People of Promise 77 Judge Not? 9

Here come da judge, here come da judge! That’s you. The book of Judges in the old Testament describes the time when judges governed the Hebrew people, before they had their first king, Saul. They had crossed into the promised land, and soon fell prey to the temptations to co-mingle with the inhabitants thereof and worship their idols. In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judg. 17:6, 21:25). This is basically anarchy, and was, and is, not God’s plan for His children. His plan is for us to have Him as our King and Leader. It is His plan for His children to follow His lead and do what is pleasing in His eyes, not for us to act independently and do whatever we dang well please.

So, God set up judges to guide the Hebrews into the Truth of His Word. Some of these were warrior judges, some were prophet judges (like Eli and Samuel), and others were just judges. And not all were men. Deborah was a judge. None-the-less, they had the job of administering God’s Law to the people so that they clearly understood what was right and what was wrong in God’s eyes. They were not kings, rather guardians and guides, and they had the right to literally judge the actions of individuals, or to judge the people at large.

God is not a benevolent dictator. He’s not any kind of a dictator. Far from it. God has given us total free will (Deut. 30:19, Josh 24:15). This means that He is incapable of being a dictator. What He wants to be is our Leader, our Guide, our benefactor, our Blessing, our Gracious Lord, our Father. He has established His headship and leadership through our covenants with Him—the Old Covenant (old Testament) and New Covenant (New Testament). We currently live under God’s grace and not under the old Law. That’s because Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and fulfilled all the prophecies of the Messiah, and so was able to become our Sacrifice and buy us back, out of bondage to the Evil One (Gal. 4:5, Titus 2:14). Thus under the New Covenant, anyone who wishes to become God’s child, and benefit from all that He has for us, need only ask. For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

When we become God’s child we also become a judge. That is, God writes His Law in our hearts (Jer. 31:33), and we get to judge our own lives. This is critical. We need to always be self-examining, on a day-to-day basis, not once a year on our birthday or some other self- appointed time. Certainly we need to be doing so before communion (1Cor. 11:28), but we also need to be watching our words and actions as if watching another—to evaluate and see areas where we can improve (Rom. 14:22).

We can act as a warrior judge, standing in the armor of God (Eph. 6:13-18), wielding the sword of the Spirit and resisting the Evil One so that he flees from us (James 4:7). For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (2Cor. 10:4-5). We can act as a prophet judge, speaking forth the Truth of God’s Word to evangelize, instruct, exhort, and edify others (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17-18). We can be self judging, looking honestly at ourselves and seeing what God sees, so that we may change and become stronger in who we are in the Lord.

But we are not to have a judgmental attitude toward others. Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things. And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s. Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? (Rom. 2:1-4).

Don’t do any of this judging on your own. First, ask for wisdom in the judging process (James 1:5). Second invoke the name of Jesus in your prayers and in your evaluation. And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17). Don’t try to be a judge on your own. After all, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin and helps us sort out the good from the evil and select the good. And when He comes (the Holy Spirit-GB), He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me]; About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer; About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him (John 16:8-11).

You are a judge, commissioned by God to evaluate your life and change it to more closely align with His Word (Phil. 2:12). This, by the way, is called sanctification (John 17:17)

People of Promise 77 Judge Not? 9

Here come da judge, here come da judge! That’s you. The book of Judges in the old Testament describes the time when judges governed the Hebrew people, before they had their first king, Saul. They had crossed into the promised land, and soon fell prey to the temptations to co-mingle with the inhabitants thereof and worship their idols. In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judg. 17:6, 21:25). This is basically anarchy, and was, and is, not God’s plan for His children. His plan is for us to have Him as our King and Leader. It is His plan for His children to follow His lead and do what is right in His eyes, not for us to act independently and do whatever we dang well please.

So, God set up judges to guide the Hebrews into the Truth of His Word. Some of these were warrior judges, some were prophet judges (like Eli and Samuel), and others were just judges. And not all were men. Deborah was a judge. None the less, they had the job of administering God’s Law to the people so that they clearly understood what was right and what was wrong in God’s eyes. They were not kings, rather guardians and guides, and they had the right to literally judge the actions of individuals or the people at large.

God is not a benevolent dictator. Far from it. God has given us total free will (Deut. 30:19, Josh 24:15). This means that He is incapable of being a dictator. What He wants to be is our Leader, our Guide, our benefactor, our Blessing, our Gracious Lord, our Father. He has established His headship and leadership through our covenants with Him—the Old Covenant (old Testament) and New Covenant (New Testament). We currently live under God’s grace and not under the old Law. That’s because Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the Law and fulfilled all the prophecies of the Messiah, and so was able to become our Sacrifice and buy us back out of bondage to the Evil One (Gal. 4:5, Titus 2:14). Thus under the New Covenant, anyone who wishes to become God’s child, and benefit from all that He has for us, need only ask. For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved (Rom. 10:13).

When we become God’s child we also become a judge. That is, God writes His Law in our hearts (Jer. 31:33), and we get to judge our own lives. This is critical. We need to always be self-examining, on a day-to-day basis, not once a year on our birthday or some other self- appointed time. Certainly we need to be doing so before communion (1Cor. 11:28), but we also need to be watching our words and actions as if watching another—to evaluate and see areas where we can improve (Rom. 14:22).

We can act as a warrior judge, standing in the armor of God (Eph. 6:13-18), wielding the sword of the Spirit and resisting the Evil One so that he flees from us (James 4:7). For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (2Cor. 10:4-5). We can act as a prophet judge, speaking forth the Truth of God’s Word to evangelize, instruct, exhort, and edify others (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17-18). We can be self judging, looking honestly at ourselves and seeing what God sees, so that we may change and become stronger in who we are in the Lord.

But we are not to have a judgmental attitude toward others. Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things [that you censure and denounce]. [But] we know that the judgment (adverse verdict, sentence) of God falls justly and in accordance with truth upon those who practice such things. And do you think or imagine, O man, when you judge and condemn those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s. Or are you [so blind as to] trifle with and presume upon and despise and underestimate the wealth of His kindness and forbearance and long-suffering patience? Are you unmindful or actually ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God’s will)? (Rom. 2:1-4).

Don’t do any of this judging on your own. First, ask for wisdom in the judging process (James 1:5). Second invoke the name of Jesus in your prayers and in your evaluation. And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him (Col. 3:17). Don’t try to be a judge on your own. After all, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin and helps us sort out the good from the evil and select the good. And when He comes (the Holy Spirit-GB), He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment: About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me]; About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer; About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him (John 16:8-11).

You are a judge, commissioned by God to evaluate your life and change it to more closely align with His Word (Phil. 2:12). This, by the way, is called sanctification (John 17:17).

People of Promise 76 Judge Not? 8

Judging is a necessary part of life, and is actually commanded by God’s Word.  Beloved do not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world (1John 4:1). When one investigates God’s Word in it’s fullness, it’s easy to see how silly the world’s use of the phrase, “Judge not…” actually becomes. Sure, we are not to have a judgmental spirit that looks for the worst in everyone and condemns everyone out of hand. On the other hand, we gosh dang better be judging everything that is going on around us so that we can separate the good from the evil and choose the good ( Rom. 12:9, 21).

Okay, we are to judge (test) the spirits. But how? Well, let’s back up a step and have a running start at this process. First, we have to know how in the heck we are supposed to see another’s spirit so that we can indeed judge it. Well, that’s actually rather easy. First of all, just spend a bit of time listening to what someone has to say and how they say it. The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

What someone says, and how they say it, clearly exposes what they hold near and dear. If every other word is a curse word, and if the person loves to tell ethnic jokes, sexual jokes, mocks and makes fun of the opposite gender, is always trying to get the upper hand, likes to put people down, etc., then you can be certain that their heart does not belong to God. If a person speaks well, is kind, generous, helps others, doesn’t participate in telling coarse jokes, and so on, but says things like, “If God is love then He would never send anyone to hell,” or “I believe there are many ways to God,” or “All religions seek the same God,” or “Christians are so intolerant,” and so on, then you can be certain that their spirit is not tied to God’s Holy Spirit. That is, they are not God’s child.

The tensioning  of Christian ethics and beliefs to fit a person’s own personal desires for a religion or for personal gain or aggrandizement very specifically tells one that the person is not God’s child. Paul faced this everywhere He went. And John wrote about this problem in all three of his epistles. For example, in his letter to Titus Paul describes what a bishop should be like and then goes on to say, He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error].  For there are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others. [This is true] especially of those of the circumcision party [who have come over from Judaism]. Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain (Titus 1:9-11). And then Paul continues on to say, To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted. They profess to know God [to recognize, perceive, and be acquainted with Him], but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind Titus 1:16-16).

Do you see the sometimes subtleness of such people—they profess to know God but obviously don’t. Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words (Matt 7:20). Paul upbraided, warned, coached, instructed, and guided everyone he wrote to, because there were many trying to lead the Christians astray. There still are.

John also wrote about such problems. For example, he says: If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts] (1John 1:8). Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth [of the Gospel] is not in him (1John 2:4). Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now (1John 2:9). And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him]. This [nonconfession] is the [spirit] of the antichrist, [of] which you heard that it was coming, and now it is already in the world (1John 4:3).

And John goes on to upbraided, as did Paul, the Judaizers—those that wanted the Christians to become Jewish, too. They were denying that Jesus died for everyone, and basically said that one had to be a Jew in order to receive salvation from The Jew, Jesus. Silly, silly, silly.

So, evaluate the spirits of others. Not so you can avoid those that do not have God’s Spirit in them, but so that you can be ever ready to offer a kind and encouraging word and guide others toward Christ. And, so that you can gauge how readily others are to receive the message of God’s love and eternal salvation.

 

People of Promise 75 Judge Not? 7

We can never get too much of God. But sometimes, others want to “help” us along the way. And, as in all human activities, sometimes that help is great, spot on, and sometimes it is not. This is especially true when others tell us that they have “a word from God” for us. Boy does that statement raise the old caution flag in my mind.

Not because I don’t want a word from God, but because humans often want to be God’s mouthpiece, or at least pretend to be God’s mouthpiece. Such people may be well intentioned, or not well intentioned. They may truly have our best interest (as they see it) at heart. Or they may not. Anyone who says that he/she has a “word” for us from God is really saying he/she is a prophet. And this can be dangerous stuff. But also [in those days] there arose false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among yourselves, who will subtly and stealthily introduce heretical doctrines (destructive heresies), even denying and disowning the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction (2Peter 2:1).

Jeremiah was a true prophet of God, sent to warn the Israelites that they had severely overstepped their God given boundaries (Jer. 2:13), and were in for a time of war and captivity unless they repented and returned to God (Jer. 4:23-31; 5:1-30; 6:1-30, etc). But Jeremiah was not the only “prophet” speaking to the king and the people (Jer. 23:11,25). Why? Because those that told the king and the people what they wanted to hear got the best treatment (Jer. 5:31). Poor Jeremiah, no one liked him, even though he accurately prophesied and the others were mere “wannabes,” that sought their own comfort and gain. They did evil to Jeremiah (Jer. 20:1-2). But doing evil to God’s true servant did not halt God’s judgment and punishment of Israel. All the false prophets did was lull the people into a false sense of security and allow them to continue to profane the Lord God.

False prophets are always after their own aggrandizement, and not concerned with the truth or with what God is actually saying. But notice, the people to whom they prophesy have a responsibility, too. If their ears itch to hear what they want to hear (2Tim. 4:3), and disregard the rest, then that is exactly what will happen. Such people do not take time to really dig into God’s Word, rather simply take the word of anyone who will allow them to do whatever they want. But that’s not God. He is not on His throne to simply pronounce whatever we do as good. He is there to help us understand what is good and what is evil, and to be able to separate the two, choosing the good and rejecting the evil (Rom. 12:9). That’s what our calling is.

So, we always need to judge “as word from the Lord” against what we know is Truth—God’s Word. If someone gives you “a word,” don’t rush off and commit your life to that “word.” Get into THE Word, and search out everything that you can find concerning the “word” that you have been given, and compare it to what Scripture says.

Further. God really doesn’t send His “word” to you through others. What He does is send a confirming word. That is, God is not going to use someone else as his messenger boy to deliver His instructions to you. If He wants you to do something, He will put it in your “heart” (your spirit—Rom. 2:15), and then perhaps, maybe, not every time, have someone else deliver a message from Him to verify that what He has told you is, in fact from Him.

God is not a God of “if,” and “maybe,” and “do whatever you feel is right.” He is a God of infinite love, but not a pushover. He is a God of infinite goodness, but not a God who tolerates whatever we feel is “good.” He is a God of infinite righteousness, but not a God who proclaims us righteous because we believe He exists. God is nobody’s fool, and we run a huge risk when we start to treat Him as if He existed to serve us. So, be very careful of what you hear—what others tell you is a “word” from God.

Jesus understood our penchant for hearing what we want to hear: And He said to them, Be careful what you are hearing. The measure a[of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure c[of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you—and more [besides] will be given to you who hear. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away [by force] (Mark 4:24-25). When we allow the Evil One and the things of the world to fill our hearts and minds with all sorts of drivel, we begin to lose what we know of God. “Garbage in, garbage out,” is not something new to the computer age. It’s as old a mankind. When we fill our brains with garbage, only garbage can come out. We need to fill ourselves with God’s Truths, and allow it to direct and guide us. The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). That’s why we need to be careful about receiving “a word from the Lord,” from anyone. Take the time to really check out what God has supposedly told you through another before doing anything. Spend time digging in the Bible, and praying and listening to What God actually says to you concerning such a “word.” And if anything raises the slightest suspicion, back away. God would rather have you make a mistake on the conservative side, and allow Him to continue to discuss things with you, than have you run of half-cocked and end up shooting yourself in the foot and giving God a black eye in the process.

 

People of Promise 74 Judge Not? 6

Okay, want a tough one? Here it is. God expects us to “judge: His Word! Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2Tim. 2:15). Not just judge, but skillfully teach it, too! Oh boy, can we make fools of ourselves in this. We can make fools of ourselves because we come to God’s Word with all sorts of prejudices and a big stack of baggage piled on us by our humanness and by the world around us. So we need to judge carefully without all sorts of worldly prejudices.

We have been very specifically warned about this in Paul’s letter to the Colossians: See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah) (Col. 2:8). This does not say that science is off base, it does not say that philosophy is worthless, it does not say that intellectual pursuits are a time-waster. Not at all. In fact, they are all worthy of our attention and our understanding. What this passage does say is that we need to put our life in Christ first before our worldly life. That’s all it says. It simply echoes 1John 5:21: Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be).

We are commanded to work at really getting to know God in all His fullness through what He has given us in His Word. So, let’s at least have a look at how to honestly evaluate what God says to us so that we can get as close to Him as possible. First, and most importantly, we need to understand that God’s Word is inerrant in its original language and intent. And that is a real biggie. It’s a real biggie because translations cannot ever perfectly convey the exact intent of the original language.

For example, the Greek words, Logos and rhema, are both translated “word” in English. The Greek words, Agape and philos are both translated love. Yet, in each instance, the paired words really denote completely different concepts. Logos denotes the essence of God, Himself. Rhema is the spoken or written words of God—as in the Bible. Agape is giving the best you have without regard to the consequences to yourself, as in John 3:16.  Philos is love for a sibling. So, we need to be very careful that when we are reading we don’t misinterpret what God is really trying to tell us. This requires more than a casual reading. It requires that we dig a bit, sometimes that we dig a great deal.

And not just digging into someone else’s comments on their interpretation of a particular passage. Sure, that’s a good place to start, but if you read commentaries, read several to get a more rounded idea of the verse or passage. Look up words in Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. Try to get a feel for their original intent, especially they way they are used in a sentence or passage. Read more than a few verses from the Bible—look at the context in which the passage/verse appears. Read several Bible translations—especially newer ones that are good scholarly translations. The Amplified Bible, NIV, English Standard Version, and NKJV are all good, and complement each other nicely.

Next, we need to focus very clearly on the “big stuff,” of the Bible first, and get these things down absolutely clearly and permanently fixed in our lives. By this, I mean that we need to understand, crystal clear, that God is Agape (1John 4:8, 16), and has only good for us (James 1:17). We also need to recognize that we get to make the choice about everything; that is, we are ultimately responsible for every decision that we make—we have absolute free will (Deut. 30:19, Josh. 24:15). The devil didn’t make you do it, and God didn’t make you do it (James 1:13-15).These understandings need to color every, and I do mean every, interpretation of God’s Word that follows. And they need to guide us in every way that we relate to God.

We also need to be very careful not to allow denominational biases to dictate what God is saying in His Word. Denominational differences are okay in they reflect differences in the way we worship (the liturgy), and perhaps the particular Bible translation we enjoy reading, or speakers that we most enjoy, or the friends that we make in any congregation, or the music we most appreciate, but when we allow differences to transcend who we are commanded to be in Christ, and the command to Agape our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we have gone too far. We have allowed our human spirit to supersede God’s Spirit in our lives.

Many people downplay the infilling of the Holy Spirit, mainly because so many people abuse this wondrous right that God has given us—just ask the Corinthians–but His indwelling presence is a powerful help in reading and clearly understanding God’s Word. I can absolutely testify to this from personal experience. In other words, the deeper one digs into God’s Word, and the deeper that one digs into a relationship with God, the more He reveals of Himself.

And God is ever ready to have you dig deeper. In fact, He wants us to never end our digging. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord (Isa. 1:18a). Wow, what an invitation. But, it’s an invitation to actually reason together, not simply tell God how we see it, and that’s the way it’s gonna be. When I “reason” with God, it’s much more of Him talking—He tells me things. I just ask questions. How could anything I have to say be more important to my life than what God has to say? Not that I don’t “reason” by asking questions to expand on things that I may not clearly understand, but I want to do what God wants me to do—and I honestly believe that is true of all of His children. But being human, we often fumble around and mess up. Thank goodness, God is Agape, and every ready to help us get out of our messes and get back on the right road (1John 1:7-9).

And we need to remember this wondrous gift from Him when it comes to reading and “judging” His Word. If we have one understanding, but then a deeper, truer meaning or understanding is revealed, we need to open ourselves to it. Not necessarily to someone else’s “opinion” of what the Word says, but to revealed information from God, Himself. For example, and I’ve used this example a number of times before, many people chant “You’ll know the Truth and the Truth will set you free,” without really understanding it in context.  To clearly see all the implications of this phrase, we need to read the verse before also:  So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free (John 8:31-32). To know the Truth we have to stay in God’s Word, reading, studying, delving, digging, contemplating, etc. Then, and only then, will we really know the real Truth—that is Jesus—and be set free by Him in all areas of our lives.

The study and “judging” of God’s Word is supposed to make us more like God, not to make God more like us. So, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your reading and study, and to help you become more like Him every day.

 

People of Promise 73 Judge Not? 5

Judging in an honest manner is simply evaluating the facts and deciding the best outcome based on those facts. This evaluating is obviously based on the knowledge of the “judge” concerning the topic being evaluated. For example, one would not want a person totally unfamiliar with corporate law to make a ruling on the merger of two major companies. And that is what Paul was getting at in his first letter to the Corinthians. Obviously they were confronting one another in the courts, and Paul castigated them, asking what right unbelievers had in judging believers. In other words, how can someone that is not in Christ really evaluate someone who is? He told them to keep matters pertaining to the Body within the Body: Do you not know that the saints (the believers) will [one day] judge and govern the world? And if the world [itself] is to be judged and ruled by you, are you unworthy and incompetent to try [such petty matters] of the smallest courts of justice? Do you not know also that we [Christians] are to judge the [very] angels and pronounce opinion between right and wrong [for them]? How much more then [as to] matters pertaining to this world and of this life only! (1Cor. 6:2-3).

What was that? Judge the world, judge the angels? Are your ready? Do you feel equipped for such judging? Hmmmm. Well, it’s not going to happen just yet, and it’s not going to happen while we live on this earth. Paul is referring to what is to come when we live in the eternal kingdom. But, there is a chance in this life to do some judging of spirit beings. We need to remember that demons are “fallen” angels. That is, angels that cast their lot with Satan, rejecting God. And we as brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus are expected to judge which angels are demons and which are not. Remember, Satan can appear as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14). So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds (2Cor. 11:15). Notice that their end will correspond to their deeds—they will speak and behave in such a way as to “kill, steal, and destroy” the things of God and His children. Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:20).

Satan’s servants are both his demons and the humans that serve his purpose, and that literally means everyone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior. There are many people who are not consciously devoted to the Evil One, but which, none-the-less, serve his purposes. For example, people who are not actively involved in any crimes, and who give money to the poor, help with community projects, teach their children to “be good,” etc., are used by Satan to show that one can “be good” without God. Of course, one can be kind, generous, “nice” to others, etc., without knowing God personally, but one cannot be and do what God wants without a relationship with Him. Satan is not only the chief accuser, he is the chief deceiver, and he’s willing to do anything to keep people under his thumb. Therefore it is very important that we be able to judge the spirit of others.

One way is simply by their fruit. If they use “Jesus Christ” as a mere expression of their anger—as a “curse word”—then we know that they are not God’s children. I want you to understand that no one speaking under the power and influence of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say, Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say, Jesus is [my] Lord, except by and under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 12:3). Very simply put, if anyone really, as in really, knows Jesus personally, then there is nothing but the highest regards and love for Him. Using His name as a curse is not something that one would do.

But, there are other more subtle ways to discern the nature of the spirit of a person. It does not necessarily require a long-term association with that person, either. Morality is one of those ways. Those who deny an absolute morality based upon God’s Word to us have the spirit of the Antichrist—that is, they desire what is against Christ and His teachings. And every spirit which does not acknowledge and confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [but would annul, destroy, sever, disunite Him] is not of God [does not proceed from Him]. This [nonconfession] is the [spirit] of the antichrist, [of] which you heard that it was coming, and now it is already in the world (1John 4:3). That is, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Son of God, the redeemer, the Savior has the spirit of the Antichrist.

Again, let me point out, that one can be a “good person,” but not be God’s child. These people are tying to live under the Law, and that just doesn’t work. And all who depend on the Law [who are seeking to be justified by obedience to the Law of rituals] are under a curse and doomed to disappointment and destruction, for it is written in the Scriptures, Cursed (accursed, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment) be everyone who does not continue to abide (live and remain) by all the precepts and commands written in the Book of the Law and to practice them (Gal. 3:10).

We need to judge the spirit of others so that we can be the most effective witnesses possible. When with brothers and sisters in Christ, we can celebrate our Lord and Savior. When we are in the presence of non-believers, we need to tailor make our approach to them based upon what we see in their spirits and how receptive we sense them to be to God’s saving grace. Pay attention to what you see and hear and compare it to what God says in His Word. Judge accurately and speak accordingly.

 

People of Promise 72 Judge Not? 4

Now, since: Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work (1Tim. 3:16-17), Therefore, Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth (2Tim. 2:15).

And because Jesus plainly told us, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free (John 8:31-32). Then it seems to me that we are being told in no uncertain terms to pay attention, judge what God is saying to you, and then do it. Furthermore, in Jesus’ Last Will and Testament, He very specifically asked God to Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth (John 17:17). Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ) (Phil. 2:12). If we are to use God’s Word correctly to become all that He intends for us to become, then we better be able to judge correctly what it says to us.

So, let’s begin at the beginning—not a Genesis 1:1, but rather at the beginning of God’s design for us. First, He made humans so that could freely choose to interact with Him or not to interact with Him. Yup, it’s our old friends Deut. 30:19 and Josh. 24:15. So, we can choose to really dig in and learn what God has for us, or we can just sorta get through life on our own “smarts.” Before we go any further, make up your mind that you really will dig into the Word and begin living the way it directs us to live. Actually, it has to go a bit further than that. Once you really, honestly decide to dig in, then begin praying daily that God will help you, and then act on that in faith. If you ask, expect God to help (1John 5:14-15). Then, since you know that He will help, fully expect to learn, and fully expect that as you learn and apply what you learn in your life, that God will honor those decisions and help you build your life into a towering edifice with a firm foundation, to His honor and glory.

Next, understand that God is love (1John 4:8, 16). Not mushy, kissy, huggy, emotional love, but Agape. He is willing to give you the best He has without regard to the consequences to Himself (John 3:16). He has only good for us (James 1:17). He does not tempt us, and He does not bring evil, hurt, suffering, etc., into our lives (James 1:13-15). Quite the contrary. It is Satan that brings the bad and the ugly into our lives (John 10:10, 16:33). We live in imperfect bodies in an imperfect world, not of God’s making or desire for us. This understanding must be the basis from which we interpret everything that we read in God’s Word and must guide our understanding of how God operates in, with, and through us.

It’s been said many times by many people that, “The Bible interprets the Bible.” Unfortunately, quips without explanation remain just that, quips. What is meant is that the whole of God’s Word, the “big picture” of God, should be used to interpret passages or verses. We should not judge (or interpret) any verse on the merits of what is said in that verse alone. Rather, we need to look at the whole of God’s Word to help us figure out what God is saying to us.

For example, we know that God is love (1John 4:8,16), and so we hear comments like, “Well if God is love, He would never send anyone to Hell.” A very silly statement by those who do not understand that God’s love is not ignorant, stupid, “let ‘em do what every they want” love. It is a desire on His part to “give us the very best He has without regard to the consequences to Himself,” but also a love that rewards good and punishes evil. When we choose (yes, we choose—Deut. 30:19) to operate outside of a relationship with God (this is called “sin), God cannot give us all the benefits He has for us. His contract with us is very simple—when we live in a relationship with Him we gain all He has. When we oppose Him, and live willfully outside a relationship with Him, then He has no choice but to allow the god of this world (1Cor 4:4, 2Cor. 4:4) to have his way with us.

We must also use logic to help us judge God’s Word. If God has told us that He wants every person saved—none “lost” (1Tim. 2:4), then that’s what He means. Thus the idea that God has “preordained” some to be saved and not others, is a foolish notion that makes God a schizophrenic monster. Everyone has the right to say yes or no to God’s offer of salvation. Likewise, if God has given us the right to choose (“free will,” Deut. 30:19, Josh 24:15), then we can’t say that everything that happens to us is “God’s will.” Saying that everything is “God’s will” for us is saying that the bad decisions that we make are His fault, and that the killing, stealing, and destroying performed by the Evil One (John 10:10) are all just part of God’s great plan for our lives. That’s patently ignorant, and makes God out to be a puppet master, not a God who have given us the right to choose good or evil, blessing or curses, life or death. No, God has given us the responsibility to direct our lives. If we want Him to help, He stands ever ready and willing to do so, but He’s not going to interfere with, or help with our decisions, unless we intentionally involve Him.

 

People of Promise 71 Judge Not? 3

Of course we are to judge. How silly and hypocritical we must appear to God when we go around mouthing “Judge not….” As we’ve noted, first and foremost, this passage is talking about an adverse judgmental attitude that is always ready to put others down, to “put them in their place,” to “show them,” to let the world know how bad there are. All the while that we are pointing out the speck in their eye, we are walking around with a log in ours (Luke 6:41-42). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

And, of course, we are to judge things that are evil from things that are good. Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good (Rom. 12:9, 21). Discerning evil from good requires a very definite judgment call. Solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law (Heb. 5:14). Choosing good requires a very definite exercise of free will (Deut. 30:19). So, we must not only discern what is good and what is evil, but we must then pass sentence on the evil and deny it access to our lives.

And there, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is where this whole business of not judging gets very messy. Messy because it means that we have to not only judge what is around us as being good or evil, but we must judge what is inside us as being good or evil. Now, there’s a serious bit of judging. You see, when Jesus was talking about the whole concept of judging, He was addressing the hypocrites that point out all the faults of others while holding those same faults, and perhaps even greater faults as sacred in their own lives.

Being humble does not mean having a lowly opinion of one’s self. That’s called insecurity, self loathing, fear of others, mental illness, etc. No, true humility is the ability to look inside and admit that what we see is not what God wants us to be like. It means that we really do see the evil that lurks inside, and that we want it cleaned out—regardless of the cost to ourselves. Before we go on, let’s define evil—those things that would lead us away from a positive, ongoing relationship with God through Christ Jesus. Evil does not necessarily mean doing things that society considers bad, or which there are criminal laws against, or which show a depraved spirit. Evil, as I noted, simply means those things that oppose God. Now, with that understanding, have a look at this verse from Romans: But the man who has doubts (misgivings, an uneasy conscience) about eating, and then eats [perhaps because of you], stands condemned [before God], because he is not true to his convictions and he does not act from faith. For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful] (Rom. 14:23).  Why is doing things that lie outside our conviction of its approval by God sinful? Well, because, without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out] (Heb. 11:6).

What we are being told is this: don’t go off and do things just because you think that God will approve of them. Don’t think that just because you are you, and have God’s ear, or think you do, that you can’t sin. Just because you have a high opinion about your “selfless” ways, doesn’t mean your ways are selfless. In fact if you do think of your selflessness as selfless in that kind of way, you are already sinning by considering yourself really a great person—that’s the sin of pride. Remember, judging evil from good in a painfully honest way, and doing the very best you can to cleave the evil from your life, is the fastest and best way to the father’s heart. Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant] (James 4:10). Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you (1Peter 5:6).

You can’t do either the examination or the elimination of evil alone. You need to involve God in it. First, He can see things in you that you can’t/won’t see (Ps. 44:21). Second, only His power can cleanse you and enable you. Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight (Phil. 2:12-13).

Read it again. It is God in us who gives us the power to both will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. So yes, judge. Judge yourself and work with God to be cleansed and made pure in His sight, and sustain that purity by washing in the Blood of the Lamb as needed (1John 1:7-9).

When we operate in a judgmental sprit that accuses others and condemns them, we are putting ourselves in Satan’s place, for he is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 2:10). When we operate in a spirit that complains about everything and puts others down all the time, so that we can be elevated, then we are already under judgment. “Judge not” means that we are to avoid a judgmental, accusing, condemning spirit, rather we are to live in the Spirit of God, which is love and concern for others. If we operate in a judgmental  spirit, we are already judged because we are operating outside of God’s will for us, hence the “that ye be not judged” portion of Jesus’ statement.

Toss out all vestiges of a judgmental, accusing, condemning spirit and work toward showing the Truth of God’s love and concern to all.

 

People of Promise 70 Judge Not? 2

The common use of God’s Word in the self-serving platitude, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” is so far off base as to be laughable. God never intended us to live a life completely devoid of all understanding and knowledge of others. A life in which we “live and let live.” That’s just plain silly. Are we to allow murders to kill,, just as long as they don’t kill us? Or thieves to rob just so long as they focus on the other guy? That’s totally illogical, and really dumb, if you don’t mind me saying so.

When we become God’s child, we receive the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16) with which we are able to judge accurately and well. If a situation or person seems evil to us, then we should avoid the circumstance and not get involved with the person. Trouble is, the Evil One is always trying to hide his tricks from us by sliding them in under a different guise: a seemingly innocent one.  We need to look deeper than the surface, we need to look at the fruit of their lives.

Our most important screening tool is the fruit of another’s life, or the expected fruit from any given situation. For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit. For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit; for figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a bramblebush. The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45).

We know that the fruit that the Holy Spirit engenders in God’s children are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self control. So the first question that we should be asking is: does this person exhibit these, or will this situation help others to exhibit these. Notice that Jesus told us, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” If the mouth of the person in question is always swearing, telling bad jokes, putting down others, railing against God, then obviously we can judge that they are not God’s children, and that we should not become involved with them. We may have to work with or for someone like that, but we do not have to become their best friend. In fact, if we do work with or for such people, we should be praying that God will give us an opportunity to tell them about the saving grace available through Christ Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

But what about others that are not outwardly crude and nasty? What about others that don’t have a relationship with God and are generally “good” people? We need to judge such people as not being God’s children because He wants us to help them develop a relationship with Him, too. Jesus was rather clear when He said If anyone hears My teachings and fails to observe them [does not keep them, but disregards them], it is not I who judges him. For I have not come to judge and to condemn and to pass sentence and to inflict penalty on the world, but to save the world (John 12:47)

In other words, everyone outside a living relationship with God is already judged and condemned. Our “judging” them is not to condemn them, but to help them get out from under the judgment and condemnation that comes to those who don’t know God personally. That’s the Great Commission. Do we think that Jesus was kidding around when He told us that All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be)(Matt. 28:18b-20).

To quip, “Judge not that ye be not judged,” in a self indulgent way is to show an absolute lack of understanding of what God is telling us in His Word. If God judges people, and if we are His children and His heirs and coheirs of Christ, then we have the right to judge others. But this judging is assessing, not condemning. It’s God’s way of helping us to recognize the prompting of the Spirit to talk about God’s love for us. We don’t go around with a big chip on our shoulder, looking for someone to “whup up side the head” with God’s Word. We go around hand-in-hand with God’s Spirit, every ready to offer God’s peace and love to others. In your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully (1Peter 3:15).

In reality, judging others is our way of helping us show God’s love to all we meet. Jesus knew that there was not one person on earth who had the kind of relationship with God that He came to make available to us. He could have condemned all of us and been 100 percent in the right. Instead, He chose to be killed in a most horrific way so that we could live. It’s astounding how the judge chose to become the sacrifice for us. When we “judge,” others it should be to see them as Jesus saw us, and offer the greatest gift to them that anyone can ever offer to another—the way to life eternal.

People of Promise 69 Judge Not?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard both Christians and non-believers alike quip, “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Usually they say this in response to some criticism they have received. And they say it in a way that suggests that God is going to back them up. Hah! All it tells me is that they do not know God on a personal level, and they certainly don’t know His Word. There, how’s that for judging?

Let’s look at this concept of judging from a logic perspective. First, every decision that we make is based on judgments that we make. In fact the definition of decision is to make a choice, to choose. Everything we do in life, from brushing our teeth in the morning to deciding what to have for a snack before going to bed, and all the stuff in between, requires that we judge. Life is a continual series of decisions based on judgments that we make based on what we know about the thing we are making the decision on. How, I might ask, can we choose wisely, or even at all, without some sort of judgment? Certainly we cannot.

Now, let’s go back to that most important of all verses, Deut. 30:19. I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. God has called heaven and earth to witness against us, not for us, but against us, that He has given us a choice. We have to choose. How do we choose? Well, we judge for ourselves the blessings and curses and then we decide. It goes like this, “Let’s see, blessings or curses, life or death, blessing or curses, life or death, which one do I choose, which one do I choose.” If we are smart, we take God’s advise and choose life and blessings, not curses and death. Now that’s certainly a judgment call.

So, if our lives are really based in a continuous series of judgments and decisions, what does the Bible mean when it says to judge not?  Well, gosh dang, it’s not related to judging, but to a judgmental spirit. These are two totally different concepts. Here’s the way the Amplified Bible explains it. This by the way, is Jesus speaking: Judge not [neither pronouncing judgment nor subjecting to censure], and you will not be judged; do not condemn and pronounce guilty, and you will not be condemned and pronounced guilty; acquit and forgive and release (give up resentment, let it drop), and you will be acquitted and forgiven and released (Luke 6:37).

“Judge not” has nothing to do with making decisions. It has to do with holding on to resentments and not forgiving. It has to do with a spirit that is continually critical of others. A spirit that always looks for the bad in others, not the good, and then openly condemns that person. A spirit that tears down and does not build up. A spirit that sees itself far above others, and as being “too good for the likes of them.” A spirit of snobbish superiority. It goes like this, “A” I’m adorable, “B” I’m so beautiful, “C” I’m a cutie full of charm…and you’re not, and I want to tell you all about what’s wrong with you.

The Bible should say, “Be careful when you get your nose so high in the air, you might drown when it rains.” In fact, Jesus did say something like that—Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice or consider the beam [of timber] that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Brother, allow me to take out the speck that is in your eye, when you yourself do not see the beam that is in your own eye? You actor (pretender, hypocrite)! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye (Luke 6:41, 42).

Furthermore, Jesus was really upset with the crowd when they tried to kill him because they were not judging Him fairly, but rather simply operating in mob mentality.He also said to the crowds of people, When you see a cloud rising in the west, at once you say, It is going to rain! And so it does. And when [you see that] a south wind is blowing, you say, There will be severe heat! And it occurs. You playactors (hypocrites)! You know how [intelligently] to discern and interpret and prove the looks of the earth and sky; but how is it that you do not know how to discern and interpret and apply the proof to this present time? And why do you not judge what is just and personally decide what is right? (Luke 12:54-57). Huh! Jesus was telling us to decide what is right and what is wrong, what are blessings and what are curses, what is life and what is death.

Alright then, we have the green light to make decisions, to judge for ourselves. That’s why God gave us His Word. His unshakable Word. His forever Word. His Word that never changes; it is settled forever (Ps. 119:89). We can rely on it veracity, on its truth, on its absolute ability to change us forever. That’s because it is alive (Heb. 4:12), and has it’s own power to transform us (Luke 1:37, 1Thes. 1:5, James 1:21).

When we judge good vs. evil, blessings vs. curses, we are to make those judgments on the basis of God’s Word. We are expected to discern good and evil, and to make the decision for the good (Gen. 3:22, Josh. 24:15, Isa. 7:15, Job 34:4, Heb. 5:14). What kind of critters would we be if we could not make such decisions. Perhaps we would fall into the philosopher’s trap of considering good and evil as relative—“My good is your evil, and your evil is my good—it’s all relative.” That’s not philosophy, that’s just stupid.

Dig into God’s Word, and see what He really has to say. God expects you to judge for yourself, and you will be held accountable for exactly that. You’re dang right you better judge, and you better choose life and blessings.