Will believers give an account for every careless word spoken?

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Readers Question / Comment - Will believers give an account for every careless word spoken?

Hello my name is Corinna and the question I have for you that has been going around this house fir some time is from Matthew 12 36 where Jesus says to the Pharisees that men will be accountable for every idle word. Now I am thinking he is speaking to the Pharisees regarding their hearts and mouths being different. If men are to be held accountable then I should stop speaking from this day forward.

Your thoughts.? Thank you also loving this sight you have taught me many things

JPN Reply:

Hey Corinna,

thanks for the question. You didn't pick an easy one now did you? : ) Probably why it has been doing the rounds in your house!

Matthew 12:33-37 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. (34) "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. (35) "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. (36) "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. (37) "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Context is always important and the context of this verse if the self righteous attitude of the Pharisees. He is speaking to the 'brood of vipers'. They were rejecting Jesus and trusting in their own works. Jesus was telling them clearly that they would then be judged based on every word that they spoke - and theirs, in rejecting Jesus, was evil! So the question is, Is the believer under such a judgement? On the surface of this passage alone it may make it sound like everyone (good and bad) goes to the same judgement and is judged by the words they spoke. But that is not the case and it is actually reading more into this passage that is actually there. When we look at the wider detailed teaching of the judgements to come we find that believers are not judged in the same way that unbelievers are. In fact Jesus clearly said that believers do not come into judgement:

John 3:16-18 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (17) "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (18) "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

So the believer does not come into judgement like the unbeliever and the ONLY basis that a believer could not come into judgement is because someone else has already dealt with their sin. And we know who that is! What then of 'the judgement seat of Christ' that believers are said to come before? Paul tells us as believers that we shall all come before the judgement seat of Christ to have our works (good or bad - and this word translated bad can mean evil and wicked but also 'good for nothing, worthless, unimportant') judged (2 Cor 5:10). Earlier in 1 Cor 3:10-15 Paul said that our works will be tried by fire to see if a reward can be given. The background to this was one those in Corinth (Greece) were familiar with as the 'bema seat' was where the athletes in the Greek games come before to receive their wreaths and rewards.

So for me, I see the purpose of a believers judgement in being in regards to rewards, not sin or idle words spoken. We will still have to stand before the Lord and have our works judged. We will still get to see whether our lives in the Lord amounted to that which can be rewarded and last for eternity or whether a large part of it was the wood, hay and stubble (the 'good for nothing, worthless, unimportant') that is burned up and amounts to nothing.

But I don't see the believers judgement as going through every idle word or wrong thought or stumble in our walk. Believers do not come into judgement like that. And if we do get to see all the wrong that we did it could only be to magnify the salvation that Jesus purchased for us - it won't be to condemn for there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus for our sin was taken by another thank goodness! Personally I still find the thought of coming before God to have my life inspected and judged in terms of rewards or lack thereof, sobering and it is good to think about it. I want to walk in the good works He has ordained for me so that I may, possibly, hear 'well done good and faithful servant' on that day. In fact I might even be happy with a 'yeah not too bad!' We can also be encouraged by another passage Paul said however when he implied that when God searches our hearts and actions on that day He is looking for something that He can actually praise us for. Much like what a father does with his son today.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.

Going back to the Mathew passage, below is what an old Bible teacher that Ilike (Arno C Gaebelin) wrote about it which may help.

All the best and hope it helps a little. Not sure it will dim the debates and discussions within your house but we'll see! :)

On Mathew 12:33-37
These words have been misunderstood and much misapplied and all this by wresting these words out of their connection. They are mostly applied in connection with that unscriptural phrase and doctrine, “universal judgment.” According to this, even the words will be weighed and judged, and only then in that hour of judgment, will it be known, according to this teaching, who will be saved and who is lost. Our Lord did not teach this here nor is it taught anywhere else. These Pharisees were proud of their works and were self-righteous. If they relied on their works as a means of their justification and salvation they have to expect a judgment accordingly; every idle word is to be judged, which means utter, absolute condemnation. Their words could not be good because they were wicked. May the self-righteous, religious man remember this. Absolute condemnation awaits him. Salvation is by grace, and by that salvation man receives a good treasure and brings forth good things. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth then speaks. Furthermore, the word “idle” means useless, barren. All that which man speaks out of himself is barren and useless. The believer, however, living after the Spirit, will not utter useless words, but that which is in honor of the Son of God. As believers, we should bear constantly in mind that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, not for a decision of eternal salvation, this was settled when the believer trusted in Christ, but for rewards. Surely then our deeds, our works and our words will be either approved or disapproved. “By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” This has also a reference to the familiar passage in Rom_10:1-21 : “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” And wherever there is not this confession springing from the belief of the heart there is condemnation.

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