Thursday, June 19, 2008

Discern don't condemn

by Charles E Ramsey

Jesus Christ was and is God and man. As the only begotten Son and the express image of the Father, he reveals the Father. Hebrews 1:3. The Father is pleased with the Son, and the Son glorifies the Father. Jesus' life, death and resurrection proves the love of God for lost humanity. But a relationship is necessary. Studying God's word is a primary way to get acquainted and become a lover of God. We discern God's ways through his word. Discernment is defined as to discriminate, and discrimination poses the power to distinguish the excellent and the true.

Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15. The understanding of how God could become man is given by Paul. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:6-8. From scripture we discern that the fountain of man's thought is corrupt and limited. Whereas the God-man unifies an eternal well of absolute truth free from error.

In my first article we investigated Christ's humility. Now we look at the power Jesus has to give victory over one particular human weakness--self justification. This weakness first occurred when Adam refused to acknowledge sin. He justified himself by blaming God, his Creator, and accusing Eve, his wife. Genesis 3:12. Jesus trained his disciples to avoid this sin by not focusing on man. "Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:" Luke 6:37. Following his example and obeying will result in a happy and spiritually mature life. John 13:15-17.

Two avenues are open toward discernment of truth. "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which 'see not' might see; and that they which 'see' might be made blind." John 9:39. Those who are helped are "they which see not." Recognizing weakness they accept the fact that they sin. Others refuse to admit depravity, being blind to this truth. To be born again spiritually everyone needs the Savior and the Holy Spirit. In the spiritually mature the believer's will becomes submissive to Christ's will. Discernment through the avenue of blind self-will comes too late.

Jesus made the word of God the absolute authority for discernment, both now and when we meet him. "If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:47-48..

Jesus' manner of helping us differs depending if we are self-righteousness or humble. His help is available to all, even to those who are proud or those on the lowest rung on the social ladder. He confronts all with their sin. His help is usually rejected by the proud. However, those confessing a need receive his grace. Christ's work in us is to make helpers for others. To be a leader one must first have his personal life in order. Spiritual discernment is recognizing other's faults are universal with all mankind. When one can share the forgiveness God gives, he is equipped to help others. Discernment then first deals with the problem within the teacher, so he can help another obtain victory. However, the rejecter is destined to learn discernment when he is judged as he judged.

The apostle Paul wrote to a religious audience that they have no excuse to pass judgment on anyone. "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whosoever you are that judges for wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you that judge do the same things." Romans 2:1. Those who condemn another do so because they are unrepentant of the same kind of sin. This could be paraphrased: 'As you judge another so you are.' When people argued with Paul his reply was, "let God be true but every man a liar." Romans 3:4.

Jesus' instruction regarding offences required confronting the offender alone. Matthew 18:15. When a Christian brother becomes ensnared in blatant sin and refuses to repent, he becomes a stumbling block. At that point Paul counsels: don't mix with that evil one. Without condemning, separation can bring reconciliation. 1 Corinthians 5:11

We become the stumbling block if we practice condemning others. Paul emphasizes the better way. "Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Romans 14:13.

Understanding the power of God's word to correct behavior makes a Christian discerning. Then he is on the road to a blessed life. The writer to Hebrews describes this: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12. Solomon concurs: "Whoso despises the word shall be destroyed: but he that fears the commandment shall be rewarded." Proverbs 13:13

All scripture quotes are from the King James Version.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dad.

    Your post reminds me of Paul's instructions to Titus concerning divisive men. Divisive does not mean controversial, but rather those who try to draw men after themselves. Paul told Titus to warn a divisive man twice and afterwards to have nothing to do with him. He said, “You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:11 NIV) Titus’ disassociation with the divisive person does not imply rancor, but it establishes a quiet separation so that no one will infer an endorsement.

    Paul did not want Titus spending energy arguing with or exposing divisive people. Paul wrote, “Avoid foolish controversies.” (Titus 3:9 NIV) We cannot defend the truth by exposing error. We should teach the truth and let light dispel darkness.

    While Titus was not to lend his credibility to divisive men, Paul did not want him to condemn such men either. He said that the divisive men were self-condemned, but he also says a few verses earlier, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures." (Titus 3:3 NIV)

    Thanks again. What is your next post about?