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Thursday, August 04, 2011

God Doesn't Pass Out Free Judgment nor Judgment-Free Tickets

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

On the issue of judgment, I've witnessed lots of pastors and respected ministry leaders teach and say things on judgment that gives people misconceptions. Sometimes no matter how you state something, people are going to twist it. When this happens, it isn't the teacher's fault. 

However, I've also heard several sermons that don't go deep enough or cover the subject wide enough. In the ministry leader's defense, I also believe that people feel overwhelmed at times and can only handle bite-sized pieces of info, so teachers customize the message for this reason. The danger of doing this places people at risk of missing the rest of the teaching, and thereby, forming these misconceptions.

There are two messages I want to get across to readers in THIS particular blog post. 

1) God doesn't pass out free judgment tickets. In other words, just because you are saved by grace and have come to a place of knowledge in your life and you are now living free of some of your strongholds, doesn't mean you now have a free ticket from God to place judgment on others who haven't gotten to where you are yet. 

2) God doesn't pass out judgment-free tickets either. In other words, just because you now have a relationship with Christ and are free in Christ, forgiven of your sins and all your mistakes, doesn't mean you can go around misusing your power, your authority, and mistreating others because you know you can ask for forgiveness. When someone points out your bad behaviors, you pull out the judgment-free ticket and tell them they don't have the right to judge you. True, but they do have the right to judge if your relationship with them is producing good or bad fruit in their life regarding how you treat them and how they want to be treated.

Here are scriptures telling us when it is NOT time to judge:
"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:4) 

"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." (Romans 14:10)

"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way." (Romans 14:13)

I firmly believe that if a brother or sister in Christ is behaving a particular way, you should pray for them and let God deal with them. It isn't your place to go to them and insert your advice when it hasn't been asked for just because you want to help. Good intentions still don't justify you getting between them and God.

Here are scriptures telling us when it IS time to judge: 

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

"But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person." (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Corinthians 6:1-3)

Based on these scriptures, we don't judge non-Christians right now since we are still in the flesh, and therefore, being judged by God, ourselves. God will judge these non-Christians. It isn't time for the Saints to judge the world, when that time comes, the Saints will have already been judged by God Himself, and we will stand with Him as one collective whole against the world when it is judged.

The only time we DO judge, is when a brother or sister's sin is affecting us or a portion of a congregation, which is the body of Christ--when a person's sin is hurting relationships with others and producing bad fruit in other people's lives. Then we judge BY THE SPIRIT, not a personal agenda. We judge by the WORD OF GOD, not man-made doctrine.

If it is a personal relationship that is producing bad fruit, we may have to make the difficult decision of severing ties with that person until they change. It's called tough love. It may seem like we are withholding our love from this person, but we aren't. We are setting them outside our lives and giving them to God to handle. 

It may seem to them like we are trying to manipulate them--to get them to do what we want or to do things the way we want, but in this case it isn't. This is setting boundaries so their actions do not continue to hurt us and others. Their problems are much bigger than we are, and God is the only one who can help them help themselves. 

Get out of the way, and let God do His thing with them.

"Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." (1 Corinthians 14:29)

Dare we judge prophets? How else are we to tell if one is a false prophet or a prophet from God if we do not judge the fruit of his words? Yes, we must judge prophets by their fruits, as we must judge people by their fruits. We are called to judge the fruits of the spirit, and people and prophets all act out of a spirit--whether the Holy Spirit or any other spirit trying to trick and manipulate us.

"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like...those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21)

This isn't talking about someone who might slip up and make a mistake or temporarily fall into their old ways. This is talking about people who practice this behavior. That means they are committed to it.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:22-26)