Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To Judge or not to Judge, Part 2 of 2

Yet this passage in Matthew was not given to teachers (those the Holy Spirit gave the gift of teaching to) specifically; it is addressed to all Christians who attempt to reprove or admonish. If you do not “practice what you preach” as the saying goes, you have disqualified yourself from ministering in this regard to another believer. You, in fact, need the gentle ministry of one who is spiritual, Galatians 6:1! This verse is extremely informative, so it would be helpful in the context of “judging” to quote Paul: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Note that Paul addresses this counsel to believers alone (brethren) and instructs spiritual believers (those in fellowship with the Holy Spirit) to restore the straying Christian to a right relationship with his God; taking care that his sins do not tempt you to do likewise.

The essence of Jesus’ discourse here was the removal of hypocrisy before righteous judgment could be reached. Those who judge hypocritically will be severely judged by the Lord. Take care then that when you speak with another Christian to counsel or correct them, what manner of spirit you are speaking from. What motivates you? Are you coming beside them as a brother in Christ, or as a judge to condemn? And, as importantly, are you in a spiritual condition to even come beside another believer to counsel them? If the answer upon self-examination is “no” our Lord graciously provides an antidote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” 1st John 1:9.

Matthew 7:6 declares: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Recall later in our Lord’s ministry when He spoke with the woman of Canaan, He said, “It is not meet (fit) to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs,” Matthew 15:26. Peter says of the unsaved that rejected the command to believe the gospel: “But it happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” 2nd Peter 2:22. Dogs and swine were unclean animals in Jewish Law, so Jesus used this to refer to the unsaved, which we are incapable of judging by the same moral/spiritual standards believers are subject to when they are born again. Paul wrote, “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? ...But them that are without God judgeth,” 1st Corinthians 5:12-13.

Jesus warns that spreading our pearls would breed resentment in the unbeliever; and justly so. The carnal mind is enmity to God, and will not obey Him, Romans 8:7. The unbeliever must pass from death to life through the new birth to inherit the Spirit of obedience that compels a Christian to serve Christ out of filial love. The natural (unsaved) man receives none of this Spirit, 1st Corinthians 2:14. To coerce the unsaved to live like a Christian without virtue of the new birth would be highly hypocritical and only serve to engender enmity or pride. Imagine converting to faith in Christ a highly moral unbeliever, convinced to such lofty standards by your preaching!

For a practical example, consider Israel in the days of the Theocracy. The Jews were not commanded to compel the heathen nations around them to live by the godly principals revealed in the Mosaic Law; rather they were to remain a separate people, divorced from the pagan mentality which ruled their day. In essence, that alone would be a judgment against the ungodly in the days of Israel; the heathen would see how the Jews worshiped God and served/loved one another, and it would smite their conscience. The pagans who wished to approach Yahweh could only do so after being adopted into the tribes of Israel. Note, the heathen did not become subject to the God of Israel until he was made a member of God’s people. First comes transformation via the gospel, and then follows obedience. Yet Christians are not subject to Moses’ Law, to keep it as Israel did; we are subject to the Law of love instated by our Lord shortly before His crucifixion, and reiterated after His resurrection. The Law (its rigid keeping) was given only to Israel: “He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the Lord,” Psalm 147:19-20.

The gospel is itself a judgment; it is a proclamation from God of our sinful state, His salvation offered through Jesus Christ, and the impotent nature of any religion or philosophy erected to substitute or oppose this gospel. When we bring the gospel to the unsaved, we are making a judgment. We agree with God’s judgment that the person in question is lost and spiritually dead. Their religion is hopeless in procuring salvation, and only through the reconciliation offered in our risen Lord is there hope of eternal life and glory. In essence, our gospel states that all men are wrong, God is right about righteousness, sin, and judgment, and to escape the wrath of God’s abiding justice, we must flee to the shelter of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is highly judgmental, to say the least.

I leave you with one of my favorite passages in Scripture, which certainly permits a believer to make righteous judgments in this life; knowing that any such judgment originating from God can only be just, holy, and right. He is the truth. The passage I refer to states:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations (arguments), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled,” 2nd Corinthians 10:3-6.

A believer shall be “revenged” or “punished” at the judgment seat of Christ for disobedience. Our rewards are burned before our very eyes. One such form of disobedience being hypocritical judgments or residing as judge over another believer. When we judge, do we judge as God would judge? And that being so, are we guilty of the very things He condemns? “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God,” 1st Peter 4:11. The oracles of God, or the prophets, never transgressed by going beyond, thus sayeth the Lord… neither should we. We ought to think God’s own thoughts after Him, and strive to obey from the heart our heavenly Father, as our Lord set down an example for us. Those honestly walking so are, according to the Bible, making righteous judgments.

In summary, my brother, knowing not spiritual things, warped the word of God to attack my believing mother. His words were engineered to hurt, and he stooped low enough to try taking up the sword of the Spirit to inflict pain on her. Yet, do you know what happens to someone untrained in the skillful use of a weapon when they try to wield it? It returns on them.

“Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction,” Jeremiah 17:18.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing how often we want to judge things we aren't qualified to judge, but ignore the things we do know about in our own lives?

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