If God put all my judgment on Christ and I am under no further condemnation (Romans 8:1, etc.) then why does this passage say judgment begins at the household of God?
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 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? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:12–19)
A careful reading shows the answer; this judgment is not the final one. Rather, it happens in this life whenever God tests my faith with trials, fiery or otherwise. That testing is part of His will for His people.
Trials of faith come in many forms, from physical to spiritual. With them will come strong temptations to give up living for Christ and abandon my faith. Every Christian faces them and God is in charge of what trials we face, whether it is insults for being a Christian and other forms of persecution, or attacks to body or mind.
For the past two years, I’ve had severe attacks to my thoughts. They did not come from false teachers as this verse warns: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) but instead these attacks were from the evil one who wanted me to think contrary to the will of God.
Besides that, he very likely had in mind that in wrong thinking, I would make sinful decisions and therefore ruin my spiritual life. As the battle went on, God showed me many areas of my life that needed ‘thought adjustments’ and in the battle, I found myself becoming more helpless in myself, yet increasing in strength in the Lord. That is, fighting the evil one actually made me stronger.
Christians need to be aware of what is going on when Satan attacks. As Ephesians 6:10-12 says, I needed to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, putting on the whole armor of God, that I will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For I do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (personalized)
This battle was not about people, even though the thoughts of the enemy tried to make it appear as if it were. It is about the forces of evil that want to defeat the people of God.
The rest of the passage goes on to describe the whole armor of God as protection, and the use of His Word as my weapon. It also says that the battle is not about mind games and trying to answer Satan’s plans and accusations with words, even though that is part of it. The real battle is about prayer for other Christians and prayer that I might be a bold, witnessing Christian. Satan will do whatever he can to stop me from doing either, and for awhile, he was successful.
However, one day not long ago God did something unexpected. From that moment on, I knew that my trial had ended. Of course the enemy still pokes at me, but now I can say, “You loser” and let the Lord God fill my mind with thoughts of Him. Praise God.