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B. Sin in a Believer’s life will result in:

4. Loss of reward

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be” (Rev. 22:12).

Eternal life is free, rewards are earned. It is important how we live our lives.

Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake who shall not  receive manifold more in this present time and in the world to come everlasting” (Luke 18:28-30).

Is working for rewards selfish?

Is not love supposed to be the supreme motive for service? (II Cor. 5:14; I Cor. 13:1-8). Yes, it is, but God also tells us that the pursuit of heavenly rewards is not only just “OK,” but that it is not even optional. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where  thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19,21).

In I Cor. 9:24-27, Paul likens the Christian life to a competitive race and presents a good case concerning his attitude about running for the “prize.” “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we and incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body and bring it unto subjection: lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (disqualified or disapproved).” Paul was motivated to run the race and win the prize.

Is this motivation selfish? If this motivation is encouraged by God, it is not selfish. It is not wrong to look out for ourselves. It is wrong to look out for ourselves in our own way. A similar concept is found in our attitude about material blessings. Material blessings are not wrong to have though our attitude about them may be wrong (I Tim. 6:10). An example of the Godly attitude about wealth is found in I Tim. 6:17,18; “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” It appears that some churches today like to apply just the first part of the verse, “Charge them that are rich.” They have the wrong attitude about wealth.

Gal. 5:16 tells us to “...Walk in the Spirit, And ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” The very same context implies that as a result of our yielding to God’s Holy Spirit, that the fruit of the Spirit will be manifested in us. What a blessing to look forward to. Eternal life is a gift of God (Rom. 6:23) but love, joy, peace, etc. can be ours if we are obedient. This must be part of what Jesus meant when He said, “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Not only do we receive rewards both in this life and in the future for our service to God, but we are encouraged to seek rewards. Our loving Father desires to bless us but he cannot bless disobedience (II Sam. 12:8).

How are the believer’s eternal rewards determined? The Bible tells of a future judgment of a believer’s works, not is sins as they are already judged. This is called the Judgment Seat of Christ and is where the quality of our works is determined and rewards are dispensed.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27).

There is common tendency among theologians and mankind in general to suppose that sometime after death that there is some kind of universal judgment in which we will all be judged according to our sins and our good deeds. This judgment is supposed to determine our final destination, the good into Heaven and the bad into Hell.

The Bible states that though there is judgment awaiting everyone, there are a number of judgments at different times with different criteria for judgment. The believer of this age awaits the Judgment Seat of Christ occurring probably shortly after the Rapture of the Church. There the quality of his works will be judged to determine his future rewards (I Corinthians 3:11-15). His destination is already determined as his sins were judged at the Cross.

The unbeliever of this age awaits the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11:15) which will occur at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ upon the earth. They will also be judged according to their works (v12) and their destination has already been determined (v15) because of their rejecting or neglecting trusting in Jesus, the only way of salvation.

Passages Considered

II Corinthians 5:

9  Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.


V.9, Speaking about believers. Paul includes himself in the “we.” We also see that the criteria for judgment have to do with our “labor.” The word “accepted” means “well-pleasing.”

V.10, This judgment includes “all” the believers of this age. It will occur and we will not miss our appointment with Him, either for rewards or to “be ashamed at His coming” (I John 2:28). “Good or bad” in this context refers not to morality but to quality, worthwhile or worthless.

v.11, “Terror” is usually translated “fear” and can also refer to reverence to God. It is likely that “terror” in this context is not referring to judgment upon the unbeliever but of the believer’s lack of obedience to Christ.  

I Corinthians 3:

9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


The context before this passage describes the “natural” man, or the unsaved (2:14) and the “spiritual” man who is Spirit-controlled (2:15, 16). Chapter 3 portrays the “carnal” believer, the person who has been born again but who has not grown as he should (v1) due to his sinful attitudes and actions (vs3, 4). Paul encourages us to obey Christ with the motivation that “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (v8) (This is one good reason for us not to judge another person’s works. cf. Rom 14:10). In a comparison of the believer to a building being built, he depicts us as having the foundation of Christ and exhorts us:

V10, “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” We have the opportunity and command to build upon the foundation that we have. We are to be careful how we build.

V11, There is no other foundation than Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).

V12, There are two classes of works, those which are worthwhile and those which are worthless, those which are purified by fire and those which are burned up.

V13, The fire will reveal and judge what sort of works were built on the foundation. Our sins are not judged here. They have already been judged (Hebrews 10:14, 17). Even though the sin question has been settled, it is logical to assume that our sin in this life will drastically reduce our worthwhile service for Christ for which we would have received rewards.

V14, The remaining works are worthy of reward. Salvation is not a reward, it is a gift (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 6:23). The obedient Christian will receive rewards in addition to the gift of eternal life.

V15. The believer with worthless works will suffer loss, but still be saved.

I Corinthians 4:2 tells of God’s requirement for service. “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

We are not required to be talented, always busy, to meet someone else’s standards, or to jump through hoops for God, etc. We are told to be faithful. All of us can do that if we choose (Ephesians 5:18; 6:6:10; Galatians 5:17).

Other verses to consider:

Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Crowns are reserved for:

The diligent servant, I Corinthians 9:

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

The soul-winner, I Thessalonians 2:

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20  For ye are our glory and joy.

Those who love His appearing, I Timothy 4:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous­ness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

The ones enduring trials, James 1:

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The  faithful Elders, I Peter 5:

4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

The faithful believer under trials, Revelation 3:

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

4:4,10,11 And round about the throne were… four and twenty elders sitting,… and they had on their heads crowns of gold… and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

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