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; 30:12). 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. 10:12). 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 7:24; 1 Cor. 6:2-3; 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. 7:5), shallow standards (John 7:24), and human standards (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, 33-37, as well as among so many others: Jesus’ teachings in Matt. 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. 7:29; 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.
Double Standards
Matthew 7:1-6
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 6:37-42), 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. 139:23-24).
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. 6:1).
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. 7:2; 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 7:24, “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 4:46-50), 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 7:24.
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. 51:1-17. 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. 21:3; Mic. 6:6-9; Matt. 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 3:1-2; also consider Nicodemus’ statement found later in 7:46-51).
What then follows in this chapter, 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 3:25-36), 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. 9:11-13; Luke 18:9-1; Rom. 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. 16:1-8), 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 5:37-40: that of their distance from God in not accepting His miracles and teachings as proof of Him as Christ, the Messiah of God (Hos. 7:10).
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; 5:1-16). 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. 65:5; 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. 17:1-13; Lev. 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. 3:15-18; Hos. 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. 18:15-18) through the testament of the Scriptures to His acts and His doctrine (Isa. 11:1-5). The fact of the miracle having taken place on the Sabbath would not have been an issue (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. 5:17). In the Jews shallow and arrogant judgment of Jesus, they refused the righteousness of God: they denied His Christ (Rom. 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 8:15
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. 20:10; Deut. 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. 4:12), 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 8:9).
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 8:11). 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 3:21; 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. 6:7).
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 5:13-16).
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. 5:3-12; Heb. 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 15:18-21; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 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. 5:21-48). 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 18:9-12), yet of themselves, their hearts were distant and cold (Matt. 23:1-33; 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 7:6-16; 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. 29:13b). 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. 5:21-28). 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 5:17a; Rom. 5:12; 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. 4:1-3; Rom. 12:18; Col. 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. 4:17). 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. 8:13; Rom. 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. 12:3). 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. 5:28-30). 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 9:42-50, three times it is written, “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”; Eph. 5:15-17). If we sin, we must confess it (1 John 1:9; Psa. 66:18; Prov. 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. 5:33-37), 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 4:23-24).
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 15:1-17). 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. 5:38-47).
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. 3:9-10): 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 6:27-36; 1 Thess. 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. 12:14-21; Eph. 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. 12:19-20), 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. 2:24-26; see also, 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. 5:48; Rom. 8:11-17; Col. 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. 6:1-23). 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. 2:19-21), 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 8-13). 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. 64:6).
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).
Here, we have not only a two-fold command against what we are not to do in regards to prayer, but we also find encouragement in knowing the Father has all our needs already in mind. We are not to be found in kind to the Pharisee in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 18:9-14), seeking that of man’s honor in spouting off about his own righteousness; nor are we to be as the heathen, without any true understanding or knowledge of God. Neither is accepted. But we are to hallow Him as “Father.”
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 16:23-27; Rom. 8:14-17, 26-27; Heb. 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. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:11-13; 1Tim. 6:6-8). Our treasures are not to be of this world (Matt. 6:19-21): they are heavenly, they are of Christ (Col. 3:1-4; 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. 4:32).
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 3:16-17). The world itself, all that is therein, already stands condemned (John 3:18; Rom. 8:20-22); but that is not His desire (Rom. 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. 7:1-6), 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 20:29-31). 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. 3:1-8; 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. 2:14-23).
“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. 7:21-23).
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. 1:15-18).
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 6:43-45; 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 3:18-21). 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. 7:22-23; see also, Rev. 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. 11:13-15; 2 Pet. 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. 9:24-27; 1 John 4:1-6; 5:1-5; Rev. 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. 2:20; 1 Cor. 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. 2:14-15). 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. 6:1-4).
“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. 7:24-29).
“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 9:49-50).
“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. 1:14-16).
All Judgment Done Out of Love
1 John 4:7-14
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 14:6; Rom. 10:16-10; Rev. 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, 14-21; Phil. 2:4; 1 Cor. 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. 10:3). 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. 6:1-2; Eph. 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. 2:15-16). It is hollow of both love for the brethren and a true relationship with the Lord who redeemed them (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 13:1-17; 1 Cor. 12:13-27; Jude 21-23). Whether it be sharing the “meat” of God’s Word with a brother or sister (Heb. 5:14), admonishing and encouraging one fallen into sin (Matt. 18:15-17; 2 Thess. 3:14-15), or in sharing and teaching the gospel truth to the unsaved (Matt. 28:19-20; 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. 5:14-15; 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 4:1), to its being put into use as an example to us (1 Cor. 5:1-6, 9-13; 11:31-32; 14:29), and the results of its use of great importance, that is, the restoration of a believer back into fellowship (2 Cor. 2:6-8). 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. 12:15-26; 2 Cor. 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, 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 21:15-19; 2 Pet. 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. 2:8; 1 Cor. 10:23-24). Draw strength by considering Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for us (Phil. 2:1-11; Col. 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. 15:1-3; 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. 10:6-12; 1 Tim. 5:22; Eph. 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. 7:1-5)—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 4:4; John 1:1-4; 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 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. 6:1; 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. 1:31; 2 Cor. 5:14-21; 1 Thess. 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. 2:20). 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. 8:14; Gal. 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 3:18-24).
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 1:1-18; 1 John 1:5-7; 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. 5:1; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 2 Cor. 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. 10:24-39; Luke 9:57-62; 14:28-33).
God actively seeks such as would worship Him, but they 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. 1:15-16). 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. 4:1-4). 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 7:24; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 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. 1:9-11).
“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. 3:8-16). Amen.