"Judge not, that you be not judged. - Matthew 7: 1 (ESV)
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." - John 7: 24 (ESV)
These are the end times beloved. The clock ticking to eternity is nearing midnight. There is only one thing that matters between now and the tolling of that bell. It is not revival. It is not standing up for Christian values in an amoral society. It is winning souls to the cross of Jesus Christ. It is preaching the Gospel. All of it. It is about witnessing to the lost about the Savior we serve. The Savior they need. The devil is always prowling about though. Always seeking whom he may destroy. Always trying to make us ineffectual in our walk and in our responsibilities to the kingdom. One tactic he employs very successfully in these end days is to convince Christians to loathe the very sinner we ought to bring the Gospel to. In recent months we had the stories of the baker in Oregon and the Florist in Washington who felt so offended in their faith that a sinner would ask them to bake a cake or sell them flowers that they refused. They always say that the person in question offends their Christian beliefs. Just wondering how that would have worked out for them if Jesus had applied the same standard to them.
Do we understand that today? Jesus does not ask that we stop sinning before He saves us. He does not wait for Christian perfection before embracing us. The Bible says that while we were still sinners He died in our place. Yet we think that baking a cake is simply too much to ask until the person repents from their evil sinful ways. Seriously? If Jesus applied that same standard to us then no one would be saved. No one. With this as the backdrop I present the latest in a series of articles that simply misses the point:
I am not attacking Pastor Idleman. I am hopeful that this was written with the best of intentions. It just misses the mark and does so wildly. He starts with presenting two scriptures, which are the key verses today. I am going to start here since this is the premise he builds off. When it comes to Matthew, Idleman claims:
"Judging within the context of Matthew 7:1 refers to the type of judgment that a judge would render in a court of law, such as in Romans 14:4, "Who are you to judge another's servant?" A judge hears the evidence and pronounces a judgment. We are in no position to do this--we don't have all the facts. God tells us to leave justice to Him because He is the judge."
Not exactly. I am unsure where he comes to this conclusion about this verse referring to judgment in a court of law. I cannot find a commentary that agrees. Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible actually claims it is NOT like the judgment one would receive in court. The remainder of the context here reveals what Jesus is actually teaching:
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. - Matthew 7: 2-5 (ESV)
The point that seems to have escaped Pastor Idleman is that these verses have very little to do with judgment. They are actually about hypocrisy. Verse five makes it clear that we are to help our brother out with the speck in his eye. Translation? We are to judge him. We just need to make sure that we are practicing what we are preaching. God hates hypocrisy. These verses can also speak to a judgmental spirit that is unloving in making snap judgments about people that are not thoughtful, considerate, and often times even accurate. Once again, hypocrisy. Verse five though eviscerates the notion that we are not to judge. Idleman then tries to compare this with the verse from John's Gospel:
"In John 7:24, however, Christians are to judge or "call into question" those things that clearly contradict God's principles. In 1 Corinthians 2:15, the apostle Paul said that those who are spiritual should judge and discern all things."
Once again, not exactly. If you notice, Idleman again immediately conflates the verse he is talking about with another to try and prop up his point but let us stick first with the first verse. Does John 7:24 teach that we are to judge those things that are contradictory to God's principles? Once again, let us look at the immediate context:
Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." - John 7: 22-24 (ESV)
These verses do not teach that we are to call into question those things that clearly contradict God's principles. Jesus was making a point to the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him for performing a miracle on the Sabbath. The judgment by appearance here is that Jesus technically broke the Mosaic Law by healing on the Sabbath. The right judgment is in realizing that the healing was more important. That they were indeed straining out gnats while swallowing camels. That they understood the letter of the law but not the spirit of it. Realize here too beloved that Jesus is teaching absolutely nothing about those in the world. Nothing. He is teaching hypocritical religious leaders about their own hypocrisy. Perhaps the more egregious error however is in referencing the verse from 1Corinthians. Here is that verse in context:
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. - 1Corinthians 2: 14-16 (ESV)