Who Am I to Judge?

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A simple definition of what is meant “to judge” is to evaluate or form an opinion of someone or something. It is something that we do every moment of every day, in one form or another, in interaction with our surroundings. But what does it mean from a biblical perspective?
In a negative context as to a person, to judge in the typical manner is to do more than simply form an opinion; it is meant to judge as to another’s motives and personal worth from a false stance of moral superiority. This is judging from a personal sense of self-righteousness and with little or no thought given to our own personal guilt and sin. In this form of judging we not only label a person as to their intent, but we also assign the label as being the sum of their worth as a human being. A basic example of this can be found in statements like, “once a liar, always a liar;” “once a cheater, always a cheater,” and so on.
When we judge in the above manner, however, we assume we have all the understanding necessary to see into another’s heart. We become certain that it is what the individual meant to have happen, and not something either we ourselves or those we trust would ever do. We measure ourselves according to our own standards, either ranking someone as better than someone else or condemning one as worse (Prov. 21:2; 30:122Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)
12There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness. (Proverbs 30:12)
). The intent we then give a person, in itself, then becomes not only the definition as to who they are, but the value we place on their worth as a human being. This is but one form of judgment we are commanded against having (2 Cor. 10:1212For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)). Opposite to this, however, there is a form of judgment that we are commanded to both have and use, that is, that which is unfeigned and righteous—judgment which is true, which is non-hypocritical, which is pure and right, that reflects the light of Christ. It is this latter form of judgment we wish to explore (John 7:2424Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24); 1 Cor. 6:2-32Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (1 Corinthians 6:2‑3); James 2:11My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. (James 2:1)).
Too often today, we fail to exercise proper judgment. We say to ourselves, “What right do I have to judge?” Sadly, this is used not just by non-Christians, but by Christians as well, as an excuse in tolerating certain behaviors or teachings we otherwise know to be wrong. From a Christian standpoint, this is because far too often we fail to judge ourselves due to our lack of surrender to the Holy Spirit in what He shows us to be right. Usually, this lack of surrender is due to our clinging to some worldly desire, some ‘need’ we feel we can’t do without. Sometimes, the mere acceptance we feel from others when we accept and turn a blind eye to what we know is wrong, fills this need. At other times, it may be a “little” sin we engage in, our still refusing to see it as one of the spikes which nailed our Savior to the cross, that blinds us to His leading. There are also those who judge everything as wrong, which is just as much a sin.
But judgment is necessary. However, before any judgment is to be made, and I stress judgment of the actions and behavior, and the teachings, not of the intent or personal worth of an individual, we must first judge ourselves. This must be done. For, how can we “look at the mote” in our brother’s or sister’s eye, without first removing the “beam” from our own?
First, certain standards of judgment which we are commanded to be against, are double standards (Matt. 7:55Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5)), shallow standards (John 7:2424Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)), and human standards (John 8:1515Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. (John 8:15)). These are just a few that we are commanded to guard against. But in each of the passages where these verses appear, there is also the teaching of the right kind of judgment we are to exercise—divine, or righteous (unfeigned). It is also this form of judging that is found throughout the gospels, that we are exhorted to do in that of the epistles: its foundation can be traced to that commanded by God throughout the Old Testament (Lev. 19:15-18, 33-3715Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor. 16Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord. 17Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. 18Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:15‑18)
33And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. 34But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 35Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. 36Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:33‑37)
, as well as among so many others: Jesus’ teachings in Matt. 5:17-4817Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. 27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. 38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:17‑48), having a direct purpose to this, and leads into the continuance of the
When you recognize the fact of Jesus as being not only the Messiah, but as Lord and God the Son, it is only just that His teaching is whole with His Word, “For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:2929For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:29); Luke 4:3232And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power. (Luke 4:32)).
Before we go any further, it is important to note that within the original language texts, there are many words in the English versions of the Bible that are simply translated as judge or judgment (eight different Greek words are translated as such in the Authorized Version), but which have a more detailed and precise meaning than what we may take them to mean today. Much depends on the context in which they are used. For the purpose of this discussion, these differences will only be pointed out if they apply to the Scripture passage being quoted and they are not otherwise easily understood by the surrounding teachings within that passage. What is meant to “judge” righteously, is what is of focus, by showing both a few of the certain ways that we are not to judge, as well as what our behavior and testimony as Christians is meant to be as a result of the judgments we make.
In chapter seven of the gospel according to Matthew, in which perhaps the most often quoted verse of scripture used in teaching against judging appears, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (vs. 1), is an often-ignored truth. While Jesus is teaching against a certain type of judging in this passage (vss. 2-5; double-standards, that is, hypocrisy), He is also teaching about our responsibility to exercise ‘right’ judgment (vs. 5). One cannot quote the first verse and leave it as such, as has been my experience with many, and ignore the remaining truth Jesus has meant for us to know and exercise. Let us begin here in more detail, as it is essential to any judgment that we are to make.
In the first verse of this chapter (as well as in its companion passage, Luke 6:37-4237Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. 39And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. 41And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 42Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:37‑42)), our Lord is in no way removing from us the burden of judging the wrongs that we see committed by others around us. Though, this is how I have most often heard it presented by many both inside and outside of the church, whenever they sense they are the ones being judged, or when it is such that they must judge someone they love and are afraid of offending them or someone else they esteem. It is, on the contrary, in this verse where Jesus begins to lead us in presenting to us the condition of our judgment. In verses 2-5, as He then illustrates, we learn both the attitude and heart we must have before considering to point out what we think we may see in someone else. Each verse in the passage is eternally linked: not one to be ignored nor an attempt to make it a doctrine of its own. Here is the point where we must first judge ourselves.
To judge myself with honesty is something that I have been learning to do only through the Holy Spirit’s working in me. It is a daily exercise which begins with a simple prayer, often repeated as necessary throughout the day, made personal, but which has its inspiration taken from one found in the book of Psalms, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23‑24)).
It is not just to ask for God’s guidance, but to willingly present myself before Him for His inspection, for Him to search me in all my being, and with all that He finds, for Him to show me my faults and guide me away from them that I may live the way that is right. This is the judgment of self which I must hold to whenever I find myself looking towards others in judgment of their actions or behavior. In verse 5, it is this which Jesus calls us to do, to teach us to recognize and remove the sin in our own lives, so that we may then be able to help in guiding others to do the same (being in us a heart of meekness and humility in recognition of our own sin, Gal. 6:11Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)).
If we refuse to first judge ourselves, the sin that is in our own life, regardless of however “small” we may think it to be, is worse than that of whatever we may be judging of another. In other words, the “beam” (vs. 5) being the larger of the two, made such through our hypocrisy of falsely judging another when we, knowing what is right, are yet bound by our own wrongful actions to sin. This is yet confirmed all the more in verse 6, that it is as “giving that which is holy to dogs; or casting pearls before swine.” It matters not, however correct and true our judgment may be, if our life does not back our words. We are seen as nothing but a hypocrite, and our judgment ignored and a cause for us to be ridiculed by all. We condemn ourselves through our own hypocrisy (Matt. 7:22For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:2); Luke 7:41-4541There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. 45Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. (Luke 7:41‑45)).
Much more could be written on this aspect of judgment alone, but this should suffice for the moment. It was right that we should touch upon this passage of Scripture first in our discussion, because of the judgment of self needing to be founded in the heart, before any other form of judgment can be made.
The next teaching which we will discuss on righteous judgment is that of the shallow standards previously spoken of in reference to the types of judgments we are commanded against. Before we look at our example from Scripture though, let us first define what qualifies as a “shallow” standard of judgment. A simple definition is that of one lacking of any depth of knowledge or intellect; something concerned with only that of appearance and nothing of substance; only of that which may seem obvious. The capstone verse of our passage is John 7:2424Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24), “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” However, in order to understand what is meant in this verse, we must proceed from an earlier point in Jesus’ ministry and teaching. It is in the fifth chapter of the gospel according to John where we will see this verse begins in its application.
Here, beside a pool called Bethesda, by the sheep market in Jerusalem, at a certain season an angel would go down and trouble the water, and the first person who then went into the water would be made whole. Jesus saw a man which had an infirmity thirty-eight years. Knowing that the man had been there a long time, Jesus asked the man if he would be made whole, and the man, possibly only thinking that Jesus was but offering to help him into the pool, responded that he had none to help him, and that whenever he tried, another would go before him and step into the water first. Without the man even expressing the slightest confession of faith, Jesus then said unto him, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” Immediately the man was made whole at Christ’s command; he took up his bed and walked (vss. 1-9). The man had not even known who it was who commanded him, but according to God’s grace and purpose, he was made whole without any working of his own (vss. 12-13). It is truly a glorious testimony to the power of God working in our lives, especially in the seasons when we may not think that He’s even there: the man was not looking for the Son of God to minister to him but simply for a lesser being, an angel, to trouble the water for his healing.
I believe that for the purpose that it is related as such, not as in the man seeking a sign or miracle from Jesus, or a confession of the man’s faith (as at least one had been the case in the previous chapter of John, regarding the official’s son; see John 4:46-5046So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. 47When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. 48Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. 49The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. 50Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. (John 4:46‑50)), but simply of the effective and compassionate will of Christ and the authority which He possessed, one must only read on in the chapter of the Father and the Son being equal. The only addition immediately needing to be mentioned to the above, as it pertains to our discussion, is that it had taken place on the Sabbath. This is the direct link to what we are told was the initial reason that the Jews then sought to kill Jesus (vs. 16). Even more, as we then learn in verse 18, the greater purpose in their hearts for wanting to kill Him: that is, not only of His having broken the Sabbath, but in Jesus “saying that God was his Father, therefore making Himself equal with God.” All of which ties into our subject of shallow standards and leads into our verse of topic, John 7:2424Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24).
In the first part, instead of recognizing the mercy and compassion in which Jesus’ act was accomplished, or simply that was shown through it, all the Jews that accused Him could see was the violation of the Sabbath law. Their own self-righteous demands, as it can only be described at the time, ignored the needs of such as that of the lame man. They worried more of holding to the law for their own standing as righteous before God, at least in appearance, than they did of the compassionate needs of others. In this of its own, they failed to recognize not only the mercy and compassion that was shown by God towards others in the past such as King David, though he trampled much of the law beneath his feet, and was as all, most deserving of death (yet, David was righteous before God: not by the law, but by faith: Psa. 51:1-171<<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.>> Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:1‑17). Not once did David claim his own righteousness, but faithfully relied upon God’s mercy and forgiveness to make him right); but also as spoken by God’s prophets down through the ages, that it is mercy, not sacrifice; the knowledge of God, more than the blood of rams, that He values most (Prov. 21:33To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3); Mic. 6:6-96Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 9The Lord's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it. (Micah 6:6‑9); Matt. 12:1-81At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. 2But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. 3But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; 4How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? 5Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? 6But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. 7But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. 8For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. (Matthew 12:1‑8)).
Of the second, as testified to by their very words and actions in seeking Christ’s death, they denied the testimony of Christ’s works as evidence of His relationship with the Father – in essence, they denied that His absolute power and authority to perform such acts was proof of who He is. This, even though one of their very own testified previously as to Christ being “come from God” (John 3:1-21There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. (John 3:1‑2); also consider Nicodemus’ statement found later in 7:46-51).
What then follows in this chapter, John 5:19-4719Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. 20For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 21For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 22For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 23That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent him. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 30I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. 31If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. 32There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. 33Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. 37And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41I receive not honor from men. 42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:19‑47), is in answer to this. Beginning at verse 19, Jesus declares His relationship with the Father; He cannot act otherwise than to do according to His Father’s will. That in this, the Father Himself has committed all judgment unto the Son, even that of life, unto all who should hear and believe His work (vss. 20-30). And even though He had been witnessed of by John the Baptist, by the voice of whom the Jews had briefly rejoiced (vss. 31-33; see also John 3:25-3625Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease. 31He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 32And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 34For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:25‑36)), it was Christ’s works alone, those that had been given Him of the Father to do, that bore true witness to Him above and beyond anything of man (vss. 34-37). Even more condemning, was that of all they had thought they were, in being the people chosen of God, they were but hollow inside—they had “never heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape; and had not His word abiding in them” (vss. 37-38). They trusted in Moses, or thus they claimed, but as Jesus told them without hesitation, to “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me”; if they knew God the Father, and if they believed Moses, they would have believed Him as well (vss. 38-47). Their love was that of their own righteousness, that which they looked to their keeping of the law to accomplish—but in all truth, they had no heart for God Himself, no desire for a genuine relationship (Matt. 9:11-1311And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:11‑13); Luke 18:9-1; Rom. 10:2-52For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. (Romans 10:2‑5)).
In the sixth chapter, we have more of this testimony. By the feeding of the five-thousand and the teaching thereafter, we have further proof of not only Jesus’ relationship to the Father, but of His relationship in being the true Bread of Life. The Jew’s ancestors did eat of the manna from heaven, as God did provide; but the true Bread from heaven, that of Life, now stood before them. Just as they had murmured and complained against the Father in the wilderness (Ex. 16:1-81And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that the Lord hath brought you out from the land of Egypt: 7And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord. (Exodus 16:1‑8)), so they did yet again to His Son. They ate of the loaves and fishes, and were made full, but yet still sought for a sign beyond what they had already been witness to. They accepted the miracle to feed their bellies, but still denied the Lord His honor, from Whom the miracle had come.
It is also that, in verse 45 of this chapter, we once again have a testimony of the distance of the hearts of Jesus’ audience, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” – a witness of John 5:37-4037And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:37‑40): that of their distance from God in not accepting His miracles and teachings as proof of Him as Christ, the Messiah of God (Hos. 7:1010And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him for all this. (Hosea 7:10)).
All relates to the shallow standards of judgment we are commanded against, as Jesus teaches us by example, by then putting upon those questioning Him in John 7, as to His doctrine, their intent in seeking His death for healing the man by the pool at Bethesda on the Sabbath (John 7:19-24; 5:1-1619Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 20The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 21Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. 22Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:19‑24)
1After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. 10The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. 15The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. (John 5:1‑16)
). The Jews, the scribes, and Pharisees were more dedicated to the performance of external, ceremonial ordinances, in the keeping of times and seasons, and the sacrifices demanded by the law, to show themselves as righteous, than that of inner holiness and conformity, and obedience to God. It was only the outward aspects of the law that concerned them: nothing of the heart—the relationship with God. They not only failed in seeing the power and authority by which Christ taught and performed miracles, and the relationship Jesus has with the Father, but also in simply seeing the heart, the spirit, and compassion, that they as well were to have had exercised at all times (Isa. 65:55Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. (Isaiah 65:5); Mark 3:4-64And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. (Mark 3:4‑6)). They condemned Christ to be a sinner for His violation of the Sabbath observance, and more so, for His saying God was His Father, while they themselves would yet circumcise a man on the Sabbath without the law being broken. Jesus’ statement regarding circumcision (vss. 22-23) directly testifies to the “appearance” of the things they believed.
Circumcision was not of the law (not of Moses), but it was of the fathers, of promise; an act of faith. Instead, the Jews saw it as yet another statute that must be obeyed in order to show themselves as righteous, while ignoring the true meaning of it as being a gift, a testimony of the covenant God had made with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-131And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. 2And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. (Genesis 17:1‑13); Lev. 12:2-32Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. 3And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:2‑3)), who had no “works” of his own, no law, but simply trusted God to be true. Their willful ignorance holding the law as so much more than the promise, they sought to kill the very Son of God, whose own acts and teachings testified as to who He was, the relationship He had with the true Father that had made the promise (Gal. 3:15-1815Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. 16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:15‑18); Hos. 4:11Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. (Hosea 4:1)), for what they saw as a violation of the same law they claimed to hold to. Yet they did not. If they held to the law, if they truly had searched the Scriptures, they would have both glorified God the Father for the miracle performed and glorified Christ, in recognition of Him being both the Son of God and the promised Messiah (Deut. 18:15-1815The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; 16According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. (Deuteronomy 18:15‑18)) through the testament of the Scriptures to His acts and His doctrine (Isa. 11:1-51And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 3And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:1‑5)). The fact of the miracle having taken place on the Sabbath would not have been an issue (John 5:1717But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. (John 5:17)). Christ Himself was not only innocent of violating the Sabbath in the mercy and compassion He showed, but He is the very fulfillment (the full expression) of all the law and the prophets combined (Matt. 5:1717Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17)). In the Jews shallow and arrogant judgment of Jesus, they refused the righteousness of God: they denied His Christ (Rom. 10:33For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)).
As at the beginning of this section, a shallow standard of judgment is that which concerns only the appearance or that which may seem to be obvious, but for which there is no truthful evidence to support the judgment made beyond the surface of things. Sometimes, as we have seen in this instance, shallow judgments can be blinded by or based upon corrupt motives, and they are often the result of our own prejudice and self-interests.
Human Standards
“Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no [one].” John 8:1515Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. (John 8:15)
Our next teaching on judgment has more specifically to do with the workings of the heart of man. Human standards of judgment are not only that which attempt to make a distinction between one sin or another, or “grading” as to which is worse, but also those which originate from the “flesh.” In our verse of reference, it is the Greek word translated as flesh that carries with it the meaning of the fallen nature of man, our frailties and sinful passions: the root of sin in man. Perhaps this would best be defined as those living a carnal, unspiritual life, separated from God, and hostile to His will and intent. Our Scripture of study is the immediate passage in which Christ’s statement appears.
In the eighth chapter of the gospel according to John, the Scribes and Pharisees had brought unto the Lord a woman taken in the very act of adultery. As they then state the requirement of the Law of Moses, “that such should be stoned” (vs. 5), they do so with a purpose which had nothing to do with seeking justice towards the sin committed by the woman. The truth is stated exactly as it appears in God’s Word: they did such because of their own desire, “tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him” (vs. 6).
Many studies I have read have suggested that the sin of the Scribes and Pharisees in this passage is simply in their failure to bring the man involved. By the law (Lev. 20:1010And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10); Deut. 22:2222If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22:22)), both parties being equally guilty in the offense, both were required to be stoned; so there is a bit of truth to this thought of their sin. However, this would be just a shallow understanding of what we are given in this passage, as there is much more to it than what appears at first glance.
In no way were they seeking after the righteousness of the law by bringing only the woman before Jesus to see what He would say, as they knew what the law required. It was because such was their desire to “tempt” Him, that one may see that the man was purposely excluded in being brought forth. This was itself sin. And nowhere in the text is it suggested that the man was left out for any other reason.
Jesus refused the Jews what they had sought, “that they might have to accuse Him,” in His calling out to them that of their own sin—not only that of what may have been in their past, but even the very motive and purpose in their hearts at that moment, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (vs. 7). He knew the law better than any, for what they said was a truth—she was to be stoned. If Jesus would have simply stated such, however, though speaking the truth by the law, it would have allowed them the occasion to accuse Him by the man not being present to receive the same condemnation as well. Even more, that in their own hypocrisy, though unwilling to recognize His Lordship and His ability to forgive one of their sins, if Jesus had condemned her to be stoned, they could accuse His entire ministry and teachings, in His being the Messiah, Son of Man and Savior, as false.
Just as we know that the Word of God “is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)), Jesus’ words found their target: “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst” (John 8:99And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (John 8:9)).
Jesus’ concern for the woman is such, just as for you and me, that though He did not condemn her for her sin, He judged her in it: “And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1111She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11)). A simple statement with great meaning – while we are yet to judge the sin (as Jesus did in telling her to “sin no more”), we are never to condemn one for their sin. We are not to ignore it, nor to try and make it seem less serious than it is, as a single sin of an unrepentant sinner leads to their condemnation in separation from God for eternity. The sin of a believer dishonors our Lord in quenching His Spirit’s testimony and witness in their life.
As to the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ desire to “tempt” Jesus, God’s Word speaks: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Here we have another instance of Jesus’ calling sin out for what it is. All who are to follow after Jesus must not walk in darkness, they must not use hidden agendas, there must not be even the slightest bit of shadiness in their dealings, but they will have the “light of life.” It is the light that makes all things manifest; it is this light that is to guide us in all that we do, in all the judgments we make, and in the relationships we are to have. It is all by the light of His Word and His Spirit living within us (John 3:2121But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:21); 1 John 1:5-75This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:5‑7)).
This truly bears witness to our verse of reference; all that of the Scribes’ and Pharisees’ ‘judgments’ were of the flesh: they were of the dark passions of the fallen nature, seeking their own righteousness, separate and apart from God. All one must do to see this, is to continue on in the passage to the end of the closing verses: “Jesus answered, ‘If I honour Myself, My honour is nothing: it is My Father that honoureth Me; of whom ye say, that He is your God: yet ye have not known Him; but I know Him: and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know Him, and keep His saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto Him, ‘Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?’ Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.’ Then took they up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (vss. 54-59).
There is at least one other important lesson in this that I wish for you to consider: those of the Pharisees among us are such, who not only look to their own self-righteousness, those of the word, “stand by thyself; for I am holier than thou”, but also those who think nothing of the welfare of the individual found in sin. They not only seek to condemn the one caught, but they use whatever means at their disposal to prove themselves the “better” in the righteousness they claim – even if by deceit, and are hostile towards God Himself and His intent in the Gospel call. However, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:77Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7)).
Behavior and Testimony
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-1613Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13‑16)).
Having now briefly studied three primary types of judgment condemned in the Bible, we will now turn to the fifth chapter in the gospel according to Matthew. It is here where we will begin to explore more of what is required of us in both our behavior and our testimony. Some may not see how this section is to be included in a discussion on judgment, but it is through an understanding of our behavior, in its relation to the testimony and witness we have before others, that greatly determines both how our own judgment and those that we make are taken to be true or not.
In the passage of scripture quoted at the beginning of this section, as applied to the believer, we are seen to be as both salt and light before the world. Prior to this declaration by our Lord of what our witness is to be, Jesus had pronounced what many refer to as the Beatitudes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:3-123Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:3‑12); Heb. 11:32-12:332And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. 1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Hebrews 11:32‑12:3)).
As they apply to the Christian, the “Beatitudes” are to be both an encouragement and a condition of all that comes later in Jesus’ teaching on the mount. They are not what make one a “saint” in the experience of them: we are all saints who have Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord (it is His work, not ours)—but they are both what is expected of us and what we are to expect, as being His, and in our living by His Spirit apart from the trappings of this world (John 15:18-2118If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. (John 15:18‑21); 2 Tim. 3:1212Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12); Heb. 12:1-41Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:1‑4)). They are what should be kept in mind in studying the teachings before us, as they show the true heart of all that is meant for us in the greater illustrations presented.
In the first portion of the sermon before us, Jesus does, in His teaching, bring out a more definite meaning as to exactly what constitutes sin. In all the illustrations He presents, of the “Ye have heard ... ”, taken from the law, Jesus shows that the true nature of sin is not based solely on the action itself, but on the attitude and intent of one’s heart leading up to it (Matt. 5:21-4821Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. 27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 33Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. 38Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:21‑48)). However, with sin thus being defined, He also gives us with each of His illustrations, teachings on how we are expected to behave in following after Him and the attitude of heart we are to have. It is in this that our salt and testimony of light are to be manifested, and only as the Holy Spirit is allowed to reign within us are we ever able to live as such.
Salt has its direct relation in Jesus’ teaching in coming first after the beatitudes, as it is both our holiness (or purity) and the integrity of our walk. It is this in part that Jesus is also speaking of in reference to verse 20, when speaking as to the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. They were teachers of the law and knew the law better than any, but they are repeatedly seen as first to judge others as to sin and worth, seeing themselves as holy (Luke 18:9-129And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:9‑12)), yet of themselves, their hearts were distant and cold (Matt. 23:1-331Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. 13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 15Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. 16Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. 23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. 29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, 30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:1‑33); John 5:37-4737And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. 38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. 40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. 41I receive not honor from men. 42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. 43I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:37‑47)). They taught the law, but according to the “commandments” of men, making exceptions as they would for personal gain in the traditions they held to of their elders (Mark 7:6-166He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 12And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: 15There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. (Mark 7:6‑16); Luke 16:1515And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15)). The “salt” of the Scribes and Pharisees was corrupt; there was such that it no longer had merit to be seen or taught – it was no longer God’s commandments, but man’s and the authority or worthiness he decides they are to receive. There is a reading of the prophecy in Isaiah to be drawn attention to here as well: “And their fear (true reverential trust towards God and abhorrence of evil) towards me is taught by the precept of men” (Isa. 29:1313Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (Isaiah 29:13)b). It is from this that we not only begin to look deeper into Jesus’ sermon, but that we see from where our judgments are to begin.
The “fear” of God taught by man’s precept, not only teaches gradations of sin: anger would be ok, but to kill is wrong; to insult someone would be of little matter; lust is not as adultery, and so on, but also that in each of these, exceptions could be made depending on the circumstances and conditions surrounding them. God’s holiness and honor is of little thought, if any. Jesus, however, presents to us the full meaning of sin and the fear of God: unjust anger is tantamount to murder; to insult someone, whether in calling them worthless or a fool, is just as much a cause for us to stand to be condemned the same; to look upon one and lust after them in the heart, is as the act of adultery itself (Matt. 5:21-2821Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. 27Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:21‑28)). Sin is sin regardless of whether it is fully acted upon, or how “little” or “great” man may think a particular sin to be (vss. 27-28; 1 John 5:1717All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. (1 John 5:17)a; Rom. 5:12; 6:2312Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
).
In the very first illustration Jesus gives us, we first find concern toward another and our responsibility before God presented. It is not to be the driving motive of the one angered, nor the one giving insult to his brother, for himself to be first found accepted before God in any offering he seeks to provide, but of the brother offended that we find his primary concern to be. For this he stands accountable both to the greater meaning of sin and in presenting any gift before the Lord. As do we.
It is not in these verses that we are presented with the teaching of forgiveness towards others, that comes later. It is that we are to put forth every effort to be reconciled with our brother or sister for whatever we may have done to them and for any offense that we may have caused (Eph. 4:1-31I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1‑3); Rom. 12:1818If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18); Col. 3:12-1412Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. (Colossians 3:12‑14)). It is of their interests first, and in such, that of the Lord’s. This is why we are not to abandon bringing our gift, but that we are to leave it before the Lord in earnest of our attempt at reconciliation with the one offended (vss. 24-25). It is in the latter of this that we see the fear of God being taught.
One would not expect to be able to go about in worship or service to God, while yet knowing we have been an offence to our brother or sister by some act on our part, or failure to act, in something we know to be either right or wrong (Jas. 4:1717Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)). This does not mean we are to abandon our worship, nor our service, but that submission to the will of God takes precedence in seeking that every attempt is made to reconcile with the one offended before our worship and service can be given before Him as genuine. “The fear of the Lord,” true reverence towards God and abhorrence of evil, is that which places His will and holiness and glory and honor above all else (Prov. 8:1313The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. (Proverbs 8:13); Rom. 12:99Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:9)). It is accepting, even though our pride may be offended in admitting our wrong, what God’s will is, and seeking to honor Him regardless of the cost to our person, that His holiness remains unquestioned in our witness and testimony before others (humbling ourselves in our own estimation that He may receive all glory due His name, Rom. 12:33For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)). It is not only declaring sin to be sin, but living apart from it to the fullest extent that is possible in our day-to-day life (Matt. 5:28-3028But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:28‑30)). Whatever it may be that leads us to sin, we must cast it off from us, that we may live holy for God. The right eye, the right hand, both traditionally treated to be of most importance, given the most prominence: the right eye, of joy and most highly desired or cherished; to be on the right hand of someone, a place of honor and power—all are to be cast away, if they are what lead us into sin (Mark 9:42-5042And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. (Mark 9:42‑50), three times it is written, “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”; Eph. 5:15-1715See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15‑17)). If we sin, we must confess it (1 John 1:99If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9); Psa. 66:1818If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalm 66:18); Prov. 28:1313He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)). However, if reconciliation is not possible, so long as the heart and spirit of the one seeking such is true (as our word is to be true, Matt. 5:33-3733Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: 35Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33‑37)), the “offering” is accepted. This is not by the letter of the law, but is part of what is meant to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-2423But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23‑24)).
Our true gift before Christ is a heart of self-sacrifice which is drawn out by the Holy Spirit due to who God is. This is shown in humility by our behavior and actions towards all who are around us being given to bring glory and honor to Him (John 15:1-171I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17These things I command you, that ye love one another. (John 15:1‑17)). It is only by reliance upon the Holy Spirit that any of this can be done. As we continue on with our Lord in His teaching, we will find we are commanded the same even in dealing with our enemies.
It is far easier for us to show kindness and compassion towards others when there is some benefit in it for ourselves, than when we have nothing to gain. Even more, to show mercy and forgiveness towards one we already know and love, is far more easy than a mere acquaintance or a stranger, and especially if it is of an enemy that we are to have mercy and forgiveness towards. Yet this is what we are commanded to do (Matt. 5:38-4738Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Matthew 5:38‑47)).
We are not to live to seek vengeance nor to retaliate for harms caused to us, nor are we to curse or think ill of those who would curse us (Jas. 3:9-109Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:9‑10)): we are not to hate our enemies, nor even to be bitter or spiteful toward them or anyone else who has done us harm—we are to forgive them and to love them (Luke 6:27-3627But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:27‑36); 1 Thess. 5:1515See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)). We are to sacrifice any claim we have to ourselves, in every wrong done to us, and seek the best for others regardless of our own pain or loss. This is the same that the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul throughout his epistles, of which the two most noted passages I have heard referenced to are found in Romans and Ephesians (Rom. 12:14-2114Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:14‑21); Eph. 4:31-3231Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31‑32)).
However, in reference to the passage in Romans, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Rom. 12:19-2019Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (Romans 12:19‑20)), it is the last part of verse 20 that I have heard preached as a “blessing” to bring us comfort in the idea of harm against those who have hurt us. This is not so; and God will have vengeance. Paul, in speaking by the Spirit, was in no way contradicting Jesus’ teaching of forgiving our enemies, nor was he promoting the idea of our showing kindness so that our enemies would then be damned to an eternity in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. But that it is for their good: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken (alive) captive by him at his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-2624And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Timothy 2:24‑26); see also, Jude 20-2320But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 20‑23)). God “will repay” more than we can ever imagine, not through ‘punishing’ them; it is not to our enemies, but it is to us, by giving us something far better to occupy ourselves with – Himself—as we forgive and give over all that which concerns the matter into His hands. This may truly be difficult for us to accept, so long as we live in the flesh, but we are to have the spirit and mind of Christ: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:4848Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48); Rom. 8:11-1711But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:11‑17); Col. 3:12-1712Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:12‑17)).
Going on with Jesus in the Gospel before us, worship and service towards God, and our reliance upon Him in all things, comes even more into focus (Matt. 6:1-231Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 19Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:1‑23)). Here, we learn of certain hypocrisy that Jesus declares we are not to have in anything we do (doing our alms, prayer, fasting: not to be seen of men). All that we do is not to be according to man’s estimation of us, for his approval and praise; it is not to be appearance, but it is to be in sincerity and truth for the praise and glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, and no other. If we are not focused on the purpose and will of God for His worship, or to be of use for His service (in holiness and honor before Him; 2 Tim. 2:19-2119Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:19‑21)), but rather, that of our station and acceptance before man, then our eye is not single, and our body is full of darkness. No gifts to the poor, no prayers offered, no personal sacrifices made, no matter how “good and righteous” they may seem, are of any meaning: they all are nothing before God the Father—they are evil; they are the darkness of man apart from God (Jude 8-138Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 8‑13)). The ‘treasures’ we may receive of the world: honor, prestige, fortune, favor or fame, in doing them, are but filthy rags; moth eaten and blood stained by the guilt of sin (Isa. 64:66But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)).
To briefly go a bit more into detail regarding this form of hypocrisy, let us look at the conditions of prayer and the prayer itself, that our Lord teaches to His disciples: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (vss. 5-8).
This is the relationship that we have through Christ, one of a child with its Father: it is intimate and personal—no priests, no pastors, no chaplains, no prayers to angels, nor “saints,” nor “Mother Mary,” can intervene on our behalf—there is no relationship with God in such (However, we are not forgetting the relationship we have with other believers, wherein public or corporate prayer is appropriate at times among us; but neither is this nor is intercessory prayer what is meant in this passage.) It is that of our personal relationship with our Father and Creator. In Christ Jesus (God the Son, and the Son of God), the Father Himself hears us, and we have full access before Him in any time of confession, worship, or need (John 16:23-2723And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. 26At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:23‑27); Rom. 8:14-17, 26-2714For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:14‑17)
26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26‑27)
; Heb. 4:14-1614Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14‑16)). Thus is His name “hallowed” in our life: holding our Father’s name as sacred and living for Him in child-like faith—trusting in all things that His Word is true and that He is to be exalted above all else through Christ’s life being manifested in our own. It is His kingdom and glory, not our own; His will to be done, not our own. It is in knowing that not only are all our needs met through Him, but in our being content therewith (Matt. 6:24-3424No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:24‑34); Phil. 4:11-1311Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11‑13); 1Tim. 6:6-86But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1 Timothy 6:6‑8)). Our treasures are not to be of this world (Matt. 6:19-2119Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19‑21)): they are heavenly, they are of Christ (Col. 3:1-41If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1‑4); 1 John 2:15-1715Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15‑17)). And it is of forgiveness: as God in Christ’s sake has forgiven us, so are we to forgive others (Eph. 4:3232And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)).
There are more volumes that could be written by man regarding man’s take on forgiveness than one could possibly read in a thousand lifetimes: each has one’s own opinion on it. However, none could even come close to the simple truth of Christ—the love and grace from the Father towards us in the free gift of forgiveness that we have through that of His Son. NO greater love can be spoken of; NO greater want to forgive: not for some “simple err” of judgment, but for a lifetime of selfishness, self-will, and sin. What greater truth of love and forgiveness can there be found than in just two simple verses given from God’s own mouth: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-1716For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16‑17)). The world itself, all that is therein, already stands condemned (John 3:1818He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18); Rom. 8:20-2220For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (Romans 8:20‑22)); but that is not His desire (Rom. 5:12-2112Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12‑21)). It is God’s personal word and testimony, not man’s. It is the gospel’s call.
As we have now come full circle in Matthew’s Gospel, to the first standard of judgment already discussed, double-standards (Matt. 7:1-61Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. 6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:1‑6)), let us move on to something even more for us to consider. In now but a small passage of Scripture, Jesus sums up not only that of His previous teachings pertaining to the Father’s care for us, but of the law and the prophets as well (vss. 7-12). It is after which we now find ourselves given two choices: a strait gate with a narrow way, or a wide gate with a broad way (vss. 13-14). The strait and narrow way leads to life; the broad way to destruction. Jesus points to these two choices, and urges us to the strait and narrow—mark here, “which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This is both the conclusion of the preceding teachings concerning the things which we would expect from God and our attitude and behavior towards both Him and others, as it is the introduction to the verses which close out the entirety of Jesus’ teachings on the mount. In its being the conclusion of the previous teachings, we have the direct relation to following after Christ. This is seen in the warnings which now come from our Lord as to both false teachers and the cost of one’s refusal in not doing as He commands. It is also where we learn of perhaps the most profound judgments that we are to have a thorough application of in our lives.
False prophets will arise (vss. 15-19). Jesus’ stern warning to His disciples, was fulfilled even as the Church first began (Acts 20:29-3129For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29‑31)). Though they had undoubtedly existed within Judaism, they are truly of special concern to the Christian today, as it is only in Christ that one can be saved (2 Tim. 3:1-81This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2 Timothy 3:1‑8); Jude 44For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)). Anyone seeking to pervert this fact, or in attempting to attach to it the trappings of the Law, undermines that of the gospel which we are both to live out and share with others. Thankfully, in His warning, we are given His judgment to exercise in knowing that: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (vss. 20). While we are still not to judge another’s motives and worth, their fruit itself is proof enough as to whether their doctrine and practice is true and whether we are to have fellowship with them (2 Tim. 2:14-2314Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. 22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. (2 Timothy 2:14‑23)).
“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-2321Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21‑23)).
The immediate two passages presented are of greater meaning than many may realize in this present day of evil. They not only concern what is true or false, but who is true or false. In these is what comes the profound: the condemnation of the failure to judge between truth and error, right and wrong, obedience and disobedience, that is, the condemnation of many by our Lord because they did not obey Him in His judgments as to how they are to live and the doctrine which they teach. He is not just to be as our Savior, something that far too many today solely preach as a ‘gospel’ that allows one to continue living the way they desire, but He is to be Lord as well (Col. 1:15-1815Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15‑18)).
Just as a tree is known by its fruit, so our judgment is to be conditioned, and so must our life be lived out to do the work of Christ (Luke 6:43-4543For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 44For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. 45A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:43‑45); John 10:37-3837If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:37‑38)). It is essential to understand, the “fruits” are not just the works we do in themselves, but also our motives and the way that our worship and works are accomplished. This includes everything from having the correct motive, doing them in the appropriate way (not meant as ‘steps’ we must follow), for the right reason, to the heart and attitude we have to begin with. What are the doctrines we hold to and promote: are they scriptural? Are they of Christ? Do they match with our actions and behavior? To preach in His name is not enough; we must walk His path in our daily life and truly honor Him as Lord (1 John 3:18-2118My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. (1 John 3:18‑21)). In the previous passage of Scripture quoted, immediately after Jesus declared that: “wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them,” He then condemns those who say to Him in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?” Yet hear His words: “And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-2322Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22‑23); see also, Rev. 20:11-1511And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11‑15)). This is not a condemnation of those in obvious rejection of Christ, but of those who had claimed to call Him “Lord” (2 Cor. 11:13-1513For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13‑15); 2 Pet. 2:1-31But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:1‑3)).
It is ever so important for us to test more carefully the teachers and teachings, and those we receive among us (1 Cor. 9:24-2724Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:24‑27); 1 John 4:1-6; 5:1-51Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1‑6)
1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1‑5)
; Rev. 3:14-2214And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:14‑22)); We must be on guard not to be yoked together with anything and anyone dishonoring to our Lord nor that which would deny the Spirit His ministry among us. It is not only that we are to live with longsuffering and kindness towards all, having in us a true heart of compassion and love (Christ living within, Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20); 1 Cor. 13:4-74Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4‑7)), but we are to live with the proper exercise of righteous judgment as well. Only then can our witness and our testimony be of true value to the unsaved in seeing the salvation Christ has given us to live holy before Him—free from the fear of death and from living in the flesh of the world (Heb. 2:14-1514Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14‑15)). Yes, while in this body, we will always remain susceptible to sin, and we will sin; but our weaknesses and flesh are neither to be an excuse for us to continue to live for sin, nor to accept those into fellowship with us who do (Rom. 6:1-41What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1‑4)).
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24-2924Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:24‑29)).
“For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:49-5049For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. 50Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another. (Mark 9:49‑50)).
“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, ‘Be ye holy; for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:14-1614As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:14‑16)).
When it comes to Jesus as Messiah, Redeemer, and Shepherd of the lost—our Savior—the relationship we have with Him individually is truly personal and intimate. At the time of salvation, only the repentant heart of a sinner can personally cry out to Him. No one can fill that role before Him, for the one in sin, and receive the blood of the atonement on their behalf (John 14:66Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6); Rom. 10:16-10; Rev. 3:2020Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)). This intimacy with Him then continues with the believer into eternity.
As for the Body and Bride of Christ, however, those truly saved through the Lamb’s precious blood, there is also now in each of us, both the responsibility towards, and accountability to, the other members of the Body as well. It is not to be a “personal walk” of our choosing: where only OUR relationship to Christ as Savior is of concern to us—He must also be our Lord; our relationship with other believers is that of family (Eph. 3:10-12, 14-2110To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Ephesians 3:10‑12)
14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14‑21)
; Phil. 2:44Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Philippians 2:4); 1 Cor. 10:2424Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. (1 Corinthians 10:24)). For one to believe that it is a solely personal walk denies the authority and truth of God’s revealed Word. It is rebellion and selfishness, a type of ‘self-righteousness’ sought over that of the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:33For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)). Nor is there any such true love that one can claim towards both the Savior of us all, and all for whom He died, if they are to let a brother or sister walk about in sin or error without at least an attempt to help right them along the path (Gal. 6:1-21Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1‑2); Eph. 4:2-62With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:2‑6)). It is the same as “if a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, ‘Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled’; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (Jas. 2:15-1615If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:15‑16)). It is hollow of both love for the brethren and a true relationship with the Lord who redeemed them (1 John 3:16-1816Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16‑18)).
Jesus’ (our Lord’s) example to us in John 13, is of prime teaching in both humility and service, even of love, regarding our path in following after Him. Certainly this can be said of all our Lord’s teachings and commandments, but here it is of special note when it comes to our service among believers. How can we claim Jesus’ path as our own if we are not willing to help correct a brother or sister who has fallen along the way? There are many of us more than willing to drop to our knees and wash a brother’s or sister’s feet in literally fulfilling Jesus’ example. We seem to avoid an even more sincere application, however, that of helping to correct one found in error or helping to pull one from the snare of sin. Whether fearing confrontation or the possibility of offending the one we seek to help, we must be about doing the work of Christ with a true servant’s heart in all things. How can we claim to love the brethren if we do otherwise and let them walk on in the mud? (John 13:1-171Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. 2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; 3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; 4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. 5After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:1‑17); 1 Cor. 12:13-2713For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Corinthians 12:13‑27); Jude 21-2321Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 21‑23)). Whether it be sharing the “meat” of God’s Word with a brother or sister (Heb. 5:1414But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)), admonishing and encouraging one fallen into sin (Matt. 18:15-1715Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (Matthew 18:15‑17); 2 Thess. 3:14-1514And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14‑15)), or in sharing and teaching the gospel truth to the unsaved (Matt. 28:19-2019Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19‑20); Luke 24:46-4746And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46‑47)), Christ is our example to live by, as are His apostles and their witness as shown throughout the epistles (1 Thess. 5:14-1514Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. (1 Thessalonians 5:14‑15); Titus 3:1-71Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. 3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1‑7)).
Throughout the New Testament, judgment, righteous judgment, is exercised and taught in practical ways. Some prime examples: as our being exhorted to it (Matt. 7; 1 John 4:11Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)), to its being put into use as an example to us (1 Cor. 5:1-6, 9-13; 11:31-32; 14:291It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:1‑6)
9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:9‑13)
31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31‑32)
29Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. (1 Corinthians 14:29)
), and the results of its use of great importance, that is, the restoration of a believer back into fellowship (2 Cor. 2:6-86Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Corinthians 2:6‑8)). Jesus never teaches that we are not to judge at all, but that we are not to judge falsely, but righteously.
While it may be easier to falsely exercise the teaching of “judge not” as an absolute, it, if used as such, is worldly, and not what a Christian is called to do. True, we are not to judge another as to one’s motives or intent, nor to their worth, nor are we to condemn, but we are to judge as to actions and behavior, and as to the truth of the teachings to which we are exposed. To not exercise righteous judgment is not accepting our responsibility as Christians (1 Cor. 12:15-2615If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:15‑26); 2 Cor. 12:19-2119Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. 20For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: 21And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. (2 Corinthians 12:19‑21)). It is not what is of proper love towards another in letting them continue in error: it is NOT loving to let someone go to hell in their own way (Prov. 27:5-6, 175Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:5‑6)
17Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
); expressing love is not in allowing others to do or believe whatever they want and “loving” them in spite of it—it is doing what is right and necessary for their good, regardless of whether it is what they would want for themselves. True love is not a feeling; it is not based in the changing emotion of the day. True love is an action of the will in its being relinquished to the Spirit of God; it is such that even if the “feeling” is not there, we still do what is right and beneficial for them. It is not to be about feeling good from a human standpoint, but knowing and doing what is good from a godly one (John 21:15-1915So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:15‑19); 2 Pet. 1:5-155And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 12Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. 15Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. (2 Peter 1:5‑15)). The proof to the lack of study on the subject is for one to assert not to judge under any circumstance: in their seeing any form of judgment made as being wrong in and of itself.
What of Romans, chapter fourteen, verses 4 and 13: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (vs. 4). “Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (vs. 13). A true study of this passage, in light of the whole of God’s Word, would show that it would be false using it to try to excuse one from exercising righteous judgment. The judgment directly taught against has to do with thinking falsely of a person (or as, that they are profane) due to what they may eat or when they may or may not esteem to eat it (vss. 3-6). In the most basic of explanation, this is not about judging as to a person’s actions and behavior; this has to do with judging one on a personal level, contemptuously as to their worth and the acceptance of their faith before God—and this we must not do. However, there is so much more in the passage where these verses occur, and it would be even but a shallow thought, if this is all that we understand of what has been given to us. The lesson to be taken in this chapter of Romans is not what is presented in just a few verses, but the chapter in its entirety (as no single verse of Scripture is of its own interpretation). Consider in verses 13-23, it is the sacrifice of self for others, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for us (vs. 9), that is more important than adamantly holding to what we feel is our right. We must be considerate and live for others first, in faith, and God will provide (1 Thess. 2:88So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. (1 Thessalonians 2:8); 1 Cor. 10:23-2423All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. (1 Corinthians 10:23‑24)). Draw strength by considering Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for us (Phil. 2:1-111If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1‑11); Col. 1:15-1815Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15‑18)), when considering what we give up for another: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me’” (Rom. 15:1-31We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. 3For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:1‑3); compare, 1 Cor. 8). And it would be blasphemous for one to think that in “pleasing another” it is meant that we are to either engage in sinful behavior with them (1 Cor. 10:6-126Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:6‑12); 1 Tim. 5:2222Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22); Eph. 5:11-1211And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Ephesians 5:11‑12)), or to sit idly by without saying a word to try to correct them (this would be a contradiction in Scripture if it did).
However, it should go without saying, that, if the motive of one’s heart in any form of judgment exercised against another, or its lack thereof, is to give themselves excuse about their own sin, then it could easily be said their moral condition before God is such as an unrepentant sinner looking for license to continue living as they will, and not as they know they should. This can be likened to that of the condemnation found in the first verse of the second chapter of Romans (as also previously, Matt. 7:1-51Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1‑5))—it is hypocritical and false— what must not be found in us. No one can be “perfect” in this lifetime, while in this flesh, but we are to mature, walking in the grace and knowledge of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and abiding in His Word. This is the meaning behind the exhortation of being perfect – a continuing growth towards maturity through walking after the Spirit, minding the things of the Spirit, and away from the lust of the flesh (Rom. 8).
Having our heart’s foundation being the Word of God and Jesus as its chief cornerstone (Luke 4:44And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4); John 1:1-41In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1‑4); 1 Cor. 3:1111For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11); 1 Pet. 2:66Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (1 Peter 2:6)) is what allows us to speak truth towards another: exhorting and encouraging each other in love; and, when in admonition, with longsuffering, love and compassion. We should always exercise consideration of our own sin in any judgment we make, with hope for turning one from the path of wrong (Gal. 6:11Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1); Titus 3:1-71Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. 3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1‑7)). Just as we are presented before God through Christ’s blood, so let us see others the same. It is absolutely not to be of the flesh as to what we may think that a person may be worth. It is not according to the judgment of man; it is all of what God has said, and that of their worth being in that He sent His Son, His only begotten Son, for them, just as much as He did for each of us. Judge with forgiveness of heart: the intended and prayerful outcome being a stronger relationship with the one corrected; the hoped-for restoration of one who has committed offense back into fellowship, or, if the individual is not already a believer, that they may see mirrored in you the image and love of Christ. Seeing one previously a slave to sin, redeemed and standing in the presence of our Lord, should not only be our hope, but our joy, and a crown of rejoicing (1 Cor. 1:3131That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31); 2 Cor. 5:14-2114For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑21); 1 Thess. 2:19-2019For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20For ye are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19‑20)).
The Apostle Paul wrote through the Holy Spirit, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)). This should be the same manner of life for us. It is not enough to simply recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah: He must truly be our Savior, the Lord of our hearts and the Ruler of our day-to-day life. It is only by yielding oneself to being guided by the Holy Spirit that this can be done (Rom. 8:1414For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14); Gal. 5:2525If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)). It must be; as your daily walk is a greater witness than your words alone as to the true object and desire of your heart, as well as to who your true Master is (1 John 3:18-2418My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (1 John 3:18‑24)).
In Christ, the motive and intent in our worship and service is not as such to show ourselves righteous or holy before men, but it is letting God’s light shine (John 1:1-181In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:1‑18); 1 John 1:5-7; 2:9-115This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:5‑7)
9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9‑11)
). It is letting Christ live through us; the deepest desire and longing of our heart is both in our worship before Him and in our being found of use to Him for His ministry and testimony before all, regardless of man’s approval or estimation of us. It is God’s honor and glory we seek, not our own, and it is this that many fail in this day to yield themselves to in giving Christ their all. Our sanctification and righteousness, just as our justification, is in Christ the Lord and can be found no where else. It is in His finished work upon the cross on our behalf (Rom. 5:11Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1); 1 Cor. 6:9-119Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9‑11); 2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)). Only in a true heart yielded before the throne of our Lord Jesus, not simply Christ as Savior, but as Lord and God the Son, can this be realized and enable us to live holy before Him. This is seen not only in the gospels, but in the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation. It is that which we are constantly encouraged and exhorted and admonished: Christ cannot truly be our Savior without being our Lord as well (Matt. 10:24-3924The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. 25It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? 26Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. 27What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 10:24‑39); Luke 9:57-62; 14:28-3357And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 58And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 59And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:57‑62)
28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28‑33)
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God actively seeks such as would worship Him, but they must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-2423But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23‑24)). Just as works without understanding is dead, so faith without works is dead as well: and works that are true to the faith, our fruit, only come through hearts yielded in worship and service to Christ in holding Him Holy as both Savior and as Lord—living holy before Him (1 Pet. 1:15-1615But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15‑16)). This cannot be overstated in our modern day, when scriptural truths are being abandoned for prosperity gospels and charismatic leaders void of any form of true understanding or sound Biblical doctrine (2 Tim. 4:1-41I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:1‑4)). The holiness of God is being sacrificed on the altar of man’s “progressive thought” as to what is to be acceptable within the Church. Righteous judgment must be exercised (John 7:2424Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24); 2 Tim. 3:16-1716All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16‑17); Heb. 4:1212For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)).
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9-119And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9‑11)).
“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Pet. 3:8-168Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. (1 Peter 3:8‑16)). Amen.
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