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Galatians 5:6 (NIV)

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Backing Down The Accuser - What Is Judging?

By Charles Stempien

While carrying out their ministry of reconciliation God's people often find themselves confronting errors that have overtaken people's lives. Reproof and correction can sometimes be hard to accept even for people already seasoned in the Word. So it should come as no big surprise when someone takes offence at something you said, even to the point of lashing out at you. The most common thing God's people are hit with at these times is "You are judging me". That old standby has backed off many a christian trying to help someone, allowing the devil to carry the day. It is understandable why a person might think he is being judged because there are a lot of people out there who are judging people, even in the name of Jesus Christ.

The above realities make it very important that the christian man or woman understand what judging is and when reproof and correction cross the line into judging. Let us see what the Bible has to say about judging.

Acts 2:22-23 We find Peter preaching to the Judeans.

Acts 2:22-23
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Was Peter judging them? He did, after all, tell them that they have crucified and slain Jesus Christ "with wicked hands". Those are petty and harsh words. Let us examine another man of God at work, the apostle Paul.

1 Corinthians 5:1-3
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.
And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

Did Paul judge that person? Paul said that he judged concerning that individual and that person should be removed from the fellowship. The answer to both questions is in the Gospel of John where Jesus Christ is having a whopper of a confrontation with some Pharisees. It is Jesus Christ speaking.

John 8:28b
"…. I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."

Remember this verse; it is the whole key to the issue of judging. Jesus Christ never spoke on his own whim or expressed his own opinions. He only spoke what God instructed him to say. In light of this key let's examine some other statements Jesus Christ made to the Pharisees.

John 8:24
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Did Jesus Christ judge them? No! He only told them what God told him to say. God later revealed this part of His word again to Paul in Romans.

Rom 10:9-13
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Christ was only speaking the word as God was teaching him.

John 8:37
I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.

Is Jesus Christ a mind reader or is he judging by guesswork? Neither, he only told the Pharisees what God instructed him to say. God knows what is in the mind and heart of man. Jesus Christ now knows because God told him. In the end, events proved this statement to be true.

John 8:44
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The only way Jesus Christ could have gotten this information is from God.

Dan 2:22
He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.

Remember John 8:28b? Jesus Christ was not judging the Pharisees; he was giving them the message that God wanted delivered to them. The next two verses explain the principle of when a person is judging and when he is not.

John 8:15-16
Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

At first glance these verses look like a contradiction. Verse 15 says that Jesus Christ judges no man. Verse 16 starts out "and yet if". The word if indicates a conditional statement, it does not mean it is actually happening. Jesus Christ is saying "if" he judges then his judgement would be true. Why? Because God is with him. Doing what? The answer is John 8:28b, teaching Jesus Christ what to say. As long as Jesus Christ sticks to the message God gives him, whatever he says will be true and he will not be judging anyone. The same holds true for us who are to follow in Jesus' footsteps.

1 Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

The word for follow in the verse is imitate. We are to imitate Paul who imitated Christ. Jesus Christ got his information by revelation from God. Up until he was baptized and God gave him holy spirit upon him, Jesus Christ relied on and studied scripture for God's revelation. After he received holy spirit he got revelation directly from God via his gift of holy spirit. Jesus Christ was perfect and behaved perfectly. We are not perfect. We are flawed genetically and there is no good thing in our flesh, so we depend on our gift of holy spirit. Since none of us manifests holy spirit perfectly it is wise to lean and the scriptures for our information. Once our minds get in the habit of tracking on God's word, we are in a position to accurately receive word from God. Always draw from the word whenever you can when judging situations.

In the case of Peter, he had just received the gift of holy spirit. He started his speech by quoting scripture, first about holy spirit, then about Jesus Christ. It was them, while drawing on scripture he knew and his own observation of the death of Jesus Christ, that God could give him the inspiration to say what he did and how he did it. The result was that about 3,000 souls were saved that day. If he spoke his own mind disaster would have resulted and Peter and the others might have been lynched.

In the case of Paul's letter to the Corinthians Paul was responding to numerous reports from different sources…." reported commonly". Even though Paul was not there, God revealed the problem to Paul by the reports, then by word from God via His gift of holy spirit…"but present in spirit". Paul did not judge that person; Paul judged the situation concerning that individual.

1 Corinthians 6:1-5
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?
These verses instruct God's people to judge matters between each other instead of taking problems to unbelievers to decide.

Acts 15:6
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

This verse shows us an example of how a matter is to be dealt with. The matter was discussed and resolved and nothing was said against the people who caused the problem. No man was judged. A matter or situation was resolved with guidance from God's word and people got blessed. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul drew on his knowledge about incest and fornication from the law but drew on revelation from God as to what to do about it. God had already inspired Paul to write how to handle such situations in Thessalonians.

II Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

So Paul judged the matter by standard of the word and acted on the matter according to the revelation God had already given him. At no time was that individual judged. We have no idea what Paul thought of him.

At no time are we ever authorized to judge people. We are not qualified for the job because only God knows person's heart, and the time for judging is not yet here. When we speak to people about matters that have become known, we must limit ourselves to speaking only what was revealed to us from God. That is what Jesus Christ did. In our day most of what we know will come from the written word. When our minds are tracking in harmony with the written word we are then ready to receive information from God via our holy spirit on a need basis. Like Jesus Christ we are appointed to speak what God says, nothing else. If we form and express our own opinions based on our own feelings and mis-information, we judge. God wants us to be messengers not judges.

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