Sheep and Goats Divided, Judged

Matthew 25 vs 31-46

31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (The King James Version, 1769)

The apostles are gathered on the mount of Olives and Jesus is explaining to them future appearances and future judgements. In the verses above Jesus has taken them to the final appearing and the final judgement. After this future event the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven and all who are written in the lamb's book of life are with Christ forever.

This is the final judgement of mankind. All nations, all of mankind, whomever had life, is resurrected to stand before the white throne of judgement. It is said in a number of places that from his throne proceed justice and judgement. He who sits on this throne bears a sword, it is doubled edged, and it is used for judgement. One edge divides: acts of commission, what you have done. If you did good, you will be rewarded. If you have done wrong, you will be punished. The other edge of this sword? Acts of omission, what you haven't done. If you didn't do what's wrong, you are safe. If you didn't do what's right, you will be punished.

If we are simply to stand on what we have done or haven't done, all of us would fall short. All of us would be found lacking. Yet we have this verse of Ps 89.14 "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face." We can be thankful that not only will the truth be revealed but that he who sits on the throne extends mercy to those brought before him. Not everyone benefits from this mercy. Only those of the household of faith. And that house is whatever covenant you were supposed to be living in as given to: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel or Jesus.

So all the people are divided. Those on his right are the sheep and they are those who are blessed by God. Those on the left are the goats and they are the those who are cursed by God. If you read through the verses for each it comes down to this, did you: feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, shelter the stranger, clothe the naked, aided the sick and visited prisoners? Their actions or inaction divides the sheep from the goats. The blessed do these things and the cursed do not.

One moment, are we to be justified by works? If we do these things we are saved? If we do them not we are lost? Does this turn the gospel message upside down? No!

Are you in a covenant relationship with God? If your answer is yes then the question is, "are you walking it out?" You cannot even be in a covenant relationship with God if you do not have faith. Being in a covenant relationship means that you are walking with God as he leads you. For Israel that means walking according to the covenant established by God through Moses. For us today it is walking according to the covenant established by God the Father through Jesus. Israel needed to walk with God as shown in the written law. We are to walk with God by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." Remember we are told to be lead by the Spirit of God. If we are then lead by the Spirit of God shouldn't there be evidence that he is at work in us?

Now many Christians will take issue with this. But if you lack these "good works" in your life you may want to look again at your walk with Jesus. The apostle James attempts to explain to us that faith alone, if there are no good works, is a faith devoid of life, it is dead. Whereas a living faith will bring forth good works through the heart that has been renewed by the Spirit. This perfect relationship we have with God will also reflect a perfect religion... to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction... to stay unspotted from the world. What does Jesus want? What is an expression of perfect religion? Read the list by which everyone will be judged. This list is given by Jesus to his apostles in the above verses. He said he will judge the nations by whether a person does them or not. Are we so spiritual we can explain to Jesus how he is wrong and that is not the case? No, because he is never wrong and we are never that spiritual.

I want to make it clear: We stand and live by faith and it expresses itself through good works and a life unspotted by the world. It is not: we stand and live by good works and a life unspotted by the world. We strive for the former and avoid the trap of the latter. In fact many Christians compromise and wrongly believe in a form of Karma... as long as our good deeds exceed our bad deeds we will be judged: saved.

Do we fall short? Yes we do but remember Jesus looks at us with mercy. He knows are struggles and limitations. The only question is, "are we trying to do our best?" If not, we repent, are forgiven and try again. We are blessed and the end result of this walk of faith, which expresses itself in good works, we inherit the kingdom.

To the rest? No good works... no mercy? Cursed they are and the everlasting fires await them.

Final word

Whenever you see a person in need before you, and you do what you can, the person you are helping is Jesus. Whenever you see a person in need before you, and you don't do a thing to help, the person you are not helping is Jesus.

How can we do this without being overburdened? How can we know what we are seeing is a real need or a con? Are we going to help them in a positive way or enable them in a negative way? Walk with the Spirit and he will guide you with wisdom and knowledge, do that and you will do what God wants, and you will have eternal life and will inherit the kingdom of God.

Author: Joseph A Raymond
10 February 2011

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Webite administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada