You can read Part 1 of this series here.
Again, let’s sum up the 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.
We come now to the second part of Judgment. How is the matter of judgment addressed by the early New Testament church and in particular by the apostles as they addressed the believers in each local assembly? Were the antics, false teachings, and sin found even in the early New Testament swept under the rug so-to-speak? Do we find the apostles “judging” the lives of those who claimed the name of Christ? Let’s look at a few examples that run contrary to the modern mindset that we are “not to judge.”
1. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 are a good place to start. They sinned against God and lied to the apostles about a financial matter. Surely, that couldn’t be a really serious matter. After all, I’m sure everybody was doing it to some degree. WRONG ANSWER! God killed them. Judgment fell and it was handled by the church leaders in a way that made it clear to the condemned couple as well as to those in and outside of the church that sin is to be judged.
2. To the Romans, Paul wrote in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”
3. We move to the environs of Corinth and find a situation where a man was involved in sexual relations with his father’s wife (step-mom). Paul wrote to the believers and encouraged them to embrace this man and just love him back to Jesus. WRONG ANSWER! He soundly rebuked this church for allowing the sin to continue and informed them in harsh terms that if they did not deal with the problem, then he was going to when he arrived. Paul clearly is addressing believers, even those who are deliberately choosing to enjoy the fruits of sin for a season.
1 Cor. 5:9-12, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?“
4. Gal. 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse will feature significantly in regards to the matter of discipline, but is worth mentioning here as well. For there to be restoration, there must be a time of judgment where the sin of the individual is brought to account.
5. Paul then writes to the believers in Thessalonica and gives three words of admonition and exhortation in regards to judging. In each instance, he is referring to those who claim the name of Christ. He does not say one word about “just accepting them as they are.” In the strongest of language, Paul reiterates the position the early New Testament church was to hold against a brother who does not obey the words taught from Scripture by the apostle. DO NOT KEEP COMPANY WITH THEM! Why? So, they will be ashamed and turn from their sin. No other way to describe this term, but that it is judgment against another believer.
A) 1 Thess. 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
B) 2 Thess. 3:6, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”
C) 2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
6. When writing to the young elder, Timothy, Paul says in 2 Tim. 2:25-26, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. Again, this judgment is AGAINST those who are believers. They are opposing some aspect of the truth and yet Paul clearly commands a young elder, who was NOT an apostle, to judge those individuals.
7. Finally, Paul wrote to Titus, who was sent to minister to the Cretans. This group of people were notorious for being lazy gluttons. In Titus 3:10-11, he lets Titus know that he is commanded to “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
Let’s summarize – the early New Testament church looked much different than today’s church. Today’s church is self-seeking and refuses to condemn sin. They want to take one phrase of the Lord Jesus Christ to the exclusion of the remainder of His teachings as well as ignoring the teachings of the apostles. The early New Testament church grew tremendously because people FEARED the Lord. Sinners were afraid to be caught in their sin for it meant being excluded from the protection of the local assembly. Judgment was expected both from the church corporately as well as by individuals who noted another who chose to remain in their sin.
It is our responsibility to judge one who remains in their sin. When a person rejects the admonitions of a caring, loving, and humble believer who desires their restoration, that person is to be shunned and treated as an unbeliever. We are not to invite them into our home for fellowship all the while hoping that things will change in their lives. In other words, we do NOT continue to treat them as we would a brother or sister who is striving for a life of holiness.
The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!
(…to be continued…)