Our belief determines where we will spend eternity. Our behavior determines “how” we are going to spend eternity. There will be different levels of responsibility in heaven because while on earth our works are going to be judged.
So yes, our behavior matters, whether lost or saved, but our salvation is by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, (Verse 9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
But there are a large number of Scriptures about works: Ecclesiastes 12:4 – “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret things, whether good or evil.” Revelation 20:13 – The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.” 1 Peter 1:17 – “And if you call on the Father who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear (in awe, in reverence of God).” Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” Revelation 22:12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”
Yes, it matters how we live our lives. And our belief determines where we spend eternity, but our works will determine how we spend eternity, and our belief will determine our behavior! There are people who say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus,” but have never lived for Him.” If you don’t live for Him, then you don’t believe in Him. When you truly believe, God gives you a new heart and with that new heart, you have a desire to turn from sin and turn to God, so you can’t convince me that you believe in something, but yet you don’t follow His commandments.
There will be two judgments; the believers judgment and the unbelievers judgment. This will be the “works” being judged.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
This is the believers judgment. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” We are not being judged for our sins. Those were paid for in full by Jesus Christ and we accepted it. According to Scripture, we will either receive a reward or lose a reward that we could have had.
The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:11-14 that, each one’s works will be tested by fire. What was done with the right motives will last, that which was done for self, with the wrong motives behind it, will be burned up. He himself will be saved, but the work is burned up, no reward.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:1 to watch our motives of why and how we do our works. Matthew 6:1 says, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
It is not whether someone sees you do a charitable act or not, it’s what was the motive behind the act. Was it done out of a pure heart, expecting nothing in return? Or was it done to get the praise from others? God knows. Matthew 6:2-4 says, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that the may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” (Verse 3) “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Verse 4) that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”
The Great White Throne Judgment
This judgment is for all unbelievers. Revelation 20:11, 12 says, “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. (Verse 12) and I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”
There is the Book of Life, and if your name is in it, you won’t be standing here. But then there are books,plural, because it’s more than just names, it contains works. So, are there degrees of punishment in hell? Yes there is!
According to the Bible, the Father is watching us, all the time. He sees every detail of our lives. He has rewards, or not, with Him, according to our works and deeds done while on this earth. There will be two judgments and we determine which one we stand before when that day comes.
Be sure of your salvation! The choice is yours.