgment now, and yet generally reserves the revelation of His judgments to the last day is a deep issue. And yet one response could be that this is in order to teach us what the future judgment will be like, and the basis upon which it will be conducted.
In the end, sin doesn’t defeat God. His Name will be glorified in the condemnation of the wicked just as it will be in the acceptance of the righteous. The Lord Jesus spoke of how we as shoots on the vine tree are either ‘cut off’ or ‘trimmed / purged’ to be more fruitful (Jn. 15:2). There is a paranomasia here in the Greek text [i.e. a play on similar sounding verbs]- airein and kathairein. The point being that the purging process works through condemning oneself now; by going through the realization of our condemnation now, we are thereby purged so that we avoid condemnation at the day of judgment. This is a theme to which we shall often return in this study.
For Our Learning
So what is the purpose of the judgment? My sense is that it is for our benefit, not the Lord's, although an obsession with the figure of judgment may imply the opposite. In one parable, the Lord Jesus taught that before the actual judgment, the righteous will tell the Lord how many pounds the pound they were given has gained. In another, the Lord's picture was of the faithful after the judgment had been pronounced, questioning with the Lord as to whether they really had done what He had said. We get the picture of an initial account from us, the Lord's judgment, and then a discussion with us after the verdict has been pronounced. This of itself indicates that we are not to see the judgment merely as a method for dividing up the rewards and sorting out the punishments. It's aim is to glorify God through our response to the realizations which we are then driven to. The faithful and all their works are foreknown. From God's perspective there seems no reason why the faithful cannot be immediately transferred to immortality at the Lord's coming. They are, after all, seen by Him as being in Christ, who has risen again and received immortality. But how little appreciation of God's grace, what small self-knowledge would we have if this were the case. A few years of what we considered suffering, scratching around on the surface of our natures, almost spoilt by the constant care of our loving Father, then death, and then the next we know we are in the eternal glory of the Kingdom. The judgment seat will surely be a vital part of our spiritual education and preparation for receiving God's nature. There is a possibility that this is behind the record of the stones for the temple being “made ready when it was brought away”, or prepared on the journey, so that they could be slotted in to the temple plan without need for further change (1 Kings 6:7 RV and Hebrew). Likewise Moses' speeches as transcripted in Deuteronomy prepared Israel for entrance to Canaan by reminding them of their weaknesses. And if we consider why the Kingdom will start with the Millennium, surely the answer must be that it is for our benefit, a preparation for us to enter the fully established Kingdom. Some of the mortals of the last generation will be given the opportunity to be the mortal inhabitants of the Millennium, whilst millions of others in previous generations have lived and died without hope. It seems one of the reasons why they will be there is for our benefit.
Immediately after the judgment, we are told, "the Kingdom...will be likened unto ten virgins..." (Mt. 25:1 and context), the implication being that then we will perceive the truths contained in that parable; only then will we fully appreciate the result of watchfulness and keeping oil in the lamps. The rejected will see themselves thrust out of the Kingdom (Lk. 13:28); as if somehow they see themselves from outside of themselves. What spirituality they thought they had they will see as it were taken away from them (Lk. 8:18 AV mg.). This will be the result of the judgment process. They will be convinced by the judgment process of all the ungodly deeds which they had not previously been convicted of, e.g. their hard words against their brethren (Jude 15). 1 Cor. 11:32 may also be a reference to the educative effect of judgment: "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world". The world's condemnation will be at the second coming; the judgment and chastening to which Paul refers must therefore be that of the last day. However, in the context he is making the point that our self-examination at the memorial meeting and our response to the chastening hand of God in our present life is in fact a foretaste of that final judgment experience.
Then we will realize our sinfulness, then we will behold the greatness of God's grace and the supremacy of Christ's victory. Then we will realize how small our understanding was, how little of God we knew, and how great is the reward we are being given, how out of proportion it is to our present experience and responsibilities. We almost get the feeling that the servants thought they had done well when they presented the pounds they had gained as a result of how they had used the pound given them. The pound (mina) given was equivalent to at most $1000 (2005). Yet the reward was way out of proportion, both to what had been given, and to what they had achieved with it: ten cities! The Master's words almost seem to be a gentle rebuke: "Because thou hast been faithful in a very little , have thou authority over ten cities" (Lk. 19:17); "thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Mt. 25:23). The "Truth" we have now (and it is that) is "a very little...a few things". We mustn't see it as an end in itself. Yet because of our humanity, our limited vision, the way we are locked up in our petty paradigms, we tend to think that the Kingdom will be rather similar to our present experience of "the Truth". Yet the Lord emphasizes, at least twice, that what we have now is pathetically limited compared to the infinitely greater spiritual vision of the Kingdom. We (personally) will then be made ruler over all that Christ has (Mt. 24:47; the "many things" of Mt. 25:23); and in him are hid all the riches of spiritual wisdom (Col. 2:3).
But judgment day is not only for our personal education and humbling. It is for the enlightenment of us all as a community, in that there is fair evidence that in some sense the process of judgment will be public, and all the believers will see the true characteristics of those with whom they fellowshipped in this life. Thus the unworthy will be revealed as being without a wedding garment, and the faithful will see him (for the first time) as walking naked and in shame (Mt. 22:11; Rev. 16:15). The evil servant will be "cut asunder" (Mt. 24:51), i.e. his hypocrisy will be openly revealed for the first time (remember, he was an ecclesial elder in mortal life, according to the parable). What we have spoken in the Lord's ear will be revealed by him openly ("from the housetops") at the judgment (Lk. 12:3). When the righteous receive their inheritance (i.e. at the judgment), then the fool will be held up to shame (Prov. 3:35 NIV).
Time and again, Israel were told that through the judgments of punishment they would receive, they would come to know God in truth (e.g. Ez. 25:7. Their own shame was made to appear before their own face by the judgment process (Jer. 13:26 RV). But it is possible for us to come to that knowledge now through a correct response to the word. If only in our self examination now we would "judge (i.e. condemn) ourselves, we would not be judged (condemned)" at the judgment seat (1 Cor. 11:34). The mental effort and organization of time which this requires must surely be worthwhile in the light of this promise.
(1) Kohler, Ludwig, Hebrew Man (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1956), p.157.