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What did Jesus mean when he said ‘Judge Not’?

Has someone ever said to you “Don’t judge” because you simply confronted a behavior or stated a belief? If so, this is a very good article on addressing one of the most misused scriptures in the Bible.

 

Whereas it comes as no surprise that most Christians have at least one favorite verse of Scripture, it is somewhat startling to learn that most non-Christians have one as well. Non-Christians may know little of the Bible, but as certainly as night follows day, they can quote for you Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that you be not judged.” And, ironically, this verse—which they love most—they understand least.

A TEXT ABUSED

Never has a passage of Scripture been so utterly abused, misunderstood, and misapplied as this one. Non-Christians (and not a few misguided believers as well) use this text to denounce any and all who venture to criticize or expose the sins, shortcomings, or doctrinal aberrations of others. One dare not speak ill of homosexuality, adultery, gossip, cheating on your income tax, fornication, abortion, non-Christian religions, and so on without incurring the wrath of multitudes who are convinced that Jesus, whom they despise and reject, said that we shouldn’t judge one another!

This problem is due in large measure to the fact that people hate absolutes, especially moral ones. To suggest that there really is an absolute difference between good and evil, truth and falsity, is to risk being labeled as medieval and closed-minded. In brief, for many (if not most) students today, “There is no enemy other than the man who is not open to everything.”

The irony, of course, is that in judging us for judging others they are themselves violating the very commandment to which they want to hold us accountable! To insist that it is wrong to pronounce others wrong for embracing a particular belief or moral practice is itself an ethical position, a moral stand. To insist on uncritical tolerance of all views is extremely intolerant of those who embrace a different perspective.

Love Your Neighbor by Loving God

I may repeat ‘Do as you would be done by’ till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.

~ Mere Christianity

What is the Sensuous Christian?

The sensuous Christian is one who lives by his feelings rather than through his understanding of the Word of God. The sensuous Christian cannot be moved to service, prayer or study unless he ‘feels like it.’ His Christian life is only as effective as the intensity of present feelings. When he experiences spiritual euphoria, he is a whirlwind of Godly activity; when he is depressed, he is a spiritual incompetent. He constantly seeks new and fresh spiritual experiences and uses them to determine the Word of God. His ‘inner feelings’ become the ultimate test of truth.

The sensuous Christian goes his merry way until he encounters the pain of life that is not so merry and he folds. He usually ends up embracing a kind of ‘relational theology’ (that most dreadful curse on modern Christianity) where personal relationships and experience take precedence over the Word of God. If the scripture calls us to action that may jeopardize a personal relationship, then the scripture must be compromised. The highest law of the sensuous Christian is that bad feelings must be avoided at all cost.

(R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture, pp. 26-27).

Confession: Use Before 30 A.D.

Confession“Christians are not required to confess their sins to God in order to be forgiven, we already are forgiven when we put our faith in Christ for our salvation. There is no Biblical basis for believers to confess sins to God for forgiveness. To each other for healing, yes; but not to God for forgiveness.” – Clark Whitten, “Pure Grace”

The internet has become a sea of white noise when it comes to debating various doctrinal positions and everyone seems to have an opinion. I realize this post would be no exception. However, every so often certain statements cross my path that I find troubling, misguiding or just plain false teaching. This would be one of those statements.

To be clear, I do not believe that we need to ask for forgiveness of our sins so that we can be justified again and again. Our justification is a singular event that occurs immediately when we trust Christ with saving faith.

That being said, here are a couple of points to counter this line of thinking:

Jesus taught confession. When asked by his disciples how they should pray, he responded with teaching them a prayer that was meant to serve as an example of how we should petition the Father (Luke 11:1-4). Christ said we should ask God to “forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.” Again, this is not seek justification but rather restoration of the Father’s fellowship with us which has been disrupted by our sin (Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 12:9-10). Also, as we forgive others, we are able to appreciate and receive the forgiveness that God has already provided. Jesus commands (not recommends) that we build into our daily prayer a request for forgiveness of sins. To my recollection, I don’t believe Christ gave an expiration date for this prayer. Was it meant to only have a shelf life of a couple of years? To imply that Christ’s instruction to seek forgiveness was old covenant and no longer applies is to make “The Lord’s Prayer” an antiquated relic.

In Psalm 32, David tells us:

“When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.”

David was a believer (Romans 4). God called him a “man after my own heart.” And yet, he tells us the consequence of withholding his confession. The Old Testament did not teach a conditional salvation that comes and goes with every sin and there was no salvation by works. The way people in the Old Testament were saved was to realize there was nothing they could do to save themselves. They cried out to God and God applied the sacrifice of Christ to penitent believers even before Christ’s death. Romans 4 tells us that Abraham was saved by grace and not by works. Confession is not an old covenant work but a privileged, biblical discipline that enables us to receive the fullness of God’s grace.

You may ask “Why does our relationship with the Father need to be restored if we are already forgiven?” Let’s take, for instance, a dad who loves his son unconditionally. The son knows that the dad will always extend forgiveness and there is nothing they can do to affect that dad’s love for them. However if the son goes out and takes the family car against his father’s wishes and wrecks it, the father will be grieved. Fellowship is disrupted by the son’s disobedience which is an offense to the father. Confession is necessary to rightfully restore that fellowship. Can you imagine wrecking the family car and saying “I don’t need to apologize, I know Dad forgives me”? I doubt it.

Forgiveness is two-fold. There are those who would say that every time we ask for forgiveness, we are in essence “re-crucifying” Christ. This is were we see that forgiveness occurs at two levels: judicial and paternal. We receive judicial forgiveness when we are justified (Romans 8:1). Meaning the penalty of sin has been paid. God, as our judge, has been satisfied and our position is secure. God, our loving Father, is also concerned for our holiness and our growth into maturity. Ongoing confession is so that our fellowship with the loving Father may be restored. Christ illustrated this in John 13: 1-11 when he washed the disciple’s feet. Christ said “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean . . . “ We were “bathed” when we were justified. However, as we walk through this life, our feet will get dirty and need to be washed. Christ instructed us to seek daily cleansing.

Confession assumes a posture of humility. When we confess our sins we are acknowledging that we are in daily need of God’s incredible grace. It helps us to keep from walking in deception and gives us a proper self awareness of our weaknesses and flesh. It also acknowledges that we have looked to something or someone other than the Father for our security and provision. Confession places us at the feet of Jesus recognizing that he is our source and we were foolish to look to anything else. Simply put, to believe that we are not required to confess sin is simply to walk in arrogant assumption.

Confession is more than just an optional “health check” for the authentic believer and for some to claim that we “re-crucify” Christ every time we ask for forgiveness is well . . . simply ridiculous. Let’s not be swayed by teachings that would harm our relationship with the God of grace. The aim of a believer’s confession is to restore joy and life-giving fellowship with the Father. Why would anyone discourage that?

Hell’s Chatterbox

Sitting next to two young women (early to mid-twenties) in Starbucks trying to get some work done.
Sample conversation from the past 2 hours (at approximately 90 decibels):

Girl 1: “Like oh my gah, I was so like couldn’t believe it.”
Girl 2: “I mean American Idol was like the first.”
Girl 1: “I know! I know! Like wowww.
Girl 2: “Yeah, I know ha ha ha ha ha ha” (convulsive gerbil squeak)

Girl 1: “Like, like I started watching this other show, ya know, like a spinoff and it was kinda good.”
Girl 2: “Yeah yeah, like you couldn’t go wrong.”
Girl 1: “Yeah like there is nothing good on Nickelodeon anymore”

Me: (Internal monologue) “Sweet Jesus, please send your merciful angel of death. I don’t care who the target is. As long as this suffering comes to an end and one of us sees your glorious face.”

Sin & Grace Cannot Agree

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Sin and grace can no more agree than fire and water. Even the God of peace never tries to establish a peace between good and evil, for it would be monstrous even if it were possible. The way to peace is the way of holiness. Cast out sin, and you cast out contention. Subdue iniquity, and peace wins the victory.

Beloved, it is of no use for us to seek happiness of life except by the way of holiness of conversation*. I have already declared that we have peace with God through the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ; but for deep calm of heart and quiet of conscience there must be a work of sanctification within us wrought by the power which raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Sin is our enemy, and the new life within us is heartily at enmity with evil, and therefore peace can never be proclaimed in the triple kingdom of our nature until we always do that which is well pleasing in the sight of the Lord, through Jesus Christ.

* – In modern English the old word “conversation” means “life” or “lifestyle.”

Originally published on The Daily Spurgeon

From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “The God Of Peace And Our Sanctification,” delivered August 5, 1877. 

Carl F.H. Henry

Biblical truth – transcultural as it is – has an indispensable message for contemporary culture.  It addresses modern learning, modern ethics, modern politico-­‐economic concerns, and all the idolatries of our polytheistic society. It proclaims the gospel to a generation that is intellectually uncapped, morally unzippered, and volitionally uncurbed. Those who consider the latest fads permanently “in” will, of course, dismiss the Christian message as the last   hurrah of an antiquated outlook. They reveal their sickness of soul by derogating terms like morality, piety, family, work, patriotism, born again, evangelical, theology. Christianity they dismiss as a kind of middle-­‐class hedonism. Declaring it intellectually inadmissible, they meanwhile espouse a life that neither reason nor conscience nor spirit can support or condone. Repression of sensuality and of self-­‐gratification they call psychotically abnormal; subordination of the flesh they leave to medieval monks or consign to the future resurrection. Affirming sexual pleasure to be the supreme good of a life of unending revelry, they waste  away into ethical ghosts and skeletons.

- Carl F. H. HenryThe Christian Mindset in a Secular Society

Enigma of Grace & Truth

imgresI am one of those weird people that like school and I always want to be a life-long learner.  When it comes to studying Scripture, my hope is to attain a posture of humility knowing that there are depths of understanding that I have not reached.  With this being said, some topics are complex and challenging to understand but there are still foundational concepts we should seek to comprehend.  The controversy of “balance” in grace and truth is one of those concepts.  Some would say that grace is, in essence, truth and will often embrace the extreme of emphasizing one over the other.  Or they may state that each is basically one in the same.  But how can we take such a simplistic approach when Scripture makes a distinction.  One author put it so well by explaining that grace and truth are like a birds wings.  Both are distinctively essential and work together in perfect symmetry however, one cannot fly if one of the wings is diminished or weakened.

I understand the concern of using “balance” as a way to dilute one’s understanding of God’s grace.  I certainly do not want to be responsible for contributing to a works-based mentality.  God forbid!  But we must not put the concept of balance on a blacklist and immediately marginalize those who truly desire to understand and embrace the fullness that grace and truth envelop.   Balance is the fullness of both.  Randy Alcorn says it well:

If we minimize grace, the world sees no hope for salvation. If we minimize truth, the world sees no need for salvation. To show the world Jesus, we must offer unabridged grace and truth, emphasizing both, apologizing for neither. The Colossian church “understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6)

Truth is quick to post warning signs and guardrails at the top of the cliff. Yet it fails to empower people to drive safely–and neglects to help them when they crash.

Grace is quick to post ambulances and paramedics at the bottom of the cliff. But without truth, it fails to post warning signs and build guardrails. In so doing, it encourages the very self-destruction it attempts to heal.

- Randy Alcorn, The Grace & Truth Paradox

Traditional Church

“But if the traditional church is so inept, so out-of-it, so not-with-it, so passé, so completely washed up, so painful, and so boring, why not let it die peacefully? Why keep on kicking it?

Because the real target is not the traditional church but the traditional theology it lives by. This belief system is at the heart of the traditional church’s life that seeker-sensitives are after. It is not that they want to deny it or reject it, but it is something of an embarrassment to them. At least in their own churches, they want to conceal it. They want it hidden, kept in the background, made to disappear from what they are doing. It is rather like a family secret. Family secrets are true, but they should be kept private. They should not be divulged.”

-David F. Wells, The Courage to be Protestant

Obedience

Obedience always requires faith, and faith always requires obedience.