For the past eight Sundays we've been moving through a sermon series titled, "The Lies of Satan". Each Sunday we've examined a different lie that Satan uses to confuse Christians and trip them up in their spiritual life. The ultimate goal of Satan's lies is to destroy our trust in Jesus, our Savior from sin.
Now, if you've missed some of these meditations, they've been posted on the church website at RedemptionCLC.com. You can go back and listen to them, or read them, and you can even comment on what you find there and add any insights of your own. Again, that's RedemptionCLC.com, just go to the "church" tab.
Now, we're almost through this sermon series. We've got two lies left. Today's lie from Satan is a particularly interesting one because it is actually a quote from Jesus Himself. How does that work? How can a quote from Jesus be a lie of Satan?
Well, it works like this, effective lies often contain some truth. A "good lie" is actually a true statement that has been twisted just a bit. Today's lie is a great example. Here it is, "Do not judge".
Satan turns this statement of Jesus into a lie by ripping it out of context and assigning a new meaning to it. Satan says, "See Jesus doesn't want you to judge anyone. So, don't ever tell people that what they're doing is wrong. That, would be judging them."
But how about we get Jesus' full statement? Let's let Jesus fill in the details and explain what He means. Turn to Luke 6, verse 37.
"37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:37-38 NIV).If you scan a little farther back you'll see that Jesus has just gotten done instructing His followers to love their enemies and to treat others how they themselves want to be treated.
By saying "Do not judge" Jesus isn't forbidding Christians from ever making judgments about someone else. He's simply stating a general principle: people will treat you the same way you treat them.
I think we've all experienced this general truth. Maybe you were particularly patient and forgiving with a frazzled waitress, and when the check came, the employee discount had been applied. Your kindness was returned.
Or maybe you experienced it the other way around. Maybe you were in a grumpy mood. When you snapped at someone, they snapped back. Your rudeness was returned.
Jesus sums up this general principle by saying, "...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (verse 38). Or, in other words, what comes around, goes around.
Satan is pretty sneaky when he snaps off that little phrase, "Do not judge". The idea that judgment has no place in the life of a Christian is ridiculous. When you read the Bible you find lots of places where Christians are specifically told to make judgments about things and about people. Christians are to choose the good things and reject the bad.
Turn to First Corinthians 5, verse 9. There the apostle Paul says...
"9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.One of the places where Christians are expressly told to make judgments is within the fellowship.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked person from among you'" (1 Corinthians 5:9-13 NIV).
Being a Christian means following Christ. We trust Christ's promise that all our sins have been erased by His sacrifice on the cross. As we follow Christ our way of living changes. The Christians life is one of re-aligning our thoughts, words and actions with God's way. When a fellow Christian refuses to be corrected by God's Word, then we are instructed by God to remove that person from the fellowship.
The whole purpose of this is to drive home the fact that they have begun to stand against Christ, and therefore no longer stand under the umbrella of faith and forgiveness. They've pushed Christ away and embraced sin instead by their on-going impenitence. We're instructed to bring this to their attention with the judgment of spiritual separation.
This isn't to say that God wants Christians to judge people lightly, without careful consideration or compassion. God doesn't want our judgments to be shallow. He wants our judgments to be an exact reflection of His judgment.
Turn to John 7, verse 24. Once when Jesus was in Jerusalem He healed a man who hadn't been able to walk for 38 years. Jesus told him to get up and walk and miraculously, he did. Instead of being overjoyed, Jesus' critics noted that this miracle had been done on the Sabbath, the day when the Jews were supposed to rest from work. Jesus responded to their cold hearts by asking...
"...are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment." (John 7:23-24 ESV).The purpose of the Sabbath was to ensure that the people had one day a week to rest from work, and be spiritually restored by attending Bible Class and Worship. Jesus' healing of a crippled man wasn't contrary to the spirit of the Sabbath day at all. Now the man could actually go and worship with everyone else!
But Jesus' critics only saw the surface - it was a miracle, a "work", done on the Day of Rest. This is the kind of judgment God doesn't want us to make. Shallow judgment. Judgment based only on appearance, not on substance.
Oh, how easy it is to judge people by appearance without even getting to know who they are and what they're all about. We see how a person is dressed and how they look and we think we know all about who they are and what they're about. We hear one passing comment we label the person who said it, "That kind of person".
The religious leaders of Jesus' day had quite a bad habit of judging people on the basis of their own opinions, and not on the basis of what God's Word says.
Turn to Mark 7, verse 1.
"7 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)Don't judge people like a Pharisee, judge people like Jesus did. The Pharisee said, "I'm better than others because I'm less of a sinner. I do all these great things that come from a long and venerable tradition". Jesus said, "People are all sinners who need God's forgiveness and salvation, regardless of their traditions."
5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions" (Mark 7:1-8 NIV).
The first step to escaping a sinfully judgmental attitude is to recognize the fact that there are no "better sinners". We're all on the same level in God's eyes. We're people who haven't kept His commandments. Only through Christ Jesus and His Cross are we cleansed and forgiven.
A judgmental attitude does two things. It leads us to withhold our own personal forgiveness from someone, and it also prevents us from doing any constructive correction.
When someone does something wrong, we might log that thing away in our mind. Like I said before, we log it in our mind and label that person as "that kind of person".
By logging that sin away in our mind, we're holding a grudge. We're not forgiving that person. And the other thing we're not doing is actually approaching that person to talk about what they did.
But God's Word clearly says we should do otherwise. In Galatians 6, verse 1, Paul writes...
"6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:1-2 ESV).The law of Christ is LOVE. Love that takes action. Love that seeks to correct and restore people to God.
Telling someone that they're doing wrong, isn't a sinful judgment. The world tells us that's "judging them" in a bad way. But this just isn't true. Sinful judgment comes when we log things in our minds without doing anything about it. Sinful judgment assumes that people are static and unable to change. When we actually step up and say something in a spirit of love and compassion, that's not sinful judgment, even if it is a word of correction.
And when sinners are touched by Christ's love and forgiveness, amazing change can happen.
Jesus went to a dinner once at a Pharisees house. While He was there a woman entered the house and quietly approached the dinner table. There she humbly washed Jesus' feet with her tears, wiped them try with her hair, and put fresh perfume on them. All the Pharisee could think was this...
"If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner" (Luke 7:39 ESV).The Pharisee didn't stop to think that maybe something had changed in this woman's life. He defined her by her past. She was a dirty sinner and always would be to him. But that Pharisee was wrong. This woman had come to faith in Christ. She knew that because of Him all her sins were forgiven. Her action, though it may seem strange to us, was an expression of faith and thanksgiving to her Savior.
Let's not view people like the Pharisee did, like they cannot change and will always remain the sum of their past sins. In Christ, sinners are declared saints. Through Christ's sacrifice in our place, we are made new.
Turn to Ephesians 5, verse 5. There it says...
" 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them" (Ephesians 5:4-11 ESV).Through faith in Christ we have become children of light. As children of light, we have to make choices about what we'll do and what we won't. Our personal decisions may make some people feel judged. But you know what, these are our choices to make, not theirs.
If the time comes to say, "What you're doing is wrong, so I'm not coming", than say it. And know that you're making that judgment on the basis of God's Word.
Satan would love it if Christians would swallow the lie that all judging is wrong, because then who would call sin - sin. Who would draw attention to the fact that the human race is messed up and in desperate need of Jesus?
Nobody. And that is exactly why Satan whisper's the lie, "Do not judge".
Prayer: Father in heaven, we are guilty of judging others in a shallow way. Forgive us because of Jesus, in whom we trust. Enable us to be compassionate and loving toward people who don't know you, and who sin against you. Help us to call sin - sin, and to not be ashamed to calmly and deliberately say, "No, we will not approve of sin", even if people call us judgmental. But help us also Lord, not to be sinfully judgmental, holding onto the sins of others, or avoiding the needed task of correcting our brothers and sisters in Christ. We pray these things because we know you hear us through Christ our Savior. Amen.