The parable of the sheep and the goats is recognized for both its promise to the obedient, and judgment of the disobedient (Matt. 25:31-46). In it the glorified Lord sits on his throne dividing the nations “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matt. 25:32, NASB). The Lord is both on his throne and glorified. This reveals that the parable applies to the 1000-year reign of Christ and his church (Rev. 20:4). Colossians 3:4 affirms that the completed church will be present during this judgment. This is the time of Christ’s promised earthly kingdom, which will bless all the families of the earth. 1 Corinthians 6:2 confirms that the church will participate in this judgment of the world of mankind.
According to the parable, the world will be judged by their works of love toward one another. Each individual will show their love toward Christ through their love to one another. “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40, NASB).
How beautiful a picture—the Prince of Peace reigning on his throne of perfect justice with his bride (the church), judging mankind according to the law of love that he gave and lived during his human life. People will be grouped according to their acts of love toward each other! Those who are sheep-like in character—humble, accepting, and obedient to the kingdom arrangement of love for all—will receive the blessings of God’s kingdom. Those who are goat-like—stubborn and self-willed, not submitting themselves to the guidance of the good shepherd and not lovingly uplifting their fellow man—will be separated from the flock.
Failing to attain this character of active love will result in becoming part of the goat class which the Lord condemns with the same judgment pronounced against the devil and his angels. This sentence of eternal fire is not one of torment, but of complete destruction. The Prince of Peace will then pour out the never-ending blessings of God on all those who developed the character of the sheep. They will live forever filled with love for one another.