Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal 6:7, 9)
As Paul closes the book of Galatians, he warns the readers that they should not be deceived. He tells them that they will reap what they sow.
Unfortunately, many think that Paul is saying that if a person claims to be a Christian but does not live a holy life they are deceiving themselves. Those who hold this position say that those who deceive themselves will go to hell when they die. But it is clear that Paul is not talking about that. All throughout the book of Galatians, Paul knows that his readers are believers. He repeatedly calls them “brothers” (1:2, 11; 3:15; 4:12, 28, etc). In fact, he calls them brothers in 6:1, immediately before telling them not to be deceived. In addition, he tells them that they had received the Spirit of God through faith in Christ (3:2). Only believers have the Spirit.
Instead, Paul is talking about the Judgment Seat of Christ. The believer already has eternal life, but there is day of reckoning coming, in the future, when he will give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ. There, the believer will reap what he sowed with his life. Paul talks about this future meeting with the Lord in verse 9 and refers to the time of this meeting “in due season.” The faithful believer will be rewarded if he has done good works in “well doing” and does not become “weary” and give up. Once again we see that Paul is not talking about how a person receives eternal life because eternal life is received as a free gift apart from works (Eph 2:8-9). Here, he says that in order to reap a good harvest one must do good works and endure in them. This harvest has everything to do with rewards in the Kingdom of God and not what a person must do to enter it.
But how can a believer be deceived about such things? One way a believer could be deceived by these things is he doesn’t believe that living by the flesh will impact the harvest he will reap at the judgment. He does not believe that living a life that does not please the Lord will have any impact on his experience in the Kingdom. Perhaps he says to himself that the bad things he does are small and really don’t matter.
Another way a believer could be deceived is he could be deceived by the world. He could be convinced that treasures in this world are more important that what we do for the Lord. After all, we can see the treasures we lay up on earth, but we cannot see rewards in a future Kingdom.
Another way a believer could be deceived is something the Lord warned us about in some of His parables. A believer could convince himself that he has a lot of time before he appears before the Judgment Seat. His fervor for serving the Lord and His church could grow cold and he might even convince himself that he will get busy “sowing” good seed later. The Lord made it clear that for many Christians they will find themselves before Him at a time they did not expect.
But it occurred to me recently that there is another way believers can be deceived about this coming meeting with the Lord. It is simply that they do not believe it will happen. When it comes to what Paul is talking about here in Galatians 6, this is almost certainly the most common deception among Christians. For a variety of reasons, most Christian do not know or believe that they will one day give an account to Christ in order to either be rewarded or lose rewards. In other words, most Christians do not believe in the Judgment Seat of Christ. They don’t believe in rewards. They think that every Christian will have the same experience in the Kingdom. They are deceived.
We are saved by grace through faith alone. We cannot lose eternal life. But to all Christians Paul would say: Believers. Don’t be deceived. A day is coming when you will reap what you sow at the Judgment Seat of Christ.