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What is condemnation and what is judgment? There is a difference between condemnation and judgment because the two words are interchanged in John 3.16-19 of the NIV and NLT. The NIV writes, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the Name of God’s One and Only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

And the same verses in NLT are written, “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s One and Only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”

We know that God’s judgment is His pronouncing the truth about you, so that you may repent and be spared. God’s judgment is His testimony about you. So, what is the difference between being judged and being condemned by God?

God’s condemnation is the consequence due to you when you reject God’s testimony about you. Condemnation is not about whether you have sinned or how much you have sinned, because all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. Condemnation is the punishment due to those who declare God to be a liar by their refusal to accept God’s testimony about them and who man is in God the Father and the Son.

And this is the Law of Condemnation: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”[1]

What does it mean to give an account for every careless word we have spoken? To give an account means to answer God for what we have been given and entrusted. I tell you the truth, only servants are called to give an account to their masters. This is the way in the Parable of the Talents.[2] But sons and daughters whose delight is to humble themselves to serve in their Father’s household and Kingdom without a price or reward, do not have to settle accounts with the Father, because the attitude of accountability is already in their heart as everything they speak and put their hands to all belong to the Kingdom of their Father, and shall be returned to Him in full. It is servants who draw a salary, but sons and daughters do not because all their needs are taken care of by the Father according to Jesus’ words, “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern … If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him![3] Sons and daughters who become servants are those who do not take anything away from the household and Kingdom for themselves to keep, thereby depleting that of their Father’s treasury. Not that the Father is not a God of abundance, but I am speaking of the attitude sons and daughters must have.

So what are the careless words for believers and disciples of Jesus? Careless words are words spoken by believers and disciples who do not care or regard the honour and sovereignty of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as they exercise the authority of Jesus to heal the sick and drive out demons, trample on snakes and scorpions and overcome the power of the enemy, testify about Jesus, forgive sins and make disciples of all nations. By their words, they have showed the darkness in their hearts and proved they do not care about the Father and Jesus.

When we read Jesus’ words, “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”, we think He means the words we speak now. This is true. But Jesus also meant the words you will speak on the Day of Judgment. For God will call an account of the words spoken by believers and disciples because Jesus gave us His authority together with power to back up the authority, for by such authority, we purport to speak and act in His Name. You only have to give an account when you have been entrusted with something. Disciples are entrusted with authority and received power, believers are meant to grow to be disciples, and sinners are meant to repent and believe. That is why men will have to give an account.

What is this “Day of Judgment” that Jesus spoke of? It is the day of final judgment before the Great White Throne, written in Revelation 20.11. It is the same day recorded in Zephaniah 3.8, “Therefore wait for Me, says the Lord, until the day when I rise up to give testimony; for My judgment is at hand, to gather the nations and to bring the kingdoms near, to pour out My indignation upon them, even all My fierce anger; for in the fire of My zeal shall all the Earth be devoured. For then I will purify the lips of the peoples and restore to the people a pure speech, that they may call on the Name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent and serve Him shoulder to shoulder.[4] The verse in Zephaniah 3.8, “The whole world will be consumed by the fire of My jealous anger” ties in with Revelation 20.11, Earth and sky fled from His presence and there was no place for them.” This is how these verses fit together, for they both speak of Heaven and Earth passing away on the Day of Judgment.

The apostle John saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.[5] Note that it is not written that the dead were judged as condemned according to what they had done. The NIV, NLT, ESV, Peshitta and NASB all use the word “judge” here. And so when God’s testimony is delivered against men for being cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolators, liar or ones who love and practice falsehood – what they say in response will acquit them or condemn them to the Lake of Burning Sulphur. This is when the Law of Repentance under the New Covenant will apply, “Repent and live![6] …. But unless you repent, you too will all perish.[7] When they refuse to repent, the Law of Condemnation applies, for by their words they will be condemned. When they repent, the Law of Condemnation also applies, for by their words they will be acquitted. The Law of Condemnation demonstrates the Father’s mercy and desire for mercy.

Jesus said that He did not come to judge or condemn. He came to testify about His Father and do the work of the New Covenant so that all who believe in His Name may have eternal life.[8] He said there is no judgment or condemnation for the one who believes in His Name. This is because the one who believes in Jesus the Son of God, has accepted the Father’s and Jesus’ testimony that God the Father has a Son whose name is Jesus Christ, and he has repented for being a sinner. Repentance is your acknowledgement of the Lord’s truth about you as a sinner, and gratitude of your salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and it is followed by a desire and effort to change your ways and leave your life of sin. That’s why Jesus told His believers to follow Him and the Father commanded disciples to listen to Jesus.

Jesus said, “As for the person who hears My words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a Judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of My own accord, but the Father who sent Me commanded Me what to say and how to say it.”[9] Therefore, we must accept Jesus’ testimony about us and about Himself and the Father and the Kingdom, for our refusal to accept the truth will condemn us on the last day, because God who is Justice will deliver what is due to us according to what our deeds deserve.

In the book of Hebrews, it is written, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”[10] What does it mean that Noah condemned the world? It is not that his faith was so much better that it declared everyone else guilty and deserving of God’s punishment. It is not this way at all. It means that by Noah’s faith, he completed what he was commanded so that what God had in mind to bring the world and mankind to correction could commence.

In the same way, by our faith our obedience must be made complete, so that what our Father has in mind to bring Jesus back to reign for the world and mankind to be brought to correction could commence, for our Father is very jealous for Jesus and all His sons and daughters who are made in Their Image and Likeness and saved and redeemed in the Name of Jesus.

So understand that God’s condemnation is not a punishment for sin, for there is a Covenant between Jesus and His Father that forgives all sins except the eternal sin of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. God’s condemnation is the due punishment of man’s rejection of the truth of God and Man even after God testified about him, and man’s refusal to repent of his falling short of God’s glory – God who is the Word, the Son, the Spirit, the Father and the Original Man who is in Heaven.

So listen to Jesus: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”[11]

Amen Holy Spirit.


[1] Matthew 12.37

[2] Matthew 25:14-30

[3] Matthew 6:33 ONLT; 7:11 NIV

[4] Zephaniah 3.8-9 Peshitta (words in italics NIV)

[5] Revelation 20.12 NLT

[6] Ezekiel 18.32

[7] Luke 13.3

[8] John 3.15

[9] John 12.47-49

[10] Hebrews 11.6-8 NIV and NLT both use the word “condemned”

[11] Luke 6.37-38


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