I have said for several years now that someday I would write a book on the 10 most favorite verses that Satan loves and uses every day to defeat and destroy God’s people. For every thousand times in my life that I have heard people quote the verse, "judge not least you be judged;" I have heard less than twice the words of Christ found in the Gospel of John 7:24 where he commands us “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement.” We see a contradiction here. The first statement by Jesus we find in Matthew 7:1 and was made in the beginning days of his ministry. It was spoken on a hillside above the sea of Galilee, as he ministered to the Jewish people. Here at this time and place Jesus was revealing to the people the attitude of the heart in contrast to the letter of the old law. He was introducing the new message of grace and not of judgement. A message not of condemnation, but one of forgiveness and hope. The message we find in John 3:16-17, For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” This message of love from God that would forever be revealed and confirmed towards all people at the Cross. This message that we, the Church have now been instructed to carry to the ends of the earth. That whosoever will, may come and drink freely of the forgiveness and love now offered everyone through our Savior Jesus Christ. We know that Scripture never contradicts itself, so we need to look at everything Jesus said before taking this one verse “judge not” and randomly applying it as an excuse to continue in sin. When Jesus came forth from the wilderness in Matthew 4:17 we read from that time forth he began to preach and to say. “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” We read in Mark 1:14-15, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying the time is full-filled and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the Gospel. The good news of the gospel is not that there is no judgement, but rather your judgement has been postponed, in order for you to have opportunity to be forgiven through Christ before you meet the eternal judgement of God! Let us not be caught in the Devil’s lie that we are not to confront sin and the reality of God’s eternal judgement upon all who do not receive forgiveness through the one mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. I think it is good for us to know the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew shortly after Christ’s Resurrection with a focus on the Jewish people. Many scholars refer to the Gospel of Matthew as the Gospel to the Jew. The Gospel of John is often referred to as the Gospel to the believer. Scholars and historians place the writing of this Gospel as being in the last decade of the first century some 50 to 60 years after the writing of Matthew. The unbelievers of this world; we have already discussed as concerning judgement. There is a distinct difference in God’s command concerning the judgement of the lost and the judgement found within the Church. In studying the rest of the New Testament, we find the believer as a part of the body of Christ is now under a different judgement than the unbeliever. Thus, we the believer, are to obey Christ as we “judge righteous judgement.” We will do this in agreement with the Scripture and in relationship with the Holy Spirit. "For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore come out from among them, and be separate says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." Proverbs 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” James 4:4, “You adulterers and adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! When the Church refuses to judge sin within the Church, then God himself will judge it. We find this in 1 Corinthians 11:28-30. “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause, many are weak and sickly among you and many have already died.” 1 Corinthians 3:17 "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." I think the simplest way to explain this is by saying in Scripture we find three judgement's within the Church today as commanded by the Scripture. They are self judgement, private judgement, and public judgement. We read in Matthew 18:15-17 concerning the disagreement of two brothers and the progression of conflict between them. The first step is the brother is given opportunity to judge himself. The second, he is given opportunity of private judgement and lastly, he is to face public judgement. We see here Christ himself is instructing the believers in the church to judge righteous judgement. We thank God that we as believers today have the conviction of the Holy Spirit to guide us each day. When we sin if we are willing to pray and listen the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sin. We are then given an opportunity to repent and be forgiven. We read in 1 John 2:1 that if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We see this in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” If we reject this, we will be given another opportunity by the Spirit in some type of private setting as he chooses. Sometimes by a person coming to us privately, or in the form of an altar call. If we reject this and continue in open sin the church is then commanded to no longer associate with us. We read of the most extreme example of this in 1 Corinthians 6 in the account of the young man and his Fathers wife. He was ejected from the church and released unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh. The other judgement the Church is commanded to judge “righteous judgement” is concerning the elders, which is different than that of the individual believer. We read in James 3:1, “My brothers be not many masters (teachers), knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” 1 Timothy 5:19-20 commands us, “against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” We see God commands the elders to be examples in discipline and rebuke the same as they are to be examples in all other areas of Christian conduct. When we are aware of a fellow believer that is in sin, we are told not to associate with them. When we find a church group that does not judge sin and obey Christ in his instructions concerning sin, we need to separate ourselves. Be ye Holy and sin not!
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