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Reach OutOne of the most devastating failures of church leadership in my lifetime has been our refusal to judge God’s way. Our lack of understanding, obedience, and diligence has led to a compromised message and produced a hypocritical body of believers. We condemn the world – something we are commanded not to do (Matthew 7:1-2) – while neglecting our responsibility to lovingly help our sister and brother identify and remove the sin in their life.

We will have to answer for our failure at the judgment seat of Christ. I wish I could say with some certainty that we will not be shown the consequences our disobedience has had on God’s kingdom and His children.

These are hard words to write and read. I am just the pen, and just as convicted by the truth. We cannot go back to correct our mistakes. We must trust God’s grace and mercy for those we have betrayed, and commit ourselves to God’s way for judging the brethren.

Even now, I suspect someone reading this will find issue with this matter of judging. Please read our article on Jesus’ “Judge Not” saying, as well as the first part of this one. I believe you will discover that:

  1. Jesus’ “judge not” refers to condemnation: the pronouncement of guilt, sentence and punishment for the sin in our sister or brother. Such condemnation is reserved for God.
  2. Identifying and addressing the sin in a sister or brother is not condemnation. It is an act of love, that they might not face the judgment of God (1Corinthians 5:1-5; James 5:19-20). Conversely, to ignore or accept sin in a sister or brother is failure to love them.
  3. To hold our tongue when God has made us aware of sin makes us guilty of that sin and subject to God’s judgment (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
  4. God’s children are to be His instruments of sanctification for the church.
  5. There is a process for helping our sister and brother – and ourselves – find the grace of God to live a life without sin.

The Part 1 to this article introduced God’s process (aka, way) for restoration from sin. For your convenience, here is a summary of the first five steps:

  1. Ask God to search our hearts, to see if there is any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23-24).
  2. Repentance: to think differently about ourselves and our sin (Luke 5:32).
  3. Confession: to agree with or concede (1John 1:9).
  4. Allow the Holy Spirit to remove anything from us that would inhibit His gentleness (Galatians 6:1).
  5. Focused our minds against the real enemy (Ephesians 6:12).

Now (and only now) are we prepared to meet with our sister or brother. If their sin is against God or someone else, our responsibility is to encourage, to find restoration, and to walk with them as they desire. We must never abandon them in their time of vulnerability to the enemies’ attacks.

For sins directed towards us personally, the following represents the continuance of God’s way for restoration with them. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Matthew 7:1-2

This passage has been a challenge to many in the church – including myself. Jesus seems to begin with an emphatic statement, only to follow it with a process for doing the very thing He said not to do (vv. 3-5, and our subject for next time). Many have harmed themselves (and the church) by misinterpreting Matthew 7:1 to mean that we are prohibited from identifying the sin in our sister or brother and helping them remove it.

Serious students of the Bible learn that singular verses must be interpreted in the full counsel of Scripture. A more careful reading of this and related passages reveals that Christians are responsible – and obligated by love – to actively weed out sin in our sisters and brothers, and in the church (Ezekiel 3:16-21, Matthew 18:15-17, 1Corinthians 5:1-5, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20).

There is a second important thing not being said in this passage (but assumed by many). This passage is not saying – it cannot be saying – that we will not be judged. In the end, many will be surprised to find themselves judged before the White Throne (Revelation 20:11-12), and every Christian will stand before the judgment set of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:10; 2Corinthians 5:10).

Indeed, we discover in Hebrews 6:1-2 that God’s judgment is eternal (meaning, it has no beginning or end). Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowBeware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:15-16

It is helpful for our understanding to recognize and consider the Sermon on the Mount as more than a collection of sayings. The order is important. Jesus’ warned of false prophets immediately following His saying about the narrow gate and difficult way. He did so to help us understand what would be false about them.

False prophets have traditionally encouraged the people of God to take the broad way (Jeremiah 14:13-14; Lamentations 2:14; Ezekiel 22:28; Micah 3:5). Jesus warned that they would continue to plague His church – particularly near the end of the age (Matthew 24:11). Furthermore, Peter relates them to false teachers “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2Peter 2:1). Both will lead many away from the kingdom.

These false prophets and teachers will come in disguised and protected by a spirit of deception (2Thessalonians 2:9-12). They will be subtle; preying on those immature in the Lord, or isolated from the fellowship. They will create and use confusion and division to further their agendas. Thankfully, Jesus has given us instruction for knowing them: By their fruit. This brings us to two obvious conclusions.

First, prophets and teachers must be tested. This takes time. For their good, and the good of the fellowship, they should not be given prophet or teacher responsibilities until there is evidence of the Lord’s fruit in their lives. This may take years, but their patience and submission to authority will be an evidence of good fruit.

Second, we must humbly recognize the possibility of being deceived, individually and corporately. Particularly in these days, church leadership must be on their guard; and ready to take action. The aforementioned Thessalonians passage suggests that “a love of the truth” will be our greatest protection. This love is active, and it must be developed. There is a desire for it in every Christian’s heart. Ask God to stir it up; and then respond to His encouragement.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Bible with Cross ShadowAddressing the guarding of our mouth and heart in Matthew 5:21-28, Jesus warns against using the letter of the law as a measuring line for sin. Murder and adultery are more than the physical act. Additionally, He is trying to teach us that doing “these sayings of Mine” requires community. Why? Because sin is a serious matter.

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

It seems to me that there are three ways to hear this saying. First, we must consider whether or not Jesus is speaking literally. This is unlikely for at least three reasons: The act of self mutilation runs contrary to the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; second, the early church did not practice self-mutilation; and third, removing one eye or hand does not solve the problem of sin. Read the rest of this entry »



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