Does Matthew 7:1 preclude one true believer from finding a fault or dealing with a matter of sin against another? Was Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount informing His listeners that they were essentially to ignore on-going sin or the slighting of the name or character of the Most Holy One of Israel?
Within much of professing Christianity, there appears to be a perverse pleasure that comes with misquoting Scripture or taking it out of context. This is normally done for one of two reasons. First, it suits the purposes of the individual seeking to defend their position (whether that be poor doctrine or sin). Second, this is used as a tactic for defending the position of another (like a minister) while making sure that nobody is allowed to hold that person accountable.
The problem is compounded when the favorite verse of many evangelicals is trotted out of the stables, “Judge not so you be not judged!” The parading of this verse is expected to answer all those who would dare to hold another “Christian” accountable for their words or actions. Judgment is thus fortunately averted and all is at peace within evangelicalism with the exception of those “nasty” legalistic types who think that Scriptures are to be taken and obeyed literally.
Many have come to DefCon who fit into the categories already listed above. They hear us taking a stand against charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets, heretics, mockers of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. and want us to back off their favorite personages. They do not want their hero to be held accountable to the Word of God or even to local churches. If one DARES to speak up, their favorite verse is brought out as some kind of token “proof” that those individuals are allowed to relish in their sins and that those who condone them are right in doing so.
Putting aside personal feelings (which are bound to get hurt) and pet peeves (which do no justice to the entire Word of God), let’s see what the Scriptures have to say about both judgment and discipline. This blog may come in more than one part as we seek to understand what God has to say about these two vital teachings found throughout the New Testament. Let’s begin with Judgment.
1. Judgment ultimately falls under the remit of God for it is He Who puts up one and puts down another. God alone has the power to bring the final judgment which will befall all who reject Christ as Saviour. He alone does what He will and there is none who can stay His hand or even say to Him, “What do you think you are doing?”
2. Judgment fell directly from God in both Old and New Testament settings. However, there are many recorded instances where God chose to use human instrumentality. This is evident in the warnings given, in the admonition against sins committed, and even at times in the administering of that judgment.
3. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus is actually dealing with the actions of the Pharisees and scribes who would condemn a person based on personal, private opinion of another. More times than not, the Pharisees were exceptionally good at studying the Bible and making their own conclusions about the most trivial of matters while leaving important doctrine undone. The Jewish listeners would have understood this very clearly and it was one more reason why the Pharisees hated Jesus. He was stepping on their turf. They wanted to be able to judge, condemn, and castigate their fellow Jews for the minutest of details. This is clearly pointed out when the Lord Jesus Christ addresses the heart issues of His hearers. “You say adultery, I say simply looking with lust is the same. You say murder, but I say that hating another is the same.”
4. Jesus knew the REAL issue surrounding Him during His earthly ministry had nothing to do with the white-washed sepulchers walking around on two feet. The REAL issue was what was in the heart of man. He knew that if the people covered their sins by making a pretense at religion, they would feel they had pacified the wrath of God. This is what the apostle Paul addresses in Romans 2:1-2, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” Paul knew that the issue was the heart of man. He knew that many were only seeking to judge others based on what they were already doing but in their heart. They were saying one thing and secretly practicing another.
5. In John 7:24, Jesus continues dealing with the religiosity. He says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” In other words, any judgment that must be done is to be conducted with no partiality and not based on tradition or mere man-made rules. All judgment must be performed and it must be performed based on the principles that are found in the Word of God.
So, let’s sum up this first post. While the ultimate judgment comes from God, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that judging another is not only permissible, but is commanded to be fulfilled. However, this judgment is only to be based on issues of the heart. It is not to be done with harshness, but in a way that shows humility as well as a true desire to follow the dictates of Scripture. If Scripture is NOT the basis for judging another, then it is wrong.
Does this fit in line with what we at DefCon are seeking to do? The answer must be YES. To date, all that we seek to post here is not for the purpose of nit-picking at others over what many would deem inconsequential matters. Our desire is and always has been that the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted and glorified in all things. When things are being done in what passes for Christianity (particularly in America) that fly in the face of clear Scripture, WE MUST JUDGE. We MUST take a stand against those things which bring harm to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. We MUST rise up against those who would pervert the things of Christ. To do otherwise is to deny the commands of our Saviour.
(…to be continued…)