To Judge or Not
"Judge not lest ye be judged." (Mat. 7:1)
"Touch not the head of mine anointed." (Psa. 105:15).
"And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God." (Acts 5:38-39)
Three verses being used today more and more often, by everyone both within and without Christianity. And most of the time, used as a sledgehammer to quieten anyone who DARES to say anything about
- (1) false teaching
- (2) another gospel
- (3) unscriptural activity
- (4) questionable morals or ethics
- (5) blatant heresy
Well, here's the sledgehammer right back. Scripture tells us to judge others...not by appearance, but RIGHTEOUS judgment. And that's straight from the mouth of The Word, Jesus Christ. Scripture also tells us to do a number of other things, including
- ((1) rebuking in public
- ((2) treating them like a pariah
- ((3) turning away from them and
- ((4) having NOTHING to do with them.
ANY Christian who has truly dedicated themselves to following Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior, and relies upon the Word of God as their standard of faith and practice cannot help but speak out against perversions of His Word as and when they occur. How else can a Christian be true to his/her Lord?
We are commanded in the Word to exercise judgment based upon the Word of God, to not exercise it hypocritically, and to not make condemnatory (consigned to hell) judgment (that's the one that is strictly up to God).
Let's start with the basics. As noted above, in Matthew 7:1, Jesus begins by saying, "judge not that ye be not judged." However, in the remaining verses of the chapter (context, context, context), Jesus points out that He is referring to hypocritical judgment, or judging someone for an action that the judger is also committing. In verse 15, Jesus points out that we are to "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing... First point here is that the false prophet (or teacher) is one disguised like a Christian. Who knows, he/she may be a "reverend," "Dr.", "Apostle", "Bishop", or just a plain pastor or evangelist. So what are we to do when the "Rev. Dr. B.L. Owhard, Apostle and Bishop of the *******" makes a pronouncement, teaching or otherwise? According to scripture, we are to be like the Bereans, and check out what was said against what scripture says. We are to EXAMINE it...and when we are finished examining it in the light of the Word of God, we are to make a JUDGMENT as to whether or not it lines up with the Word. If it does, fine...we have then "exercised our senses to discern (judge) between good and evil". But what to do if it doesn't line up?
According to most of the world (including Christians) today, we're just supposed to shut up, don't say anything "negative", don't point out where or how it's wrong (that's being judgmental), and let it go on it's merry way deceiving others.
HOGWASH!! Jesus had no problem pointing out to the Pharisees how, where, and why they were wrong...and He wasn't particularly gentle in doing it. "Snakes, vipers, hypocrites, blind guides, whited sepulchres, serpents.".... just a few of the things Jesus had to call them. In today's world, that would not be characterized as "loving" or "tolerant," and in many cases would be called being racist, hateful, or profiling. Wonder why.
OK, that was Jesus, and since He's the Son of God, God among us, and is the perfect and righteous judge, He can do that and it's quite all right. But you and I aren't Jesus, we're not perfect and righteous, so we can't. LOL!! Isn't it absolutely amazing that we are told (by so many of these false teachers) that we not only have the authority of Jesus to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, in many instances we are told (taught) that we are JESUS or GOD Himself, but don't you dare say anything against what that false teacher says! That's JUDGING, which we can't do, and we're "touching the head of the anointed" (meaning them only). We have the Word of God, and we can measure what is said (or done) against that Word, and that Word is the perfect and righteous measure.
In 1 Cor. 5:1-13, Paul JUDGED a fornicator, and told the Christians at Corinth that they were to JUDGE those within according to the Word. He did this because he was able to apply what Jesus said about "ye shall know them by their fruits (observation of what they do/say). "Good trees bring forth good fruit. Corrupt trees bring forth evil fruit" (Mat. 7:16-17). Is not a judgment made when examining fruit? If the fruit is corrupt, evil or wrong does that not mean that the one producing the fruit is also corrupt, evil or wrong? Someone's lifestyle is the evidence of their doctrine, and if the lifestyle is opposed to the lifestyle characterized by Jesus and found in God's Word, then it is wrong, corrupt, and evil.
It is not only right, but also commanded by scripture to EXPOSE false teachers. Jesus told the Pharisees "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Mat. 12:34). At both the beginning and the end of His ministry, Jesus went to the temple and exposed false doctrine and practice when He drove the money changers out of the temple. These money changers were there, not because they just wanted to be and "snuck" in, but because the priests of the temple INVITED them in...and took a cut from their profits. Jesus told them "is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but you have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 1:17).
In Isa. 8:20, we find "to the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." The Word of God stands as the ONLY sure check against what someone says or does, and if we choose to follow God, then we MUST check every message, every messenger and every method against that Word. And when we find that the method, message or messenger is NOT in accordance, when we have "tried them which say...and hast found them liars (Rev. 2:2), we are to expose that failure. Don't forget that the church at Pergamos was rebuked by Jesus because they had tolerated those who held the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, "which thing I hate" (Rev. 2:14-15).
False teachers are NEVER to be tolerated.
Once we have JUDGED a teaching or preaching or action in accordance to the Word of God, and have exposed them, we are to MARK and AVOID them. Paul told the Romans to "...MARK them which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY to the doctrine which you have heard; and AVOID them (Rom 16:17). No one and no thing can possibly be marked and avoided unless discernment and JUDGMENT according to the Word of God has been done. ALL conduct and teaching which is contrary to scripture is part and parcel of this dictum.
Marking and avoiding necessarily include certain other actions. REBUKE is one of them. "Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). Are we to sit silently by while big-name (and lesser-name) preachers and teachers so eloquently proclaim bad doctrine? Absolutely NOT. A faithful servant of the Lord is to "hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, so that by sound doctrine he is able to exhort and convince gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).
We are supposed to have NO FELLOWSHIP with those who proclaim false teaching and doctrine, but instead are to reprove them (Eph. 5:11). Reproving means to condemn, rebuke, refute, censure or find fault. The process of having no fellowship also means withdrawal from them. "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (this is a commandment, not a suggestion), that you WITHDRAW yourselves from EVERY BROTHER that walks in a disorderly fashion, and not after the tradition which you have received from us" (II Thes. 3:6). Doctrine and conduct that does not conform to the Word of God is, by definition, DISORDERLY. Obedience to sound doctrine, again, is a commandment, and Paul is very explicit in this when he says, "if any man does not obey our word in this epistle, NOTE that man and HAVE NO COMPANY with him, so that he will be ashamed" (II Thes. 3:14-15). Paul also told Timothy to "withdraw yourself from those who do not consent to wholesome words...and to the doctrine which is according to godliness" (I Tim. 6:3-5).
Paul warns us that in the last days, there will be many who will "have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it; from such TURN AWAY" (II Tim. 3:5,7). Godliness is exhibited (fruit) in the life (action) and words (preaching, teaching) of an individual, and that Godliness is ALWAYS in conformance to the Word of God. It does not deviate from sound doctrine, it does not twist meanings, it does not impose self-declared definitions upon it, and it most assuredly NEVER stands in direct contradiction to it.
"If there come any to you, and doesn't bring this doctrine (sound, biblical), DO NOT receive him into your house, and DO NOT bid God speed (blessings of God in their task), because he that does so (bid God speed) becomes A PARTAKER OF HIS EVIL DEEDS" (II John 1:10-11). There is no doubt whatsoever about whom John is referring to: "whoever transgresses, and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ..." (vs. 9).
Via TV, books, CD's and DVD's we are inundated with "doctrine" and teachings that are blatantly contrary to the Word of God. And I'm not just talking about the typical network and cable trash (Swingtown, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, etc.)...I'm talking about what is supposed to be CHRISTIAN TV, CHRISTIAN books, CHRISTIAN music. What is your take on a Christian Bookstore that has 20 different versions of the Bible (including the Heretic's Bible, the Bible for Today's Woman, and the Satanic Bible all on the same shelf? What do you think of Foxe's Book of Martyrs sharing space with "The Be Happy Attitudes" by Schuller, or "Yoga for Christians" by Bordenkircher? Are you aware of the fact that we now have "Certified Christian Yoga Teachers?" Certified? Christian Yoga? Pulleeeeze!!!
"Wherefore COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, be separate saith the Lord, TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING, and I will receive you." (II Cor. 6:17).
Now comes the biggie, the absolutely worst thing that any Christian can ever do. NAMING NAMES! Why, say the naysayers, it should be enough (too much by some standards) to just skirt around the issue or teaching, showing how it is wrong, but don't EVER name the person (or persons) who are teaching this....THAT'S JUDGING!!
According to the bible, that's a bunch of garbage. Now the question is, are you going to be obedient to the Word of God or not?
Paul named Peter, and he did it in public, to his face, and again to a bunch of Christians at Galatia. Peter "dissembled", and when he went to Antioch (where Paul was) "I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed...because I saw that they did not walk forthrightly according to the truth of the Gospel..." (Gal. 2:11-14).
Paul, in writing to Timothy, named Demas for loving the world (thereby forsaking the cause of Christ). (II Tim. 4:10).
Paul named Hymenaeus and Alexander for not displaying a good conscience, holding on to faith, and for blasphemy. (I Tim. 1:18-20).
Paul again names Hymenaeus, and adds Philetus about the fact that they had "erred concerning the truth", and in so doing have "overthrown the faith" of others. (II Tim. 2:15-18. False doctrine and unscriptural teaching have the end result of destroying many people's lives, pulling down their faith and creating fertile ground for the devil to wreak havoc.
Paul named Alexander the coppersmith for "...doing me much evil.... for greatly withstanding our words" II Tim. 4:14-15. This had nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Paul and Alexander liked each other, it had to do with sound doctrine, and Alexander spoke against that sound doctrine espoused by Paul.
John named Diotrophes for being "position conscious", wanting to having "preeminence among them (the church), and for speaking "malicious words" against John. (III Jn. 9, 10)
Moses dissed Balaam (Num. 22-25), Peter did the same because of Balaam's "love for the wages of unrighteousness" (II Pet. 2:15), Jude exposed the error of Balaam (Jude ), and John spoke of the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14) as being false. Jude in particular likened Balaam's error to false teachers, and why they did it...the love of money.
Nathan exposed an adulterer and murderer.... David (II Sam. 12:7).
Peter warns us that we had best watch out for "false teachers...who shall bring in damnable heresies" (II Pet. 2:1).
The only question that remains is this...are you going to be obedient to the Word of God, or to political correctness and idiots who say, "don't judge".... "don't touch the head..." "oh, just let it go...if God isn't in it, it won't work."
Thousands die everyday, and end up in hell. Many thousands more fall for false teaching, lose faith, lose their witnesses for Christ, or even fall into blatant sin, and all because of some teachers/preachers corruption of the Word of God, preaching (and doing) off-the-wall stuff that has NO BUSINESS in God's work on this earth.
Do you want to be a part of that? Do you want to "partake of their sin"? Or do you want to do the will of God by adhering to WHAT HE SAYS? Your choice...make it wisely, because your eternal soul may hang in the balance.
Meantime, don't get in my face about naming names or pointing out false doctrine.