Judging, Part 5
We will continue our series on judging, specifically about losing your head over doctrinal matters. We will look at getting an attitude in Jesus Christ. I put this in worldly terms so we can understand what goes on here.
No judgment is in the House of God anymore because we love our sin. It is so much easier to keep our sin than to let God really deal with us. Oh, we like to say the words, “God, deal with me. I want to be holy. I want to give everything to you.” But, we don’t mean what we say. Otherwise, we would see a spirit of judgment—powerful judgment—taking place within the church. One of the sayings that goes on in the church—and the world likes to hear—is this statement: “Love the sinner—hate the sin.” You know, that old line. When we share with somebody and say, “Oh, I love you, I just hate the sin that you do,”—why do we fall for that? It is a stupid line. A lot of you probably think that that is in Scripture somewhere. We fall for the old line of “love the sinner, but hate the sin” because we love our sin. Since when can you separate what a man does from who he is? If a man commits adultery, he is an adulterer. If a man murders somebody, he is a murderer. In order to hate the sin you have to hate the man. But see, that is the wonder of God’s grace. Those who understand the cross of Jesus Christ understand exactly what I am talking about. Those of you who don’t understand the cross, don’t understand anything I’m telling you. Do you know that you are a regret? God regrets that he ever made the son or daughter that you love. Genesis says that God regretted he ever made man. You are a regret! So, God loves that which he regrets, and loves that which he hates. In the same way, I don’t love the sinner and hate the sin, I hate the sinner and I hate the sin, but I love that which I hate. Psalms 139:19 shows us the wonder of this mercy. This is the glory of the cross and the light of Jesus Christ—that he came into the world to love that which hated him and that which he hated.
Psalms 139:19-20 – If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
That doesn’t mean they run around just cursing. It can also mean that they claim to be Christians or claim to be godly men. There are other scriptures that demonstrate that.
Psalms 139:21-22 – Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
We see this attitude of judgment. We see this attitude of “If you don’t love the Lord a curse be on you” as Paul wrote. We see the same attitude in Peter when he said, “Your money perish with you.” “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” So, I hate the sinner and I hate his sin. But then I go one step further than all of that hatred—that worldly kind of hatred that you are thinking of—and I have the love of God that I will love that which I hate. Did not Jesus do that when he embraced the cross? Didn’t Jesus go into the garden and say, “Let this cup pass from me”? He hated that cross. He didn’t want to go die on the cross. He didn’t want to suffer its pain and be separated from God for that brief moment, did he? He wanted to do something else. He wanted to do his will, but God said, “No, that is my will,” so Jesus loved that which he hated. Since it was God’s will, he loved that which he hated and did not want. This is the cross that we are called to bear—to love those whom we hate, put our arms around those whom we abhor, serve those who are our enemies. Don’t fall for the line that says, “Love the sinner and hate the sin,” as if somehow they can be separated from each other because, that is what the saying means. A man who sins is a sinner. Once again, if a man commits murder, he is a murderer. That would be like telling Satan, “Satan, I love you, but I hate the sin that you do.” Satan is sin. Satan is evil. To hate Satan is to hate sin. They are one in the same. We are all wicked. We are all despised in God’s sight. We have become worthless as Romans says. So, God loves that which is worthless, rebellious, and wicked. Do you see the attitude of judgment in love—how he wants men to repent? “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.” Let us get a spirit of judgment to say with Paul that if you don’t love Jesus Christ a curse be on you, and then at the same time to offer them mercy and grace. You see, all of this isn’t self-righteousness and arrogance—at least it is not supposed to be.
Psalms 139:23-24 – Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
When he looked at his enemies he didn’t see himself as superior to them. This wasn’t self-righteousness and pride. Rather, he looked at his heart and said, “O God, I could be just like them without your mercy and grace in my life.” He became anxious. He asked, “Am I like them? Am I deceived? Am I misusing your name? Do I run around saying ‘Thus says the Lord’ and it is not really the Lord?” He worked out his salvation, as Philippians says, with fear and with trembling. He said to God, “Search my heart. Test me, try me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me.” He wanted to be tested and make sure he was not like the enemies. So, hate the sinner, hate his sin, and offer him the mercy of God.
Another way we compromise and do away with judgment within the church is with this particular saying: “Be patient with me. God isn’t finished yet.” It is the same thing as saying, “No one is perfect.” Or, you will see the bumper sticker that reads, “I’m not perfect. I’m just saved.” What an abomination those statements are before the Living God! It is no wonder that we allow sin to go on and compromise. A Christian—a true Christian—will never ever say, “I’m not perfect yet. Be patient with me.” A true Christian will never place on the back of his car a bumper sticker that says, “I’m not perfect yet—just saved”! What wickedness that is before the world! Basically, we are declaring that we can be hypocrites and go to heaven at the same time. No wonder the world laughs at us, distains Jesus Christ and has no interest in the gospel anymore. In 2 Corinthians, towards the end of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote this nice, uplifting statement—a loving and gentle comment:
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
But, in the middle of Paul understanding mercy, grace, and love, he understood the judgment of God. That was why he went on to write:
2 Corinthians 13:10-11 – This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Would Paul ever put on the back of his chariot or on his suitcase, “I’m not perfect yet, I’m just saved” or “Be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet”? No! Paul would say, “Aim for perfection! Test yourself! See if you are in the faith! Don’t you realize that you’re in the faith, unless, of course, you fail the test?” He was not a very comforting preacher, was he? He was not like your preacher that preaches from the pulpit—stuff that makes you feel all goose bumpy, happy, and all at peace. Your pastor says, “Everything is fine. You’re going to heaven. You’re saved.” Paul was not the kind of man you want to invite to your church at all. He would be run out as unloving, unkind, and especially judgmental, wouldn’t he? The only thing you could agree with is 2 Corinthians 13:11, the first part, where he says: “Finally, brothers, good-by.” You would agree with that. You would say, “Goodbye, Paul, get out of here.” Many people treat me biblically, that’s for sure. Some individuals invite me into their homes and their lives, and I’ve been invited to a few churches, even. The only biblical part of it that they ever live is 2 Corinthians 13:11. They say, “Finally,” and call me brother, but they say, “Goodbye.” They don’t go on to say, “Aim for perfection.” They have no desire to be always pursuing perfection in everything. They don’t understand Colossians about presenting one another perfect in Christ Jesus. It is no wonder that the spirit of judgment is gone in the House of God. Nobody wants to be perfect anymore. In fact, we just excuse one another. We have no desire—no desire—for God, because if you had a desire for God, a spirit of judgment would well up within you. If you burned with a zeal for his holiness, you’d rip off those bumper stickers. You’d rebuke those who had them on their cars. You’d rebuke the store that sells them and the ministries that put them out. Do away with “Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet” and “I’m saved, but not perfect yet.” Let’s do away with all of those wicked and sinful statements. Let’s begin to aim for perfection. Let’s test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. Let’s ask God to send men among us who will judge us with love and mercy, but judge us according to his spirit that we might be a holy people. Are you willing to lose your head for Jesus Christ? Are you willing to lose your head over doctrinal matters? John the Baptist lost his head over the issue of divorce and remarriage. We are not looking at minor things. If you love God, you will live this. If you don’t, then you hate him and a curse be on you.
What exactly is sinful judging? There are all kinds of scriptures that talk about not judging. Indeed, you may have wanted to quote those passages to me as we’ve been looking at all these things. So let’s examine to see what exactly makes up a sinful judgment. Sinful judging can be summed up with this statement: You are making the judgment. Remember John 8:15? Jesus said, “You judge by human standard; but I pass judgment on no one.” That is, Jesus didn’t use his mind and intellect. He didn’t use his Scriptural knowledge to judge other individuals. In other words, he didn’t render his opinion concerning other individuals. Jesus used all of his mind to love God, and his mind would then hear from God how to judge the individual he was talking to. So, sinful judging is making any judgment—good or bad—using your human standards of what you see, examine, and hear. An individual may come in and tell you a story that sounds logical, so you believe that person. Then, the next person comes in with a different story and that sounds logical, so you believe that, too. That is sinful judging. Jesus never paid attention to anything he heard, did he? Men would come to him with all kinds of questions and problems. They would bring people caught in sin. He didn’t pay any attention to anything they said. All he did was say, “Okay, God, what is the truth here?” and God would communicate to him what was really going on. That is why they could never trap Jesus. Sinful judging is this: Judging everything from your frame of reference. That is why lawyers can manipulate juries in order to get the verdict they want. You judge things by your frame of reference—that is, the church you go to, the sermons you hear, the kind of books that you read, and all of the intellectual things that you take in—your opinion. You judge things by your Bible study, and your ideas of what you consider to be love and kindness. You especially judge things in relationship to the quality of your heart. Titus 1:15 tells about this fact.
Titus 1:15 – To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.
They measure other people by their own hearts. They look at their heart and think, “I know my heart isn’t that clean, so their heart can’t be clean, either.” Either that, or in their heart they lie and believe their own lies. They think they really do love God, but they really don’t, so they measure other people by the same lies and impurities in their own heart. Remember, you have to get the plank out of your own eye to see clearly to make judgments about somebody else. But, “to the pure, all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). That is, they see things as they really are because God is able to communicate to them the truth. After all, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth!
Titus 1:16 – They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
In fact, you are probably one of those people who claim to know God. These people run around making statements like: “Well, that person is so spiritual and so godly.” “That person is so wicked, and they really need to repent!” “That church over there is a cult.” “That church is really spiritual.” “I really feel comfortable in this church.” “I can really feel the Spirit of God moving in our congregation.” Those are your judgments. You are judging by your human standards, and it is no wonder you always make wrong judgments. So, any time you judge or offer your opinion about anything you are in sin. That is the root cause of sinful judging. Jesus said:
John 8:15 – You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.
You have to get a place in your life where you say to other individuals, “You judge with human standards. I don’t pass judgment on anyone.” Then God will be able to work within you his judgments. Let me give you an idea of this whole aspect of judging by human standards.
James 2:1 – My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
That is what most of you do. You make your own judgment because you look at the outward form of things. You look at the words that a man says. You look at the way he preaches or the stories he tells from the pulpit. You see the brother who prays for six hours a day, fasts, or does all sorts of good deeds. You show favoritism because you look at the individual with your own wisdom. Now, you tack on the name of the Holy Spirit if you feel God is telling you that, but that is beside the point. That is a whole different sermon in itself. But, you judge by human standards. You show favoritism. James gives an example of this.
James 2:2-3 – Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”
“If you show special attention…“ You don’t have to just judge the man. You don’t even have to say, “Gee, he is spiritual.” That’s not what he is talked about. He said that if you give that man special attention because of what he wears or how he looks—you become a wicked judge. You have used human standards.
James 2:3-4 – If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Churches do this all the time! We see this everywhere! In most churches who are in positions of leadership? Who are given the positions of elders and deacons? The men who are successful in business! You have discriminated. You thought that because he was successful in business he can run the church, or because he is successful in whatever he does he can bring the numbers in. You have become a judge discriminating among yourselves as to who is good, who is bad, who is holy, and who isn’t holy. Do you see how the sinful, wicked judging comes out? It is you making your own determinations. Churches do this as a whole. In John 9:2 we see this same thing going on. As individuals with our sinful nature, we look at the outward form of things to judge whether someone is right before God or not right before God. We don’t ask God what is going on or what the standing of a particular individual is.
John 9:2-3 – His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
You see, they became wicked and sinful judgers by looking at this man’s sickness and saying that surely he or his parents must have sinned, in order for this bad thing to happen. They didn’t stop, turn, and ask, “What is really going on here? God, what is it you are trying to work?” God allowed the sickness in order that his glory of God might be displayed in the blind man’s life. It had nothing to do with sin. Now, ask God how you make these judgments in daily life. We’ve had a lot of people apply it to us. Especially when we get into doctrinal matters they will want to know, “Well, how big is your church?” The judgment is, of course, that the more numbers you have, the more you are right with God, and the fewer numbers you have then obviously you are not doing something right in the Lord. Have they not become really evil judges saying, “Well, numbers mean whether you are right with God or not”? They judge by outward, human appearance. We very often hear that if God wants you to do something the money will be there. So if the money isn’t there, then the ministry or the work must not be of God. What a wicked judgment that is! That is judging everything by human standards. Maybe it’s because God can’t find enough servants to give to a particular work or ministry, but they don’t ask! It has to do with not being able to find servants that love doing God’s will, not because God doesn’t will it.
Luke 13:2-5 – Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Using human standards, they were examining and watching the events in someone’s life and said, “Gee, they must have really been wicked for God to do that! All of those accidents—all of those miserable things that came against them—it must have been because they were not right before the Lord.” Then, they would look at their own lives and say, “God is really with me. I’m really blessed. I don’t suffer from all those things. God just seems to always be working the good in my life, therefore I am right with the Lord,” or “He answered my prayer, but look how he doesn’t answer their prayer.” Jesus said,
Luke 13:3 – I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
They judged by human standards. They looked at the events and things surrounding them and decided, based on what was happening in an individual’s life, whether or not someone was right with God.
Now, let’s go back for a moment to the passage we began with. Jesus said:
Matthew 7:1-3 – Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
After you have listened to all the other previous tapes, is this passage becoming clear now? In other words, whatever human standards you have that show whether someone is right before God or not, God will apply that to you and you won’t even be able to stand up under that. Whatever ideas you have of good or bad, or whether someone is right with the Lord or not, God will apply those things to you because you commit the same sins. The same wickedness is in your life. You may think that the Galatians suffered in this way and because they suffered more than you did that somehow God judged them, but not so. You have as much need to repent as they do! The eighteen who died when a tower fell on them, do you think God was just judging them and not judging you? Don’t you understand that when God works these kinds of judgments, it is to get you to repent? They are warnings for you. It was obviously too late for those individuals because they were killed, but it is not too late for you. But, we don’t take it as a warning, do we? No. We feel self-assured and self-righteous, that somehow we are right before the Lord, and therefore we don’t have the struggles and trials that they did. We think that somehow God is with us and we have his favor, so we don’t deal with the plank in our own eye, do we? Instead, we are more worried about the little speck we can see in our brother’s eye. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” In the same way you judge, you will be judged. So, the best thing to do is for you to stop judging and let God speak to you what his judgments are. Stop saying things like, “Oh, they are strong Christians.” If God tells you they are a strong Christian, then fineaccept itbut only if God tells you! But, how easily you run around saying, “Oh, they’re a strong Christian. I know that brother loves the Lord,” or “That sister really serves the Lord.” We don’t hear those things from the Lord. It is just our opinion. It is just what we state. How often do you say, “Oh, that group is a cult,” or “That group is evil”? You haven’t heard that from the Lord, have you? You’ve just made that judgment based on your own reasoning and logic. You say, “Well, gee, they don’t have Scripture right, therefore they are a cult” or “They are a bad group.” Especially when someone dies you hear things like, “Well, they went to heaven!” or “That individual went to hell.” Other opinions are; “They’re too judgmental for me,” or “I’m just not comfortable in that church.” All those different things that we come up with—why do we do it? Because we are sinful judges and we think we’re God! But, the man who makes no judgments at all, who only waits for the Holy Spirit to speak and make things clear, is a godly man making godly, pure judgments.
Continuing on with Matthew 7:4, Jesus went on to say:
Matthew 7:4-6 – How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Jesus said, “Get the plank out of your own eye.” He didn’t say, “Don’t make any judgments at all.” Remember, you invite people to come down to your love, to confess their sins, for both of you basically need to admit you have planks in your eye. So, when you judge other individuals and speak to them, you tell them, “Look, get on the cross and see clearly that you need to repent.” The problem is we don’t want to repent; therefore judgment is gone from the House of God. If we wanted to repent, judgment would be there. Admit your sin, and both of you get in the process of repenting. I don’t know why any of this is new to anybody. It is made clear:
1 Peter 2:1-3 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Rid yourselves of all hypocrisy. We don’t want to be rid of hypocrisy. We want to keep our sin. That is why judgment is gone in the House of God. This next passage is very often used to rebuke those who come with any type of judgment or correction. You may not have experienced it because you haven’t begun to judge yet, but once you begin to do this by the power of the Spirit, individuals will quote this to you.
Romans 2:1 – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
Don’t you see that as you rid yourself of hypocrisy you are actually beginning to live the godly life? To the pure, all things are pure. To those of you who are corrupt, you won’t believe that anybody can really live the Gospel. You will run around saying that no one is perfect. What you really mean is that you don’t want to deal with the sin in your life today. The issue here in Romans 2:1 is not just judging, it is judging and hypocrisy. Get rid of the hypocrisy and then God will be able to produce and work the judgment in the your life.
Romans 2:2-3 – Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?
He spoke to Christians and people who believe in God. Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? You will not escape God’s judgment! You had better get rid of that hypocrisy in your life.
Romans 2:4-8 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.
Again, he spoke to Christians. Paul didn’t write in Romans 2:1 saying, “Don’t judge anyone.” What he wrote and spoke clearly about was judging with hypocrisy. He warned them to look and said to them, “You had better repent. If you don’t repent, you will go to hell.” Now, think about that for a moment. If Paul really said that all judgment was wrong and they should not walk around judging, then how could he judge them for their judging? How could he warn them in Romans 2:5 “because of your stubbornness . . .” he didn’t write in a generic sense, did he? He said, “ecause of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourselves for the day of God’s wrath.” So, according to most churches and most Christians Paul was a sinner because he broke his own rule. He judged. He said they had stubborn hearts. He judged that which they say no one can see. He said they were stubborn and unrepentant in their hearts—down to their hearts—and they were to receive God’s wrath unless they repent. Paul did not say in Romans 2:1 that all judgment is to be done away with. He said to get rid of the hypocrisy. Indeed, not only did he say that, he also said, “I’m judging you because you are in hypocrisy and if you don’t get rid of the hypocrisy you will go to hell.” He spoke to Christians. James 4:11 is another passage that talks about sinful judging. It says:
James 4:11-12 – Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But youwho are you to judge your neighbor?
Surely this is clear by now that James refers to our opinions; how we say, “That person is godly” or “That person isn’t godly.” All of the things you hear at conferences, in your Sunday School class, and at church—all of the gossip that goes on when nobody has heard from the Lord about what they say. Any time you go up to someone and say, “That person is really strong in the Lord” or “They did something good in the Lord,” and you haven’t heard from the Lord to say that, you are speaking against your brother. You have set yourself up as a judge. Any time you go to rebuke a brother or sister in the Lord and say you think they really need to change this and that needs to be done away with, and you have not heard from the Holy Spirit to say those things, you are a slanderer. You have set yourself up as God. You have become a judge unto yourself. You think you are above the law and you are presenting the law to others. That is what James deals with. Slander is saying anything more than God wants you to say. In the world slander is defined, of course, as evil intent or saying something falsely, but not so with God. Slander is saying one word more than what God wants you to say. That is, you go up to a brother or sister, or somebody in the world and begin to rebuke them for their life, to challenge, judge, and convict and you say one more word than you are supposed to say—that is slander. Look at the Book of Jude in verse 9. In the Book of Jude this whole issue of slander starting in:
Jude 9 – but even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Picture the scene: The archangel Michael wrestled with the devil. They disputed over Moses’ body. The devil said, “Hey, look, I want this body,” and the angel said, “No, you can’t have it.” Michael the archangel could have turned to the devil and said, “Look, you’re a devil. You’re wicked and evil. If I give you this body you will do all kinds of wicked and evil things.” The archangel Michael would be right in what he said. Understand this clearly. Underline it. Highlight it. Write it down and put it on your refrigerator door. The archangel Michael would be right in saying to the devil that he is a devil, and is wicked. Michael could list all kinds of things; “You committed murder. You caused the fall in the Garden of Eden.” The angel could say all of those things and be correct. But God didn’t tell the archangel Michael to say those things at that time. He might have him say it later. The archangel Michael said, “The Lord rebuke you,” because he lived in total obedience and surrender to God. He didn’t make any of his judgments by himself good or bad, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Now, if the Lord had turned to the archangel Michael and said, “Hey, tell the devil blah-blah-blah, and that he has done these fifteen things,” then, the archangel Michael would have repeated that and made the judgment on the devil, but it would have been of God. Anything else would be slanderous. So, any time you speak against a brother or sister, challenge them, or bring anything to them that you think they need to change and God has not sent you to say that to them, then you are a slanderer. Let’s say you have shared the gospel with someone at work and he begins to wrestle with you about God. You turn to him say, “You did this,” and “You’re this way,” and “I know what you do here.” If God has not told you to say that, you are a slanderer and have need of some deep repentance and come to an understanding of what judging is. You might very well go back to him and confess your sin; “You know, I said those things to you and the Lord didn’t want me to say that. Please forgive me.” Then, five minutes later God might tell you, “Now, go back and tell him what sin they are in.” Saying anything apart from the Holy Spirit—apart from God giving you the words and telling not only what to say, but how to say it—is slander. Romans 14:1 is a real famous passage that people use to justify rebuking those who judge in the Lord.
Romans 14:1 – Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.
I want to stop right there. We will read all the way through verse 18, but verse 1 is the key verse and there are two words in there that make all of the difference to understanding everything else that we will read. “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Disputable matters are things that God has not made clear, things that scripture has not pointedly talked about. It is not saying to do away with all judgment. It doesn’t read, “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment” period. That is not what it says. “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters”—matters that are gray and vague. How will you know what is disputable? You had better go ask the Lord. Let’s read a few things that scripture lists as disputable.
Romans 14:2-4 – One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4 does not do away with all judgment. For example, if one man says, “I can only eat vegetables,” I can’t look down on him. If another man says, “ I can eat everything,” he can’t look down on the one who only eats vegetables. Individuals cannot look down on each other regarding disputable matters. Remember Romans 14:1, “without passing judgment on disputable matters.” Another example is Romans 14:5.
Romans 14:5-12 – One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14 only talks about disputable matters. It is not doing away with all judging in the House of God. That should be abundantly clear to you by now.
Romans 14:13-18 – Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
So when someone brings this passage to you saying, “You’re not allowed to judge,” you need to tell him or her, “I’m not talking about a disputable matter. I’m not talking about what day to worship on, whether chocolate and sugar are evil and honey is better for you, what foods to eat, or something that is a gray area. I’m talking about something concrete in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit has sent me to tell you these things and you have need to repent.” That is what Romans 14:13 means. “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” Those are your human standards of what you consider to be holy and not holy. There will be lots of activities and things people will do and God will send you to judge. You will need to speak clearly to those things, but it won’t be undisputable matters and you won’t be looking down on them. For example, I know a lot of individuals who think that Saturday is the day that you have to worship. Fine! If that is what they believe for themselves, that is their choice. However, the minute they look down on me because I worship each day of the week, I will rebuke them and say, “You cannot judge me on this matter.” So, stop saying, “This person will go to heaven” or “That person will go to hell,” and stop being excited when somebody gets their just dues. Stop first and let God crucify, humble, and break. Be like the archangel Michael and say nothing more than what God wants you to say.
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
When you come to people with the sin in their lives and tell them they need to change, they will often use this next verse.
1 Corinthians 4:3-4 – I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
If I had a dollar for every time an individual said, “It is the Lord who judges me and you can’t say those things,” I’d be a millionaire.
1 Corinthians 4:5-7 – Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollo for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
Paul didn’t use these scriptures to harden his heart. He didn’t say, “You can’t judge me” or “You can’t bring any correction to me” or that you couldn’t even say, “May you perish.” Paul said: “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. Indeed, I do not even judge myself.” That is, he could care less what your opinion is of him. You might think he was a particularly godly man or not. He said, “Even if I judge myself, I might think I’m doing just fine, but as 1 Corinthians 4:4 says, “my conscience is clear, but that doesn’t make me innocent.” In other words, he said: “When I look at my life, when I examine myself, if I was stupid enough to judge myself everything would look fine.” That is what most of you do anyway. You judge yourselves and so you think you’re doing just fine and dandy in the Lord. Paul said, “I do not even judge myself.” Paul meant that all he was concerned about is what the Lord had to say about him. He says it in 1 Corinthians 4:4: “It is the Lord who judges me.” So, if you brought something to Paul, he would not be concerned. He didn’t want to know what your opinion about him was, he wanted to know what the Lord says through you. If you brought something to Paul that he needed to have corrected in his life he would ask, “Is the Lord sending this individual to me?” He wouldn’t harden his heart and say, “You can’t judge me.” Instead, he would recognize that God might speak through this individual to correct him of sin and pronounce some judgments. Isn’t that what happened to Nathan and David? Nathan came from the Lord and pronounced judgment on David’s life. David didn’t become hard and say, “You can’t judge me, Nathan. It is only the Lord who judges me.” Of course, Nathan would have turned and said, “I came from the Lord. I’m speaking to you from him.” So, when somebody brings you something to correct you in your life, you need to ask him or her, “Did the Lord send you to say that?” Actually, you need a better heart than that. Let’s go a couple miles further than that. Do you know what kind of heart you need to have? You need a heart that can recognize whether what the individual says comes from the Lord or not. I want to be soft enough in the Lord that when someone brings something to me I can recognize it and say, “Either that is their flesh talking or God is speaking through them.” The individual that can recognize God speaking through his servants will be highly blessed. Paul didn’t say that there was to be no judging going on. How could that be after everything we have looked at? In 1 Corinthians 4:3 Paul said, “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court.” When a judge gives a verdict it is his opinion. The court offered its opinion on a particular issue. Paul said, “I don’t care what the human court says. I don’t care what humans say. If God speaks through the human court, then I want to know what God says. If God speaks through a human being, then I want to know what God speaks through that person.” Remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:3: “Indeed I do not even judge myself.” Well then, how come Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “Indeed, I do not even judge myself”?
1 Corinthians 11:31 – But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
How do we put these all together? How can it possibly be that Paul said in verse 3 that he doesn’t judge himself and yet in verse 31 he said we need to judge ourselves? Was Paul a hypocrite? Was Paul being a real sinner by saying on the one hand, “Hey, look guys, I don’t have to judge myself,” but then “You guys need to judge yourselves”? Did Paul set himself up as God? Was he above judging, but everybody else needs to judge themselves?
1 Corinthians 4:3 – Indeed, I do not even judge myself.
1 Corinthians 11:31 – But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.
What did Paul mean by that? How do we put that all together?
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.