Since we’ve already covered the scriptures that both encourage and discourage, allow and disallow us as believers to judge, today I wanted to go a little deeper, and discover by way of God’s word what the principles of judging are, who has the authority to judge, when it is that we are allowed and even commanded to judge, and when we ought to keep silent.
Matthew 7:2, “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
There is something about judging others that is appealing to human nature. Somehow, we always find a good and justifiable reason to judge all around us, but when the tables turn and someone begins to judge us, our actions, our conduct, our speech it is always unjustifiable, at least from our perspective.
‘How dare they attempt to judge me, only God can judge me,’ is the cry of many who have made it a hobby or even a full time job to judge one and all regardless of whether they are in ministry or not, whether they deserve to be judged or not, or even whether they are alive or not. It is easy to paint a target on someone else’s back; it is easy to revel in the minutia of their life from the moment of their birth, then imperiously pass judgment, gavel in hand. When we however are the ones being targeted, when we are the ones having our lives dissected to the molecular level in the hopes of having something, anything, even an insignificant and trivial detail magnified about ourselves then it’s not so easy.
Now I’m not talking about false doctrine here, or evident sin in someone’s life, but rather about judging another through the prism of our own preconceived notion on any given matter. Often times we are so self-righteous that if someone disagrees with us on even the most negligible of subjects, then they are heretics, forsaken of God and sovereignty, deceived beyond reason, and headed to the deepest pit of hell.
‘He wore bellbottom jeans in the seventies, and of course this means that he succumbed to the temptations of the world, having a divided heart, because we all know no saint would ever wear bellbottoms.’
Well, maybe they were a gift, maybe they were on sale, or maybe they were worth the dollar the person paid for them at the Goodwill store. It’s when we make assumptions concerning another individual based on a tenuous and trivial detail of their life that we must remember that we will be judged with the same judgment we judge, and the same measure we use will be measured back to us.
So if you’ve brutally and mercilessly attacked and judged another for wearing bellbottoms, don’t be surprised that someone is judging you for your pink hair, telling all who would hear that you are in rebellion, even though the color is unintentional, and all that really happened is that you left the solution in there a few minutes too long.
Even though it is often that God, either through His word, or personal revelation attempts to show us that we are no better than our brother, that it is in His grace that we stand and not our own self-righteousness, we still manage to come up with a reason, an excuse, a justification for continuing to judge others without mercy.
We must understand that there are principles of judging, that were established long before you or I breathed our first breath. God created the universe, and the principles that govern it, and when it comes to the principles of judging He tethered it to yet another principle, the principle of leadership.
Throughout the Old Testament we see that the kings also had the authority not only to judge, but also to pass sentence. Even during the time of the judges, the right to judge was also reserved for the king. In other words, where one has the responsibility of ruling or governing, he must also bear the responsibility of judging.
Biblically speaking, the best definition of judging that I can find is the ability and authority to pass sentence. When we judge, we are not merely presenting evidence, we are not merely presenting the facts, but we go beyond it, and actually pass sentence on the individuals we are judging.
‘Oh him, yeah he’s going to hell, no way around it. Oh her, she’s a heretic, a deceiver, the devil’s pet.’
These are words I’ve heard used by fellow believers when judging others. Not merely presenting evidence, not merely making a case for why someone is unorthodox, or doctrinally flawed but going that extra step and passing sentence.
There is One who has the authority to pass sentence, there is one who has the authority to judge the hearts of men, and that is God alone.
1 Peter 1:17-20, “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, for your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Too often we dismiss or choose to downplay the reality that God alone, without partiality, judges each one’s work, and take it upon ourselves to usurp His authority. Judgment begins in the house of God, it begins with you and me, and it is God who will do the judging. In His righteousness God will judge without partiality, He will not take into account that we have a pastoral diploma, or that we preached, or that we gave, that we know people or we’re on the elder board. God will judge in righteousness, and He will not be swayed.
From the Father, the authority to judge was also passed down to the Son.
John 5:22-23, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
As a side note, I want to point out two crucial things. First off, beware of any doctrine that somehow attempts to nullify the deity of Christ, or somehow minimize His godhood. Second of all, he who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Why is this relevant? Because there is a wave of aberrant teaching making its way through many churches, wherein Jesus is no longer relevant, or regarded as something less than who He is. Just remember, if you do not honor the Son, you do not honor the Father who sent Him.
Next on the list of authority to judge are the words of Christ.
John 12:48, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”
As we continue to descend the ladder of authority, and see who is able to judge, next on the list are the elders of the church. Now I know the notion of submitting to authority is less and less popular nowadays, I know that more and more people are rejecting the idea of having a spiritual authority and choose to wing it, but the Word is the Word, so even at the risk of offending some of you, yes God has given authority to the spiritual elders of His body.
1 Timothy 5:20, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”
Titus 2:15, “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”
Both Timothy and Titus were called, and ordained of God to be leaders of the church, and as such God gave them the authority to rebuke those who are sinning, with all authority, and let no one despise them.
What we need to be praying for today is that God appoint men after His own heart rather than for us to take it upon ourselves to appoint men after our own hearts. The season is upon us wherein those unwilling to submit to authority gravitate toward teachers, elders and pastors of their choosing, men who will not rebuke, men who will not exhort, but rather men who will coddle sin, and look the other way. Because such men are prevalent, because those willing to compromise the Word of God are multiplying in numbers, there is a backlash against truth, there is a backlash against the fundamentals of the faith, and with each passing day the darkness grows and intensifies.
Last but not least, God has established an order of authority in the family as well. From the father as the head, to the mother, the order is firmly established and undeniable.
We can debate, we can ask why, we can think to ourselves that this order of authority is unfair, but in the end God established this order, and if we are obedient children then we must adhere to it.
We must surrender the illusion that we know better than God, and simply submit to His wisdom and authority.
We have only begun our journey, and in subsequent posts we will delve deeper into the principles of judging from a biblical perspective and see how they apply to us.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.