"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'." (John 7:38)

"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." (1Cor. 2:12-13)


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Judgment Or Discernment

"Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed." (Romans 2:1-5)

Except for God's sovereign grace, we are all capable of indulging in anything known to fallen mankind.

The first verse states that those who judge others condemn themselves because they practice the very same thing. The reason a person is able to accuse another, is because the human depravity they recognize and judge is potentially present within themselves.

Should we fully comprehend that we have been saved from ourselves by God's grace alone, we would not perceive another's behavior as something to judge, rather something to forgive and afford grace toward... that same grace and forgiveness we freely received. However, as we find ourselves inclined to judge others, it is because we have not yet been enlightened to the magnitude of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. (Romans 5:8)

So it is, with a passion to establish a self-righteousness apart from Christ that we judge others; and that to our own condemnation. If we are to see others through the eyes of God, we must be more than just knowledgeable of Jesus. We must be knowledgeable in Him. (Romans 8:1)

"Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?"
(James 4:11-12)

When we pronounce judgment upon someone, we are in essence:

-denying grace. This type of judgment is reserved for God against the unrighteous; those who are not the elect of God, and decrees a verdict of condemnation by Him alone. (Matthew 22:13)

-dispensing the law for the sake of bearing witness against the actions and attitudes of others. This runs contrary to the biblical mandate for Christians in dealing with transgressors. (Matthew 18:15-17)

-mocking God's creation, as though they were not made in His image. (Matthew 5:22)

 When we judge, we are declaring that others are unworthy of God's grace.

We have essentially turned the law upon our neighbor to be declared guilty under it. Yet ourselves, having been freed from being judged by the law because of the gift of grace, now judge that the law should be used against our neighbor while embracing that it doesn't apply to us.
(Matthew 18:27-28)
We are denying our neighbor this same grace. We are denying the command to forgive others. (Mark 11:25)

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, 'Of all the commandments, which is the most important?' 'The most important one,' answered Jesus, 'is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these."(Mark12:28-31)

To judge someone is to defy the two greatest commandments of God.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)

To judge by the law is to deny Jesus.

Now, to judge according to grace is freedom from judgment by the law. It provides opportunity for others to confess their sins and for the Holy Spirit to work repentance into the heart. This is exactly why Jesus came into the world.

But we can't just dwell on the subject of judgment without introducing the matter of accountability which plays such a vital role in the church.

Recognizing and confronting evil should not be mistaken as judging a person. Human judgment is a partial knowledge assumption presumed upon another person's motives and position with God, based simply on the evident circumstances that are perceived by the one judging. The motives behind this type of judgment are numerous and its source is demonic.

Discernment, however, is the ability to correctly identify the true spirit of attitudes and behaviors of others.

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

Practical discernment comes by being immersed in God's character and precepts, but spiritual discernment comes by the power of the Holy Spirit, working through those whom God has bestowed the gift to. They will stand as an illuminating light against all forms of rebellion and dark authorities that set themselves up to deceive God's creation. In spite of the enemy's commanding presence, their true motivations will be exposed and their hypocrisy revealed.

In regards to the carnal behavior of believers, confrontation is the required business of every child of God for the sake of accountability within the body of Christ. Yet none of this is to anyone's advantage if love for our fellow man is not the ultimate passion. Confrontation without the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit through prayer will always be perceived as judgmental.

Below are several Biblical examples of appropriate judgments on those whose actions were clearly contrary to the Spirit of God.

"Jesus answered them, 'I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.'" (John 7:21-24)

"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. 'Purge the evil person from among you.'" (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

"One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.' This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth."
(Titus 1:12-14)

The following is an extreme example of how seriously God regards integrity, honesty and accountability in the church, even after Jesus' resurrection.

"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.' When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

"After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, 'Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.' And she said, 'Yes, for so much.' But Peter said to her, 'How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.' Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things."
(Acts 5:1-11)


"The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one." (1 Corinthians 2:15)

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