Tag Archives: Discernment

How Do You Walk the Line?

In my last post I talked about the judgements we use in our day-to-day lives.  It is clear from Scripture that God intends for us to use good judgement in our lives.  However it is also clear we should not condemn those around us.  The grey area comes when we try to become judge, jury, and executioner with our judgements.  And this might be a much finer tightrope to walk than one might imagine.

So, exactly where do you draw the line and how do you ensure you are walking it?  In the post: Why Did The Tree Have A Name? I stated that the knowledge of good and evil was a dangerous thing.  In this post we are about to find out why I believe that.  But simply put, Satan told Eve that eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would make her “as a god” (and later on, God agreed with that statement).  When we start applying our knowledge of good and evil, when we start judging others, when we start discerning actions around us, quite simply, we have become as gods in our own realm.  And trust me, the last thing we ever want to do in our lives is replace God’s understanding with our own.  Do you want a quick check as to whether or not God (Jesus Christ) is sitting upon the throne of your life?  Look at your judgements.  Check your discernment.  Consider whom you condemn and whom you forgive.

In I Corinthians 5 we have a seemingly difficult case.  Paul of Tarsus has received a specific report of a specific individual who is not only embroiled in an immoral act, but is actually publically boasting about it at the same time, and apparently receiving the approval of the Church.  And Paul calls for the individual to be handed over to Satan.

Contrast this situation to the adulteress who was brought before Jesus Christ in the Temple as recounted in John Chapter 8.  Here we had another individual embroiled in an immoral act and Jesus Christ offers complete forgiveness, yet we might perceive that Paul of Tarsus calls for condemnation (turn him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh).

The difference between the two situations is that in the one case the immoral act was being committed outside of the Church, I might even argue in secret (except that the scribes and Pharisees obviously knew about it), and no one in the Temple was either bragging about It or boasting of it.  In the other case the people of the Church were not only well aware of what was going on, they were encouraging it with their boasting.

In the case of Jesus Christ, he knew that if sinners outside of the Temple were to find nothing but condemnation, they would never come to the Temple.  Who wants to go to the Temple to be condemned?

In the case of Paul of Tarsus, he knew that if sinners outside of the Church saw the Church as boasting and encouraging immorality, they would see nothing but hypocrites.  And who wants to go to Church with a bunch of hypocrites?

In both cases, in the case where the judgement ends in forgiveness, and in the case were the judgement ends in (seemingly) condemnation, the sanctity and the integrity of the house of God (the Church or the Temple) was being maintained.  And that, is good judgement.

Personally, I like to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test.  Remember these young men in Daniel Chapter 3?  They were the 3 young men who refused to bow down to the idols the government (the king) had set up for all the people of the land.  Why?  Because they knew that if they did, no one in the land would ever want to bow down before Jehovah God ever again.  Why would they?  If Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego bow down before idols, why waste time with God?  He must not be any better than these idols the king set up.

So what if we were to apply the Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego test to some of the biggest issues of our day?  What do we think that would look like?  In my case it would look like this:

Abortion: I’m sorry, I love you, and I don’t condemn you, but only God is the author of life and to not recognize the sanctity of the life that God gives is to deny him.  The Church must continue to preach and to teach against it.  You will always find forgiveness within the Church, but the Church should never support your so-called “right” to usurp God.  The Church should celebrate life, not death.

Same sex marriage: I’m sorry.  I don’t hate you, nor do I condemn you.  But clearly your actions are against the very design of God and the teachings of the Bible.  You may try to erase those teachings, twist them into something else.  You will fail, and the Church should never have to support you in your sin by being forced to conduct wedding ceremonies for your so-called “rights”.

(So called) Hate Speech: I’m sorry.  But when I proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way to God the Father, it is not me that made the claim, rather it was Jesus Christ himself.  I am simply teaching history.  History you may want to rewrite, but history nonetheless.  And for me to teach anything else is for me to deny my faith and to turn my back on my religion.  It is actually those that try to silence the truth that are intolerant and non accepting.  Not myself.

Where do I draw the line?  I draw it at the feet of Jesus Christ.  And I draw it at the foot of the Cross.  That is the point where I cannot step over the line.  The line that I attempt to walk, is the line that lifts up Jesus Christ and gives him all the Praise, and all the Honor, and all the Glory.

In the beginning God told Adam and Eve, do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil because bad things will happen.  Turns out God was right and bad things did happen (and continue to happen today).  About 4,000 years later, God, in the person of Jesus Christ, came to earth and basically said, ‘OK, you didn’t listen to me in the beginning and because of that you’re in this huge mess.  But I’m going to give you some advice as to how to get through this predicament you’ve placed yourselves in.  And the secret is in your judgement.  Use it wisely and justly.’

Do You Use Good Judgement?

1Judge not, that ye be not judged.  2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”  Matthew 7:1-2 KJV

And with these words a lot of people in the world want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” (a euphemism for inadvertently getting rid of the good thing while disposing of the bad thing).  And by this I mean that the complete lack of understanding of judgement is astounding these days.  And the lack of understanding basically comes from bad Theology.  Both Theology that has been taught, and Theology that has failed to have been taught.  From our greatest theologians, to our humblest of Bible study teachers, we’ve failed.  We’ve failed at the basics, and we’ve certainly failed at setting people off on a path that would allow them to seek after a Holy God with all their heart, and all their soul, and all their might.

And that small word judge has a lot to do with it.  That word judge there, in the Greek it is the word κρίνετε (pronounced: krinete).  Now that we’ve all learned our Greek word for the day, let me ask you what you think the definition of krinete is?  A Greek language purist will tell you that properly, it is “to pick out, (choose) by separating”.  In other words, the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action.  Or, I might say, to JUDGE.

The word actually means judge, just as we understand judgement today.  The same definition we apply to the word today would apply to the word that Jesus Christ actually used as recorded by Scripture.

So the Bible (actually the very words of Jesus Christ himself) state quite unequivocally that we should not judge (because by the same measure we judge, we will be judged).  Right?  That is what it says, isn’t it?

But wait-a-minute, do you really believe we are not to judge?  Should we really (and truly) not use judgement in our lives?  Doesn’t Scripture also tell us:

13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Hebrews 5:13-14  KJV

See that word discern?  Our discernment is what allows us to be discriminatory.  And I will argue that you cannot discern, without the application of judgement.  And I’d argue that discernment is a pretty important thing within our lives.  It allows us to separate good and evil.  And that would seem like a pretty good thing to me.

Seemingly we have a contradiction here.  On the one hand we are told not to judge, but yet on the other we know we are to use our good judgement to discern between good and evil.  There are those right now that are going to try to separate those two entities by applying judgement to people and discernment to actions.  Don’t even try.  People without actions are dead, and actions without people is Nature.  You can’t separate the two (unless you are God, that is) so let’s not play  word games by pretending that we can really and truly separate them in our hearts and minds.  That leads us to silly quotes like “God hates the sin but loves the sinner“.  And while there may be a kernel of truth to this, it really is putting words into God’s mouth.  We are not God, and we cannot compartment our hate and our love.  God must do that for us and we should not believe that it is perfected within our lives.

So what is the answer then?  What is Jesus really telling us?  And why would Scripture tell us not to judge (really judge) and then tell us to judge (really judge)?  Especially when we know (beyond any shadow of a doubt) that we need to judge in our everyday lives.  How could our courts, our Government, our business, our very society survive without judgement?  How do we survive without judgement?

Fortunately these words are from Jesus.  And that means they are recorded in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).  And fortunately Luke recalled perhaps a more complete account of the time than Matthew might have.  Here is how Luke recorded the same event that Matthew is relating to us:

37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”  Luke 6:37-38  KJV

Luke adds in a couple of extra thoughts here.  First of all he tells us that the judgment being talked about here is the kind that condemns.  In other words, Luke has qualified for us that we should not use our judgement to punish, convict, censure, or pronounce unfit for society, those around us.  And Luke adds in a second thought here, and that is we should forgive instead of condemn.  In other words we should grant pardon to those that offend us.

Scripture clearly tells us that we are to use our good judgment.  But it also tells us that we should not use our judgement to condemn those in the world today.  Condemnation does not win people.  Forgiveness is what wins another’s heart.  And Scripture tells us why we are to act this way:

It is found right there in the second half of the statement.  Because by the same measure that we judge or forgive people, that is what will be reciprocated in kind.  In other words, if I am judgmental and condemning to you, that is exactly how you are going to respond to me.  Try it.  Tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do.  Won’t they usually do just the opposite?  If we are forgiving and do not condemn however, we are much more likely to find an open heart and a listening ear.

My prayer today is that we all would use good judgment in our lives, and recognize that means a little more forgiveness towards others and a little less condemnation.

Do You Have Wisdom to Share?

There are a few types of knowledge in this world.  There is the scholarly knowledge that is taught and gained in schools.  Some of it may be correct, accurate, and true.  While some of it may be questionable.

Take for example the study of mathematics.  In every culture and in every land we have an understanding of at least simple math.  Everyone understands (or should understand) that 1 plus 1 is equal to 2.  That is if you have 1 apple and then I give you another apple, you have just had your total quantity of apples grow.  And your new total of apples is now 2.

But then you have those that are wise in math and they will tell you that 1 plus 1 is equal to 10.  IF you use base 2 (binary) math.  In other words for a mathematician, it is important to state exactly which math you are talking about.  They want to represent the correct number base and ensure everyone is following the same set of rules.  There is a level of knowledge displayed that goes beyond the every day use of most people counting their apples, BUT it does not alter their understanding of the number of apples they may (or may not) possess.

Then there are studies that are not quite as concrete.  Take for example the study of evolution.  There are those that want to teach biological evolution concerning the alteration or transformation of one species into another as fact.  When they know (and actually have full knowledge) that it is simply a theory and is not repeatable and indeed is unprovable.

The science of evolution is constantly changing, constantly growing, and constantly evolving as people perceive to gain new insights and knowledge and thus alter their thinking on the subject.

I’ve mentioned a book written by an acquaintance of mine in past blog posts.  The book is: “The Word of God A Logical and Moral Dilemma“.  In chapter 5 of his book, titled “The Reality Of God”, my friend writes:

“During my early conversations with creationists, I often presented the scientific viewpoint during our creation vs. evolution discussions.  That is, I used small scientific facts, such as the existence of pelvises in ancient whales and the existence of gill slits and tails in embryonic humans, as evidence that God didn’t create the world beginning with an evolved state of nature.  I made very little headway in my debates, and usually departed from my encounters cursing the “blindness” of my opponent.”

(Eric Brownlee, The Word of God A Logical and Moral Dilemma, Writers Club Press, 2001, Lincoln, NE, ISBN: 0-595-19417-6, pg. 85)

The problem is, we now know that the ‘gill slits‘ in embryonic humans (and I would argue the ‘tails’ as well) are not what we used to think they were.  As a matter of fact, it has now been proven that the scientist, Ernst Haeckel, who is sometimes credited with this “discovery” (it is more an observation), actually faked his drawings and misrepresented the truth (Human Gill Slits).  In other words, we’ve come to a new understanding and know that the statement that human embryos have gill slits is just wrong (Evolutionary Point of View).  An Answers In Genesis article on the subject may be found here.

So here we have wisdom (it was originally represented as scientific fact) that is neither wise nor very long lived.  Certainly not like the mathematical fact given in my first example.

Thus our wisdom grows and gains new insights.

But what about spiritual wisdom?  Surely something so critical as to bringing understanding to the creator and guidance in our own lives, we don’t want to take chances with, right?  We want to make sure we have the right understanding, or at least the best understanding from as early a point in time as possible.

Spiritual wisdom is not too unlike early wisdom, it comes by learning, and learning comes by asking questions.  The difference is, knowing who and how to ask.  When our earthly wisdom is challenged, such as in the case of human embryos having gills, a little bit of research, asking the right questions reveals the answer.  Now there may be those that colloquially make reference to my blindness (see definition # 2) however I am going to claim that it is their own blindness since main stream evolutionist don’t even have that understanding anymore.  The point is, if I am willing to challenge the understanding and ask the right questions of the right resources, I am able to learn an answer and grow my understanding.

The same is true with Spiritual wisdom, but you have to know who to ask.  Fortunately there is an answer within the Bible.  It is found in James 1:5-8.  James tells us that if we lack wisdom (Spiritual wisdom) we simply need to ask of God, and God will provide us with wisdom liberally (see the origin of the word.  Here it means generously).

And I love the fact that the verse tells us that God gives to ALL MEN, without regard for Christian, or Atheist, or Agnostic, or any other Religion or world view.  Why would God do that?  Wouldn’t God just reserve wisdom for those that know him and are his children?  Of course not!  Otherwise, how are we even to discover him in the first place?  God wants us to know him.  He wants us to be curious about him.  And he wants us to discover him, to learn about him, and to have knowledge and understanding of him.  And this comes through wisdom from him.  He gives to all who ask him, and he gives with great abundance, BECAUSE he wants us to discover him.

But note the condition.  You have to truly ask in Faith believing that God will answer your request and will grant you the wisdom you seek.  In other words, you had better believe that God is there and capable of providing an answer.  If your predisposition is that science has given you all the facts of evolution and there is no God, you cannot be running to God asking him to provide you wisdom of himself.  That is not truly seeking after God.  That is simply convincing yourself that the lie you believe is justified.

I sincerely hope that no one believes I have any great wisdom to share.  Rather I hope that for earthly wisdom you will do due diligence and seek out the right answers.  And for Spiritual wisdom that you will ask of God, in Faith, believing he will answer you and provide the wisdom that you seek.