Judging, Part 2
Today we will look at the need for Christians to judge. Indeed, the church should be one of the most judgmental places to go, to worship, and belong. Christians in their neighborhood, society, and within the church should be known as some of the most judgmental people around.
Let’s look further at the need for judging, the whys and hows of judging. Love is supposed to be the motivation for judging. I know a lot of individuals who do judge, but it doesn’t come from the spirit or love that comes from God. When people say, “Well, I don’t think it is the spirit of love that judges me,” it is probably because they don’t understand fully what love is about. In other words, many complain about our ministry and say we are unloving or unkind. Indeed, they ask, “Where is the love? Where is the mercy?” They whine that we don’t know their hearts, or how much they serve God and besides, we’ve only known them for a short time. They want us to be more kind, but they don’t understand the kindness of God. Let’s look at the kindness of God. It is found in Psalm 141:5. Ask yourself: Is this what I mean by kindness? Is this what my brothers and sisters mean by kindness? Do we see this being lived out in the church today?
Psalm 141:5 – Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.
So, when somebody complains and says, “Be more kind,” I’ll strike them some more. Or, when they ask, “Can’t you love me more?” I’ll say, “Sure,” and rebuke them more until they repent. “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it.” Within the church today people refuse the spirit of judgment that comes from God, for after all, God is the God of love. 1 Corinthians 11:32 show very plainly the mixture of love and judgment.
1 Corinthians 11:32 – When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
In the same way, every Christian who judges his neighbor, another Christian in the church, or refuses to eat with someone who claims to be a Christian but lives a lie, should do it out of love. It should be done out of a love for God, truth, righteousness, and others. Every time the Spirit leads us to tell somebody we can’t associate with him because although he claims to be a Christian he is really a liar who is headed to hell, it is done out of love. We hope he might repent and not wind up going to hell. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” That means truth, no matter where you find it. If the truth is that your pastor claims to be a Christian, but is not, then you have to rejoice in that. If the truth is that you know a lot people who claim to be Christian but don’t have the slightest idea of what holiness and righteousness really are in Jesus Christ, you have to tell them that you can’t associate with them or eat with them. That is the truth of who they are, what they live and what kind of church they belong to. Love—love for God, love for righteousness, and love for the truth is, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” If the truth is that my son or daughter is headed to hell because they do not love Jesus Christ, then I have to rejoice in that. Love always rejoices with the truth. Jesus, our example of love, shows us powerfully and clearly:
Matthew 16:23 – Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
This is love calling somebody Satan. I can’t think of any harsher rebuke to give a Christian. For Jesus Christ to turn and say, “Get behind me, Satan,” is to put you on par with the Devil himself. Wouldn’t you say that is a pretty low blow? Wouldn’t you say that is striking deep? Think about it. When was the last time the Holy Spirit moved you to turn to someone in the church and say, “Get behind me, Satan!”? See, you are not open to it. We don’t know this kind of Jesus anymore. We have so done away with the cross of Jesus Christ in our lives that the church no longer understands that the spirit will lead individuals, out of love, to turn and to say, “Get behind me, Satan.” Whenever you hear someone in the church or the body beginning to talk worldly, to have in mind the things of men, the Spirit of the Lord may have you rebuke them sharply—remember, it is a kindness—and say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Is this the kind of love that fills your life? This is the love that filled Jesus Christ. Aren’t you supposed to be like Jesus? So, when somebody comes to me and says, “Show the love of God more, show his mercy more,” I may do that by calling him Satan. I may rebuke you in that way. Now, is this what you mean by the love of Jesus Christ in your life? Let me show you another example. When you judge other people by the power of the Holy Spirit they will complain that Jesus was full of mercy and kindness, and he didn’t go around judging others. They will often cite the example of the woman at the well and say that Jesus talked to her and didn’t condemn or come down harshly on her. Not so!
John 4:4-15 – Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Notice the living water that Jesus gave this woman. She said, “I want this living water.” She didn’t understand what the living water was, but then neither do you because you haven’t judged. Look at what he said. He judged and rebuked her.
John 4:16 – He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
She said, “I want the living water. I want what you have to offer.” He rebuked her. He said, “Go, call your husband and come back.” He revealed her sin.
John 4:17-18 – “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Do you understand that this woman confessed her sin? She said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said, “That’s right. You have, technically, six husbands.” He rebuked her, didn’t he?
John 4:19-26 – “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
Do you see what happened here? Jesus first judged the woman. He dealt with her sin and judged her life. He laid everything out that she ever did. He exposed all of her sin. Then, he went on to explain who he is, what he is about, and how she can have eternal life. Now, of course, the disciples come.
John 4:27-29 – 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
So, the woman was judged. Everything about her life and in her heart was laid out. This isn’t the sloppy altar call we see in the church where the pastor says to come forward if you want Jesus Christ. Then someone confesses some very generic kind of sin—”Oh, I’ve been involved in sexual immorality.” Jesus was specific and to the point. She said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Would you go see a Jesus who would expose everything you ever did? This woman went back to declare to these people what she discovered, when she said, “Look, I know a man who just told me everything I ever did. He exposed all my sins and wickedness. Come meet him, too.” It takes a good heart that wants salvation to meet that kind of Jesus, doesn’t it? This is the whole point. The people who sit in your church are not Christians because they have not come to a church where everything is exposed. They have not come to a church where they can expect every single aspect of their lives to be revealed and exposed before a living God for everybody to see. The people who followed this woman out to meet Jesus had to take the chance that Jesus would reveal all the secret things they had ever done. But, they were willing to do it because they wanted Jesus Christ. They loved him. They wanted to find the salvation of God. You may lose most of your church members, but the few who remain love only God, for they are willing to have everything exposed and let God deal with it all. The Samaritans went out to see a Jesus who would judge them. Is this the Jesus that you have met? Is this the Jesus you invite other people to come and see?
John 4:39-42 – Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
How can you get others to really meet a Jesus that saves? By judging and pointing them to a Jesus who will judge them, who will expose not only everything you have done, but everything they have done. Granted, most people don’t want that kind of Jesus. We never said there are many people who want a real honest living Jesus Christ. Jesus stayed there two days and he preached the gospel. They saw a Jesus who loved them and was full of mercy and kindness. But, what made the difference? Think about it. Jesus exposed everything this woman did. He exposed what the people did in this town. Jesus also exposed what the Pharisees did, but they crucified him. What is the difference? It is the heart. Jesus did judge that woman. He exposed everything she ever did. But, the difference was, she had a soft heart. She was willing to accept the judgment. When you go to somebody and judge and rebuke them as the Spirit leads, they will tell you not to be judgmental and ask you where the love and the mercy are. Tell them that the problem is with them, not with you. You may be in sin. You’ll have to check that out with the Lord, but the point is, it depends on a man’s heart whether he sees what you say it as love or kindness. You cannot worry about how they respond to you. Jesus could care less how the Pharisees or the woman at the well viewed him. He rebuked both the woman and the Pharisees in love, and if they repented—fine—and if they didn’t—fine.
Proverbs 19:3 – A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.
God comes with love and mercy, but a man’s heart rages against the Lord. As God moves within your church and within you in the spirit of judgment, some individuals will rage against you. They will hate your guts and say you are unloving and unkind. Well, a few individuals will repent and say, “You are right. I see. You are showing me everything I ever did. I need to repent and change. What more do you see? What more can you show me? Let’s examine it and get before the cross.” You see, it all depends on them. In 1 Corinthians 4:21 Paul wrote to the Corinthian church. He rebuked and judged them.
1 Corinthians 4:21: What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
It is totally up to the individual you rebuke. If they have a soft heart, if they have a kind heart, then they will see a gentle spirit. There is no need to be harsh. There is no need to—so to speak—overturn tables. The rebuke may be “Get behind me, Satan,” but they will see it as an act of kindness. Do you remember Psalms 141? Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. Peter saw Jesus’ rebuke as a kindness. His flesh didn’t like it and it wasn’t very comfortable (nobody likes being called Satan) but that dealt with his pride at the same time. “What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip or in love and with a gentle spirit?” So, when you are judged by the Spirit of God through other individuals, ask yourself, “What do I prefer? Am I raging against the Lord, or do I find it to be an act of kindness?” It really all depends on your heart. In John 8:1 we find another classic example of Scripture that is used to rebuke those who come supposedly with a judgmental attitude.
John 8:1-11 – But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
People quote this passage and say that we shouldn’t pronounce, judge, and rebuke sin as we do. Jesus showed that those who have unloving, unkind hearts are without a hope of repentance. Even in the old law there was hope that individuals would repent. That was the purpose of the old law, to show a man’s sin so that they might cling to the mercy seat of God and eventually, of course Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins. But, in this case, they used God’s words to try to trap Jesus. They missed the heart and intent of the law, and therefore thought that they could trap Jesus. But, Jesus still judged her. In John 8:11 it says, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He pronounced a judgment on the sin. He warned her by telling her, “Look, you had better stop what you are doing.” This passage is not supposed to be used to justify all of the whitewash in the church. This passage points us to the fact that those who come with an unloving attitude without the goal of repentance in mind are the ones to be judged. It is not love to judge other churches or individuals and say you can’t associate or eat with them because it makes you feel spiritual or because you like putting them down. That is what most churches do anyway. One church starts talking about another church or one group against another group, and it makes them feel spiritual. That is really what this passage is about. Rather, as you tell somebody to leave their life of sin, as you rebuke them for their sin, as you call them Satan, and as all those things are worked by the Spirit of God, the goal is always love. The goal is always repentance. If they don’t repent, then you can’t associate with them. It is really that simple. You might as well do away with that wicked, stupid thought that says, “Well, God wants me to remain here. I have to set the example and someday they will repent.” So, get in there and begin to rebuke sin. Tell them that if they will not repent then you will leave them, you can’t associate with them—you can’t even have lunch with them, let alone share the Lord’s Supper. That is true love. That is laying down your life for your brothers and sisters. Now, the goal and the hope is that they repent, but don’t be surprised if they don’t. In John 5:5 we see this same attitude within Jesus Christ, the spirit of love, and yet a spirit of judgment.
John 5:5-12 – One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
The next verse really describes a lot of people who are touched by the power of God.
John 5:13 – The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
So it is in most of the churches. They don’t know a true Jesus. They have been touched by the hand of God. They may even have answered prayer and healings. The healings you see on TV or at your church may be of God. But that doesn’t mean they know Jesus Christ. Unless you know a Jesus who judges in the church, in your life, and through you, you don’t know Jesus yet. John 5:13 again: “The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.” Think about this—the man was healed by the power of God and was able to walk now, but had no idea or comprehension about who touched him. Are you in the same situation? Have you been touched by the power of God in your life? Can you point to answered prayer and forgiveness, and yet have no idea who Jesus Christ is?
John 5:14 – Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
There it is all put together; the love of Jesus that works a healing and the same love that brings a rebuke. Notice that the man was at church sinning. That is where most people are. They have been touched by God and have had the power of God flow in their lives. They have answered prayer. They can point you to all of the ways they serve and the joy and peace they have. But with most people, that is not even the love or grace of Jesus within their lives. They may think it is and in some individuals it literally may be the power of God. But, God’s Spirit will lead you to say, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” We have the spirit of judgment happening by the power of God through Jesus Christ. It is all love and grace. The point is—do you love enough to rebuke? Are you dead enough to your self? Have you allowed God to crucify your sinful nature so that you really love your brothers and sisters and other people around you? Those are some serious questions. Do you really know who Jesus Christ is? You don’t unless this kind of judgment works in your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. You live a lie, and you better repent before something worse happens to you.
1 John 3:16 – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
One way that Jesus loves us is by rebuking us. He rebuked the Pharisees. He rebuked the woman at the well. He rebuked the man by the pool waiting to be healed. He rebuked Peter by calling him Satan. The Pharisees didn’t see his love and the other individuals did. It all depends on your heart. Are you willing to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters? If you say, “Yes” to that question, and are honestly willing to lay down your life for them, then prepare for the Spirit of God to work a spirit of judgment in you. Anything else is not love, but flattery.
We have this idea within the body of Jesus Christ that only God knows our heart and therefore only God is fit to judge us. Indeed, in our effort to justify our sin we often say when something is bought to us that God hasn’t revealed it to us yet. Indeed, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve pointed out sin to other individuals and they said, “Well, God hasn’t really shown me that yet and I have to go back with my personal Lord and Savior and ask God to reveal it to my heart. Then, if I see it, I’ll come back and tell you.” All that is just an attempt to keep one’s pride intact. It is not the humility that comes from God, nor would it be a repentance that comes from God. Somebody who starts with that kind of attitude will not be able to repent of sin. You will have to stop and deal with that attitude right then. In other words, if you told somebody, “You have this sin in your life,” and they said, “Well, I can’t see it right now. I have to go back and check it out with God,” they’ve got some real problems. It shows that they don’t have a soft heart toward God. They can’t recognize that God works and moves through his people. Let me repeat again, it is true that only God knows your heart, but what you fail to realize is that God will show your heart to other people. This is part of what fellowship is about, of what 1 John talks about regarding “walking in the light.” If you had true fellowship in your church you would understand this very clearly—God will reveal to you the hearts of others if you are dead enough to sin in your own life. Of course, that is a big “if.” We see this in the life of David, who had a soft heart. Often people will say, “Look at the way David sinned and how God forgave him.” So, you need to be merciful and kind. I know none of us are perfect, but they never point to how David repented or what a soft heart he had. Let’s see how God moves through his people to judge and to rebuke others so that they might have the grace of God. In 2 Samuel 12:5, Nathan revealed David’s sin with Bathsheba—the adultery, murder, conspiracy, hiding the sin, and all the things David had done. Nathan told this story about a man who had his only sheep stolen by another man who had multitudes of sheep.
2 Samuel 12:5 – David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die!”
Most of you would rebuke Nathan. Don’t shake your head. Yes, you would! You would tell Nathan, “Nathan, you lied. You came with a spirit of lying to David in order to trap him. We saw it! There isn’t really a man who stole a sheep. Yet you acted like it was a true story. You are a liar, Nathan. You don’t really come from God. God isn’t with you because you came with condemnation and judgment toward David. Look at all the ways David has sacrificed! Look how he worshiped before the Lord. Look at the Psalms. Nathan, when have you ever done those things? You just think you’re spiritual. You think you are the only one that loves God and the only one going to heaven. How dare you rebuke David!” If David had your heart, that is how he would have responded because Nathan did tell a story. It wasn’t a true story—it hadn’t really happened. But, you’ve missed the whole point if you reacted that way. He told a parable, of course, to show David his sin.
2 Samuel 12:6 – He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.
Notice what Nathan said to David:
2 Samuel 12:7 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
God moved Nathan to reveal David’s heart and life to him. He pointed his finger at David and declared, “You are the man!” Now, think about what happens when you show others their sin. Do you go in with an attitude that says, “You are the man; you are the one. You’ve committed the sin. You have to repent. This needs to be taken care of”? Do you go in with the spirit of judgment that comes from the living God or do you use the whitewash and mushiness that comes from your pulpit and all the pillows around the cross by saying, “Oh, I know you love God, and…”? Do you soften the blow? If you do, the sin is not really dealt with.
2 Samuel 12:7-12 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’ “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
Not only did Nathan judge David and said, “You’re the man,” but he pronounced judgment against David, some very harsh and severe rebukes. How little we have the mind of Christ within the body of Jesus Christ today. We bring people to some conviction or they cry some tears and say they are sorry, and we say, “Okay, you are forgiven.” We smooth it over and say it’s OK. We don’t really deal with their sin as the Lord directs and keep going deeper and deeper. It wasn’t enough for Nathan just to say, “You are the man.” He had to point out specifically, in detail, what David had done. “You’ve committed murder, conspiracy, and adultery. All of these things took place, David.” He went on in detail and told him the judgments of God in his life. “This is the discipline that will come and how you’re going to pay for it.” He went into specific details about God’s will in David’s life, didn’t he? In the same way, when God works a spirit of judgment within the church, it will not be enough for somebody to come forward, bow down at the mourner’s bench, and shed some tears. You may have to go deeper and say, “It is good that you are crying and seeing your sin, but let’s go deeper with it. There is more here.” Hundreds of times individuals have wept and sought repentance, but we had to keep going deeper and deeper so they really saw the depth of their sin. Do you remember what the word of God is like? The living word of God is alive, dividing bone from marrow, soul from spirit. It judges the thoughts and the attitudes of the heart, doesn’t it? So, in the same way, you just can’t stop on the surface of things, and that is what most of you do. Even if you accept this teaching on judgment, if you let God even work a little bit of it in your life, you may not go deep enough. You may not go far enough for it to really count and produce fruit or life. Be willing for God to work this in your life so others are really delivered from sin.
Here’s a good example: Many pastors are caught in adultery and supposedly repent, but they never take it deep enough. 2 Samuel 12:12 says, “You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” People cannot just get up and say, “Gee whiz, we committed sexual immorality. We’re sorry,” and then sit down and think that’s it! Of course, the pastor comes down or puts his arm around them and says, “Congregation, God has forgiven them and we just need to show love and mercy because we all can stumble and none of us are perfect,” and leaves it at that. You know all of the excuses. They send people home and tell them to rejoice and be happy. Yet there are consequences to be paid. God may work some judgment in their lives and they need to submit to it. There may be other things they have not confessed, other sins that have not been bought out in the open that need to be bought out. The reason why your church doesn’t do that is because they do not want to deal with sin. Think about it for a moment. How can the pastor say, “Hey, you need to come out in detail with all of this,” when there is greed, immorality, and all kinds of things in the pastor’s own life that he hasn’t confessed? Indeed, in many churches no one is qualified. There’s no Nathan to bring the Spirit of God and the spirit of judgment in their church. The whole place has to be leveled down. It has to utterly crush everyone and they have to start all over again. “You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” Everybody will know what you did. So, the next time you see a TV evangelist, a pastor, or someone you know caught in sin and they don’t come out in very detailed ways as to what sin they committed, they are not forgiven. They are not going to heaven. It is a church you should not worship in and if you love the other people who attend the church you must—you must—warn and plead with them to leave.
Now, David repented, and that was the goal.
2 Samuel 12:13 – Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
David offers no excuse. He doesn’t say he has had this problem for years. He doesn’t offer any reason for what he did. Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Period. End of discussion. Clear and to the point. He saw who he was.
2 Samuel 12:13-15 – Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.
The child died. David was forgiven, but the consequences were still there. The sword would not leave David’s house. The child still had to die. David still fell under judgment. When God works a spirit of judgment, when he moves through his people to proclaim judgment, it will be more than just saying, “Okay, you’re in sin. You need to repent.” You will say, “All these other things may follow.” Now, be sure you are hearing from God. This is how God moves through his people—this is primarily how he works. God could have sent an angel to talk to David, couldn’t he? In fact, if God had responded to most of the attitudes you have or attitudes in your church, you would have said, “Well, if God wants me to see those sins he’ll show it to me individually. The Holy Spirit will speak to my heart.” or “You know, it doesn’t testify with my spirit that I’m in sin.” You know all of the whining that goes on. We just don’t want to accept anything that comes from the living God in his way. We do not want other people to come to us because we do not want to deal with our sin. We don’t really love God. If you love God, then you would welcome people to judge you. But, because you love your sin, your sinful pastor or leader in church, you drive out these judges and the Spirit of God that would really work some purity in your church. You love the lie and the words you bring.
God moves through his people. We saw the example in an earlier sermon of where God spoke boldly and powerfully in terms of judgment through his servants. This is how God chooses to work most of the time. I’m not saying that an angel won’t come to you. Woe unto you if he does! If that is what God has to do to get you to see your sin, I praise God, but if he has to go through all that order to show you your sin, you’ve got some major problems. If you can’t receive a word of knowledge, a spirit of prophecy, or a judgment that comes from God through other people, what makes you think you can receive it from God?
Ezekiel 20:35-38 – I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you. As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
In Ezekiel 20:35-36 God said he would work judgment, didn’t he? “I will bring you into the desert of the nations there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you.” How did God work this face-to-face judgment? He did it through the land in which they would go. It says: “As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you.” How did God judge the Israelites in the desert of Egypt? Let’s read Exodus 32:1 and see how God worked this face-to-face judgment. Very clearly, God worked this face-to-face judgment through people—through his servants. When you ask God to work a spirit of judgment in your church or your life, he will use people to do it. Goodness, God even used a donkey to rebuke Balaam. So, God will use all kinds of things to turn us from our sin. He’s not just your personal Lord and Savior in your nice little pocket that you can control in some way. God will certainly convict and speak to your spirit about a whole multitude of sins. The Holy Spirit will work that in your heart. But, do not be surprised when God uses other people. He used men like Paul and Peter to rebuke and reveal sin.
Exodus 32:1 – When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
When you see golden calf worship happening in your church it is because they do not see that God works through men. In other words, they have a lack of respect for authority. Exodus 32:1 says, “As for this fellow Moses who bought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” In the same way, Paul dealt with that. They said, “Who is Paul? His letters are deep, but in person he is not very effective or powerful.” Basically they were saying, “God doesn’t use men. He doesn’t speak powerfully through men. There is nothing to it. It has to be God just speaking to me.” So, when we forget that God uses men to rebuke us golden calf worship results. We see the flesh being indulged in churches. Where there is the attitude that says, “Only God knows my heart,” and “You can’t judge my heart,” you will find people pleasing their flesh, falling from the grace of God, and some going to hell. It is really that simple. But, people who realize God works through men, brings judgment, and often rebukes us of sins in our life through other individuals, will be repenting of their sin, seeing their need to change, and recognizing the Spirit of God. Do you remember the example with David and Nathan? David didn’t have to go into his prayer closet and say, “God, did you really send Nathan?” David didn’t turn to Nathan and say, “Well, Nathan, I really appreciate what you are saying, and I know you really have a good heart. I really thank you for bringing that to me. I know you love me. But, I tell you what, Nathan, I really need to go back into my prayer closet, and check it out with God. I’ll get back with you in a couple of days or a week. Let me talk to my pastor. Let me bounce this off some other people to see if there really is some sin in my life. I’ll get back with you.” Then, David wouldn’t come back and say, “You know, you’re right. God did show me these things, but he also showed me this is the reason why I did it—this is the excuse—and you were wrong on this one point. I don’t think the judgments you pronounced were really coming from a spirit of love. Let’s deal with that.” No, David recognized that God was speaking through Nathan. David saw that Nathan was coming from God. David had a soft heart. So, the reason why you find rebellion and hostility in the house of God concerning judgment is because those individuals do not have soft hearts. You ought to have a soft enough heart that if somebody comes to you and points out a sin or something you are doing that is wrong, you should say, “Yes, that’s right,” and see the Spirit of the Lord working through that individual. Granted, it takes a great deal of humility, but that is exactly what God wants. That is the kind of brokenness that God wants to work in the church. Are you willing for other individuals to come to you? Don’t quickly say, “Yes.” You haven’t yet experienced this being done by the power of the Holy Spirit. It will make you angry. Your flesh will rear its ugly head. You will be crucified in ways you could never imagine before. This I can testify to you is true.
Exodus 32:2 – Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”
This is a typical pastor of today. “Let’s party! Let me justify it this way!”
Exodus 32:3 – So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.
Verse 4 shows us how our pastors behave today.
Exodus 32:4-5 – He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.”
All of this golden calf worship is done in the name of the Lord!
Exodus 32:6 – So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
This is an example of how God worked through people. He worked this spirit of judgment through his servants.
Exodus 32:9-10 – 9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
Do you remember what I said earlier, that it is an act of grace for God to send people to you rather than an angel or himself? If God comes to you personally because of some sin, woe unto you! It is too late at that point. So, God sent Moses to the Israelites like he sends people to us today.
Exodus 32:11-14 – But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. “O LORD,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’“ Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Notice the mercy within Moses’ heart. Even though Moses will bring judgment on the people and make them deal with their sin, it was all done with a spirit of love. That brings us back to the previous point. So many of you have this idea that to come in the spirit of love means there is no judgment involved. But that is not true. That is a lie that comes from Satan and your pulpits. It comes from the world. Moses pleaded for their forgiveness because he loved these people. His heart burned for them to grow closer to God, to love and belong to him, to fellowship deeper with him, but the sin has to be dealt with. Let me repeat that one more time. The sin has to be dealt with, doesn’t it? Now, as you are shaking your head “Yes,”—I can see it right now—then why isn’t it being done in your church? Why is there not a spirit of judgment? I’ll tell you why—because you would lose too many members.
Exodus 32:25 – Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.
Don’t you realize how the world laughs at the church, and yet you’re still not moved to judge? We let all sorts of preachers, ministries, pastors, and individuals claim they are Christians. We are indeed a laughingstock to the world because we will not judge. Very often people visit a church or experience some part of our ministry. They complain about how hypocritical the church is. Some even say we’re just like all the rest and how foolish and stupid we are. However, by the time they leave they are not laughing any more because they realize there is a spirit of judgment that comes from the living God for those who really worship God. The only way the world will stop laughing at the church is if we begin to plead with God to bring a spirit of judgment again in the church.
Exodus 32:26 – So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.
Do that in your church. Let God work within you a spirit of judgment, (I’ll tell you later how God does this) and you can say to everybody, “Sin is in the camp, and everybody who is for the Lord come over to this side.” Many people will come to your side. But you need to understand how this is lived out. A lot of people who will say, “Oh, I agree with everything you are saying.” In fact, usually people say they agree with what we say, they just don’t like the way it is said. But that’s a whole different issue! Before you say you are willing to live this, let’s see right now what it will mean and what is involved. There is a cost to all this judgment. Are you willing to pay the price? We will see that in Judging, Part 3.
This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.