Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Judge or Not to Judge

To Judge or Not to Judge
Dear Father,
    You are the only Law-giver and Judge who is able to save and destroy. You are coming back to gather Your people, yes, even those who are dead in Christ, and to exercise final judgment on the wicked. How many will weep in infinite fear and anguish at their plight? They had deceived themselves into thinking that they were Yours, but they had no knowledge of Your Son. You do not know them, Father. Help us; we want assurance Father! Have mercy and confirm our calling and election. May we know You and abide in You, that we may know that we have eternal life (1 John). We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and we trust in You to bring us out as blameless on the Day by the blood of our Redeemer. Jesus Christ is Lord, God, and Savior, and He has come in the Flesh.
In Jesus Christ’s Name,

Dear Beloved,
     This letter is about whether or not we are to judge our neighbor. May God help us as we discuss several portions of His Word. We will be going through these Scriptures, one-by-one and drawing out the key Truths about whether or not we should judge our neighbor. I pray that taking Scriptures collectively, we will get a clearer sense of what are the circumstances and heart conditions under which we are to judge and not judge.

1.      “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matt 7

     Here, Christ tells us that we must not judge so that we will not be judged. For in the way we judge, and by our standard of measure, we will be judged and it will be measured to us. He goes on to warn us against hypocrisy and to exhort us to deal with our own sin, which is often of much greater magnitude than the person we judge. Thus, He is commanding us not to judge with hypocrisy. It is very important to understand what it means that we will be judged in the way that we judge. Let us consider that our neighbor has offended us, and our heart has turned against him. We have put off our tender affection towards him, at least in our hearts, and possibly in our behavior. Let us now consider that we ourselves have committed the same offense that this neighbor has committed. If God were to judge us with the measure we used, He would put us off, and lose His tender affection towards us. How terrible this would be! We would fall under His infinite wrath for every offense that we made. This example is akin to the parable of the unmerciful servant. The master was willing to fully forgive the great debt of his servant, but because the servant showed his refusal to receive his master’s grace by his act to condemn his fellow servant, the master judged him by his own severity. And he did not come out of prison until he paid his full debt, that is, he never came out. Remember that we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Would we want to be cast off and disdained for every offense that we committed? Worser yet, would we want God to cast us off and disdain us for every offense that we committed? But imagine that we are continuing in sin, and on the verge of drifting away from the Word of our salvation. If we strayed from the Truth, we would want our neighbor to turn us back from the error of our way to save our soul from death and to cover a multitude of sins (James 5:19). And thus, if we see our brother falling away, and refuse to confront him, it would be as though we were falling away and God never used His loving discipline to bring us back, but allowed us to remain estranged from Him unto damnation…we will be discussing more verses to exemplify the latter.

2.     “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces…15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matt 7
     In the same chapter in which Christ tells us not to judge (point # 1) He goes on to command us not to give what is holy to dogs or to throw our pearls before swine. He tells us to beware of the false prophets, who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He tells us that we WILL know them by their fruits, because a tree will produce good or bad fruit in accordance with its nature. It is quite apparent that when Christ commanded us not to judge, He did not mean that we are never to exercise moral judgment on the fruit of the lives of others. For He is clearly telling us here that we can assess the nature of “dogs” and “bad trees” by the nature of the fruit that is produced. Thus, not only do we have the ability to judge based on fruit, but Christ tells us that we WILL know them by their fruits.

3.     If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2…11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? James 4

     In these verses, we are commanded to speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty and not to “speak against one another” because if we speak and judge our brother, we speak against the law and judge the Law. According to the New Commandment of love, Christ has covered over the sins of His children by making atonement through His blood. Thus, were we to condemn our neighbor in our hearts for their sin for which Christ has made atonement, we make light of His grace towards them. In context, the type of judgment mentioned here is one of malice (which leads to speaking against a brother) accompanied with desires (subtle or obvious) for the destruction of that person. Thus, we are never to make condemnation charges against a brother with malice and anger and so make light of the Law of Christ’s love and His grace.

4.     Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 1 Cor 4

     In the context of these verses (see latter part of 1 Cor 3), Paul is exhorting the Corinthians not to associate themselves with Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, but rather to associate themselves with the Name of Christ. For Godly leaders are to be regarded as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. These three were faithful ministers among the saints, yet the Corinthians were not to go on passing judgment so as to elevate one of the three over another because it is God who will disclose the motives of men’s heart; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. Paul is exhorting us not to weigh one servant of God against another with the desire to select one over the other, rather we should leave such judgment to the Lord at the final day when He will reward each of His stewards and servants.

5.     I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. 1 Cor 5
     Paul told the Corinthians not to associate with immoral people, not meaning the immoral people of the world, for then they would need to leave the world. But he meant that we should not associate with professing believes who live in a lifestyle of continual sin (e.g. immoral person, the covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or swindlers). We are not to judge the unconverted people who do not profess faith in Christ, for until they are convicted of guilt by the Spirit and are granted repentance and regeneration by the Spirit and Word according to the will of the Father, we know that they are helpless and dead in trespasses and sins. However, with regard to those who profess faith in Christ, yet continue in sin, we are to judge that person. We are to remove such a person, who is called a wicked man here, and is thus not a true believer, from within the church to maintain the purity of the people of God that the Name of Christ and the sanctifying nature of the Gospel may not be maligned. This does not mean that a weaker brother, or a brother who stumbles in sin is to be expelled from the body. Rather, a person who claims to be a Christian, but shows no signs of the fruit of repentance or growth in Christ, but rather shows only bad fruit, and he has no contrition or desire to repent, but shamelessly continues on in his rebellion, such a person may be judged, expelled, or perhaps “given over to Satan”. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.  1 Tim 5

6.     A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding draws it out. Prov 20:5

     In one sense, we cannot exhaustively judge the motives of others, and yet we consider the Spiritual gift of discernment. Furthermore, we see in this verse that the man of understanding can draw out the plan in the heart of a man which is as deep water. Thus, our discernment is not comprehensive, but there are times when God gives understanding and discernment to His people to understand the plans in the hearts of others.

7.     12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
           “Today if you hear His voice,
               Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” Heb 13

     In these verses, we are commanded to TAKE CARE that there not be in any one of us an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Rather we are to encourage one another day after day, so that no one is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. It is a fact that we are true Christians (i.e. “partakers of Christ”) if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Thus, out of love and deep concern for our neighbor, we are to take care that others do not have an evil and unbelieving heart. Out of love, we must notice signs of hardness of hearts in our neighbors. This is manifestation of Christ’s command to do unto others as we would have them do to us: if we were falling away and becoming hardened unto damnation, we would not want our brothers to overlook us, but rather for him to snatch us from the fire with mercy mixed with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh (Jude 22). In the case of a straying believer, it would be hateful for us to not discern the hardness of heart and not to warn him with the rationale that we are “not to judge”.

8.     Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? 1 Cor 6

     The saints must not go to the unbelieving world with their court cases because they are granted discernment to decide between brothers, judge the matters of this life, and are competent to judge trivial matters.

9.     The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  1 Peter 4

     These verses are conclusive. We must not judge in hypocrisy, malice, pride, comparison of the saints, unforgiveness (reveals a feeling of personal offense), or so as to make light of Christ’s atonement and the Law of His love. Rather, we must judge with sober judgment, in love, the discernment of the Spirit, according to the Word of God, with the intent to snatch others out of fire, to be used by God to bring back the straying sheep, to expose false believers, to protect the true saints, and all for the sake of the glory of His Name and the revelation of the love shown in the Gospel to all. Above all, we must KEEP FERVENT IN OUR LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER, BECAUSE LOVE COVERS OVER A MULTITUDE OF SINS. 

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