PASTOR STEVE VAN NATTAN:
Editor– Blessed Quietness Journal
© Copyrighted August, 1993 You may copy this paper, but you may not change it in any way without permission.
PART ONE: JUDGE NOT!
JUDGING A BROTHER
The first thing to say is that we are not to judge our brother. Let us look at the parable of Christ that teaches powerfully on this subject.
Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
FIRST- VERSE 10- shows us that these men are Jews. They are of the household of Israel, not Philistines or pagans. It is interesting to notice that the saints can be very understanding with the ungodly, yet they can be rough on rats with the other saints. This at once should make us fearful since we see that the Word of God encourages us to “judge righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24). We are to hate the enemies of the Lord as David did (Ps. 139:21-22). Instead, we come to despise the saints and hug the wicked. What joy this must give Satan.
SECOND- VERSE 11-12- shows us who the standard is when we judge our brother. I have heard this so many times, sometimes from myself, that I cannot be talked out of it. Saints who have accomplished some things for the Lord are so vulnerable. They begin to notice that other saints seem to be less zealous than they are, so they start comparing those other saints with themselves. It is a rare thing to hear a godly saint complaining about another saint because they are not like Jesus.
We had a infiltrator from a large religous organization in a past church we served. This fellow worked very hard in the church, and he and his wife came early to every meeting. They would then use their alleged zeal as a standard to mock and ridicule other saints who were late or missing.
When we use ourselves as the standard of judging, we can be sure that we think they have arrived in the area under discussion.
The Pharisee was not any of those things he listed at the end of verse 11, but you can be sure he had a problem– PRIDE. This is one of the abominations in Proverbs:
Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Please notice that the list starts with pride and ends with destruction of fellowship. One thing we can say for the Pharisee is that at least he bragged only to God. In the Lord’s Church it is so often otherwise. The pride in our good works or zeal sends us to others in the Body whom we imagine are on our level of zeal, and we start fretting and complaining about those in the Body who seem to lack zeal.
As with the Pharisee, we use ourselves as an example. We reason from our works for which Christ might have rewarded us at the Bema seat judgment, and we might have gotten a reward. But, after we cheapen our works by using them to judge one of Christ’s servants, I am certain He will not dignify our meanness with His approval. The reward is lost. Let us remember Paul’s stern words here:
Romans 14:3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
We have no business pretending that our brother lives unto us rather than unto Christ. That is what we are doing when we degrade him for not keeping up with us in zeal or good works. If he is not as good a witness as I am, that is his business before the Lord.
What is really happening here? The judging brother prefers starting a clique of those who judge the backward and weak Christians. No amount of, “let us pray for brother so an so” will cleanse this breach of New Testament courtesy. And NO Christian can ever become so spiritual that he is above this admonition.
This problem has destroyed more missionaries on the field than any problem Satan could conceive. From my experience, I have known some very godly servants of Christ, and in this area they are never caught speaking of another saint except to rejoice over them. If they ever rebuked a brother, it was so private that I didn’t find out. There is no other model. It is always the “strong” in their own eyes who think otherwise, me included if I am found doing this.
9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
This plainly means two things:
ONE- Your brother will answer to God for his zeal, works, punctuality, integrity, witnessing, law keeping, eagerness in vocation, family decisions, leisure activities, eating habits, choice of cars and cigars, and dealing with debt– you name it. If you noticed that you are doing better than he, you over the edge. You are taking Christ’s place in the judgment seat.
TWO- YOU will answer for your judgmental words also. What makes you think Christ is on your side in the cheap little bar of justice you opened against your brother or sister in Christ? You will be dethroned before you stand before His throne. If you arrive in heaven as a judge, it will be because you are NOT born again. Beware friend.
We are reminded of the scam in Colorado several years ago when a judge and some highway patrolmen were running a little home made justice arrangement on the side. They would arrest a tourist on the highway, haul them to their “court”, then let them go after they had posted a fat bail. The state was mighty rough on them when they were caught. How are you and I different than that when we open a private court to examine Christ’s Body?
11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
It is a heartbreaking stumblingblock to a believer to learn that he has been secretly court-marshalled by a tribunal of the folks he loves. He usually falls lower if he is weak, or he runs away to join the Liberals or a cult. Then the judges look down their long noses and pronounce a final verdict against him.
Who is the Weaker Brother after all?
THIRD- VERSE 13- (Please refer back to Luke study text above.)- The pitiful thing is that often the saint being judged is stronger than those who judge him. Judges wear wigs and black robes because underneath is a men with faults and sometimes treachery. The “weaker brother” may in fact have the chief quality needed to make him useful to the Lord– humility. The problem is, if it is genuine, he won’t notice his own humility, and he will think only good of those who judge him.
This will make certain that he is grievously wounded when he finds out his friends have secretly condemned him. Are you starting to get the message? Do you see why Satan was so pleased with Korah and Job’s friends? That is the final blow to a saint, that is, to learn he has been betrayed. That is why Judas was so helpful to Satan. If only Jesus could be broken by the sorrow of betrayal, perhaps he would sin in lashing out in self-defense. The judgment of fellow saints is no different than Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, “in as much as ye did it unto one of these… ye have done it unto me”.
So, What’s it to me anyway?
FOURTH- VERSE 14- Read it carefully. God will get you. You won’t lose your salvation, but God will knock you down, probably until you need the brother you judged to help you back up. Either God will do that, or you will become a “castaway”, meaning God will take away your zeal and victory to serve Him and let you suffer until you close your punisimous court. If he doesn’t, you are not born again. You are an infiltrator in the Body, being used of Satan to destroy the Church. God can show that openly also. Beware.
To see how God deals with impostors who judge his saints, read what God required of Job’s three lousy friends:
Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job. 10 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
FIFTH- VERSE 15-17- (Please read the verses in Luke again as above.) Here we need to see that the disciples were forced to learn the ultimate lesson. Even a child is not to be judged. Christian kids are not subject to the court of pious saints. They too are subject to Christ first, then their parents. No exceptions. There is NO similarity between loving and steady discipline on one hand and mindless judgment on the other. Discipline teaches and builds saints. Judgment destroys them.
There is nothing more disgusting than an old saint, who raised a bunch of brats, standing in the foyer griping about other kids or their parents. Not only are they tempting the kids to hate the Church when they learn of this aged meanness, they are also calling those kids away from Christ and suggesting they submit to the human who judged them. Again, this guruism is treacherous. If there is a real problem, go to the parents, speak of the problem, then shut your big mouth, and pray for them in your closet. Let the parents come under the conviction of the Holy Ghost, not your authority.
QUESTION: I have been doing this. What do I do?
1. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
2. Get a right perspective of yourself.
Luke 17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
QUESTION: My brother really has a problem. How can I help him?
ANSWER: Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Women have no business ever rebuking a man other than their own husband. The other men are under Christ, not women. The other women and children are under “their own husbands” and fathers. So, a woman who judges and openly passes verdicts on other saints is a busybody (I Peter 4:15). Much wickedness has been done in the Church by women who leave their homes and their husband’s authority over them to open court on the saints. One comment can destroy a whole church. The most helpful device in this pattern of treachery is the telephone, right?
Titus 2:6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. 7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Your way of life in Christ is the best thing you can do to lead a saint out of weakness. If that is not enough, if you want to whip him into line, you are not born again. You are a hireling who couldn’t care less if you maim the sheep carelessly. Remember, “whom the Lord loveth HE (not you or I) chasteneth”! If you are truly spiritual, your example is all God needs. Live it.
If reproof is needed, follow the instruction in the Word of God:
2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
One last thought about motives. If we are witnessing, working for the Lord, coming to church, teaching the Word, helping the saints, or any other good work, for selfish reasons, then we lose all of our reward. If we measure others by our good works, we show that we are working for the wrong reason. Three texts come to mind, and they speak for themselves:
Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Can you thank God for your relationship to ALL the saints?
1. Let us stop examining other saints behind their backs, even as husband to wife.
2. Let us stop using ourselves as open examples, describing our zeal, witness, works, or punctuality at the church house as some sort of standard.
3. Let us exalt the Lord in the zeal we do see, praising God for EVERY saint’s progress.
4. Let us hate passionately cliques, or party spirit. Let us go as easily to one saint as another for fellowship. Let us not have favorites among the believers.
5. Let us not grumble over those who are not present at services. Let us rejoice over those who come, and be ready to learn that those absent had burdens keeping them away.
Let us be eager to lift their burdens in a quiet spirit. If we are moved to rebuke or reprove a saint, let us follow the pattern of authority and complete confidentiality of the New Testament Apostolic instructions.
6. Let the assembly know that this area of temptation may well be a weakness of their pastor, and let them keep any fleshly judgmental spirit to themselves.
If you see a problem in this paper, don’t even bother me unless you have sound Bible proof of your complaint. If so, then you must tell me, so that I can correct any errors. God bless you as we serve Christ together.
7. When we are judged in the unbiblical model, what shall we do? Answer:
1 Corinthians 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Even if you have an area of need, NEVER take the judgment of a saint who is in the throne of judgment against you. Seek the precious wounds of a saint who loves you with biblical rebuke.
PART TWO: JUDGE!
SO WHO AND WHEN DO WE JUDGE?
As is so often the case in the black and white teachings of Jehovah and His Word, there is a time to judge, and it is essential to do so if we are going to maintain spiritual purity in our lives and in the life of the Lord’s Church. Let us simply review some of the texts which tell us we must judge in certain situations:
John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
How does this agree with:
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
We are back to the study principles we discussed above. We cannot judge anyone in order to condemn them. Our judgment is for the sole purpose of exalting the holiness of God. In old Israel the judges and Moses sat under a tree and judged the people. Why? Answer: To preserve the holy standard of God within the whole life of the camp or the nation.
Here is an example:
Ezekiel 23:45 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.
Again, Ezekiel speaks of the future conditions in the priesthood of the coming Messianic Kingdom:
Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
SO, IS THERE A TIME TO JUDGE IN THE CHURCH AGE?
If you don’t have a King James Bible, you will not have a basis to understand the following instruction. “YOU” in the text below is “YOU” Plural– collectively. “Thee” or “thou” would indicate that the action was to be taken by individuals. “YOU” means that Paul is telling the local church to do this judgment openly and collectively.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
There is NO similarity between this cleansing the church of wolves and the hateful butchery of saint by saint which we discussed previously. This is righteous judgment– Judging and marking publicly those who teach heresy. We do a lot of this in this journal. Those who PROFESS to be saved while they teach heresies get no mercy from us:
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
How much more a man who stands in a large place and “provides not” sound teaching for the House of the Lord? Timothy had a couple of these in the church he pastored, and Paul classified them as pagans:
1 Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Every time an alleged preacher mutilates the King James Bible, when he appeals to the Greek at the expense of the English Bible, or when such a hireling declares that he has found an error in the Word of God, he should be blasted with the utmost zeal. He is a wolf. Stand right up and rebuke him for what he is. Do NOT do this in a corner where he can weasel out of it. A very good silent statement is to stand right up and turn around and ignore him.
WE ARE TO JUDGE THE NATURAL MAN
When unsaved men blasphemes the Spirit of God, the Word of God, or the Church of our Lord, he is to be judged and exposed plainly so that the saints will avoid that men.
1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
1 Corinthians 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
Paul was not even present, and he did not have two or three witnesses. There comes a time when the fire of sin and Satanic attack is raging in the Lord’s Church. It is a sin to hold back judgment at that point. But, we must be 100% sure that our objective is to guard the holiness of the Lord Jehovah and His Church.
THE CHURCH IS THE RIGHT PLACE TO SETTLE A MATTER
1 Corinthians 6:1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
JUDGE THE WOLVES
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a word of caution in the following. If the witnesses are present, then the rebuke, quite by contrast, must be sudden and open, especially with regard to a leader in the Lord’s Church.
1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
IS IT LOVING TO JUDGE?
This is really a stupid question. There is a text from Solomon which sums up Part One and Part Two of this paper. This proverb describes the fellowship of godly judging, for it is not possible to rebuke a friend in the Lord without making a judgment call based upon the Word of God. The intent and spirit is the key here.
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
I have found from experience that my worst enemies are judges in the local church. On the other hand, I have also found that my best friends are those saints who walk so close to the Lord that, when they wound me, I feel blessed and encouraged by their faithfulness.
I realize that there seems to be a contradiction– First– Judge. Then– Judge not. The problem we have these days in the Lord’s Church is that we fail to just take the Bible 100% literally. It is so easy to understand if we take it literally. Ah, but it is not easy to believe, right? If we are to take the Word as black and white, then we have to conclude that at one time we are totally forbidden to judge. But, at once we learn that there are times when we MUST judge or we are rebels.
Tell me saint, how is your judgment ministry doing these days? 🙂