Thursday, November 20, 2014

Condemning the Body of Christ

In recent years I have noticed an increase in blogs and spoken-word videos pointing condemning fingers at the church by members of the church. Blogs entitled something like, “Ten Things the Church is Doing Wrong” or “Five Things Pastors Do to Ruin Churches” or “15 Things Churches Do to Chase Away Visitors” are posted and shared all over social media scolding Christ’s church for this thing or that thing. One begins to wonder if the church is doing anything correctly. While I believe such blogs and videos were originally meant for good, they have multiplied and built up like a type of cholesterol in the arteries of the church clogging the healthy blood-flow through their overshadowing negativity. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am all for self-evaluation and sometimes that means putting a spotlight on negative areas so they can be honestly addressed. (That’s something preachers of the “feel good gospel” need to learn.) However, I am no longer convinced the multitude of these articles is producing edification in the body of Christ. What they are producing may be more disturbing then the list of items they are spotlighting. Here is what I am beginning to see:

They are producing condemnation.
I have noticed that many of these articles and spoken-words are painting with a progressively broader brush. One man faces a camera or one individual faces a computer screen and proceeds to lambaste the entire church of Christ. There is little care taken to follow the words of Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The Bible constantly reminds us that we should be edifying one another in the church. How can we point out with condemning words that we need to love the lost when our attitudes do not even reflect love for our fellow Christians? I have noticed a coldness in many of these blogs and spoken-words by the author against his own brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to remember that the church is also called, in Scripture, the bride of Christ. An individual would be wise to carefully consider how he speaks to the bride in the sight of the groom. That is especially true when the Groom redeemed the bride with His own blood. 

They are producing pride.
This is the worst byproduct of what I will call the “condemn the church trend”. Pointing out the flaws of “all the other Christians” places the finger-pointer in a position that is separate and above his or her brethren. It says, “I see you people and expose your failures, but I myself am above all of that.” It is an undeniable human trait that we like having a 1-up on others. We enjoy having any slight sense of superiority. Rarely have I seen any of these recent articles or heard recent spoken-words that do not create this sense of separation of the speaker from the rest of the church. I would love to hear someone who has to bring a word of sobriety to the church include themselves into the mix and season their word with grace and edification. Whenever a word of correction must be given, though it sometimes must be given sternly, the messenger must posses humility and remember that he/she is a fellow member of the body of Christ and not portray themselves (even unintentionally) as superior to it.

They are producing fuel for enemies of the church.
Whether you want to admit it or not, the church has enemies. Jesus Christ told His disciples this would be the case, (See Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9, Luke 6:22, John 7:7, John 15:19, John 17:14.) I stated earlier that I believe in self-examination and that such internal inspection sometimes reveals ugly things that must be dealt with. However, internal inspection should be just that; internal! Every time one of these blogs or spoken words gets blasted all over the internet it adds more ammunition to those who already hate the church. (In fact, I wonder if some of this isn’t purposeful by a few of these authors in an attempt to endear themselves to a world that opposes God. Like a big public announcement declaring, “Hey, I just want you to know that I am not like all of those other Christians, so please like me.”) The church is not perfect and will not be so in this world. We are, however, being perfected. We should strive to be better and more like Christ. Correction is part of that. We should keep in mind though, that continually announcing every flaw in the church and blowing it up like it is the practice of the majority is publicly advertising that the church is not somewhere anyone wants to be. When a blog gets posted and reposted talking about “8 Judgmental Things the Church Does”, it doesn’t draw sinners to the cross nor does it take into account that most born-again believers are not acting that way. What it does do is confirm to the world their feeling that Christians hate everyone and judge them and therefore there is no reason to give them a chance or listen to their message. I believe correction and introspection should take place in-house. Pastors should be bold and address sin in their own congregations. Church leaders can receive edification, challenge, and correction through accountable relationships with other ministers and at conferences and retreats designed for such things. That way we, the church, are able to meet the world with our best foot forward and the compassion of Christ flowing out from us!

I suppose one could ask if I am not doing the same thing in this blog that I am criticizing in its content. Unfortunately, it is the nature of this particular beast. It is an issue which has been thrown out to the public eye; therefore it must be addressed publicly. My intent is merely to get us, as the church of Christ, to take some consideration of how we may edify one another for God’s glory instead of tearing down the church while the world looks on in amusement. To that end, the next blog I publish here will be a list of things I believe the church is doing correctly. Hopefully it will gain the same attention so many of these finger-pointing messages have. It is my hope to see the church encouraged and moving ahead with passion for its Savior and the Great Commission and a love for one another! Jesus said in John 13:35 – “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” He was speaking to and about believers here. That means the world will witness Christ in us by the way we treat our fellow disciples!

I want to encourage you to read the following portion of Scripture, even if you are familiar with it. Let it sink in and encourage your heart and love for Christ’s blood-bought church. Ephesians 4:11-16 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Salvation Only Costs Ten Dollars

I remember a man who periodically used to come by the church I was on staff at years ago. He was always looking for some sort of financial assistance to which we tried to help him with. What struck me about this man was that every time he came by looking for help he would tell the story of how he once came to a service at the church years ago and put ten dollars into the offering. Of course, we would have helped this man regardless of whether or not he ever put a dime into the offering, but I found it amusing to hear this tale each time as if he had somehow earned unlimited use of the church's resources by his one time offering.

As I consider that story, I see that same mentality present among others. A good deed done here or there acts as our ten dollar ticket to heaven. There seems to be an image drawn in the mind that we will stand before God one day, desiring entrance into His holy and eternal kingdom where no sin will dwell, and that we will offer up a story like, "I once gave to charity," or "I helped a person who was sad," or "I rescued a kitten from a tree," and God will say, "That makes up for all of your sin. Come on in!"

I am reminded of the movie Fireproof where the main character's father was trying to help his son understand his need for Christ. The young man, who was a firefighter, pointed out how often he had helped people and that he was a good person. His father responded by saying, "Son, pulling people out of a burning building doesn't make you right with God." In other words, even our best efforts only amount to a ten dollar offering.

Salvation costs far more than ten dollars. The price to redeem us is astronomically higher than the pocket change we can afford. And that really is what we are in need of; redemption. When sin entered the human race we became the property of Satan and the devil will be taking his property with him to his final destination. But God, loving His creation, deeply desired to save us. However, being purely just, The Lord could not just overlook our sin. A penalty had to be paid. So what would be the cost to buy us back? A sinless sacrifice.

That is the whole point of Jesus going to the cross. His sinless sacrifice satisfied justice upon sin while providing a pardon for the sinner.

“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the
forgiveness of sins; “and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from
which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:38-39 NKJV)

Christ did not come simply to heal some people and tell us to be "excellent to one another" (Bill and Ted reference). His mission was to buy us back. When you consider the cost of our redemption, our ten dollar attempts not only fall short; they are insulting!

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift
of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)

So put your ten dollar offering of good works away. In fact, you can put your ten billion dollar offering of good works away. The simple fact is that you are worth far more than that and Christ paid the price. I implore you to humble yourself and receive His gift of salvation and then, as His adopted child, get those good-work offerings back out and use them, not to redeem yourself, but as an expression of love and thanksgiving for Him who first loved you and was willing to pay the price of your redemption.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PK Parenting

In ministry, it is not uncommon to hear about the struggles of being a pastor’s kid (PK). Certainly being a PK has its unique share of pressures that are difficult for others outside of full-time ministry to understand. Those pressures can come from all angles. Sometimes they come from the congregation, sometimes from the parents, and sometimes (maybe more than we realize) they can come from the PK’s own perceptions of how they feel they are expected to be. I believe even in some instances that further difficulties can be propagated by the continual teaching that there is so much pressure being a PK that they should almost be expected to rebel. I wonder how many times such teaching has manifested itself in the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But this blog is not meant to focus on the struggles of being a PK as there are already numerous articles and teachings addressing this issue. The angle I intend to focus on is that of being a parent of a PK. Of course, that means I am addressing the pastoral father and mother. I didn’t grow up as the son of a minister so I haven’t been through the PK process. I have, however, gone through the child and teenage years and I am the parent of some PKs. I can candidly say that raising a family in full-time ministry adds a whole new dimension of stresses to the already difficult job of parenting. If you are a pastor, you know this already.

It is tough being a PK, but it is also tough parenting a PK. There are struggles our children cannot yet comprehend as we try to balance the work of the ministry and its demands with raising a family. Your children cannot know the immense struggle you face as a pastor when you are so concerned about a particular difficulty your child is currently facing that you must pull together every ounce of strength you can muster to concentrate on the individual who is sitting in your office in need of counsel. You not only carry the weight of your family and its growing pains, but the weight of every family in your congregation with their growing pains. This is the ministry though. It’s the nature of the beast, as we might say.

In addition to this is the ever present fact that as the shepherds of the local flock, the pastoral family has a huge spiritual bull’s-eye on them. Jesus pointed out in Matthew 26:41 the principle of scattering the sheep by striking the shepherd. What many in the local congregation sometimes fail to recognize is that your pastoral family is many times standing between your family and the attacks of the enemy. If you are not a pastor and you are reading this, let me encourage you to do more fasting and praying for your pastor and family and a lot less time criticizing them.

My intent in this article is to give a little encouragement from one ministerial parent to others. I am by no means an expert. I’m still learning these things and trying to properly apply them. I fail sometimes. Oh God knows how I fail sometimes and it brings me to tears! What I share here is born of those failures and lessons and I hope it brings some edification to a subject, I feel, is often neglected. In our fellowship, the Assemblies of God, our District holds an annual retreat to minister to that special group of kids we call PKs and MKs (missionary’s kids). Perhaps we could use a PK/MK Parental Retreat as well. The Lord knows we just want to be the best parents we can for our kids.

So here’s my two cents…

Your kids must be made to understand that the standards of your household are standards of your Christianity, not standards of your ministry.
All too often PKs are given the idea that the standard of their home has to do with the pastoral role of their parents. This idea can be compounded by the lack of Christian standards sometimes found in other families within the church. It’s a classic case of, “Billy’s parents let him do this.” So of course, when you do not, the blame is set squarely on the fact that you are a pastoral family instead of being on the issue that Billy’s parents may need to step up their game.

Our children need to know that the high standards we hold for them are not simply because of our pastoral role. They should know that the household standards would be this way regardless of what vocation their parents served in because it is the standard of Christ. I believe kids can grow to resent high standards if they believe those standards to be implemented merely because of full-time ministry. They may begin to wish that they could be “normal Christians” who don’t have to live so “restricted”. Remember, before you are a pastoral family, you are a Christian family. Help your kids see that a “normal” Christian family will hold high standards regardless of what Mom and Dad do for a living.

Don’t hammer your kids
PKs live a glass house of sorts, but so do their parents. We always know someone is watching and therefore can easily slip into panic mode when our child acts out of order. When that happens we may be tempted to “show” onlookers in the congregation how good of a parent we are. And it can very quickly morph into a show, where our child is portrayed as the villain before the audience.

When your kids act out of order (which they tend to do from time to time), resist the urge to rush in with the heavy hammer of pastoral justice upon their wretched actions. If their actions require discipline then take them aside to address it quietly. All that the congregation needs to see is you coming into the situation and addressing it. They do not need to be privy to the conversation or the details of the discipline. If someone does feel the need to interfere with your parenting, it might be well to take them aside and offer some pastoral counseling to them.

Don’t favor your kids
Many pastors (and some congregations) are becoming more aware that kids are kids (even PKs) and so there may be a tendency to over-correct and trade the hammer in for a license. In an attempt to not make our children feel they are being unfairly targeted for misbehavior we can unfairly overlook misbehavior. This will manifest into a huge problem when your congregation begins to sense that the pastor’s kid gets away with everything.

This is where the balancing act really comes into play as a parent. You must learn to levy the right amount of correction with the right amount of mercy and it is admittedly far easier said than done. However, just as constantly pouncing on every move your child makes (especially publicly) can embitter them against the ministry, so excusing their misbehavior (especially publicly) may ingrain a false teaching into their minds that the ministry is the place to escape standards and accountability.

Try to show them the benefits of being a PK
Not every part of being a PK is tough. There are opportunities that abound for kids who have parents in full-time ministry. The a fore mentioned PK/MK Retreat that our fellowship offers is one example. However, there are other benefits to be had as well if you are willing to look and take advantage of them.

Access to special speakers and ministry groups who come in to your church is something the average church attendee does not have. My kids have got to spend some extra time with missionaries and even a Christian Power Team because Dad is a pastor. Give your kids the “backstage pass”.

There are opportunities for ministry adventures that sometime pop up because, as a pastor, you know people. My son had the opportunity to travel a few weeks with an evangelist friend of mine. It was an important bonding time for him with another man of God and they had some great stories to share when they came home.

Those are just a few examples. You just have to look for them. The ministry has many good things attached to its workload and stresses. Blessed will be the PK Parent who finds them!

This was certainly not an all-inclusive list. So much more could be added, but this is a blog not a book. So to wrap things up, I will reiterate that PK parenting is no easy task. As a pastor/parent, you realize that there are pressures upon your children that most, if not all, of their peers cannot relate to. You know that they can easily feel isolated (probably because as a minister you have felt that way on more than one occasion yourself). You hunger for them to know the Lord like you do and even to surpass your depth of faith someday. You want them to live strong and true and not buy into the lie that they need to go through a dark rebellious phase simply because they are PKs. Yes, the PK (and the MK) have added pressures due to their parent’s calling, but I want you to know, fellow pastoral families, that the pressures you face as parents are not insignificant either. There may be times where you wish you could just be that “normal” Christian family and escape those difficulties. If I may be painfully blunt; your calling will not allow that. So let us encourage one another as we press in so that our precious PKs will be blessed… and so will you.

Feel free to share any other insights or stories that you may have as a PK or MK parent.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Prayed About It

I was recently told by someone who was in the midst of taking action contrary to God’s word that they had, “prayed about it.” I should clarify that they were not about to undertake something like an adulterous affair (although I have heard “I prayed about it” used in that context as well), but they were certainly disobeying Christ’s clear commands because what Jesus said to do was uncomfortable and difficult whereas what they had decided to do was far more convenient.

This got me thinking about how many times I have heard the phrase “I prayed about it” used to justify and even sanctify actions that are clearly unbiblical. It is a disturbing practice that sets aside the Scripture for personal revelation that almost always satisfies the flesh. I believe, as Christians, we need to stop using prayer as a scapegoat and thereby blaming God for our unbiblical actions.

Before I continue, let me quickly address those who are, for all intents and purposes, biblically illiterate. I do not use that term as some kind of insult, but as an accurate description of someone who does not regularly study the word of God in its entirety. What I would like to point out is that biblical mandates do not come from the biblically illiterate. The idea that someone who is in the world and who does not know Christ can correctly instruct a Christian on what he should be doing or how he should be acting is ridiculous. It would be like me making the preposterous assumption that I could give instruction to an electrician simply because I took a year of electronics in my senior year of High School. So if you are reading this blog and you are not a Christian who regularly studies the Scripture, please be careful not to presume you know what disciples of Christ should be doing. I will not be pointing people to the world which is at odds with its Creator, but pointing people to the Word. I don’t mean to be rude, but this subject requires a measure of bluntness that I normally do not use.

Now that we have gone through that bit of nasty business, let us continue. As Christians, we must get away from the very false idea that every action we take is sanctified by attaching the phrase, “I prayed about it,” or something of similar sentiment. To be sure, we need to pray and receive direction from God, but simply because we pray doesn’t mean we have listened. This becomes especially evident when we refuse to investigate what God has already spoken on the matter in His word or that we believe God has, through prayer, led us in a direction contrary to His word. God doesn’t do that… but our flesh will.

A perfect example of this can be found in Numbers 22. It is the story of a prophet named Balaam. Balaam was given a prophetic voice by God and his words carried power. Therefore, Balak, king of Moab, decided to hire Balaam to speak a curse over Israel. Balak, not knowing God, and not understanding that Balaam could do nothing outside of the Lord’s will, figured he could defeat Israel with the help of some extra power.

So Balak offers Balaam quite a bit of treasure to speak a curse against Israel. Balaam explains that he can do nothing outside of what God tells him to say, but agrees to go pray about it. That night Balaam prays and God flat out tells him that he is not to go with Balak and is not to curse Israel. So the next morning Balaam tells Balak’s men that God said no. At this point, no matter what Balak does next, the matter should be settled for Balaam according to the word of the Lord.

When Balak hears Balaam’s answer he decides to increase his offer. They say every man has a price and this becomes more than Balaam wants to turn away. You can almost see the wheels turning in Balaam’s head as you read the account. “There must be a way to get paid and please God,” might have been the thought process. So instead of saying, “God said no already,” Balaam says, “I’ll go pray about it.”

This time God tells Balaam exactly what he wants to hear. Of course, God did not change His mind. What the Lord did is similar to what many of us have experienced as children from our parents when we constantly ask for permission to do something they already said no to. Sometimes they finally say something like, “Fine! Go do what you want.” We knew they still didn’t want us to do it, but we didn’t care because we received the green light. What we didn’t realize, at our immature age, was that our parents were not giving us permission to participate in the action that was formerly denied, but they were instead giving us clearance to experience the consequences of our deliberate stupidity. Such was the case with Balaam because we read that God became immediately angry with him for going! (Numbers 22:22)

As we see with Balaam, simply praying about something does not automatically cleanse it and make it the right thing to do. In fact, there are times this sentiment is deliberately added because we know we are doing something against God’s will and we want to clear our conscience. It is akin to the nonsensical idea of something not being a sin because one does not feel convicted about it. If God’s word says it’s a sin and you do not feel convicted, it’s because your heart is hardened against the Holy Spirit, not because God has given you a pass.

We must pray and it is imperative that we pray for direction especially on critical matters. But we must come with an attitude to receive direction, not permission. If we are simply looking for permission we will hear what we want to hear. If we are looking for direction we will hear God’s word and do it even if it is not what we want to hear. When we use prayer as an authority creator for everything we have decided to do we cheapen prayer and misrepresent the Holy God to whom we pray. Let none of us be found guilty of such a sin.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God Made Me This Way

“This is the way God made me.” I have heard this statement made many times in order to justify rude and, even sometimes, sinful behavior. The thought line is that God is the one who designed me therefore I cannot help but be the way I am. Therefore, the offender absolves themselves of any and all responsibility and the fault of the behavior is placed solely on the shoulders of God. It is a ridiculous and completely unscriptural point of view, but one that a society which refuses to take personal responsibility eagerly embraces. While there are many examples I can use from the Bible to extinguish this nonsense, one particular account comes to mind; the woman caught in adultery found in John chapter 8.

Those who opposed Christ brought to Him a woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery – a crime punishable by death under Jewish Law. Of course these men were not so much concerned about the sin as they were trying to trip Jesus up in His teachings. (It requires at least two people to commit adultery and it doesn’t take a detective to notice the absence of the other party member to this sin.) As they throw this poor woman before Jesus they pose a question to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” (John 8:4-5) Knowing their hearts, the Lord is quite annoyed with them and says nothing. As they continue to press Him for an answer He looks them square in the eyes and says, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (Verse 7) Of course, that ends the whole thing and these “very intelligent” men walk off having been put to shame.

Now here is the part I want to focus on. The woman is still there! So Jesus initiates a little conversation with her and asks if anyone still remains to carry out her sentence and condemn her. She says, I suspect rather surprised and frightened, “No one, Lord.” The Lord then responds, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (Verse 11) Did you catch that? Jesus said so much in that small sentence.

First, He told her that she was receiving forgiveness and mercy that day instead of condemnation. Why did she need that? Because she was guilty! She was not innocent of the crime and it was not okay with God that she committed it. Mercy is given to those who are guilty. She was receiving a pardon for her crime. Nowhere does Jesus attempt to excuse her behavior by suggesting that God made her that way. Simply because she had the desire to commit adultery did not mean she couldn’t help herself. She made a choice. It wasn’t God’s fault for giving her a sex drive or for placing her in a situation that drove her into the arms of another man. She chose to do wrong.

The second thing Jesus tells her is to, “Go and sin no more.” Again He clarifies that her actions were indeed a sin and that she was guilty, but now He calls her to change her behavior since she has obtained mercy. Jesus does not say, “Well, I know you can’t help it because God made you that way. Obviously you have those desires and feelings because God put them there. So just ask for forgiveness every time because you are just being you.” No! He makes a clear expectation that she is to stop her sinful behavior!

God doesn’t make us rude or sinful. Our fleshly nature, which often opposes God, is what directs us this way.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:6-8

God’s design is to conform us to the way Jesus is (See Romans 8:29), not leave us in the sinful state we were saved in. Think about it; if we were all truly acting the way God wanted us to be acting He would never have had to give us the Bible. In fact, He would never have had to send Christ to die for our sins. The reality of the situation is that we human beings are extremely flawed and have degraded from God’s original design which was “good” in the beginning. God didn’t create us to sin.

So the next time you are rude to someone or you act selfishly or just blatantly choose to sin, take caution not to compound your offense by blaming God for your bad behavior by saying, “God made me this way.” I assure you He did not. You made yourself that way by believing lies, caving to circumstances, or by just focusing on what you want. Instead, take responsibility, repent of your sin and bad behavior, and then “go and sin no more.” That is the kind of person God intends you to be.

We must realize that we are an unfinished product here on earth. We have been allotted a certain amount of time in this life for God to work on the broken vessel we have become and make something beautiful out of us… if we let Him. Allow the Lord to work in your life so that He can make you what He intended you to be. If you receive His salvation and allow the Holy Spirit to change you, one day you will stand in heaven and truly be able to say with great joy, “God made me this way!”

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homosexuality and God's Word

Homosexuality is a hot-button in our society and there is a lot of confusion concerning how God's word directs us to handle it. Most of this is due to individuals with various agendas warping, misquoting, and taking Scripture out of context in order to bolster their respective position. I thought it good, therefore, to put together a clear explanation of how homosexuality relates to the Bible as it is not as simple as a one line answer. Do not misunderstand me, the Bible is clear about God's position on this subject, but the arguments and misinterpretations make things complicated and must be addressed. Therefore, this article is a bit lengthy, but the reason being is that I am attempting to be thorough with this topic

The Law

The first thing to look at in the Scripture is the Old Testament Law. Homosexuality is addressed in the Law along with many other areas of life. There are some things that need to be understood about the Law, however, before one can properly apply it to our situation today. People on all sides of the issue of homosexuality have been guilty of misusing the Law and taking it out of its proper context in order to make it say whatever helps strengthen their viewpoint. So we need to obtain an educated understanding of how the Old Testament Law should be applied to us today.

The Law was given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai so that the Hebrews could be properly governed, as they were in the process of becoming a sovereign nation. The first thing one must understand about the Jewish government as it relates to the Law is that there was no separation between church and state. Religion and government were not to work independently of one another, but in tandem like the spirit and physical body are intertwined and work as one. God was forming a nation that would have Him as their only God. There were no diversities of religious beliefs. Israel was a nation holy unto God to be set apart from all other nations. They were to function as a light for all other peoples, pointing them to the Lord.

Therefore the Law, for Israel, not only served as a religious creed but also as an actual law for the conduct of the people as a nation. The Law held a three-fold purpose for Israel. It served as their moral, religious, and civil law. Again, there was no separation of church and state here. So the Law gave Israel its moral commandments (what is right and what is wrong), its religious commandments (how to worship God), and its civil commandments (legal issues, crime and punishment).

The moral part of the Law is universal and based on what God declares to be right and wrong. It is His universe and He is the absolute standard for what is right so His morality trumps any other ideas. What God declares to be good is good and what God declares as evil is evil regardless of what we or society says.

The religious part of the Law guided Israel in how they should worship God properly. This involved different rituals, ordinances, special observances, and feasts. Any proselytes to Judaism were expected to follow the religious practices outlined in the Law as each had a meaning and a purpose.

The civil parts of the Law gave the civil code for conduct in the Israelite society which included crime and punishment. Breaking of the moral or religious commandments of the Law involved consequences just as much as breaking the law in any country carries with it certain penalties. If this seems odd, we must remember that this was a different culture than ours, but we should also keep in mind that our civil laws are based on morality as well, namely; what we consider to be right and wrong. The civil law was not universal, in that, while the breaking of a commandment by a non-Jew (like committing adultery) was still a sin, the Jews could not simply waltz into another nation and impose the death sentence on a citizen of that nation for their sin.

So it is with this understanding in mind that we can now look at what the Law says about homosexuality.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It  is  an abomination.  Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It  is  perversion. (Leviticus 18:22, 23 NKJV)

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood  shall be  upon them. (Leviticus 20:13 NKJV)

The two verses listed above give moral and civil commandments. Homosexuality is morally wrong. God declares it to be an abomination. There is no getting around that. It is a sin and therefore universal among all people. The death sentence is obviously the civil part of the Law for any Jew who broke the commandment. A Jew could not go to Egypt, for example, and impose a death sentence on an Egyptian participating in homosexual activity. However, it would still be a sin and God will judge such sin. Furthermore, while a Jew could not impose a death sentence upon a citizen of another nation, he could declare to the offender that his actions are an abomination before God and that he needs to repent in order to escape the Lord's eventual judgment.

This point is solidified in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul who was commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to preach to the Gentiles (non-Jews).

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:26, 27 NKJV)

Paul affirms the moral part of the Law. Notice that he speaks of the act of homosexuality being a sin against God and that it is the Lord who will dispense the penalty if they refuse to repent. Paul does not call disciples of Christ to impose the civil part of the Law (the death penalty) upon acts of homosexuality. So although it is still a sin, it is not the place of a Christian to carry out punishment. The Christian is called to tell others that God will carry out punishment if a person refuses to turn to the Lord. (Just like any other sin.)

The point is that one cannot make the argument, for example, that because we no longer put blasphemers to death that homosexual behavior is no longer a sin. Blasphemy is still a sin. It is God, however, who will sit as judge over these universal parts of the Law and it is He who will dispense the consequences for those things. But let it be known that God would much rather have us repent so that He may dispense mercy.

Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says the Lord God, and  not that he should turn from his ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23 NKJV)

What did Jesus have to say about homosexuality?

The argument some make is that Jesus never condemned homosexuality in any of His teachings so He must have approved of it. Of course, this position could bring one to the conclusion that Jesus approved of rape and kidnapping as well since He never condemned those acts in any of His teachings either. Let's have a look at what Jesus did say and teach.

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17, 18 NKJV)

Jesus said He was not going to do away with the Law but that He would fulfill the Law.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God  did  by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-4 NKJV)

Getting back to Matthew 5, Jesus goes on to clarify things written in the Law. Interestingly He does not bring clarification to ease up on commandments, but actually makes the commandments even harder to keep. In part of that discourse Jesus addresses the topic of divorce.

Furthermore it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.  But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 5:31, 32 NKJV)

Notice that Jesus speaks only of a man and a woman being married. He makes no provision for the acceptance of same sex unions though He is in the process of clarifying the heart of God's commandments.

One would think that this would be the perfect time to make any corrections or clarifications concerning any misinterpretations about homosexuality in the Law if Jesus felt there were any. However, Jesus makes no such attempt to justify homosexual behavior as good or okay with God. The fact that Jesus says nothing about it in this context actually works against homosexuality and not for it, in that, the silence of Christ on the matter here serves to confirm what was written in the Law about it being sinful behavior.

Consider Jesus' statement about marriage in Matthew 19.

And He answered and said to them, Have you not read that He who made  them  at the beginning  made them male and female,   and said,  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh  ? (Matthew 19:4, 5 NKJV)

Here again, the silence of Jesus works against the case for homosexuality being acceptable to God. The Lord is speaking of marriage and talks about male and female and a man being joined to his wife. This would be a perfect opportunity to confirm same-sex marriage as a good thing if that were so. However, Jesus says nothing, implying that such an idea has absolutely no part in God's design for marriage. Instead He speaks of marriage between a man and a woman as the plan of the Creator.

What about other parts of the Bible?

There is an interesting passage in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 where the Apostle Paul addresses how to handle a situation where one spouse is a believer and the other is not. This situation would most likely occur when two non-believers get married and then one of them later becomes a Christian since Christians should not to marry unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). In this passage the marriage is seen as honorable between the believer and non-believer as long as the non-believer desires to stay. There is even the implication that the marriage of the two former non-believers was still, in fact, a good thing. However, there is no mention of a homosexual union.

In fact, nowhere in the Bible is a homosexual union looked at in any kind of positive light. The absence of such positive remarks concerning homosexuality is a huge red flag. When speaking of marriage the Bible always speaks of a man and his wife. Thousands of years of history covered in the Bible and not one attempt to legitimize homosexual behavior. Couple this with the New Testament condemnation of homosexual activity (Romans 1:26-27) and the moral parts of the Law found in Leviticus and you have no basis for truthfully saying God does not consider homosexuality a sin.

How can anyone condemn what someone else feels?

The answer is quite simple. We do this all the time. No society allows people to do whatever they feel like doing. There are things that are wrong and carry punishment regardless of how one feels about them. We don't say it's okay to steal if someone has an irresistible urge to steal. We don't condone the behavior of a pedophile even though that person obviously has very strong attractions to children. And we don't excuse murderers simply because they may be born sociopaths. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if everyone just did what they felt like doing?

Let me be clear before someone feigns offense and accuses me of comparing the act of raping a child to the acts of sexual relations between two consenting adults. I have not done that, but such an argument is often made to deflect attention off of the real point. The point being made was about the feelings a person has and I used examples of acts most people agree are unacceptable to highlight the fact that just because someone feels a certain way doesn't automatically justify it.

However, just so we don't get caught up with those examples let's use one more; adultery. Here are two consenting adults who will almost always say that they are in love. Yet, adultery is a sin! You can't get around that. It's even one of the Ten Commandments. So even though these two consenting adults have intense feelings for one another and are choosing to love one another they are also choosing to sin. One may argue that the spouse who is being cheated on is being hurt so that makes this a different situation then homosexuality where supposedly no one is being hurt. What about "swingers" then? All parties are consenting to have sex with someone they are unmarried to. However, it's still adultery and therefore it is still a sin despite feelings, consenting, and "love".

"Love" is the word being thrown about quite a bit on this issue. The argument is that people should be free to love whomever they want. Love without boundaries. I have already shown the fallacy of this argument with the examples of adultery and "open marriages", but let me also point out that this love without boundaries still has boundaries. The line has simply been moved. One person believes that this type of love should only be between a consenting adult male and a consenting adult female. Another person believes that this type of love should be between any two consenting adults regardless of their gender. Notice, however, that both beliefs have a boundary. This boundary excludes people who believe they should have many spouses or open marriages where they are free to "love" many partners. So where is the equality for these people and their beliefs? Are their feelings somehow not legitimate?

Let's look back at what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans:

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:26, 27 NKJV)

As we can see, Paul acknowledges the feelings that are driving men and women into homosexuality. Feelings are not the issue; acting on them is. In these verses it is confirmed that people have these passions, but God says those particular passions are vile. There is certainly plenty of intense feeling present, but that doesn't justify acting on it anymore than intense anger justifies assault or murder.

The whole essence of committing sin is that we feel like doing something that is contrary to God's commands and then act on the feeling rather then obeying the Lord. Adam and Eve sinned by eating a piece of fruit from the one tree they were told not to touch. Why did they do that? Because they felt like it. The Bible tells us that our flesh often opposes the will of God.

Because the carnal mind  is  enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:7, 8 NKJV)

In other words, just because we feel a certain way doesn't justify it as good and therefore something to act upon nor does it suggest that God gave us those feelings. Of course, it is taboo in our society to suggest that someone's feelings are wrong when it comes to certain things. But whose standard do we go by to determine what feelings are right and wrong? God's unchanging moral standard or our standard which varies depending on our feelings?

There is a strange psychological disorder known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID). Individuals suffering from this believe that one or more of their limbs does not belong and therefore they want them amputated. (BIID can also be associated with apotemnophilia which is sexual arousal based on the image of one's self being an amputee.) In each case the sufferer of BIID believes the limb(s) they want amputated are a mistake and that they should have been born without them. So deep rooted is this feeling that it has driven some people with BIID to great lengths to rid themselves of the unwanted limbs. There are various stories of BIID sufferers seeking amputation by finding doctors overseas who will perform operations like this or even attempting to get severe frostbite on purpose requiring amputation.

Now, we understand that the real problem is not with the limbs but with what people with BIID are feeling. We don't rationally conclude that because they passionately feel that their limbs do not belong that they should have them removed. However, political correctness demands that if someone feels a sexual attraction to the same sex this must be right. Furthermore, if a man feels like he should have been born a woman or a woman feels she should have been born a man, political correctness demands they undergo an operation to alter their gender to what they are feeling instead of addressing the issue of their feelings.  

A Last Ditch Attempt

In the face of all this, one final (and desperate) argument might be made suggesting that there are far worse sins than homosexuality in the world and we should be more concerned about those. This argument may even infer that God Himself is probably more concerned with other more heinous acts committed by human beings. This line of thought comes from the man-made idea that there are degrees of sin. However, the Bible teaches that God sees sin in a totally different way then we do.

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10 NKJV)

From the viewpoint of a holy God all sin is despicable. Instead of being separate acts with varying degrees, God reveals that all sin is connected and intertwined.

Isn't This Just a Bunch of Hatred?

Anyone who sticks to the Biblical truth that homosexuality is a sin is usually dismissed as a hateful person. This is the same tactic used by children when their parents or a teacher attempts to bring correction or instruction that the child does not wish to receive. Immediately the parent or teacher is accused by the child of hating them. The child sees the person in question as an individual who is trying to spoil what they want to do and that is interpreted as an act of hatred when in fact it is an act of love and concern. It is an extremely childish defense.

Of course there are hateful people out there who use the word of God as a basis for their hatred. But these people are false prophets and teachers who will, themselves, stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account. The obvious lack of concern for people's eternal souls is evident in their actions and rhetoric and they spew their venom unaware that they are placing themselves in danger of hellfire. However, these people are the exception rather then the rule and above all they are not true disciples of Christ.

The real hatred is coming from Christians who believe the word of God but ignore this issue of homosexuality because they don't want to be called names and persecuted by society and political correctness. They love themselves so much that they put their personal comfort above people's eternal souls. That is true hatred.

A true disciple of Christ will speak the whole council of God in love. They will be willing to risk ridicule and even the loss of friends in order to see them saved. Like family members and friends who may confront a loved one with an intervention, they will compassionately speak the truth and leave the reactions be what they may even if they are in turn hated for what they dared to say. This is actual love; putting oneself at risk for someone else's benefit, not doing what makes one feel good personally.

I have friends who are gay and we have had those conversations. I risked loosing them as friends but I cared for them too much to hide God's word. Thankfully they are still my friends and even though we no longer live near one another I would be by their side if they ever found themselves in trouble. My point is that you can still be compassionate and a friend without compromising the integrity of God's word.


The end of all this is that homosexuality cannot be made okay with God's word. Therefore, the only thing one can do if they are intent on justifying it is throw out the Scripture. However, that isn't going to change it. Like ignoring a diagnosis of cancer because the thought of having it and being treated for it may be unpalatable will lead to death, so ignoring all or parts of God's word simply because we don't like them or they are not politically correct will not change the Day of Judgment.

In confronting this issue I have written it in such a way that it presents the cold hard facts and therefore may seem to be without much compassion. Let me assure you that this is written out of nothing but compassion and not out of some need to have a rebuttal to those who may disagree with me. Therefore, allow me to offer you one more cold hard fact.

God loves you! (I am addressing every person reading this article regardless of your sexual feelings.) There is nothing you can do to make Him love you more or less. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for all of our sins. God loves you so much that He provided mercy in order to escape judgment. Now, will you love Him in return? Will you accept His gift of salvation and allow Him to direct your life the way He, your Creator, intended it to be? Will you accept His love and lordship over every part of your life? This is the choice He leaves to each of us because He loves us enough not to leave us in the condition we come to Him in.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The New Definition of "Judgmental"

(This blog may be a bit lengthy but please don't let that frighten you. I was merely trying to be thorough.)

If there is one teaching from Christianity that gets touted more than any other I would have to say the subject of judging others would be a strong contender for first place. Christians and non-Christians alike pull out this doctrine in order to silence all kinds of speech and confrontation. The question however, is whether or not the modern way of defining judging is the same as the Bible's use of the term. If it is not, then it is a false doctrine being spread and not a true Christian teaching. Therefore, it would be wise to carefully look at what Christ taught concerning the judging of others in the context of His teaching as well as within the context of the rest of God's word.

We should begin by pointing out that there seems to be an acceptable form of hypocrisy in our society when it comes to what people consider to be judgmental and what they do not. For example, if an individual who bases his moral compass by his faith has an opinion and someone doesn't like it then the person of faith is often accused of being judgmental. However, if a worldly minded individual has an opinion that others don't like then he is a "free thinker" and is entitled to proclaim his opinion. This has become part of the new definition of judgmental.

It is ironic how Christians are not supposed to say anything about wrong actions to anyone or they are automatically judged as judgmental, yet if they do not walk perfectly in all their conduct they are judged as hypocrites. What happened to society's call of not judging others? Perhaps indeed that individual may be a hypocrite. On the other hand he may be someone who is trapped in a habitual sin that he is desperately wishing he could be free of. However, no such consideration is given by those who would most often decry judgment. While those who would like to judge Christians and point out that the Bible says, "do not judge," (which we will address shortly) they seem completely unaware of the following verse:

But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is  rightly  judged by no one. (I Corinthians 2:15 NKJV)

Of course, the most ironic thing about the new definition of judgmental is the fact that one cannot point out to anyone that they are being judgmental without making themselves into hypocrites. If being judgmental means that one cannot tell another they are doing wrong, even by citing Biblical standards, then one cannot declare that someone is wrong and judgmental without violating their own idea of what being judgmental is! They become even more hypocritical if they try to use Scripture to back up their stance. The double standard would look something like this; "You are wrong for telling somebody that, according to the Bible, what they are doing or how they are living is wrong, because according to the Bible, God is the judge and the Bible says, 'Judge not lest you be judged.'"

This hypocrisy highlights the fact that the modern definition of judgmental is not the Biblical definition. One cannot use Scripture to argue against Scripture. The Word of God works together. It does not defend opposing positions.

Fear of being labeled

Unfortunately it would seem that there are a growing number of Christians who are more concerned with the possibility of being labeled judgmental than they are about warning others of the certainty of coming judgment. We should always see, within ourselves, a red flag when we are more concerned with what others think of us than we are concerned with what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Jesus offended people all of the time. So did the Apostles and the Old Testament prophets. They did not do so with that goal in mind, but God's truth has always been offensive to those who are in rebellion against Him.

One example is that of John the Baptist. He confronted Herod's sin. However, Herod did not silence John's unwanted confrontation by labeling him as judgmental. Instead, Herod threw John into prison.

For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of He-rōdi-as, his brother Philips wife. Because John had said to him,  It is not lawful for you to have her. (Matthew 14:3, 4 NKJV)

But Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning He-rōdi-as, his  brother Philips wife,  and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison. (Luke 3:19, 20 NKJV)

Of course, most people don't have the authority to throw others into prison if they disagree with their speech (although if they had such authority you can bet many would exercise it), so they do what they can and label them with names that society finds distasteful. In effect, they have placed them in a social prison where their speech will hopefully be ignored.

Some believers may hold to the worldly view of what the term judgmental means out of shear ignorance. However, I am convinced that others do so purposefully for it provides an excuse for them not to confront others with their sin. It's a live-and-let-live attitude that ignores the fact that souls end up in hell if they don't come to terms with their sin and repent.

When I say to the wicked, You shall surely die, and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. (Ezekiel 3:18 NKJV)

And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, Be saved from this  perverse generation. (Acts 2:40 NKJV)

Removing the confrontation of sin from the Gospel message transforms a soul saving word into something rather sappy and weak. There are Christians who are trying to be nice, spreading a message of, "Jesus loves you and wants to be close to you," all the while avoiding the plight of sin in an individual's life because they do not want to be judgmental. Exactly how are people supposed to receive salvation if they do not know they need to be saved from impending danger? How can they accept the full Gospel of Jesus Christ when we have only offered them half of it? (And to be sure, there are others who have only offered the half dealing with sin and judgment and have left out God's love, thereby doing just as much a disservice to the precious Gospel as those who refuse to talk about sin.)

I am getting ahead of myself however, so let's back up a bit to Jesus' words on the subject.

Christ teaches about judging others

There is a favorite verse of Scripture quoted by non-Christians and uncommitted Christians where Jesus says in Matthew 7:1 - "Judge not, that you be not judged." Let me first say that a non-Christian wielding Scripture is akin to a one year old operating a computer; they may get it to light up but they really have no idea what they are doing. The Bible addresses this very matter:

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. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

The idea that someone who has not given themselves to Christ and received His Spirit nor reads the Bible on any kind of regular basis can then pull one verse out of Scripture and declare truthful doctrine is ridiculous. How can someone be expected to correctly apply Scripture that they spend a good portion of their life ignoring?

So let us have a look at Matthew 7:1 in context so we can know what Jesus was really teaching.

Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, Let me remove the speck from your eye; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV)

It can clearly be seen by the context that Jesus was not teaching a doctrine of silence on the matter of sin, nor was He implying that we should live and let live. (In fact, such teaching would run contrary to the entire context of the Bible.) The over-all idea is that if we are going to point out sin as a sin we better not be practicing that same or similar sin in our own life. Why? Because we will be judged by that same measure. We cannot have one standard for us and another standard for every one else. We must apply God's standard across the board. The book of Romans expands this concept:

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know  His  will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, Do not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? (Romans 2:17-23 NKJV)

Notice that the teaching has nothing to do with remaining silent about sin, but making sure an individual examines and corrects him/herself before correcting others. Look at Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7 once again. He says, "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye," (emphasis mine). It is clear that we are expected to help one another remove the specks (sin) from each other's lives. Why? Because love does not leave another individual plagued if they have the means to help, and too many Christians are allowing people to remain in sin because they have bought into the devil's translation of what being judgmental is. Yet, let me emphasize, we cannot effectively address sin in another person's life if we are allowing it in our own.

You may protest and say, "Doesn't that still disqualify anyone from saying anything since no one is perfect?" Here is another area where the devil has been allowed to pervert the truth. The premise is that you are not perfect so just keep your mouth shut. It is the same deflection technique employed by immature married couples during an argument. Instead of dealing with the situation at hand, the accused spouse brings up a past fault of the other. The thought is that the two wrongs somehow cancel each other out and therefore everyone should just keep quiet.

Imagine if we operated our entire society like this. No one would be allowed to teach or correct anyone because no one is perfect. We would quickly degenerate into a barbaric culture where every wrong done is canceled out by somebody else's wrongdoing. It would be complete and unrestrained chaos. Clearly this is not what God expects and such an idea does not fit into the context of Scripture. The prophets, apostles, and other leaders God raised up were all imperfect people who corrected others and, when necessary, corrected themselves. Therefore, perfection is not a requirement for giving correction. Besides, how could one even begin traveling toward perfection if no one is ever allowed to point the way? Sometimes it is more practical to journey along with people than to shout directions from the finish line.

Furthermore, if Christ's definition of judging was the same as as our new definition of judging then a majority of what the prophets and apostles said and wrote would be in violation of that command. The Lord never contradicted the Scriptures or the prophets, but constantly affirmed them and their authority. Therefore, Christ's command not to judge could not have been a command to keep silent about sin.

What about love?

Along with this warped definition of being judgmental comes a warped definition of love which suggests that love just smiles and waves politely while people go on their merry way to hell. This distorted version of love never warns anyone of wrongdoing for fear of offending someone. It makes every action okay and requires nothing more from the disciple of Christ then to be nice. The idea is that the Christian's nice life will eventually lead people to Jesus. However, Jesus made it clear that everyone must come to Him through the door of repentance. If there is no confrontation of sin there will be no recognition of sin and therefore no understanding that one needs to repent!

What about hate?

Jesus told His disciples that the world would hate them because the world hated Him.

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before  it hated  you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18, 19 NKJV)

However, Jesus revealed to His disciples earlier that the hatred they will face from the world is not really a hatred of them, it is a hatred of the Lord. This begs the question; why would the world hate Jesus and His disciples if they were just being nice and telling people God loves them and wants to be their friend? The Lord revealed the answer to that question in the earlier teaching just mentioned:

The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil." (John 7:7 NKJV)

Did you see that? The world hates Jesus, and therefore His disciples, because their message dares to point out that the works of the world are evil! That's the world's very definition of being judgmental... but it is apparently not God's definition.

I believe this hatred of Christ's disciples is a determining factor of why so many Christians accept this perverted definition of what being judgmental is. People want to be liked, even Christians. Confronting sin and challenging someone to consider their separation from God is uncomfortable and could result in being hated. Therefore, in order to avoid that unpleasant situation Christians have found an escape hatch using the new definition of judgmental. They say, "It's not my place to judge," meaning they don't have to talk about the tough half of the Gospel message.

Consider how that will play out on Judgment Day. All those people you were afraid might label you as judgmental will stand condemned before the judgment seat of Christ. And when they turn and look at you and ask why you kept your mouth shut what excuse will you offer? "Well, I didn't want to be judgmental." How much do you have to hate somebody to let them go to the judgment seat of Christ without warning them because you don't want to be hated?

Of course, there is one other reason to consider as to why some Christians happily buy into this new definition of judgmental; they want to keep the plank in their own eye. Some believers are living a compromised faith and they know it. They also know that their carnal Christianity disqualifies them from being able to address sin in another's life. Therefore they say nothing so that nothing is said to them. They judge not so that they are not judged. They shine no light on the sin of another because they fear having the light shined back on them.

Again, how much do you have to hate someone to do this? How can an individual love their sin and compromised lifestyle more than a living breathing person?! How can a Christian let someone go to hell just so they don't have to walk a straight line with God? Such behavior is the epitome of selfishness and hatred.

So what is judging?

If biblical judging does not match what the modern day definition is, then what does the Bible mean when it addresses the subject of not being judgmental? Judging someone is essentially rooted in the sin of pride. It is the attitude that considers oneself somehow superior to another. Instead of humbly declaring the truth in God's word out of concern for another's eternal soul, the judgmental individual has condemned the other as some kind of sinful degenerate unworthy of God's love and salvation. The judgmental individual forgets that he/she is also a sinner and was undeserving of God's love and salvation as well.

This was the attitude found in many of the Pharisees and Saducees (the Jewish religious leaders) in Christ's time. They constantly looked down upon others as inferior sinners having little or no concern for their souls. They even condemned Jesus for associating with them. This was, in part, what led to their rejection of Jesus because He came, not condemning sinners, but lovingly offering them salvation from their sins. Sins which He pointed out so they understood their need for God's salvation.

Of course, when someone doesn't want to be told they are doing wrong in the eyes of God (the only eyes that truly matter) they have a tendency to perceive anyone who declares God's word as having a holier-than-thou attitude and therefore label them as judgmental. While there are people who obviously have no love for their fellow man and are full of pride and consider themselves superior to others, that is certainly not the case of everyone who holds the Bible to be true. In fact, to decide someone is just full of pride and therefore judgmental simply because we don't like what they have to say would make us judgmental.

The following passages illustrates the way a child of God is to operate in confronting sin and avoiding a judgmental attitude.

But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that  they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to  do his will. (II Timothy 2:23-26 NKJV)

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of  gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill  the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3 NKJV)


It is clear that the world's definition of what being judgmental is is a perversion of what Jesus taught. For the non-Christian it means that if you are going to stick to that definition you cannot use Christ's words to back up your position. You are just plain wrong.

For the Christian it means that it is time to stop propagating this false doctrine and start loving people and giving them the FULL Gospel message. It is time to stop hiding from labels and start standing boldly, but humbly, for the eternal souls of men and women. It is time to get our own lives right with God in order to see clearly to remove the speck from our brother's eye. Your excuses to avoid confronting others (and yourself) about sin are biblically invalid.