1 Peter 4:17, “17 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?”

It’s often thought that the primary attribute of God is the love of God. There is nothing wrong with this in so far as it goes since the Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Often what people mean by “God is love” is not that He is love but that love is all that God is which undermines the holiness and judgment of God. The Bible not only speaks about the love of God which has been poured out through Christ but also that the people of God will be judged at times in this life, even though Christ has taken the full fury of the wrath of God in our place for our sins. One example of this is 1 Peter 4:17, “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?”

Peter uses the word judgment here not as a judgment for punishing sin. The word judgment here has a broad meaning that involves a judgment that gives approval for the purpose of discipline, though not for a particular sin. Earlier Peter mentioned the fiery suffering that comes into Christian’s lives (1 Peter 4:12). Such trials are used by the Lord to judge them, though not necessarily as temporal consequences for some sin that we have committed. God uses suffering sometimes to test the faith of the people of God so that we may demonstrate whether we truly treasure Christ alone or not. The Lord also uses trials to strengthen the faith of the people of God.

The word judgment here also includes judgment with the idea of bearing some kind of suffering because of repeated or habitual sin. Though we have already discussed this “deserved suffering” it worth mentioning again, it is not honorable. With that said, it can be a blessing if we turn from the sin in question as a result of it. 1 Peter 4:17 tells readers judgment will be poured out on those “who do not obey the gospel of God.” For these people, such judgment will result not in purification but eternal condemnation. Those who are judged without knowing Christ will be destroyed. The Lord’s true people will be strengthened and purified by His righteous hand.

The history of the people of God indicates that judgment always begins with the covenant community of faith. The Israelites were sent into exile before the wicked Babylonian Empire was judged. 1 Peter 4:17 teaches that judgment begins with the house of God. Though Christians may not know why they suffer, if they respond correctly they will either be purified, disciplined or gain some kind of heavenly reward. Please ask the Lord today to help you react rightly to His Word and to any suffering you are presently facing.