What is the nature of our accounting to God?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: How do we get comfortable with being accountable to God?

Answer: Your term accountable is well taken since biblical imagery depicts God referencing books — ledgers! (Revelation 20:12). After physical death, all people — both the saved and the unsaved — shall, by those books, account for their lives. Since you are focusing on the discomfort in our earthly accounting, let us begin by quantifying the phenomenon.

Although God never shuts down his watchfulness (2 Chronicles 16:9), we humans often shut down our awareness of it. God slips from the front of our minds when we sleep, when we focus on work or school, or when we attend to life’s administrations such as enjoying family or pursuing entertainment. So, how many minutes in the day do we actually feel this pressure? Relatively few. In fact, most of us could stand an increase! Accounting to God should be a more regular event, part of our spiritual hygiene. Let’s face it though, we shall likely never attain a 24/7 level of God-focus.

Moral decisions do populate our day, however, and we often have to choose for or against God. At such moments we feel the active motions of conscience, which is the very pressure of God. Comfortable or not, we never want that to go away (1 Timothy 4:2). Even when not actively engaged in moral decisions, a God-conscious moment may pop into our minds unbidden, the Holy Spirit convicting us of some past or pending wrongful behavior (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13). That too is the legitimate process of God. He uses our consciences to train us in Christian sensitivity to sin, which should help us with our life’s choices. All this conscience-building sounds so positive! Why then does it discomfort us so? Human arrogance.

We humans (earnest Christians included) chafe at accounting to anybody — let alone God. The emotional will of humankind shall always pull toward living-for-self and accounting to no one (Philippians 2:21). In absolute terms, we shall never become totally comfortable with accounting to God while we remain on earth, but our comfort level shall increase the more we practice it. If you have a spouse or a few friends worthy of the name, you will find that as you grow in emotional intimacy that it becomes easier to share the more difficult things with them. God is a friend. Work at growing more intimate with him. Increase your heavenly dialogue. Speak to God by praying. Listen to him with Bible reading. Draw closer by evoking him in silent worship. (Habakkuk 2:20).

Concerning future accountability, although the redeemed shall never enter into a condemning type of judgment (Romans 8:1), we must still account for our Christian lives at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). We believers must stand before Christ and account for our time on earth. Jesus shall give or withhold rewards as appropriate. This particular accounting will probably yield more than a few tears, but in the absence of future punishment, it is all good! Not so for the non-believer. Non-believers must also stand at the judgment for their works. Unfortunately, since non-believers are by definition those who never exercised saving faith, all their “good works” can never count as such. In fact, they count as just the opposite. (Isaiah 64:6) God calls all works done outside of faith iniquity—sin! All non-believers shall give their final accounting at the Great White Throne of Judgment. (Revelation 20:11).

The Judgment Seat of Christ deals only with believers, those eternally bound to heaven, but the Great White Throne of Judgment is for non-believers, those eternally bound to hell. On this, the most somber day in their future, all non-believers shall give their final accounting — all arrogance dispelled, every knee bent—realizing too late that God does indeed exist, and that he must separate faith from non-faith forever because he said that he would. (Revelation 20:15).

So, if you want to be more comfortable with God's accounting, make sure that you and everyone you know opens an account in God’s main ledger: The Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)