August 8, 2021
To Judge Or Not To Judge | Romans 2:1
On August 8, 2021, Pastor Peter spoke on whether we should judge or not judge our fellow Christians’ sinful behaviour. What we tend to do at times is lift Scripture out of its context. To fully understand the meaning of a verse, it is important to place it in its proper context. Since chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original scripture scrolls, a passage must be read in close connection with the rest of God’s Word. We must consider the context to understand and convey the correct meaning and intent of the author. Relying on single passages, without taking the context into account, leads to misunderstandings and erroneous interpretations.
Read Romans 2:1
With respect to the subject of judgment in the Bible, many Christians inadvertently come to a wrong conclusion about judgment, because they have taken a certain verse out of context and built a standalone doctrine from it. This morning, Pastor Peter pointed out seven Bible verses that are often misinterpreted and misunderstood.
Read Matthew 7:1
This verse seems to say that we are not to judge, but is that the verse’s true meaning? No. Jesus’ command that we are not to judge others does not mean we should not deal with sin. In saying ‘Do not judge’, Jesus is not saying ‘anything goes’. Rather, Jesus is telling us to judge righteously. He’s telling us that before we go and confront someone about his or her sinful behaviour, we are to ensure that our own life is in order. Then, and only then, are we to judge a fellow Christian with respect to his or her wrongdoing.
Read 1 Corinthians 4:5
First Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5, are extremely important and we must understand them in their proper context. In these chapters, Paul is saying not to come to a final conclusion. For example, we cannot say that the wrongdoer is going to hell, because we don’t know what God has planned for this person in the future. But, we may be correct in saying that if he continues on his path of unrighteousness, he won’t go to heaven. In 1 Corinthians chapters 4 and 5, Paul tells the church that they are to judge fellow believers in the church. Practising biblical church discipline does not violate Jesus’ command not to judge. In 2 Corinthians, Paul wrote back to the church and confirmed that they had obeyed God by purging the sinful man from among them. It’s not a question of condemnation but of reconciliation and restoration.
Read 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
It’s important to understand this passage, because many churches today are not dealing with sin in a proper manner. Sin within the body of Christ corrupts the body of Christ. Paul tells us not to judge unbelievers because they are already condemned. However, he tells believers that we are not to associate, talk to or do business with those people who profess to be Christians, while they are committing certain sins. Until these sinners repent and change their behaviours, true Christians should avoid them entirely. That’s the reason Jesus said He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world through Himself. Therefore, we are to judge those within the church who are guilty of various transgressions and confront them with respect to their sinful behaviour. But we are to confront them righteously, by ensuring our own lives are right before God. We are to approach them in love, with a motive or restoration and reconciliation.
Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17
This passage tells us that the Scriptures are profitable, not only for ensuring sound doctrine, but also for reproving sinful behaviour. We can’t reprove someone before first making a moral judgment – and by not rebuking the Christian’s sinful behaviour, we are encouraging it. Paul’s directive here was meant to ensure that the Corinthian church remained vigilant with respect to the wayward sinners within their congregation. While we should expect this kind of behaviour from those who have not accepted Christ as their Saviour, we should not tolerate it from Christians. It’s God’s job to judge unbelievers and Christians should focus their attention on the behaviour of those inside the church.
Read John 7:24
Jesus says we are not to judge by appearances. In other words, He is saying when we render a moral judgment, we are to ensure we have all the facts to judge the person fairly.
Read Isaiah 5:20
There are some Christians today whose behaviours contradict what the Bible teaches. When we don’t make a distinction between good and evil, we not only corrupt those around us, we also corrupt ourselves. The distinction between good and evil soon becomes blurred. When we fail to deal with unrighteous behaviour within the Christian church, it corrupts the church. In other words, by our non-participation, we are giving silent approval to the sinful behaviour. This verse says that when we don’t make a distinction between good and evil, we ourselves, become evil in our failure to affirm right standing before God.
Read Proverbs 17:15
This verse states that if we don’t deal with unrighteous behaviour, in the eyes of the Lord, we are as guilty as the person committing the sin. In other words, it’s an abomination if we witness sinful behaviour and fail to act. Oftentimes, we lack the fear of the Lord. We have become so comfortable in His presence, that we forget that He is a holy, righteous God. He is a God of infinite love, but He is also a God of infinite wrath. Hebrews 10:31 says, “It’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” We need to fear Him. We are not to fear Him in the sense of being afraid to come into His presence, but we need to have a holy respect for His glory, for His power, for His perfectness. So God implores us by saying that it is not His wish that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.
THE DISCIPLINE DYNAMIC
The apostle Paul tells us distinctly that we are to judge fellow Christians in the church. We are accountable for one another and we are to confront sinful behaviour in a gentle, loving manner, with the motive of reconciliation, restoration and healing. But how do we do this? How must we judge our brothers and sisters in the Lord?
Read Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus did not give us these steps to retaliate: We are to deal with the situation His way. We are not to take action against the wrongdoer out of ill will, but out of a concern for his spiritual good. We are to take the matter up with him privately and confront him lovingly and gently to bring him back to faithfulness. If the offender repents, he’s forgiven and he’s in right standing with God. If he refuses to repent, he is to be approached a second time with two or three witnesses, preferably mature Christians, so that every word can be established. If the offender accepts and repents, he’s forgiven and in right standing with God.
If the obstinate person refuses to repent in the presence of the witnesses, it becomes a church matter. If the offender does not change his behaviour, he is to be treated as an unbeliever; therefore, he is to be excluded from the church community.
Read Matthew 18:18-20
These verses are referring to the presence of Jesus in church discipline. Christ confirms the decision to excommunicate the wrongdoer; therefore, the offender cannot join another church. The judgment will follow him everywhere he goes, until he repents. Jesus, is involved in the disciplinary procedure, which means the judgment that is adjudicated on earth, in this trial setting, is upheld in heaven. The offender’s name is also removed from the Book of Life, until he repents.
Read 1 Timothy 5:19-20
How do we deal with an accusation against the pastor or an elder? Paul is very clear on the matter: We are not to receive an accusation against a church leader, except from two or three witnesses.
BRINGING ROMANS 2:1 INTO CONTEXT
Read Romans 2:1
The book of Romans is a clear, detailed and well-thought-out presentation on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul covers the entire gospel of salvation in the book of Romans, including how we are to live our lives: the doctrinal stances that we are to hold to as Christians. It is the most important doctrinal book of the Bible. The theme of Romans, chapter 1 is resumed in this one sentence: God’s wrath has been revealed against all unrighteousness; without exception. Every man, woman and child born on this planet is already condemned to the wrath of God. We are all born with sinful natures and by our natural stance, we will reject God.
Are we to judge one another? Yes. Righteously and lovingly, in view of reconciliation, restoration and healing. We must never condemn, but we must confront and bring healing. Unfortunately, there are those odd times when we are forced to cleanse the church.
We are to imitate the perfect Judge who never judges unrighteously.