In Psalm 82 the One True God judges the little-g-gods that He created. They were put in charge of various nations to image God to humans in matters of justice and care, but they didn’t do that. Instead they became corrupt and evil. The One True God therefore told the little-g-gods that though they are immortal, they will one day die like men—and that goes for Satan, too, whom Paul called the little-g-“god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4). They will all be judged for their sin and turned over to a finality of death in the lake of fire that was created specifically for Satan and his fallen angels (Mt 25:41).
God offers us a free choice to either side with Jesus and His Kingdom of Heaven and go on to resurrection life, or to side with Satan and his kingdom of the world and go on to the lake of fire—and that choice goes for Christians, too.
I find it deeply convicting that when Jesus separates the sheep from the goats (Mt 25:31-46), he identifies His true followers as those who used their lives to serve Him and His Kingdom—not as those who simply made a faith declaration (as though the sinner’s prayer is a magical incantation that can save us when spoken aloud). Those who did not take care of the least of these are lumped into the same death prepared for the little-g-gods, for they are guilty of the same punishment.
Jesus reiterates this warning in Matthew 7:21-23 where he tells us that there will be plenty that refer to him as “Lord”—and even operate in the power of the Holy Spirit to prophesy, cast out demons and do mighty works!—yet Jesus will not let them enter the Kingdom of Heaven because of their “lawlessness.” They, too, have gone on to do evil and join the little-g-gods in their corruption.
Yes, we are saved by grace through Jesus and we cannot save ourselves. But the idea that Christian faith is simply “what I believe” and not “how I live” is immensely challenged by the fuller portrait the Bible paints. The church must wake up and become only about Jesus and only about the Kingdom of Heaven in all matters of life, for that is the only true gospel—it is not found elsewhere.
Yes, there is grace for our failings and we will trip along the way, but if our faith is nothing more than a belief, we are only loving God with a fourth of ourselves. Alongside our minds, we must also convert our hearts, souls, and strength to following Jesus as that is the most important commandment (Mt 22:35-38). Our actions are not disconnected from our faith—our actions are our faith. And if we do not practice this kind of faith, then James joins Jesus in warning us:
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)