July 7, 2011

We're Not Suppose To Judge Others, Right?

I was presented with a question on the street today and it is one that I have dealt with in the past. I have dealt with it by trying to figure it out myself and reasoning through it and also by answering someone else’s question in the past.

If we need to discern things about people and make judgments about them to determine whether or not they are right or wrong, if they are biblical or unbiblical. When we make that decision as Christians, what makes us any different than hypocrites that are judging others when they themselves are guilty of sin? Does it make Christians hypocritical because they were and still are sinners? If that’s that case then all people judging others for anything that is sinful makes everyone hypocrites right? Wrong.

There is a small nuance missing here that needs to be addressed to straighten out people that would make this accusation. It is a rather clear cut distinction that if, anyone thought critically about, would realize it almost instantly.

It is called source of authority. Or the measure by which all need to be gauged. Do I hold you to a different standard that I do not hold myself. By no means! I expect more of myself than others and I am my own harshest critic...or I would not have the right to say anything. What is that gauge? Read on.

If I tell you "I" do not like your sinful behavior because “I” think it is wrong, I have made myself the highest authority of judging what is right and wrong. If I tell you that the Bible says it is wrong and it is sin I have made the Bible the highest authority. It then is not my opinion but deferment of authority to pass judgment on someone else to a higher authority…in this case God. God being perfect in justice and righteousness and holiness is in the best position to judge and is the only one in a position to judge. I, thereby, remove myself as the authority in this situation and also remove the tag of “hypocrite”. It is then that I can only be accused of being a “Cretan Bible banger” or a “religious nut”…but not hypocritical.

Case-In-Point #1: Modern society and culture. To borrow and excellent quote about authority or lack of it I will quote this verbatim from Bryan Chapell's "Chirst-Centered Preaching" [items in brackets emphasis mine]:

"Who has the right to tell me what to do?"... This question, typically posed as a challenge, is really a plea for help. Without an ultimate authority for truth, all human striving has no ultimate value, and life itself becomes futile"

[Ecclesiastes anybody?]

Modern trends in preaching [and life] that deny the authority of the Word in the name of intellectual sophistication lead to despairing subjectivism in which people do what is right in their own eyes---a state whose futility Scripture has clearly articualted.

In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. ~Judges 21:25

Case-In-Point #2: Where does a police officer draw his authority from? If he just pulls you over for no reason and arrests and fines you because he things you “look guilty” and he uses his gauge of unlawful and thinks you look like a “criminal type” he is relying on himself as the highest authority in this situation. Fraudulently too I might add. Who is he held accountable to? The “law of the land”. Who determines the Law? In the case of the USA it is people elected to office by the people meaning that the highest authority for the police officer is civil or positive law drawn from the fact he obeys man’s laws. If the police officer is immoral and a hammerhead and subsequently arrests someone for disobeying the “law of the land” is the police officer guilty of being a hypocrite? What makes more sense in this situation is to understand he is just doing his job even though he too has his own human foibles and faults.

The real question here is when does the law or statutes of man trump God’s law? More specifically, when does positive or civil law trump moral/God's law? If you believe the Bible: Never. If you do not: The answer changes based on what you the observer deem proper or improper. Which seems more unreliable, whimsical and capricious? Which one by its very nature makes more sense? As a Christian or non-Christian you make these decisions more than you realize. Do I abort a child? Do I live with my spouse before I marry them? Do I have sex with them before marriage? Do I cut that dude off in traffic because he’s driving too slowly? Do I approve of same-sex marriage because everyone has the right to marry whomever they “love”? Do I buy things on credit until I am so over-extended that I will either be in debt until I am 80 or need to file for bankruptcy because I couldn’t budget my money? All these examples are examples of disobedience to the Bible the culture either doesn’t care about and ignores or outright approves of. Where does you authority lie?

"Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar’s." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away. Matthew 22:16-22

If you live by the law of man when God’s law clearly trumps it and then stand in judgment of your brother or sister, you are a hypocrite. If you solely live by the law of God and make a determination of judgment based in God's law you are on solid footing. What higher Judge is there than God Himself? When Jesus spoke whose authority did He speak with: God’s. Why does he call the Pharisees in this passage hypocrites? Because they had the audacity to ask God incarnate this question with the deliberate intention of entrapping Him in a Catch-22. Instead he turns the question back on them and makes them determine the source of THEIR authority. Man's or God's.

When we speak with the authority of the Bible (if we speak with the authority of the Bible) we are speaking with the authority of the Holy Spirit.

When I post, I want people to not only understand the words I repeat from the Word I want them to simultaneously to understand the idea that the words represent. Understanding the words is fine but the Word is used to convey the idea. An idea is meant to be internalized. Where do ideas reside? In your head silly rabbit. Once in your head they become part of your psyche and conscious. Once in there they become who you are. Your moral core. They are the framework and fuel for your actions---your life. You can tell what type of ideas and ideals people have internalized and made part of themselves by their behavior.

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. ~Matthew 12:33-34

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