Some people tend to think that God will have a "weigh-in" on the scales of justice when they die. They may think that all of their good deeds will be placed on one side of the scale and all of their bad deeds on the other and if the good outweighs the bad then surely God will accept them. Actually, there will be a judgment, a weigh-in so to speak, but the problem with man's idea of this weigh-in is that he grossly miscalculates and underestimates the weight of his sins. The Bible teaches that a single sin, regardless of its severity in our eyes, has so much weight in God's eyes that all the good deeds we could possibly muster in a lifetime would not even begin to tip the scales in our favor. At this judgment, if justice is administered on the basis of our works, we will all stand absolutely condemned. This misunderstanding of sin and justice arises out of a lack of a proper understanding about the nature and character of God.
Many people picture God as a God of love, goodness and mercy. This is absolutely true, as the Bible affirms:
God is love. 1 John 4:8
No one is good - except God alone. Luke 18:19
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:8-9
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
God our Savior ... wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3
However, for many people, their understanding of the character of God stops here. The Bible, however, equally teaches that this same God of love is also a God of justice, righteousness, purity and holiness:
God is a righteous judge. Psalm 7:11
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice. Acts 17:31
For the Lord is a God of justice. Isaiah 30:18
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. Deuteronomy 32:4
But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness. Isaiah 5:16
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. Isaiah 13:11
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. 2 Thessalonians 1:9
A proper concept of God must include God in his totality. We cannot view God as only a God of love, incapable of administering justice. Nor can we think of God only as a merciless judge, doling out punishment on a sinful world, devoid of any love. The biblical view of God shows him as a God of love, compassion and mercy, but also as a God who cannot and will not tolerate sin, and who must, in keeping with his righteousness, bring judgment upon the guilty. We also must not think of God as some kind of supreme man, because the best person our thoughts can fashion will fall far short of the true character of God.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Where does this leave us then? The Bible declares us all to be sinners, guilty of transgressing the laws and ways of God. It furthermore says that we are incapable of doing anything which could pay for our sins, cancel our debt, and bring us into an acceptable position before God. Finally, as if driving the final nail into the coffin, God clearly pronounces the sentence for our sin:
For the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23
Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
The death spoken of here is not just physical death, for we all must experience that, rather it is spiritual death which means complete and eternal separation from God. The Bible refers to this separation as hell, which Jesus, in Matthew 13:42, characterizes as a place "where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."