2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV)
“We are always confident” (v. 6a) means that we can be confident in the knowledge that Christians will go to Heaven. If we are truly a Christian the Holy Spirit lives in us and He is a deposit guaranteeing Heaven.
We do not get to Heaven by doing good works, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us, which comes through our faith and by the grace of God. We get to Heaven not on our ticket but on Jesus’ ticket, who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
While we are still are in these bodies “we live by faith, not by sight” (vv. 6b-7). Once we pass from this life we are in the presence of God and we can then live by sight.
Paul then links verses eight, nine, and ten together. He writes we would prefer to be in Heaven (v. 8), so we make it our goal to please the Lord (v.9), for (because) we must all be judged for the good or bad we did (v. 10).
Linking these three verses together tells us that there is a relationship between the three statements. They are linked by the words “so” and “for”. You cannot take each verse separately. They are a complete thought. One leads to the other. The rendering should be “we want to be in Heaven so we should please Him because we will be judged and will receive our due for the things done, whether good or bad.
There are two judgments by Christ. There is the judgment of rewards for believers and there is the great white throne judgment of death in the lake of fire for unbelievers, after their stay in Hades (Revelation 20:11-15).
If this passage is only about Christians being judged for the good they do, why did Paul add “or bad?” After all, if Christians do good they have more rewards and if they do not do good they will have less or no rewards.
Perhaps, the reason is if they do bad, they may not really be Christians. This may be a message to those church members who may not really be Christians, who will be judged at the great white throne judgment for the bad they did by not pleasing God.
Remember Paul was writing to the church in Corinth where there had been sin issues. This was not just a reminder to believers of their rewards, but it was a warning that we all will be judged. It was a recognition that not all church members may be Christians.
We please God by obeying Him. We obey Him by obeying His word, the Bible. We know what to obey by reading the Bible. When we sin, or support others in their sin we are not pleasing God.
Pleasing God should be our goal in life. It is obeying the Bible. It determines our rewards in Heaven. Those rewards will far surpass any rewards on earth. Not only that, those rewards will last much longer than any earthly rewards. After all, eternity is a very, very long time.
Online Bible Commentary