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How does judgment begin at the house of God in 1 Peter 4:17?

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1 Peter 4:17-18 “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

As Christians, sometimes we assume that our lives in Christ are defined by worldly blessings and the favour of God, and if this is not the case, then it is because of your lack of faith or something else that you are doing. This is a superficial understanding of what it means to be a child of God and is often brought about by the prosperity and word of faith preaching that is so common in the Christian world, and we get consumed by this message because it pleases our ears and hearts (2 Timothy 4:3).

Scriptures, on the other hand, teach something further. 1 Peter 4:17 teaches that judgment must begin at the house of God, and if it starts with us, then what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God. So what does this mean? We must begin by looking at the passage’s context to understand it. 1 Peter 4:12-19 speaks about suffering as a Christian and that we should not be surprised by it. Instead, we are to share in Christ’s sufferings so that we will rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13). 

Although the suffering we do go through must not be as a result of the wrong reasons, such as suffering as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler, rather the suffering must be as a result of being a follower of Christ, not being ashamed, but glorify God in that name. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and God rests upon you(1 Peter 4:14-16). 1 Peter 4:19 says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”

In the context of this passage, we can better understand what it means for judgment to begin at the household of God, according to 1 Peter 4:17-18? The judgment here does not refer to eternal judgment of the wicked because the blood of the Lamb redeems those who are in Christ. Jesus Christ paid for our sins on the cross, and all who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Amen! Instead, the type of judgment believers will face is one of a Father disciplining His children (Hebrews 12:3-17). It is not to make us worthy of entering the Kingdom of God because Jesus was our substitute on the cross (1 Peter 3:18); rather, it purifies our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). Romans 8:17 says, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

When we face persecution, then we also share in the sufferings of Christ, and when we share in His sufferings, then we know Christ better by understanding the power of His resurrection and becoming like Him in His death (1 Peter 4:13-14, Philippians 3:10). When we go through painful circumstances in our lives, the result is not to condemn but to produce maturity, conviction, and repentance. Through this suffering, we learn steadfastness, and when steadfastness has its full effect, you will be made perfect, complete, and lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

This judgment draws us to God so we can trust Him completely and not find our hope and satisfaction in this world. James 4:8-10 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Along the same lines, scriptures also teach there must be discipline in the church so that believers may mature and grow in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:12 says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” God desires His children to be more like him. Matthew 5:48 says, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In conclusion, know that there will be many troubles for the believer in this world. God allows and uses suffering and difficult circumstances in our lives so that we may have steadfastness; we may endure, grow in maturity, and trust God completely, growing in the image of Christ daily. Like Jesus, in Hebrews 5:18, as a son, Christ learnt obedience through what He suffered and being made perfect, he became the source of salvation for all who obey Him. Judgment must begin in the household of God. Amen! If you are not in Christ and the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 

Let us close by reading Romans 5:3-5, saying, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

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